Do you know your sugar push from your skip up? Lindy hop from the Charleston? Well, if you’ve been to any of the events put on by Bahrain’s first swing dance connoisseurs, ShakeDown Club, you sure will.
Started back in February, by Faisal Alshammary, Tosin Arowojolu and Khalil Rasool, ShakeDown Club debuted at Café Amsterdam, where they hosted a dance class on the terrace outside.
These days they’ve moved indoors to Studio RCT in Sanabis, where Alshammary and Arowojolu lead classes for people of all skills levels. “I try to stay away from technicality and ask learners to let themselves go and naturally do it the way it makes sense to them,” Alshammary tells us.
The Swing Era dominated the American music scene in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie popularised it and, later, in the ’50s and ’60s, singers like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald revived it.
Nowadays, swing is popular again, across the world, and right here in Bahrain, thanks to these three residents.
Alshammary himself discovered his passion in London, UK around four years ago and then, when he moved back to the region, he teamed up with Arowojolu, “since we are the only two swing dancers on the island”. Events specialist Rasool also helps organise themed evenings and concerts.
In fitness terms, because of the energetic nature of the moves, swing dancing is also an aerobic workout, which not only gets the heart pumping and calories burning, but also teaches coordination, boosts balance and, let’s face it, it makes you happy, too.
“You are going to learn the dance — I will make sure you do — but remember... there are no short cuts and quick fixes. It’s gonna take practise and lots of it if you wish to master the dance.” Once you do, Alshammary says, it’s transformational. Or, as one might say... it’s swell.
BD5 per class. firstname.lastname@example.org.