West Coast steps come swingin’ into Carson City
Appeal Staff Writer
Jim Ewing’s motto is “give it eight weeks.” No matter how bad you think you are or how slowly you learn, give it eight weeks.
That’s how long it will take to make someone a fan of West Coast swing dancing.
“The first eight weeks are very difficult, especially for the men. Most men are good at eye-hand coordination, so making them switch to ear-foot coordination is difficult, but once they get that it’s easy,” said Ewing, a dance instructor from Spanish Springs.
Ewing recently formed the High Sierra Swing Dance Club, a nonprofit organization in Carson City that will be tasked with providing a venue for swing dances in the capital city.
“I just felt the need to start a club down here and give residents in the areas around Carson City a place to dance,” Ewing said.
Jerry Stacy, club board member, said, “There’s just no good dancing place in the area. If you notice we don’t have drinking or smoking here, and people seem to enjoy that atmosphere.”
The club held its first dance Friday night at the Brewery Arts Center and hopes to hold at least 10 dances over the course of the next year.
Alan Mills and his wife, Molly, both of Reno, had been dancing for years, but were still learning West Coast swing.
“The lesson part is just hell, but soon you start to get it and it’s fun,” Molly said.
The club has about 300 members, composed mostly of Ewing’s students in the area.
“I’ve been doing West Coast swing for 24 years, and I enjoy teaching it,” Ewing said. “The only place you can dance other types of dance, like ballroom, is in a studio because you need so much space to do them. But West Coast swing is a slot dance, so you can get a lot more people doing it at once.”
Friday’s dance was preceded by a swing-dance lesson from instructor Tim Renners, owner of Dancing with Style and Technique and professor at Truckee Meadows Community College and the University of Nevada, Reno.
Renners told the participants to just keep at it, and soon they would be able to interpret the rhythm of the music naturally.
“Practice doesn’t make perfect, but perfect practice makes proficient,” Renners said.
As for Ewing, who said his schedule is busier now that he is retired, the work to get the club going has already paid dividends.
“For me, it’s all worth it to see my guys get the steps and grow into their own,” Ewing said.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.
Did you know?
West Coast swing is a partner dance derived from Lindy hop. It is characterized by a distinctive elastic look that results from its basic extension-compression technique of partner connection. Swing was developed on the crowded floors of dance clubs in the 1930s, and is considered a slot dance because it is danced with both partners moving up and down a single line or track.
For more information on the High Sierra Swing Dance Club, go to http://www.highsierrasdc.org.
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