Doing the Lindy hop on the streets of San Sebastián
2017-11-01 15:40:00 -

Deirdre Molloy’s Dance Odyssey

Dance Odyssey is a blog by Deirdre Molloy about a unique opportunity – a sabbatical to travel the world and dance for a year. 


“Dance connects me to my African diaspora music and stories, the present moment, my body, my partner, my community, my sense of curiosity, and a feeling of pure joy,”

she writes.


“Lindy hop and blues also include European influences – often from white colonised peoples such as Scots and Irish. Folk music themes of resistance, resilience, love, sex, food and death are universal. 


“In Australia and Europe, the communities where blues and jazz vintage partner dances thrive today are urban, cosmopolitan, of majority European heritage. These are also my people. 


“It’s different context, a different time, but these dances still bring people together in creative expression and collective joy, like they always have. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Blues and jazz take what’s bitter, tragic or sad, make it sweet, poignant, funny, joyous. To suffer is human – so let’s make all the lemonade we can.”


In her first instalment for Metro Éireann, Deirdre travels to San Sebastián in northern Spain, a little-known hotbed for swing dancing…

One of the things I love about swing is the way it brings a room or a town square to life. It’s ephemeral yet timeless, and summons up a visual feast of vintage style and conviviality. 


Grand ballrooms with high ceilings relive their heyday with big bands and rooms full of swirling dancers. Sweet swing music and dancers animate the sun-dappled town squares to the delight of the locals. 


At Donosti Belle, we danced in the Miramar summer palace, and the Town Hall, both overlooking the sea. Our boulevard dance was watched by a large crowd of all ages.


This swing festival in Basque Spain offered many more beautiful moments that I don’t want to forget: walking up Mount Guell with Manuel from Zurich, a swim in gorgeous La Concha bay. Pinxtos (tapas) and txacoli (local white wine) with Celia, Donghoon and other dancers. Cheap pizza and aperols with Diego. Stories of the very charming and worldly Camino pilgrim, Lisa, 300km into her journey. The warm hospitality of our gracious American-Spanish hosts, Elizabeth and her sister. 


Four visiting dancers were welcomed into their beautiful, old world apartment: Lisa from Germany, Donghoon from South Korea, Celia from Zaragoza and myself. The dance venues were breathtaking, the weather a total blessing and city is a gem. Thank you, Donosti Belle!




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