Lindy Across the Midwest
You can swing out practically anywhere!
Choose a city from this list:
Update on Swing in Ann Arbor, Michigan
With the demise of the Blind Pig and the Heidelberg, the only regular weekly place to dance Lindy in Ann Arbor is Wednesday night at the Michigan Union. There is a DJ with dancing from about 9:30 to 11:30. No bar, no smoking, but it's a nice big floor.
The second Saturday of most months there is a no-smoking, no-alcohol Lindy dance to recorded music at the Pittsfield Grange, sometimes with lessons.
You can still dance almost any night of the week if you are willing to drive an hour or two. See the Detroit section of the Guide. The situation changes frequently but right now includes Monday swing at Dillan's in Windsor, Tuesdays at Tommy Mac's in Warren (Latin plus swing), Wednesday at the Loop in Windsor, Thursdays at Atomic Dog in Warren, Friday at Times Square or Lafayette Grand in Pontiac, and Sundays at Boogie Fever in Ferndale.
Web sites to try:
Check out Terry Gardner's Swing Page and find current dance information that is a must for visitors to the Twin Cities.
Many people wouldn't expect there to be a swing scene so far in the North. Swing is heatin' up the state just as it is the rest of the country and the whole world! Visiting the Twin Towns as a swing dancer will pleasantly surprise you. There is swing dancing almost every night of the week.
The local joints are jumpin' and the number of dancers growing. Some of the best spots to go are Mario's Keller Bar, Lee's Liquor Lounge, The Wabasha Street Caves,Tapestry's Late Night Swing, Famous Daves and The Rendezvous. The dance floors range from small to medium to large.
The dancing is improving daily. There's plenty of both East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop dancing at the various venues. The dancers are friendly and eager to cut a rug with visitors.
The local bands are swingin'. The Senders are a traditional jump blues band that play in the style of the post-big band era. The Hot Head Fiasco is filling ALL the dance floors with their 1920's style covers and solid, danceable original music. Rockabilly is also big, with the Vees, The Vibro Champs and Jack Knife & The Sharps. You'll also get great swing music and a terrific show from the Jaztronauts.
If you like lounge lizards, we've got Vic Volare and His Fabulous Volare Lounge Orchestra and Tony DeMarco and the Swing-A-Philes. Make sure to include the Twin Cities in your next travel plans and get ready to cut the rug every night of the week!
Also, check out these sites:
Cleveland now has its own Swing-oriented website! It is run by Duane Hoyt, the "Baron of Bop". E-mail him if you are headed out to Cleveland! The site is:
Jumping Back to Swing
It has been 50 years since young clubgoers hoofed it up in fancy, two-tone shoes to the classic swing of Duke Ellington.
Back then they clasped hands on the dance floor, mimicked the sophistication of Katharine Hepburn or agreed that khaki pants - with a zane chain looped from the belt hook - were cool.
Well, don't look now, but swing, a term that encompasses all those hep, jive dances of the golden jazz age, is back in style.
"It's almost a backlash against the whole grunge thing, being separate and distant from people and zoning out and not caring about the way you look," says Valerie Salstrom, a swing dancer of eight years who teaches at the Spy Club Thursday nights. "You don't have to dress up to be into swing dancing. Some people are just into dancing."
Swing, whose most common dances fall under the name of the jitterbug or Lindy Hop, hit its stride in the mid-'30s to mid-'40s, and harks back to a time of pre-World War II sophistication and late nights at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. Although Bill Haley and the Comets briefly spurred new interest in swing in the early 1960s, Chubby Checker and rock 'n' roll set music and dancing on a new agenda.
But the mid-'80s saw young West Coast clubgoers turn from pop and rock to rockabilly and the jump blues. Meanwhile, aging New York swing dance legends fought tenaciously to keep moves alive in the East.
The two influences have merged to attract the dancing feet of people throughout the world, and in the past several months, Cleveland.
"I like the music, the clothes," says Monica Dragoman, 22, of Cleveland Heights. "It's fun," and she adds, "adventurous," watching Salstrom lead eight couples into a step-step-rock-step exchange on the floor.
"Everybody's clunking at the same time," Salstrom says in praise of her students. "So you must have it."
The impact of the renewed swing scene can be felt in hideaway vintage clothing stores on the West Side, where authentic zoot suits have disappeared from the racks, on the Billboard pop charts where retro or neo-swing bands like the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy appear. And Madison Avenue knows a coattail when it sees one. Gap displays a high-energy commercial that ends, "Khakis swing."
But local clubs and dance halls are where all these effects come together in Cleveland. Monthly events, suspended for the summer, are at the Painesville Township Park as well as the Lakewood Masonic Temple, where Cleveland Swing Dance organizer Carole Wallencheck says the number of participants rose from 50 to 250 in about four months.
"It's really wonderful, and in a way, it caught us off-guard," says Wallencheck.
But the Spy Club should swing every Thursday throughout the summer.
The elegant Warehouse District club becomes Mr. Slick's Jive Shack, where you can listen to old and new jazz, sip on a martini, puff on a Nat Sherman cigarette and learn to dance for free - at 7 p.m. for novices, 8 p.m. for intermediate.
Rob Pryor gingerly holds the fiery red fingertips of fellow instructor Salstrom. With the tug of his hand, she spins behind Pryor's back and returns her feet expertly back in place on the wooden floor.
"I love it," Salstrom says later during a telephone interview from Los Angeles, where she was participating in a four-day, swing-dance workshop sponsored by the Pasadena Ballroom Association.
More than 700 people, from as far away as Sweden, Singapore, England and Scotland gathered there to learn from the best in the world, among them, 84-year-old Frankie Manning, credited with creating the Lindy Hop, named for Charles Lindbergh's famed 1927 trans-Atlantic flight.
"I love the music, and I always have," Salstrom says. "My grandfather played in Dixieland bands. And my father loves the music, and my grandmother."
Back at the Spy Club, disc jockey David Earle watches from the DJ booth where a plastic milk crate is full of the best recordings of Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Bobby Darin.
"I love to mix the really good, old stuff with the new stuff and make it as eclectic as I can," says Earle. "You'll hear Benny Goodman's 'Sing, Sing, Sing,' followed by Jerry Lee Lewis, and then Peggy Lee doing 'Fever' or Frank Sinatra.'
A black and white swing dance film flickers on a screen nearby.
"I got burnt out on the punk music scene and instinctively just went to jazz," says Earle, who grew up listening to his father's jazz music, "whether I wanted to or not."
"Swing is just happy music," he says. "You can't help but be in a good mood if you're listening to it."
But every other week, the Spy features live swing and lounge music, from bands like Cleveland's Jump, Jive and Wail.
"We're getting calls from Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit," says group manager Bill Richardson. "It's amazing."
The swing scene is indeed a reminder of a kinder, gentler era, where different races and ages came together in dancing. Today's classes are fun, apparent from the excited chatter of Spy Club dance participants and spectators, the chuckles that bubble from the dance floor when someone steps on another's foot, or a squeal when a new dancer finally nails a spin.
But it is when the sun goes down that the Jive Shack really jumps, with the sounds of rhythmic stepping and the sight of frenzied footwork. Everyone seems to know some step, but still the brave, playful and naturally rhythmed venture out to muddle around on their own.
Requests for telephone numbers and zodiac chart discussions are rarely heard. The more popular approach to meeting people here is, "Do you swing?"
And who knows how long people will swing this time?
"We know that all the people coming to dance are not going to be with us 20 years from now," Wallencheck says. "Some come because it's trendy. But others will discover that they love to dance. Some really get it in their blood."
