Community Spotlight: Joachim

If you’ve been to Jazz Attack or swung out at a Rittenhop event in the past two years or so, you’ve likely seen a red hat atop a joyful figure; perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to meet and get to know Joachim.  Sadly, we will be saying farewell to our friend this week.  He is off to his next grand adventure.

We wanted to take this opportunity to share a bit of his story with ya’ll.  Erin Alcorn, our esteemed PR coordinator, sat down with in last month to talk about who he is and what Lindy Hop means to him.

Joachim & Camille | photo cred: Bill He

Where are you from originally and where do you commute to JA from?

Originally I am from the South of Germany. I have been living in Philadelphia for two years now. Originally I lived in West Philly, 3 blocks from UCAL, but when Jazz Attack moved I moved with it, to the Graduate Hospital area. (Ok, I did not move because of Jazz Attack.) I always take my bike to the dances.

Are you a student? What do you do for work?

I am a post doc, which is this weird limbo thing between a student and a professor … I do computer science research at Penn, and will be in Philly until end of July.

How long have you been going to JA?

Ever since I moved to Philly! I arrived July 31 and went to my first Jazz Attack on August 4.

What do you love most about JA/ dancing Lindy Hop & swing in general?

Dancing Lindy Hop has this amazing ability to change your mood from down and exhausted to high and exalted. I like the physical connection that comes with dancing, the non-verbal conversation with your partner where you find each other in terms of speed, power levels, moves, and I enjoy the free dose of oxytocin from all the nice embraces.

How did you get into dancing Lindy?

I could claim that I have danced since 16 years: In 11th grade I was on a highs chool student exchange to Wenatchee, WA, and have danced some
swing there. But that claim is a bit of a stretch: I did not dance swing for the next decade and essentially forgot about it.

Until 4½ years ago, when I was living a few months in Cambridge, UK, and had evenings to fill. I remembered that I once danced “this American dance”, figured that a town like Cambridge probably has that too and indeed, found a place to take classes and dance, and started to greatly enjoy it. Upon returning I found that the Swing Revival has reached Germany and have been dancing swing ever since.

Tell us about a challenge related to dancing that you’ve overcome.

I had to overcome my embarrassingly low sense for rhythm. For many years, I relied on my follower to indicate where the “one” is. Plenty of practice has improved this, but I still secretly confirm my rhythm
by observing my follower. I expect that a confident follower could trick me into dancing a whole song on the wrong beat without me noticing…

Who inspires your dancing?

No one in particular, or rather: every single follower. Ideally, I sense the particular mood and dancing style of my dance partner, and adjust accordingly. This way, every partner leads to a difference dance: More or less energy, small or big movements, powerful swing-outs
or delicate, musical rocking.

Any interesting facts about yourself that you’d like us to know!

You might think that I always wear fancy pants, button-down shirts, bow-ties and the red hat, but that is, in fact, only the case at dances. In real live I look like the nerdy scientist that I am.

The hat has special significance for my dancing, as it was hand-sewn by the friend who got me to keep swinging in Germany. It is actually the replacement for a similar hat (in Green) that she made out of my late
Grandmother’s table cloth, and which I have lost the green hat at a Swing event in Paris. If you find this hat at a flea market in Paris and return it to me, you’ll make me very happy!