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Dossier: Trend sports

Swing with a smile!

What Janine Wiget (29) loves about lindy hop is its contagious cheerfulness and joie de vivre. In a brief interview she tells us more about her passion for the dance.

Text: Clau Isenring

What is lindy hop?

Lindy hop is a couple’s dance that evolved in the ballrooms of New York in the 1930s. It’s mainly danced to swing music, but styles such as jazz, blues, rhythm & blues and rock’n’roll are also popular.

The lindy hop scene in Switzerland is small but growing all the time, as evidenced by the wide range of events on offer. In Zurich, for example, social dances are held at least three times a week. You’ll find current events, courses, concerts, workshops and news at lindyhop.ch.

How long have you been dancing lindy hop?

I started with the boogie woogie four years ago, and have been dancing lindy hop for the last two years, up to three times a week. I love the swing, cheerfulness and spontaneity of the dance. Lindy hop is a very social dance. I like the fact that you always dance with different partners. Everyone has a slightly different style, but that’s the great thing about this dance – when it comes to interpretation and improvisation, anything goes.

“Lindy hop is a very social dance. [...] when it comes to interpretation and improvisation, anything goes.”

Notwithstanding all the spontaneity, are there still some basic steps in lindy hop? 

Yes, lindy hop is danced to a count of eight beats and you have the basic step and typical lindy hop figures. These figures are easy to learn, and once you’ve got them you can build on them. I always say that to be able to dance lindy hop, you only have to be able to clap in time. The rest can be learned.

What’s the ideal age for dancing lindy hop?

Lindy hop can be danced at any age and you don’t need to be super fit. You do work up a sweat but it’s suitable for any level of fitness. The youngest dancers are about 16, but there are many who dance lindy hop well into old age.

One thing you notice about lindy hop is the outfits worn by the dancers. Do you have to dress up?

If you’re doing a course, it’s fine to wear everyday clothes or sports gear. At parties, lindy hoppers tend to wear clothes popular in the 1920s or 1950s.  

Is lindy hop an expensive hobby?

No. The courses are relatively inexpensive, and admission to dance parties costs between 10 and 20 francs. I usually buy my vintage clothes in second-hand shops, so the outfits are very affordable. With lindy hop, you can be sure you’ll have a lot of fun for only a little money.

How can beginners get started?

Anyone interested in trying out lindy hop can register for a course or simply turn up at a dance party to get an idea of what it's like. You don’t necessarily have to go with a partner to take part in a course. At courses and parties, it’s normal to dance with different partners. You dance one song together, then swap.