But no matter how long you're going to participate, Salstrom suggests: "Be conscious where you are and where you place your partner in relationship to other parties. If you kick people, acknowledge it. Say, 'Oh my gosh. I'm sorry.'
She's nursing a leg gash, but is excited about her plans to return from Los Angeles with a new "jitterbug stroll" line dance to share with Clevelanders at a big swing bash at the Lakewood Masonic Auditorium, 15300 Detroit Ave., Saturday. Salstrom and a Detroit jitterbug instructor will offer a workshop from 2 to 7 p.m. for $30. For a $9 admission, attendees can receive an introduction to swing dance, as well as party to the sounds of Jump, Jive & Wail, from 8 p.m. to midnight.
"It's very, very social and fun," Salstrom says. "And it's an easy way to get out and meet people."
June 16, 1998
In Cleveland, THE hot place to go is Thursday night at the Spy Bar in the Warehouse District on West 6th. The music is a mix of local swing bands/DJ. The dance floor isn't huge and it can get really crowded, but the place is pretty swank.
I guess Frankie's seeds took root! Have a dance with Frankie, all the Lindy hoppers in the woodwork come out, meet each other and decide to take their show around the city....apparently that's what is happening in Cleveland.
The Flying Devoneys Trip to Cleveland
The Dancing Devoneys spent the weekend in Cleveland, Ohio.... Sue is losing her marbles...marriage will do that to you...I left Carl Knopp's phone number at home, so we missed the big swing dance in Ashtabula--don't make me tell you where it is--it's practically in Pennsylvania. But that doesn't mean we didn't dance. Thursday night, itchin' to kick up some dust, we headed into the Warehouse District to see Bill Wharton & the Ingredients. Bill, a.k.a. the "Sauce Boss" plays New Orleans boogie woogie & blues WHILE...get this...he makes a big pot o' gumbo. Everyone gets to eat at the end of the second set. During the break, he hawks his Liquid Summer hot sauce. We didn't taste the stuff ourselves, wanting to get a good nights sleep and all... but if you're interested, you can call the toll free "hot" line...(get it?) 1-888-YO-SAUCE or visit his web site (doesn't everyone have one?)
Saturday, we took in an Indians game...it was not their best
day, but we enjoyed the cool breeze and the sunny, clear 80
degree day after such a long, hot, sticky week. That night, we
went to the Flats with some friends--old and new--for dinner and
beer. We stopped in a brew pub--The Crooked River
Brewery--which was staying open for a convention of Home
Brewers of America. They let us in. During the evening, our
friends were curious about this Lindy stuff, so we showed off a
bit. Between the home brewers (most of whom were from Fairfax
and DC....) and the folks who saw us from the street, a staid
brew hall became a rip roaring party. Free rounds for everyone!
But little did they know that after that second beer, the dancers
don't dance! So...we went to Cleveland and danced for gumbo and
beer. Ah...the fruits of Lindy....[*burp*]
From: Michele Plante
August 4, 1998
I was checking out your swing in the midwest--Champaign-Urbana to be precise--and noticed that Swing Night (every Tuesday night) at Legend's bar on Green Street (between 5th and 6th streets) in Champaign with lessons at 8:45ish and dancing till 1 a.m. was missing from your helpful list.
The closest we have to a swing site is the UIUC Swing Society.
Before you go, check out the
Thanks for sending this data to: Dexter, the Travelling
If you are looking for opportunities to dance West Coast Swing, call the WEFT blues hotline at 359-5483. They list most of the live blues around town each week. Local blues bands include The Impalas, and Keith Harden.
The The Blind Pig, 6 Taylor St, Champaign, 351-7444. has a variety of live bands and music every night. Often gets too crowded to move.
Bradley's, 1906 W. Bradley Ave, Champaign, 352-8714. ha s a large dance floor, and a smaller dance floor on the second level. Country-western dancing on Wed, Fri and Sat nites. FreeC/W dance lessons 8-9, open dancing after that, $1 drinks/$2 cover after 9pm. Modern country music played - perfect for swing, west coast swing, country 2-steps, nightclub 2-steps, waltz. Thursdays are 80's nights.
Chester Street, 63 Chester St. Champaign,
Double J Boot Scooters, 119 E. Washington in Monticello (Second floor, above Debbie's Dance Studio.) (762-5217). A DJ plays today's popular C/W music, and they have a live band once a month. They are open for social dancing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Call for the schedule. On the second Thursday of every month they have a free potluck dinner/dance; dinner from 7-8pm and dancing from 8-10pm. Just bring acovered dish or finger food. They have a snack and beverage bar (no alcohol served). There is a rail around two sides of the dance floor. The dance floor itself has 4 small columns in it which effectively divide the floor into areas for stationary dances (East and West Coast Swing, etc) and travelling dances (Waltz, 2-step,etc). The place is clean, so bring your dance shoes. Check it out - just take Neil Street south past the airport and turn right onto Monticello road. It's one block before you reach the center of Monticello.The Fanmarker Club, 221 West Frost, Rantoul, IL, (217) 893-CLUB
has Dining, Catering, Banquet Facilities. Daily dinner and drink specials. The Fanmarker's ballroom is a large room separate from the bar and dining areas, with a fairly good-sized hardwood floor surrounded by tables. There is a wait staff, to bring you drinks and (also food from the kitchen early in the evening). Although smoking is allowed, the room never did get noticably smoky. In addition to the ballroom, the Fanmarker has a retaurant that is open until 9pm, and a lounge/bar area with a jukebox and another small dance floor. DJ'd music nights are generally held in the lounge, not the ballroom. Crowd gives input on music selection. Directions: Take HWY 45 north out of Champaign-Urbana. at the southernmost limits of Rantoul, turn east onto Chandler (there's a stoplight at this corner). Turn north onto Century, and turn west onto Frost street. Look for the sign. (the club is located on the old base).
Gym Dandy, Sidell, IL
Gypsy's, 105 N. Market St, Champaign.
The Hideaway Restaurant, 701 Devonshire,
Hometown Lanes, 201 East Grove, Rantoul (893-0795). This bowling alley in Rantoul was converted into a dance hall. It has 2700 square feet of floor. Heading N on 45 out of Urbana/Champaign, Turn left onto East Grove (you have gone through 4 stoplights), it's at the end of the first block, on the right. Hometown is open for dancing Thursday through Saturday from 8 in the evening to 1 in the morning. On Thursdays and Sundays they have Country Line Dance lessons from 8-9 followed by karaoke. They alternate between DJ's and live bands, information for each night is published on a monthly calendar. There is a $2.00 cover charge on the nights with live bands.
Joe's Brewery, 706 S. 5th St, Champaign (384-1790). has a nice dance floor. Go sit in the back, order lunch, and dance while they are preparing your food. It is the only time that you'll have room, because at night it gets too crowded to move!
The Lafayette Club, 107 E. Lafayette, Bloomington, IL ((309) 828-1212). has an enormous dance floor, tablecloths, chandeliers, real cushioned chairs, a bar, great ballroom music, a quality sound system, and a tasteful light system. It's a 50 minute drive from C-U; take I-74 to Business 51 North. Cross under the 55 overpass, and pull into their huge parking lot on your right. Each Friday and Saturday night they have a live country, jazz, blues or rock band. Ballroom Dances sometimes.
Land of Mexico, Green St, Champaign. has Hot Merengue, Salsa (Mambo) and Cumbia dancing Sat nites, 10:30pm to 1:30am. $2 cover.
