Gettin’ in the Swing of Things

Swing on by to the LindyGroove for some good old-fashioned fun.

by Tara Rumore

Photographs © 2016 by Michael Erazo and Kate Haggard

In modern times, your typical night out includes a trip to a club on Sunset Strip where women are dressed in mile-high heels and short dresses. The atmosphere is loud, with pulse-thumping music from a DJ while you are intimately dancing with your partner.

Looking for a fresh and exciting new “Thirsty Thursday?” Then swing on by to the Old Masonic Hall in Pasadena for LindyGroove. The Masonic Hall is a historical building made in 1926 and boasts classical architecture reminiscent of Greek temples. In the grand ballroom is where you’ll find a swinging good time every Thursday.

Hop on the Swingdance.la website and you will find LindyGroove, a swing dance event every Thursday evening. According to dance enthusiasts everywhere, swing dancing was a widely popular dance style in the 1920's to the 1940's (known as the swing era), which developed from the swing style of Jazz music. There are many variations of the dance style including Charleston, Twist, Jive, The Shag, Boogie Woogie, and the Lindy Hop. The dance is still popular today.

Alicia Mistry, a journalism major at CSUN, is a big fan of LindyGroove.

“I got into swing dancing because of my best friend, Sara Schaab,” Mistry said. “Sara and her cousin Louis went to LindyGroove last March and really enjoyed it.

“Sara continued going and encouraged me to attend every week, and I kept giving her excuses until one day I finally agreed,” she continued. “She took me to LindyGroove in April, and after one night I was hooked.”

Mistry’s evening at LindyGroove sparked a desire to become involved in the swing dance community and share that with others.  
“From the time I fell in love with swing dancing, I have continuously shared my passion and encouraged others to join this fantastic community,” Mistry said.

“Thanks to my friend Sara, I have made several friends in the swing dancing community and now appreciate jazz music. Everyone at LindyGroove and other venues are always so helpful and willing to teach me new steps to help me master my current dancing technique,” Mistry added. “It’s just a great community to be a part of.”
Jazz music is known as the inspiration for swing dancing, but as decades passed, the dance evolved and so did the music. Artists like Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, big bands, and even Elvis Presley played during a night at LindyGroove.
Upbeat and fast, swing dance combines a count structure from European partner dances with shakes, shimmies, flips, kicks, hand movements, jumps and swinging movements. The dance is fun to watch, but don’t let that fool you — it is tough to master.

“I am definitely a beginner,” Mistry said. “Although I have been swing dancing for almost a year, I still have a little trouble mastering the basic eight-count and swing outs. It takes a long time to get the dancing down and a lot of patience and persistence, but I guarantee you it is so worth it.”

In addition to its exciting dance moves, swing dancing continues to attract people from all walks of life to its fantastic community. Some swingers get into the groove by mimicking the era’s attire. Girls will dress in long flowing skirts and cardigans. They’ll pin or curl their hair and wear bright red lipstick, while the men will wear trousers and a relaxed knitted sweater or suspenders. The most important piece of attire is the Oxford saddle shoe —  though dressing up isn’t necessary.

“What I love most about swing dancing is the crowd. There is not a specific type of person that comes to swing dancing — people come from all ages, backgrounds and talent and it’s great to see everyone out on the floor having a good time,” Mistry said.

A recent visit to LindyGroove was one of Mistry’s most memorable moments. “It was during my birthday,” she said.

“Every week at 10:30 p.m. is the ‘birthday dance.’ This is when those who are celebrating their birthday stand in the middle of a large circle of dancers,” Mistry said. “Once the music starts, you are whisked away by a random stranger to swing. When the count changes so does your partner, until the end of the song. My birthday dance was such an exciting and exhilarating experience that I will never forget.”

If Thursday doesn’t work in your schedule, there is a site dedicated to the swing dance community.

“I try to go to LindyGroove every Thursday evening (when swing dancing occurs at Lindy), but sometimes my schedule does not allow for that,” Mistry said. “The swing dancing community has a calendar on the website in which there are multiple swing dancing events a week at different venues. I go to LindyGroove because it’s the closest venue to me and Thursday evenings tend to fit my schedule.”

So, if you’re looking for a change of pace, Mistry suggests attending LindyGroove.
“I recommend everyone to try it at least once,” she said.  “It may not be your style, but you don’t know until you try. Go with a friend, sibling or colleague, attend the lessons and meet new people. You will find that the swing community is a unique group where everyone is accepted and it’s a fun place to be {at}.”