According to Julie

6 weird side effects of dancing West Coast Swing

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I started dancing West Coast Swing about three years ago. I’ve written about why I started, and what I like about it (in Norwegian). Here are some of the side effects of this hobby (probably relevant for lots of partner dancing in general):

Growing out of my clothes. You would think one of the great side effects of dancing constantly is regular exercise, allowing me to eat all the ice cream without growing out of my clothes. But no. My legs have muscles now, and my skinny jeans are not OK with that. Neither are my knee-high boots.

Drinking less. Sure a weekend event can be a non-stop party, but during the week and on weekends at home, I find myself declining beer and wine because I’ll be training or teaching later that night. When I go out with my dance friends, I do order drinks, but not many. I can’t follow properly with a beer in my hand, and I never sit still for long.

Having no use for personal space. Personal space is for wimps. In dance classes, I go straight into closed position with complete strangers, even if they smell. Completely worth it if the class is good enough. Also, even the best and cleanest dancers sweat on the social dance floor. Get over it. Of course, this means I might hug people too soon in non-dance situations. And I’m still a shy person often lost in my own world – so I won’t know your name, but I will hug you.

Wearing pants. (Trousers for the Brits. In your language, I wore pants before WCS). My boogie/lindy/east coast swing days (the jumpy, retro kinds of swing) were much better suited to my love of polka dots and big skirts. West Coast Swing calls for dress pants and boot-cut jeans, so that’s what I wear now.

Wearing flats and jeans on date nights. On the way out, I tell my boyfriend/dance partner: “You like this skirt and heels combo now, but I can’t do West Coast Swing in this. You say we’re just going out to a pub, but you know they might play good music. High-heeled boats or triple steps? Choose wisely.”

Stumbling on uneven floors. Every week, I spend hours perfecting a smooth walk across a smooth floor. The goal is to create an illusion of floating or skating across the dance floor. My feet should be connected with the floor as much as possible. Unfortunately, my smooth walking technique is unsuited for less smooth surfaces – like everywhere that isn’t a dance studio, and some dance studios too – causing me to complain that the floor is awful (at best) or to stumble and fall. The amazing Michael Kielbasa says: “You’re not clumsy; you’re a dancer.” And he’s pretty good, so I’ll trust him when he says I’m not clumsy:

Related posts: How to buy west coast swing shoes in Norway

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