The Regent Ballroom, 1406 Regency Drive W, Savoy
The Rose Bowl Tavern, 106 N. Race St, Urbana (367-7031). Across from the Courier Cafe. Older country music played, live band almost every night (closed Mon). Western Wheels, an excellent band, plays Sun and Tues nights. Lots of swing, west coast swing, niteclub two step, occasional waltz. Gets crowded on Fri + Sat nights. $2 cover on Fri + Sat.
The Shanghi Club, 115 W Main St. in Urbana, 337-6963. generally plays Hustle music but the DJ can generally accept requests to play about anything you want to dance from a song list. The dance floor is large enough for 24 people.
The Community building in Tuscola, 122 W. North Central, Tuscola (253-4845). The dances are from 7:30 - 10:30 PM. Music is recorded ballroom-type. The floor is LARGE -- this is basically an auditorium -- and linoleum. There is usually plenty of room for dancing. And only one mixer after the break. The $5 cover charge includes punch and Judy's home-baked goodies.(Take I-57 south, then once in Tuscola, first street north of the railroad and one block west of Main Street.
TK Wendel's Restaurant and Sports Complex, 1901 South High Cross Road, Urbana (367-2255) has a big dance floor and offers dancing on Friday and Saturday nights: general mix of 'dance' music, with slight emphasis on 'retro' music. (1/2 mile east of Urbana on Route 130, 1 mile south of Route 150.)
Thunderfoot Junction, Lincoln, Il.A C&W dance hall that is open every night except Tu and Wed. It cost $3.50 to get in on Fri and Sat and $2.50 the other nights. They open at 6:30. Sundays are family nights and there are a lot of kids. Saturdays are usually the most crowded. They have a floor about 3/4 the size of the Lafayette, however they have a rail/wall around the floor and enforce dance etiquette, line dancers in middle, flow dancers on outside, etc. All music is by DJ.It is located on Rt 10 on the far west side of Lincoln.
The Top of the Levee Dance Studio, 204 1/2 W. Washington, Monticello (762-7474). has a dance about once a month. Dances are on Saturdays, 8-11 with a $6 admission. There are lots of mirrors, good floor and sound system. It is upstairs in an old building with lovely tin ceilings and walls. There are pillars to navigate around and only benches to sit on in the actual studio.
Trip to Chicago
I went out Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and saw a different band each night. The Chicago-local bands that I saw are roughly between 7 and 10 members strong; the musicians are in the 20 to 40 year old range and are quite good. The bands usually feature a male as well as a female vocalist. Covers range from $5 to $8. National acts play as well, but with so much competition, the covers for these acts are lower than they are around here. For example, Indigo Swing played Liquid a month ago for around $15 cover.
There are venues in the city and in the suburbs. Liquid is a very popular place in the city for swing dancing. It has a floor about 2x the size of Lulu's. It used to be a country western dance bar, but switched to swing last year. They have dancing every night of the week, and give free passes away Thursday and Friday nights, good for free admission on subsequent Thursday and Friday nights. So I paid cover on Thursday, got a free pass as I left, which I used Friday night to get in free. Then as I left Friday, I got another free pass. Too bad I had a Saturday flight!
Liquid is a great place. I saw the Vanguard Aces, the Riff Rockets, and the Rhythm Rockets play there. The Rhythm Rockets were my favorite; they have a big horn section. They also have incredible stamina; on Friday they played from 9PM to 1:30PM. Liquid has a cadre of good Lindy dancers, a sizeable East Coast (six count) swing community, and a lot of beginners. Though it is well attended weekday evenings, it usually thins out by 11PM. It supposedly gets real crowded during the weekends though. They only give out glasses of water if you buy some other drink first; their pineapple juice is pretty good.
Another place to dance on Friday is in the coffee bar at the University of Chicago. They clear out the tables and chairs to give a space about the size of the Chevy Chase Ballroom. The coffee bar has a nice wooden floor, and solid looking granite counter tops. The guys who organize this and spin the CDs know some of DC's more popular local dancer/ performers from a visit they made to our area recently. They recommend a place I didn't get to go to, the Logan Square Auditorium; they say it has a big, big floor and that a lot of good dancers hang out there. The folks who dance at the University of Chicago seem to be powered by some form of mysterious energy; they are indefatigable, and have a radiant glow. After the UC event ended at 12PM, I went uptown to Liquid, where the Rhythm Rockets played until 1:30AM.
Another place in Chicago that has bands is the Green Mill. This is where Al Capone used to hang out. The dance floor here is real small though, so I didn't stay to hear the band that was playing Tuesday night, but went to Liquid instead. On Wednesday night, I checked out The Hot House; it was only a couple of blocks from my downtown hotel. It is a nice elegant looking place, but they were going to start the band an hour or so late, so I went to Frankie's Blue Room instead. Frankie's Blue Room is in a town in the west suburbs of Chicago called Naperville, 35 minutes from the downtown loop area. I had a lot of fun at FBR; there was a large number of good Lindy dancers, a good band, good dance partners, and free water. The floor is about the size of the CCB. There are a number of other places to go in the suburbs, but I didn't get to check them out due to lack of time. One place I wanted to check out was the downtown Congress Hotel, where Benny Goodman, the King of Swing, played a six month show, way back when. Unfortunately, they didn't have anything special to commemorate the event, other than a general "famous people have been here" plaque.
Things are different in Chicago. People seem friendlier. You order pop instead of soda; you do a swingout, instead of a whip. Bottles of seltzer water cost $1 in the supermarket, not 50 cents. And while I love DC for all of its big band swing dances, Chicago has DC beat big time in the sheer quanity and quality of its popular and cheap live band weekday dance venues. Its a great place to have a swing dance vacation!
THE NEW SWING SET
Editor's note: Swing dancing has caught on in the Windy City. There are several websites that you can access for more detailed information:
Swing in Chicago
Until recently, it was hard to find a place to jump, jive and wail. Since swing resurfaced and surged into popular culture, however, Chicagoland nightspots have spruced up their dance floors and opened their doors to original jitterbugs and their nouveau counterparts.
These days, fans can swing seven nights a week to local jump groups and big bands while picking up a few Lindy hop lessons to boot. We can't promise you'll be Stompin' at the Savoy after an hour, but you'll probably learn enough to survive an evening on the dance floor. Just remember to steer clear when the jam begins.
So shine your spats, lace up your saddle shoes and meet us on the dance floor, 'cause it's swing time!
RHYTHMS OF A BYGONE ERA HAVE YOUNG DANCERS JUMPING AS
Lycra bike shorts flicker be-neath swirling skirts in dainty designs.
Loosely clasped hands and unabashed eye contact connect a man whose forehead glistens to a freshly powdered partner with velvety red lips. Seduction slips through the dance floor crowds without bumping, grinding or hugging curves. The band has begun "Reelin" and Rockin" " just after 9 on a Thursday night at Liquid on Clybourn Avenue. The sights and sounds supply almost as much contradiction as perspiration. On this, one of the club"s more rollicking nights, the liquid of choice is not Absolut or Amstel, but ice water. Two-toned spectator shoes call attention to the most frenetic feet in the group. And though the droves on the dance floor are in their 20s and 30s, the music and movements that propel them into mascara-smearing ecstasy echo the heyday of Glenn Miller, Cab Calloway and Count Basie.
Swing dancing is bedazzling a new generation in Chicago since being coaxed from coastal locales over the last year. A smattering of city and suburban clubs, makeshift dance halls and lakefront areas are filling with young people eager for 1930s- and "40s-style enlightenment.
