Anytime you’re at The Forks it’s hard not to notice all the great events happening. It is the hub of summer activity in Winnipeg! Everyone knows about the Canada Summer Games and Interstellar Rodeo. But did you know that there are many classes, lessons and tours happening every day at The Forks? I recently went out of my comfort zone and tried one of the classes I never thought I would do —and it was so much fun!
Swing dancing! Now, my dancing skills are very, _very_limited. I truly do not know my left from my right. I’m more of a swaying side to side dancer. Any sort of organized moves always leave me confused and giggling. (Step aerobics are IMPOSSIBLE.) But, when I found out my husband was an avid swing dancer in the late 90s and won competitions (?!) I pretty much had to try a class just to see his moves!
We decided to make a full night of it. We took the water bus from the Hugo Docks. With a boat arriving every 15 minutes it’s easy to just show up knowing a boat will arrive soon. Travelling to The Forks by boat is pretty magical. The wind in your hair while you shuttle along the river on a hot summer night feels so good. And, being out on the river always offers a fresh perspective to the city. At $3.50 each way, you have to try it out. It’s cheaper than parking! Also: bikes are permitted on the boat. So, if you’re not within walking distance to one of the docks you could ride over and bring your bike to The Forks. A whole new way to park and ride!
Before our our lessons we zipped into The Common for a glass of wine. Every time I sit at the bar at The Common, I always meet the most interesting people. It is the best spot to strike up a conversation with visitors to Winnipeg. I have made friends from all around the world at this bar. I may have even coaxed a few of them to join me for skating lessons this past winter! I almost convinced this guy to join us for dancing! (he was already committed to other plans)
After a quick drink we made our way over to the canopy for our lessons! We joined a group of about 30 people of all ages. I immediately was so excited.
The "Swinging at Sunset" dance lessons happen every Tuesday at 7PM under the canopy. Lessons are free, you just show up! No partner needed. They have the music, the instructors and the fun! Our instructor Emily gave basic simple instructions to start. We stood in a circle and she slowly and clearly demonstrated the triple step and the rock step. Then we’d practice with our partners for a bit before adding to the moves. We even made it to the ‘turn’level! It was quite easy to learn despite my directional challenges.
Then, after learning the moves, we’d switch partners! So fun. Bob, the super dancer gracefully lead his partners around and around. Me? I laughed and stumbled with my partners. The moves weren’t as precise - but they were fun! When else would I have an opportunity to connect with a tie dyed t-shirt wearing 20 something year old? Or meet Dee, the former 80s Blue Bomber cheerleader. It was a great vibe and so energizing to be surrounded by people who just wanted to dance and have fun.
After about 30 minutes of lessons it was all freestyle swing dancing! Swing music is so happy. We galloped around under the canopy swinging around. Bob confidently swung me in and out, turning me this way and that way, it was hilarious. It’s a pretty excellent way to spend a summer evening. I legitimately learned a few dance moves too!
I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what community programs The Forks offers. From the hardcore fitness go-ers to senior fitness classes to skateboarding lessons - there is something for everybody. If swing dancing isn’t your thing, here’s a list of all the active community events that you can try out this month at The Forks:
I AM Fitness senior fitness classes
Parent and child fitness classes Fit 4 Two
Square, line and clogging dancing
Last year I did a November Project workout and blogged about it here. And I received tips from Frances, the 90 year old superstar of the I AM Fitness classes for seniors.
Let’s go play outside at The Forks! Can’t wait to see you there!
Lindsay Somers is a Lifestyle Health Coach in Winnipeg. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram. All Photos by Mark Reimer.