While I was visiting my boyfriend’s family over the holidays, I had the joy of meeting his 86-year-old grandmother. I always love meeting elderly folks such as her because there is always a small chance that in their youth they may have shared my passion of Lindy hop (swing dancing). When I asked her about the Jitterbug (another term for Lindy hop more commonly used by white dancers–I’ll spare you the details) she responded with, “You know, the thing is about the Jitterbug is that no one is around anymore who can tell you whether or not you’re doing it right so you don’t have to worry about messing it up.” However, the Lindy hop community is very lucky to have a large number of “old timers”–people who used to dance these dances when Lindy hop was in its infancy–who have taught people across the world how to dance well into their 80s and 90s. Hal Takier was one of these amazing people and he will be sorely missed.
While “swing dance” is a catch-all phrase for a whole family of dances (Lindy hop being the original of those), Hal was the most famous for something called balboa. Balboa is danced much more typically in closed position (the dancers are closer together, as the name implies) and consists of very fast footwork and is consequently danced to high tempo music. Despite being considered somewhat nerdy by dancers who already do a pretty nerd-tastic dance form (Lindy hop), balboa has been gaining in popularity recently and has seen an increase in the number of international events dedicated to it. While it is a sad time to lose Hal, the rising popularity of this dance stands as a testament to his dedication to teaching it to us youngins so that the dance might live on after him.