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Swing Dancing in Madrid: Feel the Music!

Not rap, rock, house, or bubblegum pop. The rhythm of the moment right now in Madrid is swing. The be-bop that once drove us crazy is back with bang. Mad4Madrid explores this nostalgic new craze and finds out were you can put your dancing shoes on.

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Swing Activities in MADRID

 

Even though the best way to learn how to dance swing is by signing up for one of those specialized academies we can get one step closer to lindy-hop, or the balboa, and  jazz-steps (the three most common varieties of swing) by attending one of the open classes that, almost daily, take place in the center of Madrid.  The website of the Official Organization of Swing Academies of Madrid, madforswing.es, offers a weekly updated calendar of all the activities (including free ones) that take pace throughout the city.

One of the most popular is the one that happens every Wednesday at the Teatro del Barrio in Lavapiés lead by En Modo Swing and Big South: a night of dancing where anyone who’s interested can join no matter their level. It’s also free! From 23h onward, the Teatro del Barrio is full of jazz of every type.

The experience of going to a night of open dance can be overwhelming for the newbies. It’s true that you can go dressed however you like, but some people, who truly live and breathe swing surprise us with big showy costumes and impressive steps. It’s like going back in time to the 20’s in one night all without leaving Madrid. The event organizers observe from the sidelines and choose the music according to on the crowd’s energy level. From classic swing “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” by Ella Fitzgerald to others a bit closer to rock’n’roll (the natural evolution of swing). Meanwhile the participants go around changing partners because swing is a social activity after all!

Before heading straight to an open class, if you want to be a bit more prepared,  and you still aren’t familiar with swing, you can head to an open class on Mondays at Café el Barbieri starting at 21:30h. Even still, we recommend checking out the page madforswing.es, just in case.

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A Social Dance

Like always, one of the advantages that dance related activities offers is the social aspect. Meeting new people and lots of Madrileños since t hey form a large part of the participants. If what you want is to meet new people, get to know madrileños and leave your comfort zone swing dancing is a great option! Carla explains the typical profile for a swing dancer: “Upper-middle class, students, people with masters and working. Engineers, psychologists, architects, professions you’d never think of. That’s to say, there’s not only one type of artistic person, but a huge variety.” You can also get rid of the idea “that language is a problem” says Carla, because most of the steps are in English since it’s an American dance.

“Jazz swing, improvisation, have fun, meet new people, move, freedom” That said, it’s no wonder that tis style of dance is catching on amongst all types of people of different ages. “What swing does give you is cathartic moments. The world stops existing and you’re super involved in the music,” Carla explains. You want to stop living on the sidelines, and meet new people, feel the music from you feet to your head and dive into this activity that Madrileños have adopted as their own?

Elena Rosillo

 

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Latin dance competitions became really popular in Spain a few years ago thanks to a television program where famous people danced. Now one of the most popular dance styles in Madrid is swing. But, why? It's still very surprising that a dance that originated in the US in the 20's, a mix of black beats like jazz and soul with white ballroom dances, a sound characteristic of the Beat Generation is now taking off in Spain.

"It's a trend that started in Europe" says Carla, professor at the academy of En Modo Swing, " It started in Switzerland and in the 80's started spreading to other parts of the world. It arrived in Barcelona 15 years ago. Its biggest boom happened 6 years ago. And in Madrid just 2 years ago"

What is the thing that grabs your attention at first glance about swing music? "The music. Then the style of the dance. And then how accessible it is. The lindy-hop has a crazy component that other styles lack." Those who are fans of jazz and blues are surprised that in Madrid you can not only listen to the music, but also dance it!
Swingis not just a past time. Lately, even the indie singer Russian Red is supporting swing style shoes, and 20's fashion. It's not all in vain: "a very important component of this dance style is improvisation. Improv and freedom: don't think, just feel and react. Live in the present moment."
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