I did not learn to time travel on purpose. Sometimes these things just happen.
What I had planned to do was go to an improv comedy show with a friend. And when we ended up being too late to get in, what I had planned to do was just find a place to eat. And when two boys from the city’s military college approached us and asked if we’d be their dates to a dance, what I planned to do was say no.
Advice to anyone looking for something extraordinary in your life: When two boys from the military college in your city ask if you want to be their dates to a dance, abandon your plans.
Just this once, Reader, say yes. Be spontaneous. Because I promise that you are going to want to be where they are going to take you.
Here is where the magic starts.
The boys led us down the street, up a flight of stairs, through a door, and into the 1940’s.
I had never been swing dancing before, but I’d seen it in black and white movies. I knew that there were men in fedoras, women in red lipstick, and a lot of spinning. What I did not know was what all of this could do to you.
A firm hand on your back, six counts of stepping—fast-fast-slow, fast-fast-slow, slow-slow—and a lot of sweating could make you believe things. Walking up to strangers and sticking out a hand could convince you that there is no such thing as embarrassment. Being pushed into a spin could persuade you that you’ve always been this graceful.
I forgot about the election. I forgot about cellphones. I forgot that we’d landed on the moon. I forgot that I wasn’t my great-grandmother.
After three hours, I walked the whole way back to my car, fast-fast-slow, fast-fast-slow, slow-slow.
I wasn’t very good at it the first time. When I went back the next week, I took the lesson the group offered beforehand. By the third week, I stopped apologizing for tripping on my feet. By the fourth, I stopped tripping.
The thing about it is that it’s the same way every time I go back. I walk up to the entrance a shy, small, modern girl and I enter the room a confident, flirty woman from 70 years ago. There is a moment of transition. I’m still me, but a version of me that I barely know. A version of me that laughs a little too loud in the best possible way.
In almost every city, there are pockets of tightly-knit groups of swing dancers. Some exist in Boston and I wasted no time in finding them. MIT has free swing dancing every Wednesday night from 9 to 11:30. There are other venues like Uptown Swing and Boston Swing Central that have events on the weekends. I suggest you look into it.
You might have to make the effort. Do a quick Google search. It’s not that difficult a way to discover time travel.
Or maybe you’ll just stumble into it. Who knows. Sometimes these things just happen.