Claudia Funder is best known for founding the Swing Patrol dance classes, yet she holds hidden talents inspired by more ancient forms of music and dance.
What is your connection with Seddon?
I bought a lovely cottage in Seddon in 1998. I called it my ‘Willy Wonky’ house because the foundations were gone, all the door frames were tilted, half the floor was rotten and it smelt mouldy. I’ve fixed it up over the years, and two years ago pulled down the lean-to and built a proper kitchen. I was attracted to the area as I had friends who’d bought here seven years before that, and I’d gotten to know it quite well.
What do you love most about the area? Is there anything you would change?
I love the area. The mix of people, ages, nationalities and heritage is wonderful. I like that people talk to each other in the street. I love the Yarraville village, the people’s park, Seddon village – and I do all my shopping locally. The community is passionate and vibrant, and I like that too.
What would I change? The “beautification” of the Charles/Gamon/Victoria streets intersections just causes traffic jams and makes it nigh on impossible for the buses. I’d remove that.
Do you have a favourite local place or places?
I work from home, but have to get out for a coffee each day so I’m a familiar face at most of the cafes … Advieh, Luxsmith, 1906, Lola, Alfa, Seddon Deadly Sins or Cornershop, or Vault in Yarraville.
If I’m not checking emails in a cafe, I’ll be at the Sun Bookshop raiding their history section.
How did you first become involved in swing, and how did Swing Patrol come about?
I learnt ballroom and street Latin dance at uni whilst studying music and art history, then became more involved teaching those styles. The next craze in the ‘90s was swing, and I loved it.
I branched out in 1998 to run some dance classes independently, and the hobby and passion grew into a full time business! Swing Patrol now has classes in Melbourne, Sydney and London, but the beating heart of it is local dance communities, centred around people coming together for weekly classes, such as the Swing Patrol Seddon class on Thursday nights.
What’s the best thing about being part of the swing community?
That’s a hard question … the friendships you form and acceptance of everyone who comes along … being part of a group that has an international dance context. The Melbourne swing dance scene has become famous world-over for the community we have and the events we run. So I like the micro context of local community and my close friends, and the macro context, where I can travel the world and find new people who love what I love. Swing dancing under the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was a highlight, for instance.
What makes it such a matchmaking pursuit?
I think if people set out to find a partner and have set expectations about that, rather than just wanting to dance, they can be disappointed. But when like minds come together in a fun hobby, then yes, wedding bells ring. I have a Swing Patrol wedding list I’ve put together over the years, which is up to about 40 or so. And I know I haven’t got all of them on the list.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I play renaissance lute, studied mediaeval manuscript illumination, and I hate pork.