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By Pam Callender, Director of Operations SPATS "A Vintage Dance Club" Town & Country Plaza 501 N. Beneva Road #620 Sarasota, Florida 34232 (941) 954-8696 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
What is this Swing Thing? Ask six people and get six different answers. There is more than a dozen Swing dance styles, all to accommodate a variety of music fashions of the decade.
The 'Gay Nineties' (between 1910 and 1919), have been called the ballroom decade. Foxtrot, all movement to a quick-quick-slow beat, was a jerky two-step to ragtime music. Tango was also a favorite, although banned for its sensuous nature.
Rebels of prohibition dubbed the 'Roaring Twenties' with the Charleston dance to Jazz music at the speakeasies. The shameless swaying of the body, knocking knees and jumping, known as the Charleston, came to typify the decade's fun-loving wildness. Rumba was also a significant dance craze as it set the musical taste and welcoming mood for a wave of Latin-dance vogues that would follow.
In the era of the big bands, spirited jazz music was lively but smooth, and lovingly called swing. Swing dances were even more athletic than the Charleston. Dancers were getting younger, dancing more physical. The Lindy Hop (another type of Swing dance) originated in Harlem's Savoy Ballroom where frenzied airborne movements caused underwear to become a serious dress consideration. A devotee of Swing was referred to as a Hepcat or an Alligator. The young dancers of the thirties also went wild over the Latin dance, Samba, because of its intriguing rhythms and fast pace.
The Jitterbug carried Swing through the forties by combining the Charleston and Lindy, and in one variation or another, held popularity for two decades, paving the way for the zany rock dances of the Sixties. Cha Cha and Merengue made the scene in the mid fifties to add to the Latin dance flavor.
Solo dancing was born to the Sixties where the generation gap between the 'oldsters' (over age thirty) and the youth movement assumed the motto "Do your own thing". After Swimming, Stomping, Twisting, Jerking, Hitchhiking and Mashing Potatoes, young dancers of the seventies Ponied into 'the Disco', to 'Disco'. Discotheques created the Hustle, a close relative to Jitterbug and Fox Trot by way of a Latin beat called Salsa. The Hustle brought back touch-dancing only until the eighties' more free style of life dictated a street dance called Break Dancing and Electric Boogie. Again, a prominent Latin dance in the Seventies was the Lambada.
As fashion would have it, Swing dancing has come full circle. The Swing Kids of the twentieth century are picking up on the cool feel of the Zoot Suit and moving to the vigorous groove of what they call 'Jump'.
In Sarasota, Spats "A Vintage Dance Club" accommodates this interest by providing a large dance-floor, smoke free, non-alcoholic facility with affordable group dance lessons and workshops in all social dance styles. Open to the public, Spats encourages wearing costumes to accessorize the atmosphere of the era. Informal dance contests highlight the dance style of the evening. And on occasion, for your entertainment, performers demonstrate the preciseness of professional dancing.
Spats' dance schedule includes Foxtrot, Quick Step and East Coast Swing to Tuesday's big band music. Jammin oldies on Wednesday highlights West Coast Swing, Hustle and Rumba. Thursday, all Latin music for Cha Cha, Bolero and Salsa. Friday and Saturday is the Hep Cat sound for Jump Swing. General Admission Prices for group lessons begin at 8pm then dance til you drop for only $8.00. If you arrive after 9pm, the cover is $5.00.
Upcoming dates to remember at Spats.
October 17 Spats Grand Opening introducing a Darren Fernandez performance of Zoot Suit Swing Dance Review. 8pm lesson $12 or $10 after 9pm.
October 21 Dan Electro Jumpin Swing Blues Band. 8pm lesson $8.00 or $6.00 after 9pm.
October 28 JO 101.5FM - REMOTE FUND RAISER - Youth Dance Sport Program $20 @ 8pm.
October 31 Vintage Thriller HalloSwing Party. 8pm lesson $8.00 or $6.00 after 9pm, General Admission Prices.
November 4 Dan Electro Jumpin Swing Blues Band. 8pm lesson $8.00 or $6.00 after 9pm.
November 11 Dan Electro Jumpin Swing Blues Band. 8pm lesson $8.00 or $6.00 after 9pm.
November 14 Monthly Finals Dance Contest & Pro Show. 8pm lesson $12 or $10 after 9pm.
November 18 Dan Electro Jumpin Swing Blues Band. 8pm lesson $8.00 or $6.00 after 9pm.
November 25 The Worx Band "Bird's The Word" Celebration Thanksgiving with SPATS. 8pm lesson $8.00 or $6.00 after 9pm.
Spats is located at the Town and Country Plaza, corner of Fruitville and Beneva Rd. in Sullivan's Courtyard.
(Pam Callender, A Charter Member of The Sarasota Swing Dance Society)