Swing Winter ball at Ashton Hall

Rhythm Remedies.
Rhythm Remedies.

Passionate lindy hop dancers are pairing up with clients of CancerCare for a Strictly Come Dancing-style charity event.

Organised by Lancaster Lindy Circle and Bay Balboa, the Strictly Swing Winter Ball will sashay into action at the Ashton Hall in Lancaster at 7pm on Friday, December 14.

Karen Hine and Vytautas Astromkas Lindy Hop event.

Karen Hine and Vytautas Astromkas Lindy Hop event.

Clients, volunteers and supporters from CancerCare have been busy learning to swing dance and have partnered up with experienced dancers to compete in the Strictly Come Dancing-style competition mid-way through the evening.

Vytautas Astromskas, 28, from Lithuania, is one of the experienced lindy hop dancers and is paired with CancerCare volunteer and former client, Karen Hine.

Vytautas, a nuclear engineering researcher who works at Lancaster University, has lived in Lancaster for more than two years.

He said: “Karen is picking things up very quickly. It’s the first time either of us have done something like this.

“We have a good connection. I hope everyone will be inspired by us to try lindy hop.

“I’m on the organising committee of the Lancaster Lindy Circle and my partner, Ausra Andrisiunaite, is also a lindy hopper.

“Lindy hop is very popular in Lithuania; my country has produced some of the great international lindy hop dancers.”

At 6.8ft, Vytautas is a lot taller than Karen but it hasn’t proved to be a problem for either of them: “If I can dance, anyone can!” smiles Vytautas.

“As far as I am concerned, lindy hop gives me the ultimate freedom of dance and expression. It also has a very good social side to it. “Lindy hop originated in Harlem in the ‘20s as a result of the racial segregation of Afro-American people. They were not allowed to go to the big band dances and they started dancing in the streets. It was swing dancing with a bit of a twist to it and a lot of improvisation.

“The Savoy Ballroom was the first place where black and white people could dance in the same place. Lindy hop became a huge sensation.”

Vytautas said he was happy that the proceeds from the event will go to CancerCare.

Karen, 57, lives in Halton with her husband and two daughters and, until recently, worked as a teaching assistant at Nether Kellet Primary School.

Karen first came into contact with CancerCare when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. At that time she made use of the art support group and is currently a member of the online Phoenix support group. Since finishing work Karen is now volunteering as a receptionist at CancerCare’s Lancaster base - Slynedales.

Karen said: “I love Strictly Come Dancing so I thought the competition would be a good thing to do.

“I signed up very quickly. It was a fantastic idea at the time but I’ve since realised that my feet don’t go quite in the right direction!

“I’ve done some dancing in the past but nothing like the lindy hop, so this is a real challenge.

“My husband and daughters are right behind me with this challenge and will be coming to watch.”

At the event there will be live music from Martyn Nelson and the Rhythm Remedies, playing classic jazz standards specifically for swing dancers. Talented local swing DJs will also be playing vintage music from the 1920s to the 1940s including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Benny Goodman.

Local dancers will be shimmying the night away in vintage styles such as the lindy hop and Balboa from 1930s Southern California.

Tickets are available at https://bit.ly/2RdhEiR or https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/lancashire/ashton-hall-lancaster-town-hall/strictly-swing-winter-ball

To donate to Karen’s fundraising activities visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/karen-hine2