By Steve Dunkelberger
The current upswing of once-dead dance genres has its roots in the now famous Gap commercial from 1996 and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies’ hit single “Zoot Suit Riot” and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s “Go Daddy-O,” from the same era. Toss in the parallel resurgence of “back in the day” trends like pinup modeling, wearing fedoras and retro-themed technology, and the number of swing dancers grows and grows.
“I feel like there is something nostalgic and comforting about swing dancing, and that is what we are based on,” Grit City Ballroom founder Kelly Edmonston said.
Edmonston started dancing some 15 years ago but began a little dance group, known as T-Town Swing, in 2011.
The group quickly outgrew its space with the addition of other types of dance lessons to become Grit City Ballroom last year.
The studio offers classes and social dances covering everything from Blues, Kizomba, Balboa, to Charleston, Salsa, Tango and Tap. Social nights often bring upward of 60 people of all ages to the dance floor. They even do the Lindy.
“It is a very wide and open community,” Edmonston said.”I think what is important about swing dancing is that it bridges the generation gap.”
People just get together to get sweating on the dance floor, not drunk to land a date.
“That is today’s dance culture, and that is fine if that’s what you’re into,” Edmonston said. “But it’s nice to have a dance culture based on dance rather than on picking someone up. It’s safe and structured and a lot of fun.”
The ballroom’s performance troupe, Aces Up, performs swing and big-band routines from 1920s, 1930s and 1940s at special events and festivals around the 253.
Jonathon Pope has been dancing since 2006 after seeing other people swoosh and swing.
“It was just something I needed to do,” he said. “Once you get into it, it is really hard to quit.”
Toss in the fact that as one of the few men on the dance floor during some social nights, Pope finds himself with a full dance card more often than not.
“I have times when I am not off the floor … ever,” he said.
Laura Nichol, who has been dancing since age 3, started swing dancing in 2005 after seeing friends jive in high school.
“It’s just a fun musical style to listen to even if you don’t want to dance,” she said, noting that the exercise and the social aspect of the dance floor add to the fun.
Interested in testing your own dance moves on the floor? Grit City Ballroom hosts a variety of dance nights each week, special events and workshops, as well as a variety of dance lessons to help bring you up to speed on the dance floor.
Grit City Ballroom
733 Commerce Street
Tacoma, WA 98402
Mondays: 6:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Tuesdays: 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Wednesdays: 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Thursdays: 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Fridays: 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Saturdays: Open for private events
Sundays: 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.