After I graduated from college, I moved to Washington, D.C. and took a job on the Hill, first as an intern and then as a low-paid letter writer. I ended up at Glen Echo’s Spanish Ballroom with some friends during that time and just loved it. I wasn’t at all good, but oh, the music and the dancing was such fun. I had wanted to learn how to swing dance for years, but hadn’t come across anyone that could satisfactorily unlock the mystery of how for me until then. I continued going to the Saturday dances and eventually began lessons.
One of the side benefits I began to realize was that if I danced at the same places consistently then I would get to dance with many of the same people. As I made friends, I grew to appreciate the range of folks in the lindy community from high schoolers all the way up to retirees. The small liberal arts college I attended had a rich sense of community among students, faculty, and staff. At times, working on Capitol Hill felt like I’d fallen down some bizarre rabbit hole to an alternate universe where everyone was under 30.
Once or twice I went out to Adams Morgan with my fellow group house residents but it just seemed so stupid. And expensive. I could go dancing for three hours or have a single cocktail. And it’s not like there was much conversation going on at the bar. Just a lot of posing.
Swing dances offered me the chance to get know people of all ages. It felt normal and like a healthy counterbalance to my work life. Lindy hoppers were generally not interested in playing the constant game of D.C.-one-up-manship. (My affliction with Potomac fever didn’t last very long.)
I usually go out dancing because I want to dance. But sometimes, it’s just so I can see my friends.