Swing dancing at Easter Jazz Festival

Lindsay Garneau and Rebecca Lovett demonstrating swing dancing. Photos: Rosalie Liddle Crawford

Lindsay Garneau and her growing group of enthusiastic swing jazz dancers at Bay City Swing are lighting up local jazz events with a variety of popular dances from the 1920’s to the 1940’s.

Decked out in vintage clothing, they have been learning and dancing the Lindy Hop, Balboa, Charleston, Solo Jazz and Shag – all dances from those early days of jazz.

Wherever a Dixie band is playing over Easter, there’s bound to be two or more swing dancers popping up to dance to the music, sparking an infectious and fun jazz scene that will delight the musicians and audiences.

Bay City Swing dancer will also be part of the Jazz Parade on Easter Saturday, dancing their way along the streets.

“We’re still confirming details, but we’ll potentially be giving some free taster classes after the parade and other points over the festival weekend”, says Lindsay.

Lindsay moved to Tauranga from Christchurch in March 2018 and immediately set about introducing swing dance here.

“I’ve come from a great swing dance scene in Christchurch and was surprised to find there wasn’t a swing scene here in Tauranga, as it has the largest jazz festival in the country.

“I thought if I could get a swing dance scene going, it might encourage the jazz bands to come out and play more.”

Lindsay says Lindy Hop, alongside Solo Jazz, are the dances with the biggest sense of humour. They are very cheeky, quirky, fun and improvisational.

“They can be slow or fast, are very happy, and have a great vibe.

“Balboa is called the coolest dance from the 1920’s that you’ve never heard of. It is danced chest-to-chest. It’s a dancer’s dance. And Shag is a very high energy dance and super fun.”

She runs weekly group classes at a studio in Durham St and encourages the group to attend  the monthly Jazz Jams held by the Tauranga  Jazz Society.

“At the classes we do a five-week lesson block on Lindy Hop with some Solo Jazz. Then in the sixth week we feature a different type of dance style  like balboa.

“In Christchurch we have such a great relationship with the bands and follow them around.  “It gives that extra level of entertainment to the people coming.

“Back in the day that’s how dance was formed. The genre of music is very improvisational  and there’s a reciprocal relationship between  the musicians and dancers as they respond to  each other.

“This Easter is going to be the best festival yet because we’re going to have jazz dancing,” says Lindsay.

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