Calgary is Beautiful. Between visiting the penguins and elephants at the Calgary Zoo, taking photos of all the hidden treasures in downtown Calgary, or conquering your fears on the roller coaster at Calaway Park, It’s never hard to find something exciting to do with your favourite people. Having lived in Calgary for my whole life I’ve had the pleasure of really getting to know the city. There are little treasures to be found all over the city, such as the creations on the side of the Arts Commons building in downtown Calgary! Eighteen years later, this city never ceases to amaze me, as some of the newest places that I’ve discovered have come to be my favourite.
One of these places is the Mid Summer Night Swing at Poppy Plaza in Kensington. The first thing I noticed upon arriving at this location was the beautiful view. During the 1 hour class, and the 2 hour social dance, you are surrounded by busy city life, the Bow River, and a stunning view of downtown Calgary. On occasion there is live music, and when there is, the melody draws the attention of those who happen to wander by. The dancer’s smiling faces and laughter only add to the unique spectacle.
My fascination with Swing Dancing was also aided by the fact that it is something almost anyone can learn. I personally have only attended a few classes so I still fall into the “beginner” group, however the environment is beyond welcoming and members who have been dancing for longer are always excited to teach the newcomers a few extra tricks. People of all different shapes, sizes and ages come to these social dances, and you only dance as much as you are comfortable. If you don’t want to dance, you can take advantage of the beautiful weather and 50’s style music. There are benches dotting the plaza, as well as empty spaces to sit down for a picnic or to lay down and relax.
I had the pleasure of asking a friend of mine, who also introduced me to swing dancing, a couple of questions. She has been swing dancing regularly for almost a year now, although she tried it for the first time about a year before that. I asked her what she loved most about attending these dances and she answered with ease that she loves how silly it is, and how easy it is to express yourself with perfect strangers. When I have the opportunity to attend a class, I love to take some time to watch all the other dancers, you can see just how easy it is to get lost in the rhythm.
Growing up, my mother and father would dance together all the time. Before they were married, they’d take classes together and participate in dancing competitions and were even able to bring home a trophy! As they got married and had my siblings and I, they continued dancing whenever a song came on that carried a good rhythm. Although they didn’t swing dance, they would jive or two step, and try to teach me and my siblings whenever they could. Having the opportunity to watch my parents share that moment together was an important part of my childhood, and I believe it only sparked my interest in dancing even more.
The entire evening only costs around $5 for the Thursday evening outdoor dance, otherwise there is a Friday evening indoor dance that costs around $10 for the beginner lesson and social dance. Swing dancing is such an inexpensive way to spend quality time with your friends and family, and although this group is still widely unknown, I believe that it is a diamond in the rough.