A vibrant community, New York boasts countless locations to swing dance. Whether you’re a beginner or looking for supplement from the studio, here are five spots that are sure to keep you swing dancing every night of the week. By Annie Reuter.
A popular spot, Swing 46 is the only jazz and supper club in the world that has live swing music and dancing seven nights a week. As a result, international and local dancers can be found here on a nightly basis with free dance lessons every evening except Monday. George Gee, Big Band leader of George Gee Swing Orchestra, has been a weekly fixture at the establishment since Swing 46 opened its doors in May of 1997. Performing every Tuesday night, he says visitors can expect “a totally awesome presentation of Big Band, Jump, and Swing music that is sure to keep the dance floor hopping and jumping all night long with great vocals by our singers. Plus, the band is anchored by some of the top Big Band Jazz musicians that New York City.”
A fan of swing, Gee says what astonishes him most is the generations that run amuck on the dance floor, Swing 46 being no exception. “You look across the room and you’ll find anyone from 20-something to 70-something and literally from all walks of life smiling from ear to ear. What other culture or musical style or movement has that same quality? It’s really such a cross-denominational appeal.”
Head to Sofia’s Restaurant on Mondays and Tuesdays to catch Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks perform. The same band showcased on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” during the band’s three sets dance the night away at the Edison Hotel in your best 20s-esque getup. Who knows, maybe you can make your way into the show as an extra.
While it’s not necessarily a venue strictly for swing dancing, each Wednesday and Thursday Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Williamsburg features notable New Orleans jazz performers. For the past two years, the Hungarian beer garden has hosted jazz nights where talented musicians play jazz standards with an array of instruments and vocalists. Whether it’s a washboard, horns, strings or unique percussion, it’s nearly impossible to not tap your feet along or get up and strut a few moves while at the bar.
What originally began as a fundraiser to help the costs of a server and online streaming for Yehoodi.com, a worldwide online community for Swing dancers, has turned into a successful weekly dance night. Every Thursday, Club 412 dance studio hosts Frim Fram Jam from 8 p.m. – 1 a.m. Beginners show up at 8 for an hour lesson before dancers of every age and ability join later when the studio turns into a club with DJs spinning Swing-era tracks and a bar is provided.
“It’s been a steady scene,” says Music Coordinator Ryan Swift. “I think giving people a chance to connect in a world of Facebook and YouTube, having one on one interaction is a big draw today.” While Swift says many college students frequent the space, tech industry workers are also frequent attendees. “We definitely have regulars but we see a lot of new faces. I think people keep coming back because we’re here every week. We’ve been here every week for 10 years. We’re not going anywhere. People are still finding swing dancing, trying it, and sticking with it, which is awesome.”
Every Friday, Ella Lounge transports patrons back in time where the Lindy Hop, the Charleston, and the jitterbug were prevalent and doo-wop and jazz music ruled the charts. With The Debonairs performing covers of 50s and 60s doo-wop music, dancers can be found on the floor showcasing their moves or learning new swing routines along the way.
Annie Reuter is a freelance writer and the founder of YouSingIWrite.com.