Shall We Dance?


You know you’re having fun when you don’t have time to take photos. Here’s a mental shot of what the dance room looked like (there were more people, but I didn’t want to draw all of them).

Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t have the opportunity, couldn’t find the means (or the guts), or just didn’t know where to go?

I’ve always been fascinated with swing music and have always wanted to dance to it. This fascination dates back to my childhood, when my parents would listen to swing music and watch musicals starring Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Donald O’Connor, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and other dance heroes of yore.

This idea of dancing to such old music in a public place has been an old yearning that couldn’t seem to catch fire, because who dances to Big Band music anymore? But thanks to some Swing enthusiasts here in Basel, the fire finally ignited. A dance duo named Elio and Janet teach Lindy-Hop dancing through  dance workshops and weekly Swing Parties.

Just over the weekend, my friend Sarah and I signed up for the Total Beginners Swing Dance Workshop, a 2-day, 3.5 hour session, where we learned the basics of Lindy-Hop. We started with standing in a huge circle (about 45 of us), then we were made to find the “bounce” in the beat of the music. There we were, a big group of adults bobbing up and down around this huge circle. Then we learned the basic 8-count dance step: the backbone of all the combinations we were to learn. When we got the bounce and the beat and the combo, it was time to find a partner and bring everything together. We danced to intervals of 2-minute swing music, at the end of which we high-fived that partner goodbye and moved on to the next guy. By the end of the day we were bobbing and turning and swaying and swinging all across the dance floor!

Throughout the course of the day, nostalgic memories of watching old musicals and listening to mommy and daddy’s swing records swirled across my mind. The combination of those memories, the happy music, the dance combinations, plus the fact that I was finally doing something I’ve always wanted to do equated to sheer joy (not to mention sore legs the next day)!

If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do for ages, now is the time! Research online to get leads, ask around, read your neighborhood bulletin board (I found the ad to this workshop in a cool coffee shop in town), and drag along a friend who’s as game as you are (thank you, Sarah!).

We’re already nearing the second month of 2014, but it’s never too late to start something new!

PS: If you’re in Basel and want to check out Lindy-Hop, go to

PPS: The goal is to dance like this!


Crush the Competition!!! (Um, and then what?)

Thrill of the chase: When you beat the competition, what's next?

Thrill of the chase: When you beat the competition, what’s next?

Last week I was running along my regular route. As with any activity, there are good days, and there are bad. This particular run was a good one. The weather was perfect—sunshine coupled with 15 degree temps, a pain-free ankle, a comfortable pace, and steady breathing. I was having so much fun. Until SHE came along.

SHE was this lady—about my height and build—who brushed past me just as I finished sipping water from a drinking fountain. Dressed in all black, she ran about two meters ahead of me. Her long ponytail gracefully swished from side to side, its long black strands shinier than her running tights. Her footfalls were quick and even, and it seemed we were running about the same cadence. But I wasn’t sure, so what else was there to do but time my steps with hers, to see if we’d match. Or if I could go faster. Or if I could make her eat my dust.

And so my competitive ego reared its ugly head and got the better of me. When I settled on our pace, I forgot about the glorious rays of the sun and how rare they are during this time of the year. I disregarded the crisp, clean air blowing against my face. Never mind that my ankle was painless—isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be anyway? My breathing shifted from steady and smooth to ragged and labored. And then it dawned on me: I was no longer having fun. And why? Because I wanted to prove that I could run faster than this chick?

When our efforts shift from wanting to be our best selves to striving to be better than others, the enjoyment flies out the window and we’re left with constantly trying to beat someone else. When that person is beaten, there will be someone else to try and topple over. And it’s not fun. Not for me, at least. So instead of trying to shift gears and zoom past her, I went back to the pace I began with.

Minutes later, she abruptly stopped, propped her leg on the base of a lamp post and proceeded to stretch. I caught a glimpse of her; she looked like a younger version of me. Flushed and breathless, it seemed that she too had embarked on a race against me. I ran past her and was glad the race was over. It ended, not when she stopped running, but when I realized that I had nothing to prove.