Her hair is blonde, her English heavily influenced by Swedish and some say watching her dance is like a hot cup of tea on a cold winter day. As a child, Frida Segerdahl dreamed of becoming a background dancer for Swedish artists like Carola Häggkvist. Instead, she became a bright star herself – often referred to as one of the world’s best Lindy hoppers and social dancers.
By: Annika Munter Editor: Odella SchattinCover photo:Søren Bjørn-Andersen / Hippiephobia.net@LHTA
If you’re reading this, you’re probably into 1920s and 30s dancing – and the name Frida Segerdahl sounds very familiar. Google her name and several YouTube clips will show up. Next to one film clip someone left a comment, saying that watching her is “like a hot cup of tea on a cold winter day.” I am thinking about that as I wait to meet her for this interview on a grey day in Stockholm in early December. Frida apologizes for being late, parks her suitcase and orders cafe latte. An hour later, she will be leaving for France to teach at Strasbourg Christmas Swing.
Everything began in southern Sweden, in the town of Halmstad, when Frida was five years old. Her big brother Andreas danced Bugg and Frida wanted to do so too. But she was too young. The local dance club told her she had to wait. But Frida did not want to wait. She danced anyway, at the audience platform. She watched the others from a distance, was stubborn and persistent as a mule and eventually she was included in the club. Initially, she danced traditional Swedish “Gammeldans” and four-step Bugg. As a nine-year-old, she began to practice and compete in Double Bugg and Boogie Woogie and in no time she became a champion at both. At school she was described as an “alpha dog.”
– I liked to lead and to be in the center of things. I was a stubborn kid, says Frida, adding that she can see herself in her youngest son.
Ten years later, her career skyrocketed. The year was 1998 and she visited Herräng Dance Camp. It was her second year at the camp but the first time she really appreciated it. She was 16 and had no idea that this summer would be decisive for shaping her entire life.
– It was the first time I took a leap onto the social dance floor and it was an eye opener! Until then, I had practiced and competed but never danced socially. Suddenly, everything was free and just fun. I remember how wonderful that was! I had the time of my life!
Two months after leaving Herräng, on a tap camp with Chazz Young at Swedish Swing Society, she was asked to join the world’s foremost jazz dance company, The Rhythm Hot Shots. For 16 years, she performed and taught with them in all corners of the world, an engagement she resigned from three years ago when her second child was born.
– I miss performing; I get a rush being in the spotlight! Lucky, I get an outlet for that part of my personality in Herräng during the summer.
Since 2003, Frida has been one of the organizers of Herräng Dance Camp, together with Lennart Westerlund and Daniel Heedman. Swing is her full-time occupation and the chirping passion has transformed into a constant love.
– I feel extremely lucky to have this as my job and I love it, but the feelings have changed and sometimes I’m blinded by all the practicalities during summer. Still, at its best dancing spreads happiness throughout my whole body, it’s a rush, pure bliss and so amazingly fun. Just like love – or like drugs!
The amount of energy she radiates, the diversity of her movements and how she tunes in to the music, like water into the ocean, is marvelous and very entertaining. No wonder she is coveted, I say. Frida blushes and says I’m exaggerating and that she has just been lucky.
– When I entered the Lindy scene, I got introduced to the very best dancers, in Stockholm and throughout the world. I was still a beginner but fortunate to meet with dancers and musicians who were active in the 1930s and 40s. My body was singing all impressions and I kept dancing socially all the time, as well as practicing.
It was during a visit to the United States with The Rhythm Hot Shots that she met her dance partner, Skye Humphries. They social danced and the experience resulted in a long partnership. When Skye married in November 2017, Frida was his best woman and ring bearer.
– Skye is a great friend and dance partner. We come from different dance traditions in the Lindy community, which makes us still challenge each other.
What is a typical Segerdahl characteristic?
– Probably that it’s putting my foot in my mouth, meaning that I talk before I think, saying things that I perhaps shouldn’t. It’s actually quite fun, and a bit ironic, that both my life partner and my dance partner are calm and cautious. I’m more direct.
Like Skye, Frida also got married in the fall of 2017, to her best friend and the love of her life, Kristian Bjureby. Together they have two sons, Sixten, 3, and Vilmer, 5.
– Kristian knows me better than anyone and he gets to see parts of me that I rarely show in public. Those parts are a little less energetic. He would probably describe me as very human and very stubborn.
Not like a hot cup of tea on a cold winter day?
– No, probably more like a hot cup of coffee – straight in the face!
About: FRIDA SEGERDAHL
Age: 36 on January 7, 2018
Family: husband Kristian Bjureby and their two sons Sixten, 3, and Vilmer, 5.
Home: A loft apartment in Stockholm City and during summer, a holiday house in Herräng.
Occupation: professional swing dance teacher and Since 2003, one of the organizers of Herräng Dance Camp.