Jun 29, 2010

July 2010 is the Month of the Newbie!

You were born to be a dancer, you just don't know it yet.  
You have rhythm like nobody's business, but nowhere to groove it.
YOU are a newbie, and we will show you the way.  

SwingColumbus hereby declares July 

Unleash the dancing fiend within you!

July is full of beginner-friendly classes, events, discounts, even FREE events!  

Do you need a partner?  NO!
Do you need one iota of an idea how to dance?  NO!!
Do you need special shoes and clothes?  NO!!!  
Do you have to wear sequins?  NO! But if you want to, that's your thing.  Respect.

$5 Lessons: Every Thursday 8-9pm we'll be teaching beginner swing dance lessons at Habeeba's near Grandview.  This month we're teaching 'drop-in' style so you can join in any Thursday, even if it's your first time.  We'll cover the basic foot pattern every week so newbies can drop in, but we'll also do different moves so you can come every week and learn something new.  Just $5 per week!  

Crash Course: Go from square to swinger in one night!  In two hours you'll know enough to impress the coolest hipster, or your grandma.  July 29, 7-9pm at Habeeba's, and just $15/$10 students.  Come to us and find your calling as a dance rock star.

Shrunken Head Tuesdays: starting July 6th, join us every Tuesday 8-11pm in Victorian Village for live bands playing bluesy, swingy, funky music!  Included with your cover is a half-hour beginner swing lesson.  They've got an awesome beer selection if you need a little courage to let your inner dance warrior run free.

FREE Swing Dance:  That's right, this month it's FREE, because everyone should get to try swing dancing.  July 17 bring all your friends downtown to the YWCA and impress them with the moves you picked up in the $5 lessons (see above!)  Meet even more friends in the lesson and then hang out with all the traveling dancers from exotic places like Dayton and Cincinnati.  Lesson is 8-9pm, dancing with DJs is 9-midnight.  And it's all FREEEEEE!  There will be some fun performances from Team SwingColumbus and a visiting dance group from Newark, Ohio.

DooDah Parade!!  So there's no lesson or anything, and no particular newbie theme, but you should walk the DooDah Parade with us!  We're going with the theme of Ohio Swing Voters in this come-one-come-all parade on July 4th in Victorian Village.  All you need is a white t-shirt, sturdy shoes, and a talent for writing zingy slogans.

To stay in the know about this stuff and MORE, you should
1. Go to swingcolumbus.com and sign up for our newsletter
2.  Become a fan of SwingColumbus on Facebook

Jun 18, 2010

Dancers + Hot Jazzers = Stayin' Alive!

When swing dancing came back into vogue in the late 1990s, it grew in great part out of the popularity of ska and rockabilly, which was on the rise nationally at the time.  As interest shifted to swing dancing, it was a pretty easy switch for rockabilly bands to add swing tunes to their repertoire because there was ample middle ground and that's where the money was going.  So you had Brian Setzer, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy playing what was dubbed 'Neo Swing'.  The bands and the dancers who adored them chose loud, colorful outfits with a touch (or drenching) of the most outlandish aspects of vintage styling.  (um, are you really going to wear that yellow suit?  and the hat?  really?) 

In addition to questionable fashion, the Neo Swing era was a time of much bad technique, herky jerky awkward dancing that had little in common with its 1930s origins, and injured shoulders caused by horrid moves like The Pretzel.  As the swing movement gained more followers, many people began to look back to move the dance forward.  Extensive hunting for jazz clips ensued.  Gradually, the swing dance community learned better technique and how to dance styles that were much more authentic, like Charleston, Balboa, and Lindy Hop, and that caused people to want to discover more of the music of the 1920s through 1940s that drove these dances to evolve in the first place. 

YouTube's debut in 2005 accelerated this like nothing ever before and we suddenly were able to share all this information, copy moves from people halfway around the world, and see what really good dancing looked like.

And all that time, all over the US and Canada and much of Europe, there were hot jazz or dixieland festivals and organizations and bands going strong.  I think though that these sorts of things were viewed as being some sort of vintage, old-timey, historical reenactment.  I don't know if anyone under the age of 65 had any true understanding of how great the music is and how current and relevant it could be. 

There's a trend going on nationwide of dancers and early jazz bands mutually discovering each other, and this is leading to new partnerships, new audiences, and new generations discovering the happy, hoppy beats of Dixieland Jazz.  It happened here in Columbus when SwingColumbus and the Central Ohio Hot Jazz Society (finally!) discovered one another in 2008.  Our events are most heavily attended by people in their 20s and 30s, whereas the COHJS tends to be 60s and up, so it has been really neat to share our different appreciations of the jazz era and our interests in seeing this American cultural treasure stay alive.  It's a mutual admiration society!

