If you’ve ever spent time at the Full Swing studio (or even just on social media), chances are you know this face:
This is Ella Foxgerald, studio manager, general dogsbody, and all round face of Full Swing! Now that we’re coming into winter, Ella needs to keep busy enough that her little paws don’t get too cold, so we’ve had a chat and decided that it’s a great time for her to have a go at dog-blogging – or “dlogging, as she calls it… we’ll see if it catches on. So without further ado, we’re handing the keys over to Ella for her first instalment of Ella Interviews! To start with she asked some of her fave friendly faces around the studio about life, dancing, and, of course, adequate nutrition. Sumaya and Andrew have both been dancing less than a year, Caroline a wee bit longer than that, and we’ve been told that our lovely teacher Brent (who has just left us for icier southern climes) has been dancing since time immemorial.
Ella: Hi everyone, and welcome to my dlog takeover! I’m very excited to be here. I’m excited to be most places, but here in particular because the studio is full of the best people! Thank you for coming it’s really nice to see you would you like to pet me? Excellent, good pats, thanks for that. Now before we start, just checking – does anyone have any food?
Sumaya: Ah.. No?
Caroline. I only eat chocolate, and that’s fatal to dogs.
Andrew: I do! My last cookie I’ve been saving just for you! That’s all I have left though…
Ella: Thanks Andrew, nice to see some of us came prepared. You came to win. (Interviews are not a competition – Ed.) Is everyone sure? Do you want to check your bags?
Brent: Yes I’ll check… no sorry, nothing today 🙁
Caroline: Yep, sorry, only sticky wrappers.
Sumaya: Pretty sure. Hang on a sec. Oh wait. I have chocolate. But like Caroline said, you can’t eat that.
Andrew: Oh, I’m pretty sure I’d know if I had any more food in my… hang on, there is another cookie in here. It must have snuck in earlier. You can have it, but that’s all that’s left!
Ella: Thanks again Andrew, it’s an honour to work with a true professional such as yourself. Now, apparently I’m supposed to ask you all about swing dancing rather than food, which is a tragic error in prioritisation in my opinion, but here goes: How did you get into swing dancing?
Caroline: I started a year ago when I had a rough spill on my mountain bike and decided to take a break and try something different. Your studio was close to my work… and I’ve been addicted ever since.
Sumaya: A friend of mine does swing and one time showed me videos at work. After about a week of binging on swing videos and music I decided to come along and try.
Andrew: Normally I start with a rock step into some Charleston basics until I get the tempo down… wait, do you mean how did I start learning? Well September 2017 I was walking down Cuba street with my good friend Jamie and we saw a sign advertising a swing dance bootcamp. I thought, ‘there’s no way I would ever be able to do something like that’, to which Jamie agreed. However, we ended up convincing each other that it would be good for the other person, and basically goaded each other into signing up. After the bootcamp I realised I had found my people and have been dancing ever since.
Brent: I have been wanting to do swing dancing for a long time now and it was one thing I wanted to do when I moved back to Wellington after 19 years away in the Hawke’s Bay. I started learning West Coast Swing until Amber Sweet convinced me to come to the dark side and do some Lindy – It’s no longer the dark side! I absolutely love it.
Ella: What’s your favourite swing dance related memory or experience so far?
Caroline: It has to be the Wednesday night Circus bar when I took a spill on the dance floor (my lead shall remain nameless). Everyone was all politeness and pretended they didn’t see.
Brent: Hmm…I have so many. I guess for me is progressing to teach and especially to teach with Saran. She has been so supportive and encouraging and now I feel we have a connection with our teaching. I had my own ballroom dance studio ( (a long time ago..) and loved teaching so being given the opportunity to teach again has been awesome. Thanks Full Swing and especially Saran! (WE MISS YOU BRENT! Looking forward to teaching with you again soon! – Saran)
Sumaya: Oh that’s a hard one. Probably, my third speakeasy. I was learning blues, balboa and lindy and felt relatively ok at socially dancing all three. I think I danced to almost every song, saw the Big Apple routine for the first time, and then had a truly magical bluesy end to the evening.
Andrew: At some point I went from being ‘the guy that people danced with because he’s new and don’t want him to be left out’, to “I want to dance with him because this is my favourite song and I enjoy dancing with him”. I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but it was a pretty great feeling.
Ella: If you were in a life or death situation involving lava and potentially monsters (the worst monsters you can think of, like vacuum cleaners) and your only way to escape was by doing a dance move… which move would you pick?
Brent: It would have to be a blues move. Pivots into a texas tommy followed by closed hold and really moving my hips. I am sure that would scare away the monsters!!
Caroline: Michael’s crazy wiggle hip move – no monster could possibly follow it.
Andrew: Moonwalk obviously. I may not get away quickly, but at least I’ll look cool while I go.
Sumaya: Exaggerated frog like boogie backs. Not only could I spring away to safety, but hopefully the sight would also confuse/weird out the monsters long enough for me to get away.
Ella: What’s your number one style, fashion or dancing tip for new swing dancers?
Brent: Relax and have fun. Bend your knees and have your weight over one foot or the other at all times (that’s more than one… hehe).
Caroline: Try it in heels, it’s way more fun. Oh, and you can still lead when you follow!
Sumaya: If you have no idea what’s going on during a dance just try keep your rhythm and don’t be afraid to try something new. Generally it all works out and sometimes you can accidentally come up with a new move that ends up being really cool or a hilarious disaster.
Andrew: Have fun and don’t take it too seriously. Even if you’re a beginner and only know the basics that’s still going to be a fun dance to have, just enjoying yourself makes all the difference!
Ella: Wonderful, thank you everyone for sharing your time so generously. As a thank you, I’d like to offer you all the chance to rub my belly. Fantastic! Thanks! Oh, one last thing before you go, just making absolutely sure – does anyone have any food?
Brent: Haha… one muesli bar
Caroline: Food is evil – I try not to touch the stuff.
Andrew: Sorry, I’m all out. I don’t even have anything in my pockets… APART FROM THIS STEAK I WAS HIDING FOR YOU!! Who’s a good girl then!!! Yes you are – yes you are!!!
Ella: That’s it, Andrew wins, hands down. (Interviews are still not a competition – Ed.)