Los Angeles, CA, United States
Cleveland, OH, United States
I moved to LA in July of 1997 and didn't know anyone. OK. Not true. I knew a few peeps, but not well. And it became clear that I did NOT want to hang with them on a regular basis. More often than not, I sat at home ALONE. If I wasn't home, I was at a movie ALONE. On St. Paddy's Day 1998, I overhead a group of coworkers plotting their evening out. Tired of my lack of companionship, I promptly invited myself along. And since it was during Lent and I gave up drinking, they didn't mind as I was the Designated Driver. The final spot of the evening was "The Derby". I'd heard of it, (...who hadn't with "Swingers" already a cult fave?); but had never been. As the rest of my party was FUBARed, I was stone cold sober and falling in love with Lindy. I already loved the music and watching the effortless swingouts and couples smiling, I fell in love with the dance. Found out about lessons and made plans to return the next day. (...and so did all my drunken coworkers).
The next day I reminded everyone and I got all the excuses: "Uh... tired.", "Lots to do...", "Gotta do my laundry." This left me with a dilemma. Stay home again or go out on a limb, go by myself and do something new I found fascinating. As I am writing this story, it's clear what choice I made. I took my first lesson: March 18, 1998. I remember learning how to "East Coast". Eventually, that gave way to not being sure what the differences were between "Hollywood" and "Savoy" styles were. But I sure knew the difference when someone led it. HUGE!!
Lindy brought me friends (my FIRST is the State of CA.). Gave me an identity (I'm the tall black girl.) Even gave me 2 names: For a while some called me, "Dawn" - my middle name. Others: "Kelli" - my first name. (I find it easier to just go by both now -- Kelli Dawn). Lindy also got me my SAG card; totally IMPORTANT as an actress. FYI - it was an episode of 'Pacific Blue'. Lindy gave me a FAMILY in Cali and allowed me to miss Ohio and my real family less. Now it's my release from all things stressful. My true joy in life! Dancing makes me smile. And I am ALWAYS flattered when someone comes to me after a dance to compliment me or tell me I made them want to learn; cause THAT means I paid it forward. And it has come full circle... A bigger accolade I couldn't be paid.
OK, again... NOT TRUE! The biggest compliment I ever received was after I auditioned for Debbie Allen's movie - 'The Old Settler'. Norma Miller was there helping to select dancers. Norma came up to me and said, "Child, YOU can DANCE! Reminds me of the old days and how we used to dance. You are for real! At that moment, I said to myself - "I AM LINDY HOP!" (... for reals, Norma wouldn't lie...)
When/where did you first start doing Lindy Hop?
The Derby -- March 18, 1997. Learned East Coast from Kim Clever and David Frutos.
Why did you first start doing Lindy Hop?
Why not?? Seriosuly, read my dissertation titled - 'My Story' if you really wanna know.
What is the size of your local Lindy community?
Never counted them before. I'll start now... 1. 2. 3. 4. (..This'll take a while, check back with me in a bit!)
How often do you go out dancing or take lessons?
I don't take lessons any longer. I prefer to just screw up on the floor and learn something new. I issue a CHALLENGE to all leads -- make me learn something new. BRING IT!!
What is your favorite thing about Lindy Hop (both as an activity and as a community)?
I like that LA isn't lacking any style of Lindy. I take it for granted. Someone in this scene does everything. And it makes me cool when someone from a different scene says, 'Do you know (insert name)?' And I'm all like, 'Yep. On my speed dial.'
What do you do for a living?
Actress, teacher, Host of a stage show. You name it.. I've probably done it or will be doing it soon.
Year you were born?
What bit of non-swing info about you would the Lindy community find interesting?
Instead of saying I'm 6ft and 1in, I tell people I'm 5ft and13in. Was that interesting?
How has Lindy Hop changed your life?
I have some of the bestest friends in the world and I met them dancing. Some days I don't dance, but just listen to the music and love my life. Corny? Yep... it can happen! Sometimes, I'm sappy....
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