Git up off of that thang!
Special to the Nevada Appeal
If, when you hear the term “swing dancing,” you envision Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey conducting big-bands of guys in white tuxes and bowties with Brylcreemed hair, you’re way out of step.
Every Tuesday night at El Charro Avitia Restaurant, High Sierra Swing Dance Club members twirl, slide, and swish to tunes by artists as varied as Tracy Chapman, Huey Lewis, James Brown, Bonnie Raitt, Lou Rawls, Lee Ann Womack and Justin Timberlake.
The club was founded in April 2007 by Jim Ewing, who teaches dance with his wife, Donna, in the Reno and Carson City area. In addition to the El Charro’s events, the club hosts a monthly social dance and, starting Nov. 6, lessons in West Coast swing at the Grand Ballroom of Brewery Arts Center, which is co-presenting the six-week class.
West Coast swing is a partner dance derived from the Lindy hop in the Los Angeles area in the late 1930s. Its distinctive elastic look results from its basic extension-compression technique of partner connection. Swing was developed on crowded dance floors, and became a “slot” dance as both partners were forced to move up and down a single line.
“West Coast swing is danced to blues, funk and R&B music … There are basic patterns with quick turns and spins, and as the dancers improve, they are able to improvise and syncopate to the music for a sexy, smooth dance timed to the beat, lyrics, or various instruments of the music being played,” according to Ewing’s Web site, http://www.wcs-dancer.com.
Partners are labeled “leader” and “follower,” usually the man and woman, respectively. The follower travels back and forth along the shoulder-width slot, as directed by the leader.
Following is more difficult than it sounds as the woman must erase all anticipation of moves, concentrate on often-subtle leads given by the man, then react immediately.
Previously, the dance club classes were conducted by a private instructor. Now the club is hiring its own teachers, with support from BAC.
Greg Froberg, of Carson City, has been dancing for 30 years and teaching for 16.
He will teach the first six-week session in three levels: beginners with no experience, “Beyond Basics” for intermediate dancers and “Style and Play” for confident, experienced dancers.
Froberg began dancing in 1978 after an accident ended his competitive skating career. He became a certified West Coast swing instructor in 1985, and began teaching open lessons in Santa Cruz, Calif. He has taught throughout California, from the Bay area to Gilroy to Los Angeles.
In 1991, Froberg started coaching others for competition, and in 1992, three of his student couples qualified for West Coast swing world championships. He also has coached adult and junior dance teams that placed highly in their divisions.
Froberg says West Coast swing is “all about having fun.”
It is the man’s job to show off his partner. “The man is the flag pole, and the woman is the beautiful flag waving from it. The man is the canvas, and the woman supplies the paint and brushes for the beautiful canvas.”
Ewing maintains that it takes just eight weeks of lessons “to make someone a fan of West Coast swing dancing.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: West Coast swing dancing
WHEN: Tuesdays; basic lesson 5:45 p.m., social dance at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: El Charro Avitia Restaurant, 4389 S. Carson St.
COST: Lessons $3 for High Sierra Swing Dance Club members, $5 nonmembers; social dance free
WHAT: West Coast swing dance lessons
WHEN: Thursdays; six-week session begins Nov. 6. Beginners 6 p.m., Beyond Basics 7 p.m., Style and Play, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Brewery Arts Center’s Grand Ballroom, 449 W. King St.
COST: $45 for BAC members, $50 nonmembers
INFORMATION: http://www.highsierrasdc.org, breweryarts.org or 883-1976; preregistration available at the BAC office
Learn to dance here too:
The Carson City Senior Citizens Center hosts ballroom dance lessons on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to noon at the center at 911 Beverly Drive, Carson City. A small fee is charged for lessons; open to all ages. Call (775) 885-0552.
danceSpirit has adult jazz dance classes on Saturdays from 11-noon. The monthly enrollment is $38. The dance studio is located at 951 N Stewart St. # C. Call 884-1066 or go to http://www.dancespiritstudio.com.
Positive Energy has hip hop/jazz dance class for ages 13 and up on Thursdays beginning at 7:15 p.m. The hour-long classes cost $12 on a drop-in basis. The studio’s Mix-It-Up class includes exercise and dance at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The drop-in fee is $5. For more information and location call 884-3633 or go to http://www.positive-energy.us.