Have a Swinging New Year! Setting Intentions for 2024 and Beyond.

In Contributors by Mary-Anne Slezacek

The transition from one year to the next is usually a time for reflection and resolutions. This invariably entails some disappointment for not fulfilling the previous year’s resolutions, but let’s not get hung up on that! There’s always time. However, sometimes we get to bask in the glow of a year well spent. Perhaps I’m looking at 2023 like an Instagram profile (only the best bits), but my reflections lean more towards the latter. I didn’t become rich, as had been my main intention for 2023 (possibly a little over-ambitious), but I did have an incredible year full of love, laughter, adventure and of course, dance! Sometimes I think that dancing has become a little too much of an obsession. But can we really have too much of something so wholesome and healthy?

Cape Town Swing is growing and with such a dedicated crew and a woman as unstoppable as Muriel at its helm, this ship is headed for some exciting places! So, I thought now was the time to invite the CTS community to share their reflections on 2023 and their intentions for 2024. May it help us to manifest an incredible future.

I asked the community three questions:

  1. What do you feel you’ve accomplished this year? What are you most proud of?
  2. What have you enjoyed the most about CTS?
  3. What do you want to accomplish or work towards this year? Any habits you want to adopt/leave behind in your dancing? Anything you want to contribute to the team or community?

I’ll go first:

1. I feel I’ve made pretty good progress with my dancing in the last year and I feel confident dancing socially. Learning routines and new moves is no longer so daunting and difficult. The blog has given me a lot of satisfaction and I’m proud of the content we’re producing.

2. So much! Swing Camp. Both of them. And the Team Getaway. The Heritage Day gig with the Pebble Shakers was a particularly fun night. The Pebble Shakers are always a blast! Our Muizenberg Swing crew has remained tight, and it’s such a joy to continue growing together as dancers, learning with and from each other. It’s been wonderful to see the novice groups gain confidence on the social floor and build friendships with dancers from the city centre areas too. I’ve enjoyed discovering how dance has helped so many people in diverse and similar ways. Each of us has a story to tell about how dance has changed our lives and I’ve been fortunate enough to hear many of them. Mostly, I’ve enjoyed friendship and community.

3. I want to continue to develop and push myself as a leader. Following is my true love, but as my leading confidence grows, I understand how wonderful it can feel to guide a dance. I especially enjoy seeing new dancers smile because you’re leading them in a comfortable dance that doesn’t divert too much from the basics… because that’s about the extent of my repertoire!

Jazz

1. I have so much to thank CTS for. I joined the music/DJ team and have DJed for a bunch of events and socials. I have learnt to lead and follow this year! I feel comfortable following and enjoy adding my own styling when I dance and am excited to get to that stage as a lead. I am most proud of learning the Trickeration routine, I hope to perform sometime soon!

2. The community has been a massive and unexpected joy in my life this year! I have enjoyed the exercise/fitness and learning I have got out of it, of course. I have found genuine friendships with people in the scene, who supported me through a very tough year. I have found other jazz music and history nerds to trade songs and documentaries with. And fellow vintage fashion lovers too. Actually, this is an impossible question to answer!

3. I want to help create a performance troupe. I hope to continue to contribute to the DJ/music and Design teams. I hope to grow as a leader and lead more on the social floor.

Diccon

1. Any improvement.

2. Everyone is friendly and non-judgemental.

3. More steady improvement

Gesa

1. In terms of dancing, letting go and listening and trusting my dance partners more.

2. Live Music events. Lovely private parties. Friendly community.

3. I will try to attend some intermediate classes and workshops again.

Ruby

1. I worked really hard and consistently with swing dancing in 2023. I’m proud of how far I’ve come with my dancing and with the connections within the community.

2. The dancing, socialising, community and constant learning.

3. I want to build my confidence with leading and gain more skill in teaching. I want to leave behind this weird kick I do before a rock step – not a fan.

