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Durham gears up for vintage jazz festival

It's hot-footing it back so get ready to party ... with preparations under way in Durham to host international festival DJam - with a chance to see some of the world’s finest dancers in action - Barbara Hodgson charts the rise of the vintage jazz dance style

Durham to enjoy blast of vintage jazz
Durham to enjoy blast of vintage jazz

Mention Lindy Jazz a few years ago and people wouldn’t know what you were talking about. But now the local enthusiasts behind the swing jazz craze have been putting their stamp on a movement that’s getting dance lovers in a spin in the region.

Classes and workshops run in Newcastle and Durham – and you could do worse than bop in to one of them if you haven’t yet broken your New Year resolution to tone up – and it’s again set to play a central role in the international festival DJam which returns for its sixth year to Durham this month.

The long-weekend jazz dance extravaganza recalls the gilded age of Lindy Hop, a dance fusion later known as the Jitterbug.

The “Grand Daddy of Swing”, it took off in the dance halls of Harlem in the 1920s, evolving from jazz music popular at the time.

When it caught on over here, its popularity lasted until the 1940s before falling out of fashion then, in latter years, making a comeback thanks to such clubs as Lindy Jazz, set up by Joo-Lee Stock who organises the festival which this year will bring more than 300 dancers from across the world to Durham from January 24-27.

“DJam is is much loved by the international dance community and locals alike,” says Joo-Lee.

A highlight for this year will be a Ritz and Glitz Party when those world best will showcase what they can do in a shimmying, sparkling visual feast at the Radisson Hotel on the Saturday evening.

Head to Durham to enjoy blast of vintage jazz
Head to Durham to enjoy blast of vintage jazz
 

The hotel will be hosting a number of parties over the festival’s four-day run as participants who take part in the range of workshops on offer – which will see expert teachers cater for all abilities – dress up and show off their new skills.

The workshops, specialising in Lindy Hop, Blues, Balboa – a style developed in the packed ballrooms of southern California – and Solo Jazz, will takes place at venues throughout the city.

Dance-lovers will take the opportunity to celebrate vintage jazz dance in all its forms but Joo-Lee says: “It will be The Ritz and Glitz Party on the Saturday evening that is the crown and glory of the whole event.”

For the first time the doors to this showcase event will be open to anyone, with 40 exclusive tickets up for grab.

Joo-Lee adds: “We are very excited to be able to offer a limited number of front-row audience tickets.

“These offer a perfect opportunity for members of the public to dress up in their most elegant outfits and enjoy a spectacular evening among friends, getting up close to some of the finest jazz dancers in the world as they take to the dance floor, accompanied by a live band.

“They’re open to all and include a reserved seat at a VIP table and a free drink on arrival. There is absolutely no pressure for any spectators to dance – everyone is welcome to sit back and enjoy!”

Tickets for the DJam Ritz and Glitz party, which takes place at the Radisson Hotel, Durham, from 8pm on Saturday, January 25 cost £27 and are available from www.lindy-jazz.co.uk/dance_home/book_tickets.htm

For more information on DJam visit www.dance-at-djam.co.uk and to find out about local Lindy Jazz swing dance classes visit www.lindy-jazz.co.uk

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