Spontaneity and Spinning

| December 4, 2012 | 1 Comment

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.

Absolute, unadulterated, fantastic energy.

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.

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Category: Art and Literature, Boston, featured

About the Author ()

Lily is a sophomore journalism major-English minor who thinks words are the best thing since ever. She is from the South Carolina coast, which she encourages you to visit sometime because she promises they will be so hospitable to you there. She likes writing, acting, and Ira Glass from NPR's This American Life.

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  1. Ashley Miller says:

    I love the photos you use in your articles. Where do you find them?

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