Swing Noir night @ Henriken

As published on henriken.no.

On a Saturday night that bites with a late Autumn wind in Oslo, listen carefully and you may just hear the hint of saxophone being carried on the wind. Follow the sound through the dimly-lit streets, led by the flare of trombone and hum of double bass, until you find yourself standing outside Henriken. Do you hear that? The vibration filling the cool air? With numb fingers you pull open the door and are hit with a burst of laughter, the smell of burning candles and the sound of winklepickers stamping the floor.

Welcome to Swing Noir night.

Stepping into the cafe glowing in pink light, you feel like you’re joining in on a secret. While nightclubs are overflowing and families are settling down for evening TV elsewhere in the city, here dancers swing their hips to the sounds of the 40s in a cafe the size no larger than a lounge. People turn to see who’s entered but it’s not a look that makes you feel like you’re encroaching. It’s inviting, yet there’s no pressure to dance. Sit back and bathe in the in the feeling of being transported to an era somewhat more elegant than our own.

Swing noir night

Swing dancing isn’t a large scene in Oslo but it is strong, played out by souls who can’t help but move to the decadent sounds of the early 20th century. “I discovered swing dancing when I was ill,” says co-organiser Liv Elida. “I was lying on my sofa when I saw it happen on TV. I’ve always loved this music but I didn’t know you could dance to it!”. It was shortly after this revelation that she met the other organiser of this event, Per-Christian Nielsen, at a mutual friend’s book-signing. It just so happened that Per-Christian would be heading to a swing dance class after the event, which is where Liv’s adventure into swing dancing began. “We danced in studios but we wanted to take it outside: we wanted more people to discover this and join in.”

Luckily for us, that’s exactly what they did and so begun the Swing Noir nights at Henriken. It’s an event that is welcome to anyone and whether you want to sweep your feet across the dance floor or enjoy a glass of wine and the sight of dancers lost in the music, there’s a place for you. Those who can’t resist the urge to bounce to the beats can get up and do so when they please, regardless of their experience with swing dancing. Couples swap partners, enjoy sole ownership of the dance floor or the thrill of being spun through a tight squeeze between other swinging duos, and they may collapse in a fit of giggles and heat after a solid 30 minutes of dancing or treasure moving to only their favourite track of the night.

The atmosphere is dignified but teetering on the verge of losing control and it’s easy to imagine that given limitless space, these couples would swing their partners into oblivion. It feels private here, but only in that people are free to dance how they want and when they want. Yet, it feels welcoming and if you want to experience an evening so chivalrous and elegant, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on the Henriken facebook page for the next Swing Noir night.

Enjoy some photos from the night below!

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