(I would like to point out, before GJ has his say, that he was my first Lindy Hop teacher and, without him, I would never have developed a passion for the dance and music that is associated with it. GJ is one of the kindest, funniest, and most entertaining people I've had the pleasure of meeting in my life. Thank you for everything, GJ. Jo xx
And now, over to you...)
"As I approached 39 years old, many friends had chosen various new paths to explore, leaving me to wonder "What shall I do?".
Having always wanting to Jive like my Mum & Dad, who were jitterbugging just after the war. I found a local 6-week Lindy Hop crash course, which then led me on to learn with Teacher, Julie Orham, who ran Jitterbugs in Sevonoaks, Kent.
I drove a 100 mile round trip every Tuesday, on my own for 2 years and practiced my Savoy style Lindy every day. When the Sevonoaks club closed, I had to travel to Jitterbugs in Leicester Square and sometimes Stomping at The 100 Club in Oxford Street with Simon Selmon. At the time these were the major 2 Lindy Hop clubs in London. I attended as many specialised workshops as I could: Balboa with Dan & Chrissy Guest, Shag and Shim Sham.
By the time I was a confident Lindy Hop/Jazz dancer, a few people nearby in rural Kent & East Sussex wanted to learn this cool, unusual dance. Knowing the fundamentals and history of the dance, and with some teaching experience as a former motorcycle instructor, I hosted my first class in September 2001, where I had about 30 students in attendance. Since then I have taught American vintage swing dance all over the country and at one point 5 nights a week.
I had the honour of being under the instruction of the great Frankie Manning, who was a master and a gentleman. As a kid I was fascinated with Jazz dancers, such as Sammy Davis Jnr. and Roy Castle, so naturally I was drawn to the Shim Sham. Having taught 1000's of students this Authentic American Jazz Dance, I learnt the Dean Collins arrangement via Marcus & Barbl and then became a tap student, eventually learning the original tap arrangement from Rusty Frank.
I would say that what started as a new hobby did become an obsession that completely took over my life, expanding into becoming a DJ, Promoter and Collector.
Of course there are set moves and steps in dancing but it's projecting your personality and joy that really matters to me.