“You’ve loved dancing since you were a little girl,” my mom said to me one time. “There was a time when you always came home much later than the other kindergarten kids. One day, I went to see what you were doing on the way and saw you moving three steps forwards and two steps back. You were dancing on your own on the way home.”
Read Chapter 1 to learn about my dancing life before swing dance and how I met swing dance in 2010.
Author: Xiaojie Qin
After I moved back to Beijing in 2011, I continued to go to swing dance parties. My Monday evening routine back then was to come home, rest, have dinner, dress up and go to swing dance. I often was one of the last few to leave. There were no other dancing nights, so every good dancer in town would show up at CD Blues on Monday evenings.
That same year, I went to Swing Time Ball for the first time. It might even have been the first one ever, although I can not be sure. I didn’t know Swing Time Ball would eventually become the biggest annual swing dance event in China and internationally reputable a few years later. For me, that December night was just a night where we had a special dance event for all the dancers that we all knew in town. There were performances, dance competitions, and what was just a social dance. Now, looking at some old videos, I realize we even had a band at the ball! I joined a Jack and Jill competition, and back then it was all nanshen (男神, the very popular lead dancers) that were in the line up!
Swing Time Ball 2011 Beijing
The next year, in 2012, I went to Great Wall Swingout, which was happening for the first time Beijing. From then on, there have been a lot of swing dance trips! I’ve gotten to dance at the best annual party in the country, and with the best and most enthusiastic dancers around the world in many events, including CSI in Korea (2014), Blues Weekend in Boston (2015), Big Bang in Bangkok (2016), and Herräng Dance Camp in Sweden (2019). Of course, I attended Swing Time Ball annually as well. What a blessing it is to be able to dance, be inspired, be free and to feel deeply connected with the world!
CSI Korea, 2014
Blues Weekend, Boston, 2015
China Lindy Hop Championship, 2015
Great Wall Swing Out, 2015
Great Wall Swingout, 2016
Oh, looking back on those times, it seems like life was all good then! But, not quite! Those were the years that I always had a full calendar, being in my 20s and early 30s, throughout which I was so caught up in “trying to figure out my life.” I thank swing dance for creating a space for my mind to calm down, and for my goals and confusion to be put on the shelf. In many ways, swing dance was my anti-depressant during times that I struggled with depression. When the music was playing and I was not haunted by my thoughts, I was okay. Thankfully, I always get through depression one way or another—I never stopped dancing!
Certainly I dance more when I want to connect with children. If you give them a chance, children really show you how to have fun in life. In dancing we are all equals, and we can play and laugh together. Back when I had a job that took me to many rural areas in China, I was thrilled to just hang out with the kids. I would always show them some swing dance moves. It made so many people happy, just kicking our legs and turning our hips. And just like that, a decade has gone by. These trips, events and people have given me so much joy, simplicity and inspiration that I feel greatly expanded.