"I don"t know if it"s a backlash against the disorganization of the grunge vibe, or the nostalgia of something our grandparents did, or that you don"t have to have a skirt that crawls up your backside to look good," said Nicole Wood, 28, a muralist and swing dance teacher. "I think it"s one of the greatest things to happen to my generation."" The swing dancing revival follows on the heels of such local bands as the Mighty Blue Kings, who turned masses on to the jump vibes of the 1940s and '50s. Snippets from films such as "Swingers" inspired many youthful Midwesterners to commit to dance lessons. A combo called the Big Swing -- replete with a five-piece horn section -- formed around last Christmas and soon became so hep it was booking midweek gigs.
"A friend told me about this bar. I didn't want to stay -- till I heard the band playing," said Chicagoan Alexis Kolpak, 21, as she mopped her face in the Green Mill's bathroom on a Tuesday night. She had joined hands with a stranger and jitterbugged the way her father taught her.
"It's amazing -- you think you're the only one who knows how to dance this way," she said. "Then you come here."
Swing may be hitting its stride again because it replaces in-your-face raciness with flirtation.
"How else can you grab someone you've never met before, have the close contact, smell each other's body scent, then say, `Nice dancing with you,' and walk away?" said Howard Bregman, 34, a pediatrician and a swing teacher who says he reached "the pinnacle" of his life a few years ago on the West Coast dance scene.
Of all the incarnations -- West Coast swing, jive and jitterbug among them -- an old eight-count circular hybrid called the lindy hop seems to dominate among a core of swing addicts who frequent Liquid, the Green Mill and Frankie's Blue Room in Naperville. The dance's maneuvers include the Tacky Annie (executed with knees wide), Texas Tommy (a spin) and Jersey Jump (one of the less obtrusive aerial maneuvers). Charleston footwork fits into the lindy, too, along with such moves as the cuddle and tuck turn.
Chicago catches fire
A few clubs and outdoor locales such as Navy Pier and the Chicago Summer Dance festival at Grant Park are offering instruction this summer. The teachers extol swing's virtues and demonstrate steps for a hodgepodge of students. The lessons often are free of charge and are followed by a live band performance and a chance for students to display their progress.
Acrobatics, though closely associated with the lindy, aren't essential. In fact, they are forbidden in some West Coast venues because of their potential for injury and litigation. "Aerials," Wood and her compatriots insist, "never were and still are not the meat and potatoes of the dance."
Respect and role-playing are. "If the man leads, everyone can dance," said George Matavulj, 67, of Wilmette, who translated Latin dance skills to swing at the Green Mill on a recent Tuesday. "The problem with young men is that they can't lead, by and large. It's because they were raised on disco. They can't dance with a woman as one."
Part of swing's power, apparently, is that it intimidates young men less than other forms of social dancing. It provides the reassurance of structure but the freedom to improvise wildly.
"The thing about swing is you can take a real awkward man and teach him how to do these moves, because the dance itself is kind of awkward," said Kaaren Brauner, 26, of Chicago, who takes lessons at Liquid.
The classes are rarely short of those wanting to lead, organizers say. This, even though the man is summarily blamed for missteps.
"If a move is executed incorrectly, sorry, it's the man's fault," Wood said. "He goes beyond the woman's abilities? His fault. When people clobber each other on the dance floor -- boom, it's him."
Conversely, if a woman fails to submit to the man's direction, she earns scorn. "One of the worst things a woman can do is back-lead," said Chandler Smith, 34, of North Hollywood, Calif., a producer of "Swing TV," a show proposed for national weekly broadcast. "If a woman tells me: `Don't do it that way, do it this way,' I nod politely and never dance with her again."
Women delude and endanger themselves if they think following means slack bodies and spaghetti arms. Dips serve as an example. "A woman always holds her own weight," Wood said, "because if he, in the heat of the moment, goes beyond his ability, she's down."
That partnership -- whether among strangers or couples -- can be the attraction. "My wife and I decided we were tired of dancing at each other. We wanted to dance with each other," said Tom Karounos, 26, of Homewood, who was learning with his wife one Thursday at Liquid. "And where else can you go and find something that spans the generations?"
His mom, Barbara Karounos, and his dad, who live in Orland Park, accompanied the couple to Liquid, tapping toes from the sidelines. "My father--who's 80 years old--used to do this," said Barbara Karounos, 55. "It's so good to see dancing where you're touching again."
National Folk Dance
The lindy hop was born in Harlem, taking its name from Charles Lindbergh's 1927 trans-Atlantic triumph. By 1942, Life Magazine had declared the lindy a "true national folk dance."
"It may be that the lindy hop 25 years from now will be as intricate and stylized as the ballet," the magazine reported.
But dancers were distracted from the lindy and other forms of partner dancing in the years of Chubby Checker and the twist. Ironically, swing developed into an alternative scene about 12 years ago, when a few groups of devotees converged in New York to rekindle the past and learn from lindy masters, such as Frankie Manning, now in his 80s. From there, Lucky Lindy's hop headed West.
"People are tired of the anger and ugliness of Gen X culture," Smith said from California. "We get people who have been in a mosh pit, pierced every part of their body, have tattoos up and down their arms. Now they're rebelling by going back to something that's worthwhile."
The swing era, from 1935 to 1945, intrigues many with its extremes. Still staggering from the Depression, the country was confronted with a world war. Yet the kids danced with abandon.
The Big Swing's mingling of quaint song titles -- "Mr. Watch Chain" and "Geraldine" -- with contemporary sentiment -- "This one's for all you having a bad hair day" -- reflects a match made of contrasts even today. "I don't think it's longing for a simpler time," Brauner said of swing's appeal. "I think it's that we've gotten some of our issues out of the way. We're more comfortable with ourselves. A decade or so ago, we had the battle of the sexes. And when we were growing up, if a man could dance, (everyone assumed) he was gay."
Now, a man who can dance gets the girls.
Swing was the theme for Chicago Summer Dance's debut night Aug. 14, planned for Grant Park but driven indoors to the Chicago Cultural Center by the gray, drizzly day. Experienced dancers sat out the lessons, serenely skimming newspapers or sipping refreshments. Across the parquet a congregation of teenagers fidgeted.
Among them was Won Yup Kim, 17, who with his cohorts rode the train in from the northwest suburbs. "She's responsible for dragging -- I mean taking -- us," Kim said, teasingly pointing to one of his companions. "If I want to be humiliated, I'll tell my other friends I was here."
Maybe the movement hasn't swept up everyone. But Riff Menza, 35, manager of the Big Swing, said many of the Wednesday lesson-seekers at his club, Frankie's Blue Room, are young enough to require stamped hands that prohibit drinking.
"That to me is very exciting," Menza said. "It means there's a future beyond the fad."
Dancers, who consume little liquor, say their high derives from the music. Any other kind comes at the expense of hydration. "Some guys have been conditioned to bring an extra shirt because they're soaked straight through. It's just so physical," Wood said.
One pompadour-sporting fellow given to shark-skin suits said his dad's Vitalis helps guard his hair from implosion in the humidity. Women, of course, sweat too. But indecent exposure is a particularly feminine peril. For that reason, Smith said, many West Coast women opt for knee-length, cling-free frocks along with their seamed stockings and chunky heels. "You do not do this dance in a regular skirt with just panties," Smith said. "That would cause such a scandal on the dance floor."
On the upswing
Few of their peers were around to enforce any etiquette a year and a half ago when Wood, Bregman and a handful of others began swing dancing around the Chicago area.
Now, on some Sunday afternoons, a swath of lakeshore near the North Avenue Beach chess pavilion often doubles as a dance arena for clusters of bobby soxers swinging to CDs among the inline skaters.
More formally, the Old Town School of Folk Music will begin its first-ever session of swing instruction on Sept. 2.
Since opening about two months ago, Liquid (formerly Whiskey River) has watched attendance at its lessons grow from 30 or so to nearly 100.
