Victoria Dancer Chat

This month's profile is Catie Fissel. 
Raised on a strict diet of Big Band Swing, 60’s R&B, and old time Rock’n’Roll from infancy, Catie was primed to DJ and dance the night away. Catie enjoys being silly, Balboa, Lindyhop, and flying through the air with the greatest of sometime ease.

1. What got you into dancing?

My high school had a swing dance for our Jazz Band. We had swing dance teachers and it really planted a seed. Once at UVic, a brightly dressed man was handing out small flyers. He handed me a flyer and said, “Would you like to dance?”. Of course I wanted to dance and I have ever since.

2. What kept you dancing?

The people and the music. I have made so many friends through dancing. The social aspect is what I have truly missed during these Covid times. There are few things better than hanging out and dancing with friends, new and old, at a social dance. 

The music is also a reason that I have stayed with swing dancing. Between old and new music, there is always something new to hear or a new take on an old recording. 

3. How has your dancing changed?

I think the role of the follower has changed a lot since I started dancing. No longer are follows told “don’t think, just follow”, but encouraged to be active participants in creating the dance. I have definitely found that has changed to reflect this difference. At first I found this change in approach really difficult, sometimes I still do, but I think it has made me more engaged in each dance I have. 

4. What’s your best dance experience?

The best dance experiences I have almost always have to do with a connection with my partner, the music, and the musicians. Lucky for me, I have had the opportunity for many of these experiences. 

One of my favourite experiences took place a few years ago at the Pentastic Jazz Festival. Tom Hook, a fantastic New Orleans musician who we have known for years, was up playing. Tom was doing a set with his band in the S.S. Sicamous Paddle Wheeler. Dave and I were really excited about his set in the Sicamous because the acoustics are so good there and the feel is just right. 

I wanted to do something special, so we went out and bought a six pack of Tom’s favourite beer, Kokanee. Then we wrote out our song requests on sticky notes. Two from me, two from Dave, and two from Andrew. I stuck one sticky note to each beer. When Tom was getting set up, we walked the pack of beer up to him and handed them over. Tom is just the most amiable guy with a fantastic sense of humour. So he looked at the pack of beer and laughed. 

When the set started, Tom handed out a beer to each band member and kept two for himself. Then he went around the band in request order (yes, I numbered the requests) and played all of them. The crowd loved it and so did we. We danced our shoes off at the band’s request and carried bantering with the band something fierce. I had so much fun! It probably wasn’t the best technical dancing I have ever done, but the connection to my friends, the music, and the musicians was absolutely perfect.

5. What song do you always want to dance to?

This is such a difficult question. I love to dance to so many songs from so many swing adjacent genres. Currently, the song that I can’t get enough of is Like It Is by Erroll Garner. It’s super juicy, filled with rhythm, and an amazing tune to dance to.