I am a big advocate of hobbies — fly fishing, needlepoint, stamp collecting, ultimate frisbee, whatever floats your boat. Everyone needs something to enrich their lives, to make them a bit happier and more relaxed, to take their mind off of stress and work. For me, swing dancing falls somewhere between a healthy hobby and an unhealthy addiction. It’s definitely good for me, but if I don’t dance for a couple of weeks, I start developing withdrawal symptoms. Which is usually just a general pining and frustration in the lack of dancing in my life.
But here’s what happens when I go to cities. Apparently. At least starting now. Within four days, I find their swing scene and join it. And slip right in as naturally as I do in my home scene of NYC. So swing dancing here is not an addiction, but a way to meet new people, to fit in and belong in a place you are completely unfamiliar with, to feel welcomed as soon as you enter the city. Swing dancing is a special hobby that is internationally practiced and provides the best network of anything I know, besides perhaps college fraternities. It also helps that the grand majority of swing dancers are decent, honest, down-to-earth people who will offer warm friendship and good advice and perhaps even a couch to crash on if you need it. (Yes, there’s the 5% who are creepy, or socially awkward, or think that they are God’s gift to women — or men — on the dance floor, but they’re the distinct minority.) So, long story short, I walked into a room I had never seen before to dance with people I had never met…and it felt like home. It felt like a slightly toned-down version of Fram (weekly DJ’d NYC dance): a bit cooler, a bit less crowded, a bit less variety in the level of dancers, a lot fewer dancers, but it was Edinburgh’s version of Fram. Thus, it’s home. In…Scotland. Why not?