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Swing with the Fishes unites dancers of different backgrounds

Here’s what an all-ages 1920s dance party looks like

About 200 people filled the McInnes Room at Dalhousie University Saturday night, but the chairs were rarely occupied.

That’s because most of the guests were on the dance floor for the 7th Annual Swing with the Fishes event.

The dance is put on by the DalKing’s Swing Dance Society every year so members can put what they’ve learned into practice. Dancers of all ages and backgrounds come to this event from around the Maritimes to enjoy a night of swing dancing and the atmosphere that comes with it.

The Swing Feat East Coast Big Band played music until midnight. Dancers were encouraged to wear semi-formal outfits and accessories reminiscent of the 1920s and the 1930s.

The Signal took to the dance floor to meet several of the guests.

 

Kyle Wyenberg

[media-credit id=101108 align=”alignnone” width=”726″]Patrick Fulgencio - Swing with the Fishes[/media-credit]

Wyenberg, 49, is a flight dispatcher who has been swing dancing for five years. This is his fourth time at Fishes. He came to this year’s event even though an injury prevented him from dancing.

“It’s kind of like my family,” he said. “They’re all young people and old people, and beginners and senior people that have been dancing for a long time. It’s pretty nice.”

 

Chris Radcliffe

[media-credit id=101108 align=”alignnone” width=”726″]Patrick Fulgencio - Swing with the Fishes[/media-credit]

Radcliffe, 34, is a file clerk for the provincial government. This is his sixth year at Fishes. Radcliffe has taught swing dancing lessons for the society.

“Fishes is like our celebration of what we do, opening it up to everyone,” he said. “We have public events, but this is the public event of all public events. Get on your best gown or suit, come on out, dance to live music, and just enjoy everything that we at DalKing’s Swing love about the dance that we do.”

 

Ashleigh Boers

[media-credit id=101108 align=”alignnone” width=”726″]Patrick Fulgencio - Swing with the Fishes[/media-credit]

Boers, 33, is from Sydney, Australia. She is a bicycle tour guide. She’s been dancing for three years and this is her second time at Fishes.

“It’s just a lovely way for people of all ages to interact,” she said. “You meet people that you wouldn’t normally meet in your social circles. I think there’s quite a broad range of people from different backgrounds, countries and occupations, and it’s just a really nice mix.”

 

Joy Samuel

[media-credit id=101108 align=”alignnone” width=”726″]Patrick Fulgencio - Swing with the Fishes[/media-credit]

Samuel, 22, has been to Fishes three times in a row. Her favourite part is dancing to the live music of the big band. She works at Saint Mary’s University as a counselling centre assistant and a residence services officer. She began taking swing dancing classes in 2014, which is when she heard about Swing with the Fishes.

“I had just started swing dancing that summer and everybody kept talking about, ‘You need to go to Fishes because it’s the best event of the whole year, and you’ll never ever regret it,’ so I had to go check it out,” she said. “And they were right.”

 

Priyanka Varkey

[media-credit id=101108 align=”alignnone” width=”726″]Patrick Fulgencio - Swing with the Fishes[/media-credit]

Varkey, 26, has been living in Halifax for five years. This is her fourth year attending the Fishes event. She works as a student recruiter for Dalhousie University.

“I look forward to it every year, ever since I started swing dancing,” she said. “It has definitely made me a happier person. It has changed my life completely, for sure. I think the world needs to dance to be happy.”

 

Bridget Campbell

[media-credit id=101108 align=”alignnone” width=”726″]Patrick Fulgencio - Swing with the Fishes[/media-credit]

Campbell, 27, works for the federal government in information management. This is her sixth time at Fishes. She’s been dancing since 2007, four years before she moved to Halifax and started dancing with DalKing’s Swing. She was introduced to Swing with the Fishes when she met people through the Halifax swing dancing scene.

“I came to Fishes in order to fill my dance craving, and it did not let me down,” she said. “I come to swing dancing because these are my friends. These are very welcoming people who just want to share their time and energy and creativity with each other. I have felt more at home in no other place.”

 

Connie Snider

[media-credit id=101108 align=”alignnone” width=”726″]Patrick Fulgencio - Swing with the Fishes[/media-credit]

Snider, 55, has lived in Halifax for 25 years. She works as a regional credit director for a mobile crane company. This is her fifth year at Fishes, though she’s been dancing for seven years. She got into swing dancing by listening to a live band at a bar in downtown Halifax. It was when she saw some of the DalKing’s Swing members in action that she decided she had to learn it herself.

“What’s not to like?” she said. “It has brought me joy every time I do it. You walk in the door, you might be having a really crappy day, feel down in the dumps, or no one cares about you. You walk in the door, you get hugs, smiles, and you walk out of the door with a big smile on your face, that’s what it does for me.”

 

Yvonne and Bruce Delo

[media-credit id=101108 align=”alignnone” width=”726″]Patrick Fulgencio - Swing with the Fishes[/media-credit]

The Delos are a retired couple. Bruce is 60 and Yvonne is “younger,” says Bruce. This is their fourth time attending Fishes. The Delos had ballroom danced for a while before Yvonne convinced Bruce to take swing dancing lessons with her. They found swing dancing to be more fun than ballroom.

“The people involved are great,” Bruce said. “They’re much more open; it’s a much more accepting community.”

“It’s not common, at least not for our age group, to have dances,” Yvonne said. “I love watching these young kids dance. They’re so imaginative and so energetic. I could sit here and watch them dance all night if I wasn’t dancing, myself. I’m just happy to watch them, and they’re all so nice.

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