The swing dancing scene in Reading is really a wonderful thing. You can learn Balboa on Monday, Lindy Hop on Tuesday, dance the blues on Thursday and there is even a university swing dance society that opens their lessons to locals. We have regular social dances, Sunday Swing at the pub and alongside this there are also events that bring some of the best dance teachers in the world to our doorstep. One such event was the Thames Valley Balboa festival which I attended last week and am still feeling a warm glow from.
The Thames Valley Balboa Festival ran by All Jazzed Up brought Sylvia Sykes, the woman generally credited for reviving Balboa, alongside Marty Lau, Laura Keat and Nick Williams to teach a two day Bolboa workshop in Henley. Balboa is a dance located firmly underneath the Swing Umbrella. Unlike Lindy Hop, the better known incarnation of Swing, Balboa is close. The steps are small, fast and the dance is generally less showy and more about connecting with you partner.
True to the nature of Balboa, the Thames Valley Baboa Festival was dedicated to connection and musicality. We learnt lots of variations, ironed out some the tricky steps, like crab steps, and I generally feel much more confident and enthused about Balboa. It also didn’t hurt that Henley Town hall is a beautiful venue and that the Jim Wynn Orchestra’s set on Saturday was brilliant. I wholeheartedly recommend this event and hope you keep an eye on the website for next year.
Just in the interests of full disclosure I am friends with the organisers of the Thames Valley Balboa Festival, although these thoughts are completely my own. I also recommend getting in touch with the organisers of this event if the ticket price is tricky to pay in one go. I understand that they are generally opened to paying in installments etc.