"Even if you can't hold a conversation with someone, you can dance with them," Bregman said. "Our grandparents knew that. Now, some of us know that."
PHOTO (color): (LIFE magazine cover.)
PHOTO: In 1938, college students were jitterbugging. Nearly 60 years later, swing is hitting its stride again. Tribune file photo.
PHOTOS (color): CUTTING A RUG: Aaron Clarey (above) twirls Shawn Taylor during swing dance class at Liquid on Clybourn Street. Howard Bregman and Nicolle Wood (left) show off some moves during class. Tribune photos by Patrick D. Witty.
Dancing in Chicago Area
Thanks for sending this data to: Dexter, the Travelling Engineer
Swing 'N' Country
Swing 'N' Country promote couple-style Country Western and Swing dancing
Sundays - Faces (formerly Magnum's) night club, Ontario (the
El runs right by it).
Chicago Rebels Swing Dance Club (312) 549-1528
There's always great Swing dancing at every dance held by the Chicago Rebels Swing Club. East and West Coast Swing your night away to awesome rhythm and blues music! They have dances about twice a month, and all dances start at 8pm. The admission is $3.00 for members and $6.00 for non-members
For more CRSDC info : Call Yvonne at (312) 202-8776 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Dlpens@aol.com
Rebel's dances are held at the Center at North Park, 10040 Addison Street, Franklin Park, 708-676-4021. From the south, take 294 North to 290 East. Exit at Mannheim north to Irving Park Road and turn right. Take Irving Park east to Scott Street (Scott is the 1st street just west of the cemetary - if you go to 25th Street, you went too far) and turn right. Take Scott south to Addison. The building is on the right.
Also, Schuba's, on the SE corner of Belmont and Southpark in Chicago. Every Tuesday night a jump-blues band called the Chicago Jump Company plays great swing dance music to a crowd of dancers in their 20s and 30s. If you like the music of the Mighty Blue Kings, you'll love this group too. Most songs are perfect for East Coast Swing, with West Coasts and 2-steps thrown in whenever the band wants to slow down a little. The floor is great and the atmosphere is very nice.
Chicago Windy City Jitterbug Club (CWCJC)
Chicago Swing and Hustle Dance Club
At the Hop, (708) 671-6350 Has swing dancing. Windy City folks frequent on Wednesdays. Open until 4am on Saturdays.
Patterson School of Ballroom Dance
I was buzzing through your site and saw the letters from Dan regarding Lindy in Michigan. His focus was Pontiac, The Velvet Lounge and Clutch Cargo. Much has changed since then. The Velvet became Tonic and now has Techno music. Clutch Cargo has changed to everything but Swing. My name is Brenda and I send out dancers e-mail news for as much of the state of Michigan as I can cover. When visiting Michigan, stop by my web site, DanceMichigan.com and check out the list of Dance Floors. Included there are Clubs, Studios, Nite Clubs with dance floors, rented floors, as well as info on subscribing which is free, Bands, DJ's, Event Coordinators, Instructors, and advertising through my news. You can also write me directly at DanceAlert@aol.com when looking for a particular style of dance in a particular area, I'll see what I can do to help!
Please add a link to my site for information on dance in Michigan. DanceMichigan.com At this time, Lindy and different forms of Swing are scattered, there is a place for every day of the week if you live in the Detroit area, or visit there, but some driving is needed. I can't promise large dance floors, but I can promise a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
January 18, 1999
The author is correct, Velvet Lounge in Pontiac is the main venue for swing. It is still loud and smoky, but there are an increasing number of regulars, and the quality of dancing is greatly improving. I learned under Tom and Debra in Washington, and the instructors, although not the championship caliber of T and D, are quite good and teach a great deal of variety and complexity, ranging from simple and complex turns to styling hints. There is a small group of us (growing larger by the week) who Lindy Hop, and in fact we had a weekend long workshop just prior to the holidays. A second workshop with Frankie Manning is scheduled for March 5 - 6, 1999.
Velvet Lounge opened a second dance floor on the second floor. The dance floor is about the same size as on the first floor, but more square and with a higher ceiling. The main attraction is that this area is smoke free. There is a bar on this level. So over all there are two dance spaces, three bars, and lots of good dancing. The regulars dress to impress, especially on Friday and Saturday, with "Best Dressed Contest" on Saturdays. Lessons are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30 to 10:00. Monday is intermediate/advanced, Tuesday in Latin/beginning swing, Wednesday is styling.
Doors open daily at 8:00 PM. and the bar closes at 2:00 am.
Clutch Cargo is unchanged, and offers several dance venues from swing to hip hop on one of four dance floors. In general it is for the uninitiated swingers, but a good bet for a group of people with diverse interests musically.
A relatively recent edition to the Detroit swing scene is the 24kt Club in Dearborn. They play a mix of swing and Rock-a-Billy. Lessons are on Tuesday and Wednesday beginning at 8:00 PM with intermediate/advanced on Tuesday, and beginning swing on Wednesday. They have live bands on most Saturdays including Tuxedo Junction, and on occasion Indigo Swing! The crowd is energetic with a good mix of ages and experience. The dance floor is BI-level with plenty of room to jump, jive, and wail. Again, Lindy hop is just getting going here, so mostly swing's the thing, although you will see some west coast, and a bit of hustle thrown in for fun. Overall a good experience.
That's the big update. There are a couple of other spots that offer swing, but they are just getting started.
Don't get your hopes up too high, but there is swing dancing in Detroit. Thanks to Dan Dailey, we have the names of two clubs where black and white shoes can actually be seen! Also, you might try these phone numbers:
Here is Dan's review from the December 29 edition of the Dance Reviews
Dancing in Detroit
Club Review: The Velvet Lounge, Pontiac, Michigan Tel.: (248) 334-7411
There is not a lot of swing going on in the Detroit area, although the community that is there seems pretty healthy. They brought Steven Mitchell in for workshops this fall, and Frankie Manning will be there in the spring (see Frank & Carol's web-page). Most of the "regular" dancing seems to be concentrated at two clubs: Clutch Cargo, and the Velvet Lounge. The people I spoke with seemed to think that the Velvet Lounge was the better place - so that's were I went.
The Velvet Lounge is located on Saginaw (on the corner of Water) in downtown Pontiac (for those who haven't been to Pontiac in a while it may come as a surprise, but this strip has really turned into a happening place, with several clubs catering to the young crowd).The area is very well lit and bustling, and I felt completely comfortable in a part of town that was once pretty desolate. There is valet parking, but there is also a large public lot right across the street with evening parking for only $2. Inside the (optional) coat-check will set you back another $2, and cover is $3. Drink prices seemed average, but you can also get free ice-water (I didn't see any pitchers). The club is generally narrow, with the dance floor near the front, opposite the bar. In the back room there are a couple of pool tables and some couches. There is also a downstairs with restrooms, a couple more pool tables, another small bar, and a cigar humidor built into one corner.
The scene in this place is a lot of fun, although I will warn you: bring your eye-drops, and bring your earplugs. Between the cigarettes and the cigars of the lounge lizards my eyes were definitely stinging by the end of the evening. Also, they play the music much too loud - especially if you are anywhere on the dance-floor (imagine dancing two feet from the speakers at Glen Echo with Daryl Davis banging away). You can't talk without virtually yelling directly into someone's ear.
As I said, the scene is the thing - the majority of the crowd is not there to dance. Mostly people seem to get spiffed out in bar/lounge clothes for this place, so vintage would fit right in (yes, I did see black-and-whites on some feet). The club is laid out with the bar parallel to the dance floor, with a sort of low wall/stand-up bar in between. This guarantees that there will be a lot of people watching the dancing, even if they are not dancing themselves (the dancers are almost part of the entertainment).
