People often wonder why Swing dancers like so much dancing in boots instead of more vintage types of shoes. Danaé gives us the answer right here!
Ok, time for some honesty. Swivells is a brand mostly famous across the lindy hop universe. If you’re reading this and don’t know what lindy hop is, just google it. Who knows, you might take up a hobby.
To the point now. Swivells are quite the lindy hopper’s delight (see what I did there?). For starters, they are comfortable, they have a leather sole –just perfect for sliding from one side of the dancefloor to the other- and they are so colourful and fancy, which matches quite well with the whole atmosphere of a swing event.
There’s a bit of a trick there though. Why boots? Meaning, doesn’t a retro dance have to do with all the vintage dresses and the heels and the hairstyles? Isn’t it better to wear heels when you’re at a social event or even more so at a big festival?
I have been a lindy hopper for just a short little while and I will try to address these questions from a personal point of view. Yes, lindy hop is a dance that has been around for quite a while and it has huge historical references in its whole existence. The moves, the music, everything screams history. One could say that by keeping the ‘dress code’ there’s more respect paid to its grave heritage. That can be true, but not always that comfortable.
My first dancing shoes were a pair of awfully flat plimsolls, fleeing my feet in every triple step like Steve Mcqueen in ‘Papillon’. After many painful nights of dancing –or struggling to dance- and many, many torn pairs, I swore to myself that I‘ll get me a pair of proper dancing shoes. By the time I started my first try outs in lindy hop, heels were in their heyday. So, to my limited knowledge, the most popular flat shoes at that time around were mostly Keds. Heels it was then. And they were quite wonderful. Totally different feeling on swivels, finally being able to do slides and, damn, those turns! I felt like they elevated my dancing in general. At least, I hoped so.
But those who have met me know that I am not the gracious butterfly that the rest of lindy hoppers are. So it wasn’t a big surprise when I sprained my ankle on a night of vigorous dancing in heels. After that, long live the era of the boots.
So, what about dem boots. Firstly, we’re not talking about dead flat shoes; dancing boots have just as much heel as needed. Tall enough to help your posture and lower back, short enough to feel very confident while dancing as fast as you want. Secondly, better and safer(!) slides. I finally had control, I could slide my way in whatever direction, whichever way I wanted to. Well, to be fair, if you practice enough, you can do that in whatever shoe, but for me it felt much, much ameliorated.
And now to the most crucial part. My ankles were finally safe. In so many ways. Ankle boots cover, well, your ankle. So when dancing, or even simply standing, it supports the leg as needed. In addition, they offer that extra protection we all need; from all those vicious random kicks. Oh, you know what I am talking about. Kicks from other dancers around you, that can bring you to your knees cursing and swearing. Been there, had that –and done that, but I am really not proud of it. Heels tend to leave you a bit more exposed; they are gracious as hell, but there’s just too much skin uncovered.
The drawback one would find here could be, ‘yeah, but do I still look stylish and elegant in boots?’. True, heels tend to have this special flair, they match easier with vintage-like dresses and skirts perhaps.