Java Jazz Festival, Prambanan Jazz, and many jazz bars permeate Indonesia’s musical interests, but who here knows what the Lindy Hop is? Whilst the enthusiasm for jazz is alive and well in the country, the accompanying dances aren’t nearly as popular. Indoswing is here to change that.
Indoswing is a community built around the Lindy Hop, one of several types of swing dances. The volunteer-based community runs beginner workshops, advanced classes, and social dances where the community come together to share their love for Lindy Hop.
The best way to get involved in the Indoswing community is to join a beginner workshop, so that’s exactly what I did. The workshop was held at Yoga at the Loft at Tanah Abang Street in the Senayan area. It cost Rp.200,000,-., not bad for a two-hour session! Full of excitement (and nervous energy!) I entered the workshop room. Most of the people attending were total beginners at dance of any kind.
When our instructors, William Kusuma and Cecilia Cati, arrived, they used an effective tool to diffuse the nervous energy: they began dancing. Their fluid and energetic movements stunned us. With utter ease, they improvised their way through two songs, communicating through their movements. As their dance ended, we gave them a round of applause and jumped to our feet; everyone was eager to dance now.
The two-hour workshop ran us through the basics of the Lindy Hop, beginning with an explanation of its history. The Lindy Hop is one of a few swing dance types accompanying swing jazz. Originating in Harlem, the dance is a joyous celebration of Black History. The Lindy Hop emerged from combining the formal upper-class Waltz with the more energetic movements of traditional African dances. The combination gave birth to an energetic partner dance full of improvisation.
Teaching us the 6-count was the main goal of the workshop. The 6-count is considered the basic step of Lindy Hop, and learning this is integral to understanding the improv that happens later! It’s made up of the Rock Step and the Triple Step.
William and Cati first divided the class into Follows and Leads. Facing each other, we were first taught the Rock Step, which involves rocking your weight to your back foot and then again to the front. Next came the Triple Step. This move involves taking two and a half steps to each side.
To make the 6-count, we combined those steps in a three-part sequence of Rock Step – Triple Step – Triple Step. This was repeated like a mantra around the room as we tripped over our feet, keeping up with the music.
Besides beginner workshops, Indoswing hosts a series of socials. This is a weekly event where community members can get together to dance! They have a live music social every quarter, usually hosted at Motion Blue Jakarta. Level 1 and 2 classes are also offered for those looking to advance their technical knowledge.
Though nerve-wracking at first, socials are a fantastic way for beginners to learn from seasoned dancers. As fellow newbie Natasha said, “Just one dance at the social taught me so much”.
For those intimidated by the thought of starting from scratch, don’t be! Indoswing is geared towards people who dance as a hobby. Even William and Cati, two of four instructors at Indoswing, don’t have professional dance backgrounds.
William learned the Lindy Hop by joining a community in the US while working there. On the other hand, Cati is a jazz singer who joined the community after being introduced by a fellow musician.
They noted that, sadly, the jazz community hasn’t shown as much interest in the swing dance community as they’d hoped. William notes that Indonesian dance is “performative, it’s not a participatory art,” meaning people hesitate to join classes. “Also, the popular jazz in Indonesia is not swing; it’s usually Bossa and other genres, so it’s hard to find a swing jazz club,” Cati added.
Despite all this, the organisation has fully recovered from their Covid slump. With over 40 people attending their social, it’s safe to say the Lindy Hop community in Jakarta is on the rise. If you’d like to join the community, follow Indoswing on Instagram to keep track of their monthly events schedule.