by Chené Koscielny
Every Tuesday night, the basement of the restaurant and cocktail bar Le Scandale in Pâquis transforms into a scene from the 1940s, as couples in lace-up shoes bounce and hop to classic jazz tunes by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. From about 8.30pm onwards, the basement fills up with members of the Geneva Swing group, as well as curious onlookers like us. Before long the dance floor is bursting with energy, as couples scatter and swing each other in all directions doing a manically fast partner dance called the Lindy Hop.
What is swing dancing?
The Lindy hop is a style of swing dancing that originated in Harlem, New York City in the early 1930s and is related to the Charleston. There were many other styles of swing dancing, developed between the 1920s and 40s, in response to the swing jazz music movement.
Who does swing dancing today?
Along with all things vintage, swing dancing has seen a revival since the 1980s in the US, with many local communities then spawning across the World.
Where is the swing dance scene in Geneva?
Believe it or not, but swing dancing is hot, hot, hot in Geneva! The scene started with the creation of Geneva Swing in 2011. A second group has since formed, which until recently was called G-Swing, but has now changed name to become backbeat.
Who are Geneva Swing?
Geneva Swing was born when Jerome Cadoret, a French university lab assistant in Geneva, decided to form a community of Lindy Hop dancers. Jerome loved dancing the Lindy Hop, but couldn’t find partners who knew the dance here – so he organised the first course in 2011. Since then, an ever growing demand has seen the group swell to 9 different classes per week and social dancing evenings every Tuesday night. Today there are over 200 members who attend classes, social evenings, as well as workshops with instructors from around the World. Other vintage US dances such as Vintage Solo Jazz has been introduced and in January 2015, Amy Lu and Alex started a weekly course of the Balboa, a dance even faster than the Lindy Hop!
Who should try it?
As much as I would’ve loved to give it a go during my visit to Le Scandale, it became quickly obvious that you need at least a few lessons (and possibly a strong cocktail or two) to work up the courage to try this dance! Most of the couples were in their 20s and 30s, not that that should put you off, but judging from how much some of the youngsters were sweating, I’d guess that you’d have to be quite fit. The atmosphere was relaxed and warm, the music great if you’re into jazz and I just loved watching the dancers scuttle across the floor. Swing dancing is beautiful and fascinating to watch, it makes you want to join in the fun. I’ll be enrolling in a beginner’s class soon, although I can’t see my husband being too keen on this one, though!
Watch this space.
Social dance evenings on Tuesdays at Le Scandale, 24 rue de Lausanne, 1201 Genève (lescandale.ch). Telephone: 022 731 8373.