A Fresh Perspective introduces dancer, writer, friend, and Jazz Squares member, Cameron Lovejoy. Cameron has been lindy hopping for almost ten years, starting in Columbia, South Carolina and making his way to New Orleans, where he now resides. Seeing as though he has a number of years under his belt, I thought it’d be interesting to get “a fresh perspective” on the dance from someone who’s done it for so long.
You can find him on Frenchmen with a typewriter, dancing at one of the socials, or teaching a lesson at the Spotted Cat restaurant every few Thursdays. Join me as I take a look at Cameron’s thoughts about dancing in New Orleans.
1. When did you see swing dancing for the first time?
Well, I saw Lindy Hop for the first time in 2006. And I remember taking a small workshop that same day. But getting into it was a slow process because their wasn’t much of a scene in my town.
2. What was your thought the first time you saw swing dancing?
There was this workshop fair at my summer camp back when I was a teenager. Two of the staff advisers were really good at it and wanted to show us. So everyone was crowded around this brick fireplace in the middle of Vermont. Then they played Lavender Coffin, I think, and danced. So it was the coolest thing, I thought, to see this rubber band dance. The dancers were so good. The style was so playful. I went crazy about it.
3. What’s your absolute favorite thing to do, besides dancing, of course?
Probably write poetry. I do that almost every day. But I also dance every day. So, you could say it’s my physical and mental balance.
4. Favorite solo jazz move?
Uh, I really like Crazy Legs and the Shish-ka-boom-ba from the Big Apple. And this is a cheesy one but I like the Scarecrow a lot.
5. Favorite TV show growing up?
Definitely Hey Arnold. In the first episode they dress up as these fruits for a play they’re in. But they end up getting on the wrong bus and go an adventure. Plus, there’s jazz throughout the whole show. So I think my love of jazz and traveling started with Hey Arnold, subconsciously.
6. If you had to pick one dance move to lead during an entire three-minute song, what would it be?
Swingout. When I played drums, I’d always try to do some kind of fill at the end of a measure. Or add an accent here or there. So it’d be really hard to keep the same vanilla swingout for that long. But if I had to pick, it’d be that….or high-fives.
7. In your opinion, what makes a really good lead?
A really good lead allows the follow to finish their sentences, and guides so that the other can speak. They’re soft enough to feel gushy, but firm enough to convey their ideas.
8. What’s your number one favorite dance memory?
This isn’t a specific memory, but there are times when it’s late at night and you’re kind of delirious, and keep dancing song after song, and you’re sweating so much -- like your eyes are burning, there’s so much sweat -- and you’ve even slightly injured yourself and know you probably shouldn’t keep dancing but you do anyway, and there’s a live band playing and everyone wants to dance with you and you want to dance with everyone else.
9. Is New Orleans different at all compared to other swing communities? How?
A hundred percent. You guys are spoiled. I mean, so many other cities have like one night a week, maybe two, at an appointed dance hall or some weird building with a terrible floor. Here, we have the option to dance to live music pretty much any night of the week. And there’s the social aspect to it. Not just the people you’re with, but the people who are visiting New Orleans, the bands who feed off the dancers and vice versa. And even if the floor sucks or if it’s crowded, it’s just a great time.
10. What’s your favorite book of all time?
Uh, I really love Daracula by Bram Stoker, Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote, and I’ve really been getting into Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.
11. Where’s your favorite spot to dance in New Orleans?
Hmm, well the energy at the Spotted Cat is awesome. But, I love the floor at DBA...and the space at DBA...and the beer at DBA. Soooo….DBA.
12. Why did you hate the new Spider-Man movie with Tom Holland (no pressure, we just want to know)?
Ugh, it was just super formulaic and cheesy and cliche. They just recycled the same lines and the same message from every other superhero movie. Plus, I thought Spider-Man was just really whiny.
13. What non-dancing areas of your life has dancing helped you evolve in?
Definitely drumming. Being able to know measures and counts. Being able to know the difference between the “and” and the “e” and the “1” and the “2”. To know through my body where the “1” is or where I can add an accent, and just understanding the structure of music. Also I feel like it helps with the rhythm of metered poetry. And then relationships, as well. Whether platonic or romantic, just in listening to each other. I feel like a lot of people don’t let others speak enough. So as a lead in the conversation I’m conscious of listening more.
14. Is this what you do, hop out of bed and spit wisdom?
Well, I don’t hop out of bed. I Lindy Hop out of bed.
15. Favorite place to get a cup of coffee in the city?
I’d say St. Coffee’s pretty good. But if I’m going for the atmosphere, I’d say Flora’s.
Ian Monroe is a contributing writer for Crescent City Swing, community member, and friend.