Here's an excerpt from a recent newsletter of the Central Ohio Hot Jazz Society:
We've all noticed with considerable pleasure the advent of dance group attendance at recent COHJS events doing the Lindy Hop, Charleston, Cakewalk, and other vintage dances to the live music eminating from our traditional jazz bands.  Turns out we are not alone in this most entertaining experience.  Don Jones, editor/publisher of the American Rag recently collected and then disseminated communications and commentary from festivals and jazz society directors and other interested parties which reveals much about the mutual awareness and beneficial relationships developing between these groups and dance clubs around the country.  The dancers, many in their 20s and 30s, are doing the authentic jazz dances of the 1920s and 1930s, much to the delight of the older attendees, many of whom are inpired to dance with their younger counterparts and each other.  Dance instruction by the clubs is offered, young people are attending the events, and the whole thing seems to gather momentum.  In addition to our COHJS experiences, we've observed first hand at functions in Cincinnati how contagious this can be.  We are most pleased to see this, and we bid it increasing success for all involved.

If you want to see some happy feet, come listen to the Tollhouse Jazz Band at the Gahanna Creekside Jazz and Blues Festival this Saturday, June 19, 2:30pm-4:00pm.

It's just $3 to get in, and SwingColumbus will be there (at several other times too) wearing red shirts and dancing with big smiles on our faces.  We'd love to dance with you and we're happy to give an impromptu lesson so you can join in!

STARTING JULY 6 - Tuesday is Swing Night at the Shrunken Head!!! wicked....

We are very excited to announce our new weekly event starting July 6th, 2010. Come visit us at our new home every Tuesday for a night of great music and a chance to dance and mingle! 

Swing out at The Shrunken Head** every Tuesday, hosted by SwingColumbus. We bring in a different live band and swing DJ every week so the music is always fresh! Be sure to arrive early for the lesson- you'll pick up some new moves AND meet people to dance with once the band kicks off.

Facebook event (go RSVP and invite your friends!)              SwingColumbus website

The Shrunken Head (Victorian Village)
251 W. 5th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43201

7:30 pm to 8:00 pm - Beginner 6-Count Swing Lesson
8:00 pm to 11:00 pm - Live Band and open dancing

Only $5 Cover!
All ages welcome (it's a restaurant!) 

July Schedule (we'll update this as more bands are booked)

    Tuesdays' specials include a grilled cheese and chili dinner for $2.99 until 8pm, and $4 Margaritas!  The critically acclaimed menu includes a range of delicious offerings including hummus, five different vegetarian burgers, and Giant German Schnitzels made with locally farmed pork. The bar has over 70 different beers (holy crap!) or, you know, chocolate milk if that's more your style.

    But the menu doesn't matter because you're of course coming for the DANCING, which will be a blast because you'll have great people to hang out with and a wood floor and different music every week to challenge and excite you.  Let's dance!

      Interested in having your band play at Swingin' Tuesdays at The Shrunken Head?
      Contact our Events Chair HERE. Be sure to include some info about your band and a webpage where we can hear what you've got.

      **In case you're a long time Columbusite, The Shrunken Head did used to be called The Victorian's Midnight Cafe, or 'Vic's' and don't worry, the big moon is still there on the wall behind the stage!  It just has a shrunken head painted on top of it now...  

      Jun 4, 2010

      Places to Swing Dance in Columbus, Ohio

      SwingColumbus has a few regular events, but if you crave even more chances to swing dance, there are lots of options in Columbus.  There are more bands with regular gigs than there are dancers to enjoy them (we're working on that!)

      Below are just some of the places you might find the right music and floor space to practice your triple steps and get your groove on.  (You should probably check websites or contact the venues or bands before you head out, just to be sure schedules haven't changed.)

