Lindy Hop at the Stag’s Head
Shooting New Year’s Day’s Vintage Jive and Lindy Hop was special because of everyone’s evident enjoyment. Not for these people the serene half-smiles of the tango dancer, the seriousness sometimes bordering on aggression of hip-hop or the ‘I’m too cool to look at my partner’ behaviour that has been an aspect of salsa cool for far too long. Smiles and grins were shared between dancers on the floor and off. I’m not saying that these people enjoy themselves more, or even that I enjoyed taking the photographs more but I did enjoy their shared smiles along with the photographic challenge. Even though most of the people I photograph love dancing it’s rare to take a social dance photograph with everyone in the room smiling broadly, so was a welcome change.
And challenge it was! I had effectively been commissioned to take photos and needed some good ones, but the room was small and mostly dark with musicians at one end and DJ at the other. The dances are all fast-paced and most of the time, the only way I could get photos that made sense was to stand on a chair or low table and shoot down, which means a lot of my images don’t have the perspective I’d normally choose.
I had to bring the chair in from another room too, and while this was possible at the beginning of the night the press of bodies was such that I couldn’t move the chair once I had placed it.
The light, such as it was, was of the bright-flourescent-changing-colours type with which the camera processesor seems to have particular problems, which made it a fun challenge to get good shots of people in moves recognisably of their dance genre (as opposed to photographs that could be from any couples dance at all).
I’ve posted this series because I love the dancers’ expressions, because it’s one of a series that I didn’t do standing on the table (instead I was sprawled on the floor at the front of the stage) and because it shows the sequence of their moves. I’ve not finished processing all the images of the day and doubt I’ll end up considering the series my best, or even my favourite of the night, but it is documentary dance photography in the narrowest sense of the word (Nothing has been added to or removed from the images) and because the pictures show how carefully they’re dancing together, the sheer quantity of people in the room is implied rather than having to be shown.