Would-be dancers

Talking from Experiences by Ashleigh Tremere

You know what I have always wanted to learn? How to swing dance. It’s just so fun looking! All the quick bouncy steps, dips and spins. I’m sure those moves all have names, but I don’t know them—yet! 

A month ago my partner reminded me that we always meant to take dance lessons and said that we should probably look into finding some. We both love to dance but definitely do not have any formal experience. A quick search led us to Downstreet Dance Studio. 

Downstreet is unique in that it is entirely dedicated to adult classes and also because it is a non-profit. All their instructors are heavily experienced volunteers. Their goals are wellness, inclusivity and creating community for adults through sharing their love of dance. 

So we signed up and showed up to West Coast Swing with Amy, which takes place every Saturday at 5 pm. Being our first class and not knowing any better, we were definitely overdressed. But hey, it was a date and no one made mention or made us feel uncomfortable about it. For your future benefit, I’ll mention that you can dance in socks or indoor shoes at this class and wear whatever you can move well in.

It was an extremely welcoming space with a variety of age brackets and skill levels present. The instructor Amy, exudes joy! She clearly loves sharing this dance style with anyone willing to learn. She said it was her favourite swing style, which led me to learn outright that there are a lot of different styles of swing dancing. Look it up, there are hundreds apparently.

Amy’s teaching style was warm, passionate and very non threatening. There was a smile on her face the whole time and she was super encouraging even while offering corrections on our form or pace. She had a nice little trick which she revealed at the end of class; the two basic steps we learned had names, though I don’t remember them and you can actually create an entire routine once you learn how to stylize them. Just the best kind of sneaky. It kept us out of our heads and gave us a little reward in the end. 

Downstreet is located at 101 Grafton on the second floor, you can access it from the street or the Confed Mall. A partner is not required if you too are keen to learn swing dance. There were a few people who had come solo and so we got to alternate around and interact with other, would-be dancers. There’s that social, community-building aspect flowing through. An actual social dance is held every third Saturday, where people can gather to practice and have some fun. We had a reservation to get to so couldn’t check that out, but definitely will next round. They offer a wide variety of classes, with drop-in or block options. Check their website (downstreetdance.com) to see if that dance you always wanted to learn is available too.