If you attended a free concert at Swanny City Park recently, you may have noticed a group of dancers thoroughly enjoying themselves while swinging to the live music. Well, you can learn the steps, too.
“We all got together and danced there,” said Erika Ring, an instructor with the Moab Swing Dance Community. “If a swing band comes to town, we dance to live music.”
During the month of August, Ring and Moab Swing Dance Community President Chris Wonderly will teach a style called the Lindy Hop on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North.
“What I love about dancing is it’s like learning a language — you can go anywhere in the world and show up for a swing dance — if you know the vocabulary you can dance with anyone,” Ring said.
The goal of the Lindy Hop — a dance that originated in New York City in the 1920s and 30s — is to learn enough “vocabulary” to participate at a big dance in Grand Junction, Colorado, on Aug. 24, Ring said.
Ring and Wonderly teach all kinds of swing dances — East Coast Swing, Charleston, Balboa, Shag and West Coast Swing — at the MARC throughout the year.
Nelly Drogin attends weekly lessons, as well as monthly social dances. Like Ring, Drogin cited the international appeal of swing dancing.
“There are a lot of different dances under the swing umbrella,” she said. “You could go anywhere in the world and find a dance to go to. It’s really a wholesome activity. I attend as many as I can when I’m in town.”
Drogin said she also likes the swing dance exchanges that occur when different communities hosting swing dances offer out-of-towners lodging for the night as part of the exchange.
Although it’s acceptable to come to just one Lindy Hop lesson, organizers encourage people to attend all four sessions in August, as the dance classes will get progressively more complex by building on steps learned at previous lessons, Ring said. Lessons last an hour-an-a-half to two hours.
No experience is necessary, nor is having a partner. Pairs rotate, so you end up dancing with everyone before the night is over. Comfortable shoes are recommended.
“It’s one of those things where you see community members from all walks of life,” Ring said. “You connect with people you might not typically associate with.”
Political and other affiliations fall by the wayside when you’re dancing, she said. Plus, all ages are welcome.
Ring said both she and Wonderly have been swing dancing for the past 10 years.
“We have quite a lot of knowledge to share,” she said. “I started in California and have danced across the United States and abroad.”
Each spring, members of the local dance community travel to Salt Lake City for a dance convention with workshops and big dance events with live bands.