ANN/THE STAR – Seven years ago, when Juyeon Song moved from South Korea to Malaysia from for work, she spent the first three months mostly alone.
Acknowledging the mental stress it caused her, she said, “I hardly spoke to anyone. I was lonely.” She even considered going back home.
Then, a new acquaintance invited Jenn, as she’s better known, to a Lindy Hop taster’s class. Since it was close to where she lived at the time, she decided to go.
“I needed friends,” she said matter-of factly.
After the class was over, there was a social dance. This is partner dancing that is informal, relaxed and done for pure enjoyment and recreational purposes. Music from the era is played and dancers can be as fancy as they want or keep to simple steps.
But Jenn wasn’t comfortable and didn’t try to dance at all. What did cheer her up, however, were the people she met at the event. She gushes about how friendly everyone was. And so she kept going for socials, eventually finding her feet.
“I am so happy to have discovered Lindy Hop,” said Jenn, who works at a media agency.
“If not for this dance, and the community, I don’t know if I would have stayed in Malaysia.”
Today, she is one of the class instructors and a member of the organising committee for KL Swing.
And she’s not the only one to have found their squad. Many close friendships have been forged within the KL Swing community. Members meet outside of class and socials for non-dance activities.
Some Lindy Hoppers were interested to take up the dance as an extension of their love for jazz music, others were simply looking for another form of exercise.
Tan Cher Hau simply wanted to dance. He hadn’t set his mind on any one particular type so he simply asked Google for “dance near me”. By happy coincidence, a studio very close to his home was offering swing dance lessons. He’s honed his skills for years now.
“There’s a lot of engagement in this community. The people are helpful and the atmosphere at socials is very pleasant,” he says.
Nina Z went along with Cher Hau to those socials, but didn’t participate at first. However, she enjoyed talking to the people she met there.
Every time she went, she made connections with new people. Eventually, she did kick up her heels. Besides being with friends, Nina enjoys the satisfaction she gets when she dances.
“It’s a fun hobby,” she said.
“It brings me out of my comfort zone.”
While the reasons for taking up swing dancing and keeping at it may be varied, these dancers just can’t get enough of it.