Sunday, September 21, 2008

Who am I?

My name is James. I'm newly married and am about to be a graduate student again. I've been swing dancing for about 9 years (see the long version of that below). My wife (Mary) and I used to live and dance in Boston. We moved to Chicago two years ago. I have been teaching off and on for about the past four years, I perform occasionally with a troupe from Big City Swing, and I have been DJing for about two years.

I deejay at two dances in Chicago. I'm in the rotation at the regular Monday night dance at Fizz Bar & Grill. This dance attracts a lot of the core of the Chicago scene, plus lots of casual dancers. I also occasionally deejay for the Balboa Nights at Big City Swing. This monthly dance is meant to promote balboa, and caters to a mix of folks--we try to play music that is good for beginners who want to east coast, and for lindy hoppers too, so the average tempo ends up being slower than you might expect for a balboa dance.

Here's a little timeline of my life as far as swing dancing goes:
  • 1991 (5th grade) - Discover my dad's Best of the Big Bands cd and decide that I like jazz.
  • 1997 (High School) - Take some very basic ballroom dancing lessons with a friend. Our teacher is 80+ years old and walks with a cane. First see the movie Strictly Ballroom.
  • 1998 - Learn east coast swing as part of a bad community theater production that featured several "period" dance numbers. I think there was a number that was supposed to be a cakewalk too.
  • 1999 (College) - Discover the newly founded Boston College Swing Kids, and start going to on-campus lessons and getting hooked. First see the movie Swing Kids.
  • 2000 - Still taking lessons on campus. I think during the Spring of this year, I decided to venture off campus to take lessons from someone who actually knew what they were doing. First performance with the Swing Kids troupe, to the song "Leap Frog" by Les Brown.
  • 2001 - Assume the presidency of the Swing Kids club, along with my friend Nick. We are taking basic lindy lessons in Boston on Tuesdays, then running back and teaching what we learned to the club on Wednesdays. First workshops with Steven & Virginie.
  • 2003 - Still running the college club, taking lessons in town. Getting serious about getting better. First learn the balboa.
  • 2004 - Living and dancing in Boston. Taking lots of lessons & workshops.
  • 2005 - Start teaching the free lesson before the Wednesday night dance at MIT. Occasionally filling in as a DJ there too. This is when I started to learn how to actually teach.
  • 2006 - Teaching for a while with ItsAllSwing studios in Boston, and Providence Swings in Providence. Practicing a lot with a troupe of friends from Boston and Providence.
  • September 2006 - Move to Chicago, start dancing, teaching, and deejaying.

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