Hendrik

1. I’m most proud of getting far out of my comfort zone and accomplishing a goal almost as old as myself – to learn to dance. Rather late than never.

2. The vibe: music, culture, dance, venues and getting to know people. All welcoming, fun, playful, forgiving, light-hearted, considerate and thoughtful dancers. It’s also been great to learn about jazz, lindy hop, history, volunteerism, dance etiquette and dance culture.

3. I want to become a better dancer and contribute more effectively overall. To become less rigid and predictable or boring to put it simply (at times mid-dance I get bored of my own tendencies). To think less and dance more while on the social floor. This will take time and most importantly it will require dancing a lot, with a variety of dancers to diversify the influences I receive. The more I practice the more naturally I move to music. Quality over quantity: sometimes less is more. I want to improve the diversity of my dance style whilst keeping quality in mind. To practice any specific topic/move sufficiently and not get caught up in volume (knowing a bit of everything but being a master of none). I will continue to learn new things, but learn them well before moving on. In a nutshell, I want to dance more. I would also like to contribute more towards the community in whatever way that is meaningful and effective. I’d specifically like to help grow the community by showing interested outsiders how easy it is to learn and have so much fun. The more dancers, the merrier.

Nicole

Only answered what she enjoyed most, but it’s a good one: “Seeing how the community has grown in 2023”.

Michael K

1. Finally cracking the Charleston!

2. Building friendships.

3. I’d like to focus on more improvisation and musicality within my dance. Also, more blues!

James R

1. My social dancing has really progressed.

2. Dancing! And being part of a community with so many lovely, fascinating and inspiring human beings!

3. Keep on having fun and becoming more fun to dance with.

Muriel

1. Dance wise, I haven’t accomplished much. But the time I’ve put into community organising seems to have paid off and I’m proud of that. I’m most proud of the big strides we’ve made in structuring the teaching pathway.

2. The good vibes! Such beautiful souls in this community. And a more and more organised team that’s eager to make fun things happen.

3. I’m really hoping to create more space in my personal schedule for dance training. I’ve taken almost no classes in the last four years, and my dancing hasn’t improved. I’m eager to change that — to train my solo jazz, my lindy hop (as a follower and as a leader), to perform a bit here and there. If I had all the time in the world I would also learn more tap, balboa, airsteps, solo blues, slow bal, and some SA dance styles like pantsula and amapiano… but a girl’s gotta be realistic!

Selina

1. This year has been my first full year of swing! I discovered the term “ambidancer” and have found the invitation to both lead and follow right from early on to be really empowering and am proud to have tried this.

2. One of the things I have enjoyed most about getting to know CTS this year has been how intentional it is about positive community building which was not something I had expected.

3. My dance intention for 2024 is to host more blues parties and find ways to learn blues together and to develop more as a fun ambidancer as well as to step out of my comfort zone with Ain’t Misbehaving at Africa Burn. A huge thanks to everyone who community organises in this space!

Sash

1. I definitely became more confident in my leading ability, and being able to switch roles whilst dancing is a fun challenge!

Julian

1. I went from zero swing skills to being able to social dance, so I accomplished a lot last year. I’m proud I can mostly handle myself on the social dancefloor, still the occasional awkward vibe, but not too many.

2. I enjoyed Swing Camp the most. It felt like I attended a real swing festival.

3. What do I want to accomplish this year? I want to figure out new dance moves from home, maybe online learning, that I can take to the social dance floor. New year, new approach! lets see what happens.

Here’s to a swinging new year!

Let’s continue dancing and community building for an even better year of Swing in 2024. Now that we’ve set our intentions, let’s work together to make great things happen.

Happy New Year everyone!

About the Author

Mary-Anne Slezacek

Mary-Anne teaches English as a foreign language. She discovered swing dance in October 2022 and has been hooked ever since. She also loves reading and writing, so she's delighted by her role as Editor of the CTS blog, combining her passions and delving deep into the world of swing.