OK, you ask, what about the dancing? The Floor: the dance floor is small, but fits a decent sized crowd (it's a bit larger than half the size of the Vienna Grill floor, complete with pillar in the middle). I never felt it was too packed to go out and dance. It was also never seemed empty, although there was usually ample space to dance in (the fish-flips I saw some people doing, however, were probably not advisable). In the middle of the evening (say 11:00 to 1:00), and for good tunes it did get pretty packed.
The Music: the music (apart from being loud) was DJ, and constant. They played a good mix of fast and medium tempo swing tunes, with an occasional slow one or two thrown in. There was absolutely no break between songs - the DJ cued directly from the end of one to the start of the next. There was no jam, although they did play a rather unusual recording of "Sing, Sing, Sing" (sort of the "extended club version"). A lot of the music was either unfamiliar to me, or a version I had never heard before, although it was almost all definitely swinging.
The Dancers: this was no Glen Echo, but there were definitely lots of dancers in evidence. We may have been outnumbered by the lounge lizards, but there was no shortage of people there to dance, too. Quite a few were really quite good, and those who weren't were at least eager and willing, and were trying to swing (not the typical nightclub dancing). I ended up teaching basic six-count to three women who had never danced swing before, but all seemed pretty interested. On the downside, several people seemed to be doing almost hustle moves. They look great, but the leads are very different; a number of women I danced with seemed to suffer from spaghetti arm syndrome. A number of people are getting into Lindy, although I was told (and saw) that Jitterbug is still more common.
The Schedule: I'm not sure when the place opens, but there is more space to dance early or very late. I got there around 9:30 and there was a good crowd, but ample space to dance. Closing (on Friday at least) is 2:00am. Friday night is swing night. Saturday is a mix of swing, salsa, and tango. I think that there are swing lessons on Monday, but I'm not sure. Also, I understand that they get a live band in sometimes, but I don't know how often, or what kind of music.
The real fun and encouraging thing about my evening at the
Velvet Lounge was that it indicated that, in Pontiac at least,
swing had made it to the mainstream club scene. The crowd was a
range of ages, but mostly young, mid-twenties (it did not
have the feel of a college crowd). Tina and Emily of LBE fame
would have loved this place. I'd give it two thumbs up; if you
are ever in Detroit on a Friday, give it a try.
A Local Perspective on Detroit
I'd like to add a few comments to your Detroit section. I live in Ann Arbor, which is about a 45 minute drive west of Detroit. Swing dancing is concentrated in Pontiac, which is a 45 minute drive north of Detroit. Daniel's review of the Velvet Lounge is accurate. Clutch Cargo is a huge place, also in Pontiac, not quite in the center but you can walk there from the Velvet Lounge. It used to be a church and has four floors. Swing bands often play in the Mill Street Lounge, which is in the basement of Clutch Cargo and has a separate entrance. Check the Metro Times to see if any of the local bands or touring bands are playing.
Places to Dance in Indianapolis, Indiana
Thanks for sending this data to: Dexter, the Travelling Engineer
The Indianapolis Ballroom Co, 6213 La Pas Trail, Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46268 ((317) 291-6500). Just east of the intersection of 62nd and Georgetown. They offer parties on most Friday nights and also have a newsletter available that gives a schedule of all parties and other events.
The Starlight Ballroom, 5720 Guion Road, Indianapolis, IN 46254. Take I-74 East to 465 North to the 56th Street exit. Make a right turn, go 4 traffic lights, then make a left turn onto Guion Road. The ballroom is on the left.
The Indiana Roof Ballroom, 140 West Washington Street, Suite A, Indianapolis, IN 46204 ((317) 236-1870).Take I-74 East to I-465 S toward the airport. Take the airport expressway which is eastbound only. Get on I-70 East, and get off at the Illinois St. exit. Turn left off the exit ramp. Turn left onto Washington St. The ballroom is in the Indiana Repertory Theatre, on the north side of the street. Their Big Band Dances are characterized by LOTS of foxtrot and swing.
The Neon Cactus In West Lafayette! (Not Indianapolis!) is a big C/W dance club near Purdue University. Head to Purdue from the 74-41-28-25-700-(Perimeter?)-South River Road-Newmann-26 method, and stay on South River Road which intersects with 26. Cross 26 to North River Road and make the first right. The Neon Cactus is in the mall there, with parking out in front. If you head to Purdue from 74-231-26, head West on 26 until you reach the intersection with South/North River Road and make a right and then another right. The intersection has a McDonald's on the northwest corner. It is a 5 way intersection, too.
The County Line Rodeo has a large L-shaped dance floor which they often divide; one half to line dancers the other half for couples. They have a DJ and lessons from 6:30-8:30pm on Fridays and on Sundays. They play a mixture of line dances and couples dances. Cover charge is $3. They have a buffet (buffet ends at 8) for $4, but if you eat the buffet, there's no cover. CLR brings in national acts on a regular basis. They leave the dance floor open during the performances. County Line Rodeo is south of Indianapolis in the suburb of Greenwood (only about 15-20 minutes from downtown... in the large and easy to find Greenwood Park Mall). To get to County Line Rodeo get off at the Greenwood exit, which I believe is exit #95. Go west until you hit Indiana 31 (you go through downtown Greenwood). 31 is a 4 lane road and there is a Dairy Queen across the intersection. turn right. soon the mall will be on your right. There is a Chi-Chi's in the parking lot. Get on County Line Road which goes right past the north side of the mall and take a right. You should see County Line Rodeo on the right. It is actually in the mall, but you enter from the mall parking lot outside.
A Little Bit of Texas, 111 N. Lynhurst Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46224 ((317) 487-9065). is a huge place, Big floor, Live bands, $3 cover. Take I-74 East to 465 South to the Rockville Road exit. Go west, then make a left turn onto Lynhurst. The club is on the right. LBoT brings in national acts on a regular basis. They leave the dance floor open during the performances.
Cowboys is the original C/W dance hall in Indy. Dance floor a little smaller than LBoT or CLR, but it is a great place none the less.
LA Country(765) 942-7029
There are THREE Articles for Milwaukee
October 29, 1998
By: Luke Klink, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Even though 2,000 miles separate this city from the West Coast of the United States, West Coast swing dancing has many people in Waukesha kicking up their heels. Carroll College, through its Project CREATE arts ou treach program, is offering two classes in a slower form of traditional swing dancing. Popular in the U.S. from the 1930s to the 1940s, swing dancing includes dances such as the Lindy hop and the jitterbug.
Project CREATE director Jean K acanek said the 60 people who signed up for the first West Coast swing class this fall prompted the scheduling of the second session. "We are delighted with the response," Kacanek said. "I think the class fills a need in the community for people who enjoy the sport (of swing) and want to participate."
Delafield residents Jim and Mary Nelson signed up for a class to become better dancers. "He's the dancer," Mary Nelson said. "When we go out to functions, I am usually the o ne who doesn't want to dance. This (swing) dancing is just a fun thing to do as a couple." Jim Nelson said: "What we have been doing is walking up and down the halls (at home) practicing the steps. It has been fun, and we're looking forw ard to learning the step. It will be something we will be able to use at weddings."
Waukesha residents Greg and Denise Lindberg took the class to stay active. "It is kind of an excuse to get out and do something rather than stay at home and watch television, and it is something we will be able to use in the future," Greg Lindberg said.
