By Hayley Gibson
The smooth tunes of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald were revived and celebrated Sunday night at the Waco Swing Dance Society meeting as a multi-generational community gathered in the spirit of swing dancing.
The society was started five years ago by Texas A&M alumnus, Kevin English and Baylor alumna Katie Wolfe in an effort to preserve the authentic experience of the swing dancing culture.
It is now attended by a diverse group of individuals who hope to be a small part of the underground revival of swing.
The club members meet regularly on Sunday nights at Joy’s School of Dance to fine tune their moves and learn new steps to the East Coast Swing, Charleston and Lindy Hop. They also attend live performances in Waco to socialize and swing dance among the crowd.
“It’s a wonderful underground community,” English said. “It’s like family.”
The society strives to retain the purest form of swing through the original vintage artists and big bands of the 1930s and ’40s, rather than only focusing on more modern artists.
“Swing dancing is resurrecting a dance that is very American,” English said, “It’s about preserving our past as well as the fun, social side.”
The world has certainly caught on to the resurrection of swing as events such as Lindy Exchanges or the Swesdish Herrang Dance Camp provide overnight dance workshops for swing dancers.
“You can meet dancers anywhere and have a common starting point and sense of community,” said member Linda Carter, who participates regularly in society events and seeks out dancers wherever she travels.
English attended the Baylor Swing Dancing Society with a friend in 2007 and fell in love with the atmosphere and community.
He and Wolfe met for dinner and brainstormed ideas on how to get the Waco community more involved in swing dancing.
“I love how swing dancing gives people the chance to dance and socialize in a non-bar environment,” English said. “It’s family friendly and minors can have fun here.”
The society now proudly attracts a diverse group of all generations, from a Baylor professor and her husband, to recent Baylor grads, to a family with teenage sons.
“We’ve met people here we wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Baylor professor of music history Laurel Zeiss said. “It gives people an opportunity to dance and learn new things.”
The society’s next goal is to connect people in different dancing communities, which English hopes to reach through the group’s website.
Lessons are held Sunday nights at Joy’s School of Dance, located at 7560 Bosque Blvd.
Intermediate lessons begin at 7 p.m. and beginner’s lessons at 8 p.m., followed by open dancing until 9:30 p.m.