      Places that have actual dance events, where you can expect to see other dancers:

      Bowties Lounge  inside the Ramada Plaza Hotel
      Floor: wood
      Food/drinks: yes
      When: Mondays with Columbus Swing Dance Club (this is different from SwingColumbus), Tuesdays with the Buckeye Bop Club, Wednesdays with the Mid-Ohio Boogie Club

      The Columbus Maennerchor
      This is a German club that loves live music and is open to the public
      Floor: linoleum (fine for dancing)
      Food/drinks: good German beer, and you can order authentic German food from the restaurant downstairs to be brought to you upstairs in the bar area
      When: the last Friday of every month you'll find the band Swing's the Thing, plus other events sporadically (check the calendar)

      The 94th Aerosquadron
      Floor: hardwood (great for dancing!)
      This replica of an old French farmhouse that got caught up in some WWI or WWII action is the perfect place for a big band, and you'll find plenty of dancers and listeners there every Thursday night for the Rick Brunetto Big Band.  This is the most movie-like, vintage swing experience you can find in Columbus.  A fantastic wood floor sits right in front of the band and cafe tables provide seating to enjoy your quite cheap drinks from the bar.  If you eat dinner there they'll waive the $5 cover charge.  The socialness of the dancing varies- some weeks people are very partnered up, other times you can arrive alone and invite others to dance.  Ballroom studios often turn up with groups of their students, so you may have to fend off Foxtrotters circling around you.  Music is mostly swing with some latin or waltz thrown in the mix.  There is also a DJ on Friday evenings for a variety of ballroom styles.

      The Elizabeth Blackwell Center at Riverside Hospital  -
      Floor: gymnasium hardwood floor
      Friday night lessons, or Saturday night dances with lessons (check the Buckeye Bop Club site and click on 'Dance Every Night' for more info)

      Places you can make dancing happen (push some tables aside!):
      The Thirsty Ear - recently renamed as The Woodlands  (Grandview Heights) - Floor:Cement
      Vonn Jazz Lounge (Worthington/Crosswoods area at 270 and 23)  Floor: Cement?  (can't remember...)
      • Wednesday Nights host the Silky Ray Blues Quartet, which is a favorite band of our dancers!  $5 cover.
      Rumba Cafe  (Clintonville/Campus)  Floor: Cement
      Outdoor Concerts and Festivals!   See another post about June Swing Dance Opportunities!  and more will come soon as festivals publish their schedules.

      If you know of other places that welcome dancers or at least don't mind them, let me know in the comments!

      June Swing Dancing in Columbus

      Post updated on June 16 for Gahanna Creekside Jazz Festival

      June 4-6 The Columbus Arts Festival
      • On Saturday, 11:00am-1:00pm a SwingColumbus contingent will be social dancing along with one of our favorite local bands, The Randys in front of the Main Stage.  Join us!  They play a huge variety from Elvis to tango to Banana Phone (you've got to see it to get it) and are a hit with all ages from little kids to 20s/30s bar goers to baby boomers to centenarians.  If you don't like The Randys, there's something wrong with you.  

      June 18-20 The Gahanna Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival
           SwingColumbus has been INVITED by this festival to add to the atmosphere!  We're really thrilled!  Our performance team is committing to attend certain times and may attend even more.  Here are the ones we're committing to attend.  If the times overlap that's because there are 3 stages and sometimes the stuff we like overlaps, so if you don't see us at one stage, check another one. (I will update this post if anything changes)

      FRIDAY, JUNE 18
      • 5:00-6:00  In Full Swing  (big band / 40s-50s swing)
      • 7:45-9:00  Ray Fuller  (rockabilly/blues/swing)
      • 9:30-11 for either Jimi Vincent or Mudfork blues  (blues or blues...)
      • 2:30-4:00 Tollhouse Jazz Band  (Dixieland/20s jazz)
      • 5:15-6:45 Long Tall Deb and the Drifter Kings  (blues)
      • 7:45-9 Swings the thing (big band/ 40s-50s swing)  UPDATE- we have our monthly dance this night so we decided we can't promise to be at this one.
      SUNDAY, JUNE 20
      • 3:00-5:30 Columbus Jazz Orchestra
      • 4:30-6 Sean Carney

      June 19 SwingColumbus' Monthly Dance at the Downtown YWCA!
      • Third Saturday of every month - it's a good time and only $6/$4 students.  Free beginner lesson 8-9pm and dancing to our favorite DJs 9-midnight.  
      • It's friendly and low-key and a great place to meet people and practice your dance skills.  And if it's your birthday month, we throw you in the jam circle and you dance with EVERYONE!

        June 25-27    Community Festival (aka COMFEST!)
        • Sunday at 11:30am SwingColumbus' performance team will be on the Community Stage
        • The schedule hasn't been published yet, but I'll update this post when it is so you'll know the best bands for dancing!
        here we are 2 years ago on the community stage:
         In addition to these festivals and our regular monthly dance, you can also find swing dancing regularly at restaurants, bars, and other places in Columbus.
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