Erin Rogers, who has competed nationally in swing and country-western dancing, teaches the West Coast swing classes for Project CREATE. S he teaches a similar class at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. "It's amazing how quickly it has taken off," Rogers said. "It's good to see these people getting out and staying active." Project CREATE is a program founded 19 years ago by Carroll College to offer art, dance and music instruction for children and adults. This fall, Project CREATE moved from the college campus to a new facility in the Gray Terrace shopping center, 1427 E. Racine Ave.
"We have o ffered the traditional dance classes, but since we moved off campus to a site that is exclusively ours, we have been able to offer more classes at other times and attract students in ever-creative ways," Kacanek said.
Julie Giuliani-Chuck a, dance program coordinator for Project CREATE, said people continue to call asking to be placed on a waiting list for similar classes scheduled for next spring. "I think people like this style (swing) more than ballroom (dancing) becaus e it costs less. People do not need to spend a lot of money for costumes, and it doesn't take a long time to get good at it," Giuliani-Chucka said. "I don't know if swing is a passing fad, but I think it will stay around for a while," Giu liani-Chucka said.
The two swing classes now being held run through Nov. 20. Beginner and advanced swing classes are scheduled to start Feb. 7, and another beginner swing class is scheduled to start April 11. Class fees are $70 for couples, $40 for individuals and $35 for Carroll College students. ------------ For information on swing dancing classes offered by Project CREATE, call 524-7190.
Swing in Milwaukee
The beat beat beat of the tom-tom, the growl of the baritone sax, the wail of the alto and tenor, the sounds of jump blues and big-band revival are hot hot hot. It's great stuff for listening, but it makes you want to move, and not just any old way.
This is music for the jitterbug and the Lindy hop and their many offshoots, all covered by the term Swing.
The dances have been around since the 1930s. They skipped my generation (I'm 48), which was way too busy doing its own thing which is to say, nothing of interest on the dance floor to bother to learn the exhilarating, athletic steps of Swing. My parents did these dances, and now kids half my age and younger are learning them. Good for them.
In most Swing styles, the partners face each others, fingers curled and hands linked like hooks. The dancers use that connection of the hands to help maintain balance as they step and rock and to counterbalance and arrest weight when they fly apart. Couples can switch to one-hand grips to execute the many spins and turns that make the style so athletic. The most ambitious couples add aerial tricks, most of which involve launching the woman into space and finding clever ways to bring her back to earth safely and in rhythm.
Women do a lot of flying in that glorious Gap commercial that is airing so often right now (and is probably selling as many Swing dance lessons as clothes). It's a kick to see those beautiful twentysomethings, dressed cool and casual, swinging and flinging free and easy, sometimes caught in freeze frame in midflight.
Kids, don't try that at home, at least not without a net.
"There's a lot you can do that's all on the ground," said Maureen Majeski, who has put together a Swing dance club in the Milwaukee area. Her group, the Jumpin' Jive Club, runs workshops and throws dances. They are taking the summer off; the next event, an afternoon workshop followed by an evening dance, is scheduled for Sept. 12 at the Eagles Club in Waukesha. To be placed on Majeski's mailing list, send a note to her at S63-W30507, Road X, Mukwonago, WI 53149. (Another club, the Northeast Rebels Swing Dancers, is active in the Oshkosh area. Call Donna Woods, (920) 582-3281.)
Majeski, 49, was a longtime folk dancer. Two and a half years ago, she saw a poster for a Swing workshop in Iowa. She made the trip, and she's been hooked ever since.
She stressed the difference between the ballroom-competition style taught at most studios and the Swing style practiced at Jumpin' Jive.
"The ballroom style has less energy," she said. "The ballroom community took the old style and toned it down, to make it better suit the evening clothes they wear in competition."
So what do people wear to dance Swing? Besides, of course, anything from the Gap.
Majeski says that most dancers dress up some, though jackets and ties are the exception among the men. Skirts are the rule for women. Some dancers like to dress in '40s retro.
"They like those two-tone, black-and-white shoes," Majeski said.
While Swing music is fairly common in Milwaukee nightclubs, Swing dance is all too rare, according to Majeski.
"The dance floors are all too small," she said. "Swing takes a lot of space. We'll probably never have bar owners catering to us, since we need so much room and don't drink much."
Jumpin' Jive rents halls and throws its own dances. A favorite of Majeski's is the Irish Spring House, 1849 S. Calhoun Road, New Berlin. The dance floor is big and the management is friendly.
Majeski has spent a lot of time in Minneapolis, the home of her main teacher, Cindy Geiger. "Minneapolis is a hotbed of Swing," Majeski said. "You can go out and dance Swing six nights a week to live music. Here we have Swing music on the weekends, but there's no floor space so there's no point in going, at least for me."
I started to tell her about the opportunities at this year's Summerfest, where the dance floors are as big as all outdoors, but she was way ahead of me.
"I know all about it," she said. "I'll be there dancing."
What is the source of the word "Jitterbug," and what does it mean?
Ed Cirio found several versions and published them in an article called "Origin of Swing Dance." It is posted on the U.S. Swing Dance Server, a useful Web site loaded with links.
Here is a sample of his research:
The word caught on after a voice-over announcer on a Movietone newsreel said that Lindy dancers in the 1936 (or 1937) Harvest Moon Ball "looked like Jitterbugs."
Jitterbug was the white version of the black Lindy Hop. It was bouncier and faster than the Lindy, and did not necessarily include aerial work.
Jitterbug was a derogatory term for bad, white dancers.
In the 1930s, Cab Calloway had a trombone player who drank too much. Cab warned him by saying, "Better quit drinking that bug juice, man, or you'll shake and jitter to death." The guys in the band started calling the T-bone player "jitterbug," and then applied the term to dancers.
"Jitterbug" was a Southern term for people who displayed the uncontrollable jerking and trembling associated with secondary syphilis. Some observers found a resemblance in the movements of Lindy dancers.
One dance encyclopedia defines Jitterbug as "a generic term, now almost obsolete, for unconventional, often formless and violent social dances to syncopated music, generally in 4/4 time."
Places to Dance in St. Louis, Missouri
First, check out the website of the Washington University Ballroom Dance Club
Thanks for sending this data to: Dexter, the Travelling Engineer
The very famous St Louis Casa Loma Ballroom, 3354 Iowa at Cherokee, (314) 664-8000. is an Art-deco ballroom with a 5000 sq. ft. dance floor, live music by area and national bands. Open Thursday thru Saturday. Directions: Enter St. Louis via Highway 40 or 44. Take the Jefferson exit and follow Jefferson south. Turn right onto Cherokee, then turn right at Iowa. Parking is pretty convenient to those who arrive early rather than late.
The Just Dancing studio, 1410 Manchester offers high-quality ballroom (about 2 Friday evenings/month) and West Coast Swing (about two Saturday evenings/month) on a very good sprung-wood floor and pleasant studio atmosphere. It is nestled in an elbow behind/between an office supply and a video rental store at the SW corner of Highway 141 and Manchester Road in the SW sector of St. Louis County; 314-227-7202.
The Saint Louis Ballroom Dancers have about one DJ'ed dance/month on a Sat. evening, in a gym at the Kirkwood Communinity Center, which is on S. Geyer Road.
Swing dancing in St. LouisCall the Swing Line (314) 991-6199 for information about area dance clubs.
In Cahoots (pretty close to the airport). From the Airport, take I-70 West to the Earth City Expressway northbound. This is the first exit once you cross I-270 and BEFORE you cross the Missouri River. Turn left onto Rider Trail South and head just about 1/2 mile to the place.
Cheyenne Social Club (in Afton - south side of the city). Tuesday nights at Cheyenne they teach couples/partner dances. Take I-70 EAST and stay with it as it becomes I-55 south. Head west when you get to I-270 (head east and it's I-255). Exit Teson Ferry north. Travel approximately 5 miles to Gravois. Turn left and you'll see the place on the right.
