Originally Posted at AroundTown Tales from Charm City
By Melody Gerberich
Copyright © BaltimoreStories.com
Transcription of Interview – Friday Night Swing Dance Club
Hi, this is Melody Gerberich reporting for BaltimoreStories.com
If you have two left feet, then Baltimore’s Friday Night Swing Dance Club may be the prescription for you. That’s right, I said dance . That’s because this group will leave you hopping, literally.
Whether you’d like to relive the days of you youth or you’re still young and looking for more than bump-and-grind moves, this club will welcome you. Jean Huether says it crosses all age barriers.
I’ve seen ages 18 to 80 come here. I would say the median age is a lot of 20s, 30s, and 40s. But people intermingle. They don’t care what your age is when you dance. If a man looks across the room and sees a woman having fun, he’ll go up and ask her, no matter what she looks like, no matter what her age is. And that’s the beauty of this. People are comfortable here.
It is now not only Baltimore’s biggest swing dance club, but club president Chuck Alexander says it’s the largest single swing dance club on the East Coast.
So how did Baltimore’s jitterbug frenzy begin? According to Alexander, he started teaching dance lessons in Columbia 12 years ago. People were looking for a place in the area to dance.
And they eventually found one… two… three… and many more. The Friday night dances traverse from Towson to White Marsh to downtown Baltimore. And the midweek lessons are held at local churches.
But they are not hard to find. Just check out their Web site at www.fridaynightswing.com or your local Pennysaver under community events. You could join the 68 hundred others on the mailing list, or the 3 thousand people on the e-mail list.
But Huether says the best way to get to know them is to just come out and dance.
Ladies and gentlemen, throw away all that Prozac, Paxal, Zoloft. You don’t need any of those antidepressants. Come here because for ten dollars a week (that’s for members-I think it’s 12 dollars for non-members), you don’t need any psychiatry. Come to swing dancing and let it all out. This is where you can let out all your stress.
And you don’t necessarily need to know how to dance either. Baltimore resident Marge Watchorn says she comes only a few times a year, but always feels at ease when she arrives.
I think there’s a lot less social pressure here. Anybody can dance with anybody. There’s no alcohol, so people are here just to dance and have fun. And that takes a lot of the pressure off.
And because the club offers a free hour-long lesson each Friday before the dance, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to learn the basic steps. Randy Hean thinks the lessons from 8 to 9 p.m. will help build your confidence for the rest of the evening.
You come at 8 o’clock and you just take that easy lesson, and it is fairly simple. And once you build your confidence, then you can swing dance. But it’s not technique, it’s confidence. Touching people, feeling comfortable, and having fun.
But Alexander thinks the midweek lessons can be helpful. He says the fast-paced moves can be very threatening to first-timers.
For people that just walk in off the street, if they don’t take the lesson or they don’t have some feel for what’s going on, it is extremely threatening. There are several ladies here tonight that just basically left. I mean, they didn’t dance at all.
No matter what type of dancing piques your interest, the Friday Night Swing Dance Club can cater to you. It offers lessons ranging from swing, to tango, cha-cha, fox trot, waltzes and modern Latin dancing too. Alexander hesitates to even call it a swing dance club because it caters to all age groups with all kinds of music.
And though the club prides itself in being a safe environment free from cheap romance and alcohol, Alexander admits that his club has initiated many relationships. He attributes it to the dancing.
There’s no better way to meet women than a guy that can dance. A guy that can dance has got it head and shoulders over every other man.
Club members Francis Wint and Tricia Kramer admit that the lead-and-follow style of swing dancing can be very freeing for a woman who’s competed in the workforce all week. Wint prefers it to freestyle dancing.
FW & TK
It’s contact, you know. It’s being lead, and I don’t have to think. I just go out there and react and dance. Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I forgot to mention, is after a week of work, it’s the one place where I don’t have to make any decisions.
Marge Watchorn agrees that it can be easier for a woman because in this type of social dancing, a man leads all the moves.
I think it’s easier for a woman because the man leads all the moves, and as long as you can follow basic moves and have a really tolerant partner, a woman can learn anything.
And the most unique thing about this type of dancing is that it’s really not about anything but having fun.
I like the fact that it brings a lot of different people together from different backgrounds, different age groups. And really, with the environment they try to create, everyone’s just here to have fun.
Kramer sums up the whole atmosphere in one sentence. Here’s her attitude toward the Friday Night Swing Dance Club.
This is the best dance club… to me. We may not be the best dancers, but we have the most fun.
This is Melody Gerberich reporting for BaltimoreStories.com.