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 Goth dancers swing to their own tunes

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PostSubject: Goth dancers swing to their own tunes   Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:46 am

Goth dancers swing to their own tunes

By Laura Casey
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 07/02/2009 01:00:00 AM PDT
Updated: 07/02/2009 01:09:37 PM PDT


SURE, THE ANDREWS Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" is a classic tune to dance the jitterbug to, but it just doesn't suit you. Instead of saddle shoes, you have patent-leather Dr. Martens. Instead of a ponytail, you have a Mohawk. And your wardrobe is dripping with black clothing.

You've been Goth since you first heard Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Passenger," and although you would love to get on the dance floor, those traditional tunes just don't make your feet move.

Luckily, Brian Gardner's around promoting Swing Goth, a partner dance night for those with a darker side.

Gardner, 36, is a dynamo on the dance floor, particularly in swing dancing. He's been dancing for more than 12 years and can partner dance with even the most bumbling amateur.

Gardner also has a bit of a dark side. He loves Goth music and Goth nightclubs. But, in case you haven't heard, Goths are not known for playing nice with others on the dance floor, he says. Goths are more solo dancers, their style marked by sweeping arm movements and dramatic twirling.

"There's a lot of dancing by yourself and dodging invisible cobwebs, sure," Gardner says, describing the dance. So when he and his friends would show up at a Goth nightclub and partner swing dance to Goth music, people noticed. And people wanted to learn.

That's where Gardner's Swing Goth dance nights come in. Straight from his office job, Gardner puts on his dancing shoes and heads over to restaurants, night clubs and bars — mostly in San Francisco but now in the East Bay — to teach mostly shy and certainly black-clad Goths the art of partner dancing. And they do it to darker tunes played at Goth nightclubs and dance parties.

They can do this because Gardner went through his enormous iTunes library and did a surprising thing — he categorized the darker tunes Goths love by a swing dance beat. He says songs by Love and Rockets and Siouxsie and the Banshees have amazing jitterbug hooks while Björk, Portishead and Radiohead give way to deep blues dancing.

"Depeche Mode's 'Personal Jesus'... there could be no more quintessential Lindy Hop ever," he says.

Gardner has been doing Swing Goth for two years and makes anyone who walks into a class feel welcome by greeting them with a goofy wave and a loud 'hi!' He splits up the faces he recognizes with the strangers to teach two levels of dance.

He opens up his dance evenings teaching the regulars, such as Concord's Abel Hernandez and Richmond's Patti Talan, more advanced dance moves. On a recent Tuesday evening at El Rio in San Francisco, where Swing Goth is held frequently, he taught dips and lifts. He explained momentum and leverage and the way to keep a female partner from falling to the floor or knocking herself out while she dips.

Hernandez, who considers himself more of a Rockabilly than a Goth, has been wanting to learn how to partner dance for years, but every time he went with a friend to swing lessons, the lessons would end badly.

"I wasn't getting it until I came here," he says.

About 45 minutes into the casual class, which usually starts a bit late, he gathers the remaining Goths around to teach basic Lindy Hop moves. The crowd of about 20 is nearly evenly mixed between men and women, although a few more men are looking to learn how to dance this night. The women are dressed in fishnet stockings and flowing dresses while the guys are clad in mostly black. There is nervous staring at the floor and a handful of giggles as the dancers' hands meet for the first time and the first song.

Gardner says he tries to connect with each dancer at least once per class. He likes them to be quiet while he is teaching moves, but enjoys the conversation and ease when those moves are being tried between partners. Some dancers sing to the music as they walk warily though the steps, gaining confidence as each moment passes.

It was Nick Field of Palo Alto's first time at Swing Goth, and he says these are the type of people he'd like to meet and the music he'd like to hear on an otherwise slow Tuesday night.

"I get to do what I wouldn't normally do in a bar or a night club and it's fun," he says.

When the lessons are over, Gardner plays DJ for open dance where the men and women practice what they've just learned for an hour or so. This is when Gardner lets loose and shows everyone what he's made of, a funny hybrid of swing dancer and Goth at heart.
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PostSubject: Re: Goth dancers swing to their own tunes   Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:51 am

This is really cool.

As someone who's stuck in the 1930's, the Swing and Big Band music is right up my alley.

I'd love to see this guy in action and see if my raggedy bones would cooperate enough to allow me to give it a whirl.


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PostSubject: Re: Goth dancers swing to their own tunes   Fri Jul 03, 2009 4:09 pm

Quote :
"Depeche Mode's 'Personal Jesus'... there could be no more quintessential Lindy Hop ever," he says.

Ha ha! LOL LOL
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PostSubject: Re: Goth dancers swing to their own tunes   Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:48 pm

That's awesome.

And what's also awesome is that "our" music is so diverse and has lots of historical inspiration!
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