//vol.16-1 Viewpoint: Swing dance


Cherish Each Dance

By Doris Dong


Swing dance has become a way of life, where I can express myself and connect with others. The dance floor has become a sanctuary where I can momentarily escape the world’s worries.


Two blocks away from Hong Kong’s bustling nightlife district, the soulful notes of jazz spill out from a Victorian-style building. Since its construction in 1892, the Fringe Club, a relic of Central’s Old Dairy Farm Depot, has transformed into a haven for art spaces and exhibition venues. Every Wednesday, its inviting doors open to enthusiastic dancers, their feet bouncing to the lively beats.

What adds an extra layer of charm to the weekly swing dance gathering are the patterned mosaic tiles, chandeliers, and wooden windows, all telling the tale of Hong Kong from decades ago. For a swing dancer like me, this place is not just about dancing; it’s a sanctuary where people revel in jazz music, forging connections with friends.

Though I’ve only stepped in the world of swing for a year and a half, interrupted by the pandemic, my journey already began in 2020 during my college days in Shenzhen. It led me to countless remarkable experiences and unforgettable encounters.

I always loved jazz music, the vintage fashion style from the 1920s to 1950s, and the dance moves from the old black and white films. When I stumbled upon swing dance online, I instantly knew it was the dance I had long been searching for.

Since then, I took some beginner classes and tried to introduce swing dance workshops to my university, so that I could learn dancing without travelling to the dance studio that was an hour away. However, with Covid that year, I had to stop dancing for a while.

Three years later when the pandemic came to an end, I finally moved to Hong Kong and reconnected with the rhythmic joy of swing. Hong Kong, with its rich history and international flair, is a haven for jazz music and thus, for swing dance. The city has its unique charm to attract great musicians and dancers from all over the world. A Jazz Festival is happening every year in Hong Kong, and swing dance was never absent.



Beyond the music, my fascination with the vintage aesthetics of the jazz era drew me to swing dance. Hong Kong’s swing dance parties provide the perfect backdrop for me to embrace retro-inspired attire, twirling and spinning on the dance floor as if transported into a classic Hong Kong movie from the 1990s.

However, swing dance isn’t merely about fashion and nostalgia; it’s a form of self-expression, facilitating deeper connections with others. Hong Kong’s swing dance community is diverse and welcoming, bringing together dancers of all backgrounds and skill levels. The dance itself is evolving, with a notable shift in gender roles, challenging traditional stereotypes such as  “men lead, women follow.” I am also working on my lead steps together with other female friends. The vintage style does not equal traditional values. The dance itself has evolved to reflect the changing perspectives of dancers.

It was through swing dance that I realised that being able to dance is already a gift. Having a good venue, a supportive community, live music, and a healthy body are not things to be taken for granted. There were a few times that I got sick right before a performance; some of my friends got seriously injured and could not dance again; the band lost one member due to personal issues and could not perform.

Photo by Melissa Parrinello, provided by Rhythm Studio

Attending the Harbourside Swing Festival in February, the first international swing event in Hong Kong post-pandemic, I encountered an alumna who began swing dance because of my university workshop introduction. I didn’t expect this unintentional move would lead to today’s encounter. After almost four years, we finally met again in another city as dancers, and formally exchanged our names. As Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Seeing people from all over the world gather in Hong Kong for the love of swing dance gives me a mixed feeling, considering about a year ago we were all quarantined at home. Having gone through all this, I start to cherish more about what we have, even the tiniest things like good weather, and enjoy it while we still can.

For me, swing dance has become more than just a hobby; it has become a way of life. It has allowed me to express myself and connect with others. The dance floor has become a sanctuary where I can momentarily escape the world’s worries and simply surrender to the joy of swing.

My swing dance journey in Hong Kong continues to unfold, promising new adventures and opportunities to grow as a dancer and individual. As I twirl and glide to the rhythms, I am reminded that in the world of swing dance, the past and the present converge, creating an everlasting magic that resonates in my soul.





Doris is a swing dancer based in Hong Kong. During her free time, she enjoys visiting jazz bars and discovering hidden vintage stores.