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BNE December 2014/January 2015

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13

Cloudland has also hosted swing nights.

“Dancing has changed my life,” says Caitlin

Taggart, 27, who started swing dancing 18

months ago after a bad car accident.

Swing is an improvised style popular between

the 1920s and 1940s and accompanied by Big

Band music. According to Caitlin, the basic steps

are easy to pick up and she is now competing

interstate after learning the style for 18 months.

“I wanted some life balance and a hobby away

from work. I’ve met some incredible people.

Everyone is so welcoming and non-judgmental.

“I’d never travelled before and now I’ve

been to Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney for

competitions and workshops. There’s always a

social activity on – if I’m bored, I’ll text someone

from the group and we’ll either go out to an

organised event, like at Brisbane Jazz Club, or

get together at someone’s house. Often we’ll take

music down to the Kangaroo Point cliffs – there’s

a concrete floor there that we dance on.

“It’s really nice to see young people get

together and dress up in a classy way. Men in

their three-piece suits and girls in swing dresses

with their hair done in a vintage style. The girls

get ready together and the boys do too. It sounds

old-fashioned but it’s quite something to go out

to a dance properly,” she says.

Kameron Davis, Caitlin’s instructor at the

Empire Swing dance group, believes reality

television shows have sparked the revival.

“Movies and TV shows such as

The Great Gatsby

and

Boardwalk Empire

have inspired people

to dance again – and to wear the fashion and

hairstyles,” says Kam, who teaches a class for

beginners before opening up the dance floor

until midnight, sometimes accompanied by the

group’s Big Band, The Empire Swings Back.

Go dancing

World by Night festival, 19 December,

Reddacliff Place, city. Join in or be

inspired by dozens of world musicians

and dancers. See

www.brisbane.qld.gov

.

au/whats-on/venue/queen-street-mall

Empire Swing, every second Friday from

7.30pm, Holy Trinity Church, 9 Church

Street, Fortitude Valley. See www.

empireswing.com.au

Alma de Tango, monthly Saturday night

socials from 8pm at 45 Balaclava Street,

Woolloongabba. For details see

www.almadetango.com

Soul’sa at Cloudland every Thursday

night. Free lesson from 8.30pm then

social dancing from 9.30pm, 641 Ann

Street, Fortitude Valley. For details see

www.katarzyna.com.au/venues/cloudland

“The nights are about

dancing but also about

making friends. I met my

wife at the class”

The new attraction to dancing is more about

having fun with friends than fitness, but several

studies indicate that learning a dance such as the

tango can benefit your brain. Neuroscientists

have found that the tango, with steps that start

simply and gradually become more complicated,

is not only good for better balance but also

improves memory and multitasking skills.

Alma de Tango was the first Argentine tango

school in Australia, set up in Brisbane in 1997

by one of the country’s leading dancers of the

genre, Hugo Fernandez.

He holds monthly social nights at his

studio at Woolloongabba where beginners and

professionals mingle into the night. It attracts an

international crowd – Olga Ristic is from Serbia

and began learning four and a half years ago after

holidaying in Argentina.

“Dancing is a lovely feeling after a tiring day,”

she says. “It refreshes you. What started out as

a passion has become an obsession,” says Olga,

who now teaches the dance.

It’s the human connection that attracts Chris

Han, a South Korean who began dancing

because of his Cantonese wife, Helena Chan.

“Tango connects you to your partner more

closely than other dances,” he says.

Suitable for beginners, tango is more

structured than other styles, with partners

dancing together for three or four similar songs

before taking a break. Shirley Yao, also one of

the school’s teachers, loves the romantic side.

“Even if a man can’t express in words how

he feels towards a woman, he can show her

through tango.”

Think you have two left feet? There are

classes for all sorts of styles of dance happening

every week all over the city. As a reflection of

just how popular social dancing has become

the Dance Hall at Woodford Folk Festival

this year will be open every day of the festival

from 27 December to 1 January, hosting more

than 41 workshops in dance styles from the

now popular Latin and tango to Balkan ritual,

gypsy trad, Bollywood and more.

Danae Milton, 32, found a new passion

in Bollywood dancing. “It’s about having a

go rather than perfecting steps, says Milton,

who is now a member of the Sari Bollywood

Dance group. “It’s more than just going to a

class. I wouldn’t have kept going for three years

otherwise. It’s a passion, the social element and

all the dressing up and makeup.”

Danae began performing at festivals,

flashmobs and other community events after

learning the dance for just 12 months. “I never

dreamed I would be up there on stage. It’s

really fun and anyone can follow it.

“I’d say to anyone give dancing a go. You

can get a lot out of it.”

Images this page: Ellie Hatte for Cloudland