There is bar/club swing dancing nearly every day or night of the week in St. Louis. One easily-accessible live blues band, Marcus Strong and the Apostles, attracts very good swing dancers to Tully's, in Ronnie's Plaza at the corner of Lindbergh and Baptist Church in S. St. Louis County, from 3:00 PM until 7:00 PM on Saturdays.
St. Paul, Minnesota
The "Caves" in St. Paul, Minnesota
There is a really cool site that was not included on your list of dance locations, and I wanted to tell you about it.
The Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul, Minnesota. They have big band/swing music and dancing there every Thursday night,and it has an atmosphere that can't be beat! It was an old gangster hideout/speakeasy during the prohibition, (and it even has it's own ghosts). The "Caves" are exactly that, but they are neither dank nor oppressive. it is really unique and hip, a place where people of all ages/tastes and styles come to dance and enjoy great music and dancing.
Cincinnati Swing Scene
Packed with regulars who have been doing it for years and new faces appearing every week, Cincinnati offers the friendliest swing scene around.
Cincinnati offers several east coast instructors as well as one set of Lindy Hop instructors. Informal East Coast lessons are offered on Wednesday nights around 8:30 and at 9:30, swing until you drop to the live, jivin' sounds of Rich Uncle Skeleton. (Jefferson Hall, Main Street, downtown)
On Thursday night, you can swing-out to the very lindy-able tunes of Big Bill Pickle and the Legendary Jerkin' Gherkins! Lindy hop lessons by Mike & Michelle are offered every other Thursday at 8:30. The band usually kicks off around 10:30. (York Street Cafe, corner of 8th & York, Newport).
On Fridays, the Cincy Swingers usually head on up to Dayton to catch live swingin' sounds at El Diablo Lounge. Every other month, Michelle hosts a dance at her dance studio on Saturday nights, so watch for that too!
Beginning and Intermediate/Advanced Lindy Hop lessons are offered on Monday nights by Mike & Michelle at StepNOut Studio in Covington.
For more information on any of the Cincinnati swing nights or lessons, email Michelle at email@example.com. You can also visit one of Cincy's two swing web sites: PaperMoonProductions.c om and Cincy Swings. You can subscribe to the Cincy swing mailing list from either location.
Alberto has closed the Citi Lounge in Perrysburg and re-opened it in downtown Toledo. Next door is the Citi Theater, a huge former movie palace with a large dance floor. I have only been there once and don't know the schedule but it's an impressive place and well worth a visit.
There is also a place near Sylvania, just a few miles west of Toledo, called the Centennial Terrace. It's apparently been there forever and claims to be the biggest outdoor dance floor in the midwest. It also has a swimming hole for cooling off after those strenuous Lindy maneuvers. I think there is a big band dance there every Saturday evening in the summer. I'm afraid I don't have any more information but I'll be checking it out when the weather gets warmer.
Des Moines, Iowa
I have got an addition to your travel guide --- it's for Des Moines, Iowa (actually, we try to cover all of Iowa, since we're the only Iowa swing site so far...)
October 25, 1999
From: Carole "Swing" Ring
November 9, 1998
Each week, when Marty Hevert prepares herself for dance class, she's never quite sure who her next students may be or what it is about swing music and dancing the Lindy Hop that has drawn them to her studio. "Maybe people just (got tired) of dancing to 'stand and shake' rock'n' roll," said Hebert, 45, who teaches swing at the American Dance Academy in Omaha. "The steps are easy and it's simple to cross generations."
Hebert can testify to that. This summer, Hebert was giving instruction to a dance floor full of adults who wanted to learn dances such as the jitterbug and the Lindy Hop, when she noticed a couple of kids in the back of the room attempting to imitate their elders. "Their parents were taking lessons and had brought the two kids along to watch," Hebert said. "Before we knew it, the kids were out there dancing, even though they were a little embarrassed at first to touch each other."
The family that Hebert remembers so fondly is just one example of the cross generations who are flocking to dance studios and clubs all over the Omaha area in hopes of learning to swing to Big Band sounds. Perhaps it was the revitalization of swing music by groups like the Squirrel Nut Zippers that have sparked and interest in swing or maybe it was the Gap commercial that features jumpin', jivin' college-age kids swinging in their khakis.
"The enthusiasm for this type of entertainment has been very overwhelming," said Pat Campbell, who, with her family, owns and operates the Stork Club at 1012 S. 10th St. in Omaha. "The younger kids have all of a sudden found out that swing music is uplifting and there's a certain amount of romance to it." Campbell, whose swing club opened this summer, said the Stork Club's swing dance lessons attract a mostly younger crowd. "High school and college students come out for the lessons in big groups, but we have patrons who are anywhere from the ages of 21 to 91 dancing."
With the popular swing dancing and big-band music gathering such a nationwide following, both Campbell and Hebert said the number of swing classes offered has increased dramatically. "I was teaching swing 15 years ago in the Omaha, and it's great to see things catching up now," Hebert said. "I used to get three or four calls a week about swing and now I get 30 or 40, and I even teach a (swing) class at UNO." Campbell said the Stork Club offers free introductory lessons on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights at 7 p.m. The sessions are almost always full.
"Some nights we get more than 100 people, and we have to do two sessions," Campbell said. After taking a couple of introductory lessons, Campbell said, most amateur dancers are eager to dress the period and hit the dance floor at local clubs. "Kids especially have found it to be a lot of fun to go out and get a zoot suit and oxford shoes and chains and go dancing," Campbell said. "The women wear everything from evening gowns to cocktail dresses and everybody looks like they did in the'40s."
While swing dancing is just now taking off in the Midlands, the craze may have started several years ago on the East and the West coasts, Campbell said. "My daughter was in a swing club in San Francisco and noticed swinging was such a culture there," Campbell said. "My daughter had been in the restaurant business and noticed what a need there was for something to do in Omaha, and we started the club here."
So far, the Stork Club is doing well, Campbell said. Her club, which she owns with her husband, Terry, son Sean and daughter, Deb Kirshman, is decorated like a 1940s swing club and cafe. The club boasts a restaurant that seats 130, two bars and a 900-square-foot wooden dance floor.
In addition to the Stork Club, many Omaha night spots are now catering to swingers, Hebert said, and a local swing club is helping to get the word out. Hebert said the Omaha Swing Club has about 150 members who coordinate monthly dances and socialize at different dance studios and clubs. Those interested in joining the Omaha Swing Club should call the club's hotline: 431-1431.
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City has a burgeoning Swing Scene. Check out these interesting websites:
Swing in Kansas City
Hi guys, I have been enjoying your pages and felt I had to send you an addition for your travel guide. Kansas City is now home to two wonderful Lindy Hop instructors, Jean Denney and Frankie Hoang. They have been teaching Lindy to a group of Kansas City dancers, and have established a solid beachhead here in KC. You can find information about them at Cats Corner. Jean and Frankie teach 4 week segments of beginning, improver, 4 levels of intermediate, and various advanced courses. They have also offered their beginning class at some local corporations, and as a 4-hour Lindy Fast Start on weekend afternoons in Kansas City and at nearby Lawrence KS, home of the University of Kansas. A recent workshop hosting Charlie Wyler was well-attended, and they have additional workshops scheduled in the future. A group will also be traveling to St. Louis for a Frankie Manning workshop.
Jean and Frankie are excellent instructors, with deep knowledge of Lindy history and tradition, and tremendous energy. Any trip to KC should include a couple Lindy turns with them.
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