I’ve always romanticised the swing era. I grew up listening to the NPR show “Swing Years and Beyond” but I can’t dance or move in any sort of rhythmic way, even if my life depended on it. And after three years of Malaysian makan culture, my physique is out of shape.
My New Year’s resolution is to get fit, so I decided to try the KL Swing Social at Sid’s Pub in Bangsar South, in hopes of finding a fun alternative to exercising. Channeling the world of The Great Gatsby sounds a lot more fun that hitting the gym.
When my husband and I arrive, we know we’ve found the right place. Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” is playing and ladies in adorable vintage dresses are in full swing. I start to sweat without even dancing. Can my husband and I even survive one song?
We meet Ming, the founder of KL Swing, who reassured us. “Swing is a social dance. It started in Harlem, in the streets, this didn’t happen in a ballroom,” she says. “So don’t worry.” Even so, I’m nervous. We’re the new faces here. Everyone else seems like a professional dancer, performer, or a regular.
KL Swing has been around for five years. Ming learned to love swing dancing while living in Singapore, and when she came back to KL, she missed it too much to give up: so she set up her own group.
At 9.15pm, the free class begins. KL Swing teachers Ming and her husband teach us a simple East Coast Swing, which is six counts, easier than the eight count Lindy Hop. “Take your positions and rock step, one and two, one and two!”
During the first round of practice, I continuously step on my own feet and bump into another person. But after the sixthround of practice, I find I can make it through one count of steps without mistakes! I’m sweaty but can’t stop smiling.
At 10pm, the class finishes and the social starts. Everyone dances around Sid’s Pub, a mix of casual dancers and professionals, all laughing. After about 30 minutes of continuous East Coast Swing, I need a break.
I speak to another dancer, Amanda Renaud from The Jypsy Jesters, a troupe which has been performing at Genting Highland. She’s been going to the KL Swing Social for three months now. “It’s such a diverse group of people, together speaking the common language of movement,” she says.
As well as the weekly free class and social at Sid’s Pub, which are free, KL Swing run regular classes. Dancers can work up to performing at festivals or private functions.
The socials are a great way to find out more about swing dancing for no cost at all – just bring your dancing shoes and be prepared to laugh at yourself.
Find out more about KL Swing here.