If you asked me what I love about Lindy Hop, I could write a book! For me, the most fascinating idea about Lindy Hop is that two people who met each other for the first time can have incredible dances together. I understand this dance as a language, as a possibility to meet new people, to communicate without words, exchange positive energy and emotions with each other. The idea that I can learn this art always kept me motivated and excited about Lindy Hop.
My name is Eimantas Daknys. Right now, I am a senior year applied physics student at Vilnius University, and I work as a software developer at Bentley Systems. I was inspired to choose my career during my sophomore year at Vilnius University, and I started looking for different career opportunities in the physics field. In Lithuania, the most popular field for physicists is lasers, so I decided to try it and went to a laser microfabrication laboratory. There, I was mainly cutting and processing glass using lasers. I didn’t felt passionate about it, but it was quite interesting. One time, I got a task to write an algorithm for a laser movement. I remember that day when I went to the library and started working on the algorithm. The process of thinking about how everything should work and trying to figure out the solutions made me really excited – the hours just flew by and when I finished, and I was genuinely happy. At that moment, I realised that I wanted to pursue my career in the programming field.
I was born in Siauliai, a city in Lithuania. There, I spent my whole childhood and finished school. After graduation, I left the home and went to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. There, I studied applied physics at Vilnius University and found my passion for Lindy Hop.
I first became interested in the Lindy Hop during my senior year of high school – my class hosted a party, during which I learned a few things about myself. First of all, I loved to dance, but I was really bad at it. Second of all, I would rather choose to dance to music that I enjoy, like jazz. So in my freshman year of university, I checked local dance studios and found one that taught Lindy Hop. I checked this dance on YouTube – while watching the video, I saw such a huge amount of good emotions and energy that just made me want to learn this style of dancing and experience the same emotions myself.
When it comes to Lindy Hop, there are countless talented dancers in the world, and a lot of them even teach in Lithuania. Good improvisations, amazing moves, and the uplifting mood of the teachers during festivals and classes always spark a passion in me. When you see how other people are improvising and enjoying themselves during the dances, the fire inside never fades away.
As with every hobby, Lindy Hop does not end with only learning the skill. For me, a big part of my life is the Lindy Hop community. It is one of the most friendly and open communities that I had ever joined! I found new friends, and dancing with them and others had always motivated me to be more attentive during classes, as I wanted to show them some new moves and be better on the dance floor. Also, if you want to dance with better dancers, you must improve your dancing skills.
One of those important things needed to be a good Lindy Hop dancer is the ability to hear and feel the rhythm. However, there is another really important quality: don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Usually when people start dancing, they are afraid of judgment, and this makes them anxious during the dance. What I like to do when I dance with other people (especially beginners) for the first time is to make a mistake on purpose and laugh about it. Then you can see how your partner realizes that there is nothing wrong with making mistakes, and it removes the tension. It becomes easier to enjoy dance for both of us. As Lindy Hop-ers like to say: “It’s not a mistake; it’s a variation!”
Before the pandemic and quarantine, this (Lindy Hop) part of my life was always filled with action and good emotions. To keep things simple, I would emphasise two events that were my favourite experiences. Firstly, my partner and I took first place in Lindy Hop Classic Couples in my hometown! We achieved it through hard work, as well as trial-and-error. Our routine took us a lot of time and energy to make, but it was worth it. When you are standing on the scene after your performance, the crowd is clapping and you realise that you did it – it’s one of the best feelings ever. Secondly, my friends and I were inspired by our teachers’ experience of dancing in the troupes. So with our teachers’ help, we created our own troupe and called it Sky Stompers. The dance studio kindly offered us some room for training, and we were practicing the most dangerous part of Lindy Hop: aerials. You could not imagine how many times we fell and how many mistakes we made – but we never gave up. By working hard as a team, we managed to make really good performances and pull off dangerous tricks.
With Lindy Hop, there are a lot of different festivals that are happening across the world. So, my main future goal would be to go to as many festivals as I can. These are amazing: live music, a lot of good dancers, interesting people, international teachers, and so on. Of course, that will be possible only after the quarantine is over. So, I am really looking forward to the end of it.
Looking at my other hobby, I also love playing bass guitar. When I finished music school, my main instrument was drums, but I took a break from all the “music stuff”. One day, my grandfather comes to my home and says: “I bought you a bass guitar, maybe you would like to learn it?” Well, I was surprised, but I thought it would be interesting to learn how guitars work in general, so I tried it. During bass guitar lessons I found a friend, we started practicing together, and we even ended up in the school orchestra together – that’s how I got interested in playing bass guitar.
My favourite genre of music to play is probably jazz. I also like to play funk and swing, but I love l how complex the rhythm can get with jazz pieces and I just love the idea of “walking bass” in jazz. The first cover that I learned was the RHCP song Can’t Stop. The bassist was Flea, and he has a special place in my heart.
Since I have a musical background with drums, I really enjoy playing complex rhythms, but I also enjoy when you can play the melody, so bass guitar was just right for me. Also, I really like the sound of low notes and the vibration that goes through your body when you play them.
What I love the most about bass guitar is my musical journey. Ever since I learned how to play it, I found new friends, played in a high school big band, and also played in Vilnius University Orchestra. That means I met a lot of interesting people, played in a lot of concerts, and had a great time during practices and preparations for the concerts.
One of the main similarities between my hobbies and my work is that you should not take mistakes too seriously. If you get anxious about mistakes, it can affect your work; the same as it can affect your dance. I believe that in hobbies and your work, you should always try your best, but if mistakes happen, relax and see what you can do about it. For example, programmers have the phrase: “It’s not a bug; it’s a feature”. In Lindy Hop, we say: “It’s not a mistake, it’s a variation”. So a positive attitude helps in both fields.
My hobbies have definitely been a benefit to my technological career. When you are going to the dance lessons, you are going to meet and communicate with a lot of new people. Dancing helped me to be more brave and comfortable when talking to new people, and that really helps me at work. Also, the programming field requires constant learning. When I am learning new things, the same mindset can be applied to the programming as well as learning new pieces on my bass guitar (such as being consistent in your practices/work). If something doesn’t work, take a break and come back to the problem afterwards.
My advice to anyone interested in taking up the Lindy Hop or Bass Guitar is don’t be afraid to do it and don’t be afraid to fail. In all places, the Lindy Hop community is super friendly and supportive. I can guarantee that if you will like it, it will become a big part of your life!
There is always more than tech. I think it is great to show everyone how many different people with different hobbies and passions are working with technology these days. Also, hobbies can offer different experiences that can be used in technology fields: like teamwork, hard work, discipline, and persistence.