Sunday 27th August, 2017
Paired by their love of the swinging forties, Birmingham based dance company The Swing Era joined forces with The Jim Wynn Swing Orchestra (also Birmingham based) for an evening of swing music and lindy hopping at the Symphony Hall this August Bank Holiday Weekend.
With white-clothed round tables and a walnut dancefloor, the Symphony Hall was transformed into an intimate space reminiscent of old music-halls – an impressive transformation when you consider the venue’s normal capacity of over 2,200 people. A floating stage, lined with neon lights, helped to bring the audience closer together as they settled in for a night of good ‘tunes’ and dancing.
Laura Collins (otherwise known as ‘The Lady in Red’) dressed in a stunning floor-length red velvet gown, helped to kick off the evening with her smooth and soulful renditions of vintage dance classics from the likes of Glen Miller, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. Backed up by the 16-piece big band, the sound of trumpets, saxophones, and a talented clarinet soloist, helped to get everyone bobbing along in their seats eager to take to the floor.
The Swing Era were called in from the wings first, however, with coordinating tea-dresses and smart braces, rocking their way through several energetic and perfectly choreographed routines – cue clapping and whooping-a-plenty. With broad grins and high lifts, the three sets of spinning pairs transported the audience back to the fabulous forties.
After a short interval and a top-up of bubbly, the audience re-entered the hall to take their turn on the dancefloor – and it didn’t take much encouragement. Those who had learned a few tricks from Martyn Nelson (founder of The Swing Era) earlier in the day at the Ever-After Vintage Tea Dance, were joined by experienced members of the company leading to a packed and popping dancing space. Old paired up with young, experts paired up with wannabe-experts, and everyone laughed and clapped along.
To end the evening, the Sugarfoot Stomp ladies took over to carry the dancing through to the later hours. Spinning of feet matched spinning of records for a truly ‘itchy’ and richly wonderful time.
These midland groups tend to team up regularly, so if you’re a forties fan then I not only recommend that you join in with their shenanigans, I insist it. Equally, if you’re simply looking for something different to do, fancy learning a few moves, or just want to sit back and enjoy some good music, then these are the guys to go to. Even if you’re passing by, and somehow happen to wander in on their company unannounced, then their vitality, dedication and charm are sure to persuade you to stay. The Ever-After Vintage Dance Spectacular was a grand event and something delightfully different to do in Birmingham this bank holiday weekend.
For more information on The Swing Era (www.theswingera.co.uk), The Jim Wynn Swing Orchestra (www.jimwynnswing.co.uk) and Sugarfoot Stomp (www.thesugarfootstomp.blogspot.co.uk), take a look at their websites where you can also find their upcoming events.