A Swing Story
Summary: A young woman reflects on the new role
she's found in a changing society. Written for an English class a few years
ago, dug up now for your entertainment.
Disclaimer: none. It's an original, baby!
Dedication: to Nonni, 'cause I know I probably
subconsciously based this character on you, and because I miss you.
has set on this sweltering July afternoon in downtown Buffalo, and the heat is
finally beginning to loosen its grip. I'm to go dancing with friends tonight; I
just learned to swing a few months ago at the prom, and I fell in love with it.
Dancing, swinging, takes me away from the doldrums of the daytime. Down in the
church basements and the clubs of downtown Buffalo, with the lights low and the
music played loud, I can just leave it all behind.
hair in a darkened shop window, I hasten my steps over to the stairs leading
down to the club, hurry down them and rap on the door. They open the door, I
hand the man 50 cents, and I'm in.
smoky and dim in the basement of the cafe, and the mood is relaxed and exciting
at the same time. It's early, and the band is still tuning up and warming up.
There's a low murmur of people talking, and an occasional loud laugh. I walk up
to the bar and lean over, waiting for the bartender. Drinks for ladies are free tonight. I order a lemon soda, as
always, and scan the room. I see a lot of familiar faces there, and wink and
wave at everyone.
my hair back, getting into the mood, I saunter over to a table where a handsome
young swinger in a genuine zoot suit is sitting alone.
Charlie," I murmur in my most velvety voice. I feel like a glamorous actress playing a role: the sexy,
fun-loving, modern feminist who's not afraid to put herself out there and play
looks up and grins at me, taking the last drag of his cigarette. He stubs it
out and stands slowly, then gives a slight gentlemanly bow. Just then the band
gets in their places and the music starts. It's a risky beat, a dangerous
sound, and I love it. Charlie offers me his hand, as he has before.
"Would you like this dance?"
I fold my
hand over his.
"Why, as a matter of fact, I would."
me out into the floor and we pause a second to catch the rhythm. Then,
suddenly, his feet begin to move and I'm pulled along, dipping sideways on the
third step, feet gleefully accentuating the crazy beat coming from the band
da-da-dat, tap-STOMP da-da-dat!
is no longer the controlled, polite and 'ladylike' figure it was just a few
hours ago, sitting in the drawing room of my parents' home. I'm a flurry of
rhythm and step, I'm a swinger. Charlie twirls me, then catches and dips me
down, with a broad grin flashing across his face. We move it across the
polished wood floor, and he picks me up over his head, throwing my weight
around to the beat.
da-da-dat, tap-STOMP da-da-dat, da-da-dat...
wears on in that manner, me dancing with a cat- I laugh, thinking of my
mother's confused look when I used that term for the first time- who's
literally sweeping me off my feet. We have danced together almost every weekend
of the summer, and have even become somewhat of an "item" in the jazz clubs in
this part of town. I wonder what my mother would say if I brought him home.
She'd probably overreact and holler that I was dating Al Capone. In the
daytime, though, he was just another unemployed factory worker... a secret that
nobody else knew but me, because nobody ever asks anyone else who they are
during the daytime.
doesn't matter in a swing club, anyway; nobody cares how much wealth you have,
or whether you're a Jack or a Jill, or even if you're colored. Everyone's just
having a good time together. Everybody's equal. It isn't laughable for a woman
in a swing club to announce she wants to go to college; a lot of us in here do.
is getting older, and people are starting to leave. With a little spark of
sadness I hear the band leader announce the last dance of the night. I notice
I'm beginning to feel tired. But no way I'm stopping until this last song is