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Robert Abrams
East Coast Swing
Lindy Hop
Swing
Century Ballroom
United States
Washington
Seattle, WA
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Swing Dance at the Century Ballroom

by Robert Abrams
June 12, 2011
Century Ballroom
915 East Pine Street, 2nd Floor
Seattle, WA 98122
206-324-7263
At the suggestion of Jessica Massart of On The Boards, an alternative dance and theater venue in Seattle, I had considered going to The Century Ballroom for Swing tonight. This recommendation was later seconded by Jen Graves, the visual arts critic for Seattle's alternative paper The Stranger (and who spoke eloquently during the last panel of the DCA conference). Based on these recommendations, I put my Movin' Out shoes in my bag, called a cab and went. I am glad I did.

This Sunday night Swing party started with a lesson at 9 pm. The party itself got going at 9:30 pm and ended at 12:30 am.

The Century Ballroom's main space, used by the Swing party tonight, has a relatively large dance floor (2000 square feet) surrounded by ample space for tables and chairs. The space has a certain elegance that is missing from many social dance venues. This included detailed grillwork framing the balcony level. And while not open to the public at this event, the space does have a balcony level: the high ceilings also add to the sense of grandeur. The dance floor is in excellent condition.

The large dance floor was packed with dancers. I got there around 9:20 pm as the lesson was ending. The floor only started to open up to any significant extent around 11:30 pm or midnight. The party ended around 12:30 am. I left maybe fifteen minutes before closing and there were still plenty of couples dancing their hearts out.

The attendees were predominately a younger, late high school to college crowd. I was told this was due to the recent end of the local school year, so many students could stay out late on a Sunday, there being no school on Monday for them. This means that on a more typical Sunday, there would likely be somewhat fewer people, with the proportions skewed somewhat older than tonight. But even with fewer people, there would likely still be plenty of people dancing.

The Century Ballroom has a bar and restaurant in a separate room called the Tin Table, which has a full bar. I took a break from dancing in the middle and had a beer. I didn't try the food, but I have been told it is good. There are supposed to be other good restaurants in the neighborhood too. The Tin Table bar was not packed, but there were enough people wetting their whistles to keep the bartender constantly busy. She had a graceful efficiency as she prepared the customers' drinks. If Giselle had been a bartender, she might have moved like this blonde bartender.

Back on the dance floor, there were a mix of beginners, mostly dancing East Coast Swing, and experienced dancers, mostly dancing Lindy Hop. There were plenty of available dance partners. The atmosphere in the room was generally convivial, both on and off the dance floor. People were willing to have conversations. It seemed like the kind of place that if you went often enough, you might be able to make friends. You walk away from the Century Ballroom thinking Seattle is a friendly city.

There was also a Tango party going on simultaneously in a different room (with separate admission). The price of admission was very reasonable: $7 per person for the Swing party and $6 per person for the Tango party. The cab from the Maxwell Hotel cost about $10 each way, including tip.

Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing are not my preferred dance styles, but I had a fine time anyway. The next time I am in Seattle, I will definitely go back to the Century Ballroom. And I will make sure I am in Seattle on a Tuesday night, since that is the night they have a Tango practica and a West Coast Swing social (for which one $6 cover will get you into both events, which means that it should also be a good opportunity to dance some Swango).

Century Ballroom has a Swing party every Sunday night, but be sure to check their schedule: when I was in town, it looked like they had one to three parties every night in a variety of dance styles.
Lindy Hop at the Century Ballroom

Lindy Hop at the Century Ballroom

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Lindy Hop at the Century Ballroom

Lindy Hop at the Century Ballroom

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Lindy Hop at the Century Ballroom

Lindy Hop at the Century Ballroom

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


The Century Ballroom's main dance space

The Century Ballroom's main dance space

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams

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