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West Coast Swing
The Saloon
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

WCS in NYC: A VersAtile Dance Scene

by Anonymous
August 20, 2005
The Saloon
1584 York Ave. between 83rd and 84th Streets
New York, NY 10028
(212) 570-5454


August 20, 2005

Don't let the name fool you, West Coast Swing is here on the East coast. The state dance of California is becoming more and more popular in the Big Apple, a city once dominated by its native dance Lindy Hop. Like all partner dances, West Coast Swing has had its ebbs and flows in popularity with a recent resurgence here in the city.

The dance bases its history as an off-shoot from Lindy Hop and has grown into a sultry and slower form of swing over the past few decades. The history of its conception is varied with dancers latching on to their favorite story. Besides its obvious influence from Lindy Hop, other dances such as Cha Cha Cha and Hustle have influenced the creation of West Coast Swing adding new elements over the years, as has its popularity in the world of Country Western dancing. All these external factors have helped shape WCS into the exciting dance it is today.

WCS is one of the more versatile dances as it covers a wide spectrum of music genres. Dancing is possible to traditional standards by Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, to blues by B.B. King and Muddy Waters, as well as contemporary music by Janet Jackson and the Black Eyed Peas. This musical variety is what opens the dance to more people than other forms of partner dance. Each genre lends a different feel to WCS whether it is fun and playful or sexy and seductive.

To accommodate the growing community here in New York, a weekly dance is held on Wednesdays at The Saloon (1584 York Ave. between 83rd and 84th Streets) hosted by John Festa. John's Wednesday night dance is one of the longest run WCS dance in the nation. Although the venue has changed over the years, it still retains and welcomes dancers that return week after week. An intimate atmosphere and nice dance floor make the current venue a hit, as does the Mr. Festa's choice in music. John is currently the number one WCS DJ in the nation.

Studios throughout the Boroughs and New Jersey offer monthly parties that help those addicted to the dance get their fix. For dances outside the city limits, carpools are arranged to make sure all who want to attend are able to do so. The studios are also known to bring in nationally ranked top instructors for occasional workshops as well as utilizing the many pros based here in the city. Special classes in music theory for dance, styling and body movement, and performance classes are hosted to help bring the community of dancers closer together as well as build the rapidly growing skill level of New York's dancers.

With so many dances and dancers, it would be easy to get lost in the crowd only knowing a small group of people. New York is blessed in that it hosts the Gotham Swing Club. Members receive discounts to classes, dances, and are offered a day of free workshops and dancing as well as an annual Holiday party. The website (gothamswingclub.org) keeps dancers up to date on local happenings and events. A monthly "Gotham Night" makes sure that members are exposed to the different dances around the city as well as encourages support of the hosts and DJs offering their services to the city. Many times these nights end with a trip to local diners for post-dancing snacks.

In addition to the city's swing club, StrictlyWestie (strictlywestie.com), a national message board for WCS, is based out of the city. The site features a section for New Yorkers with a calendar, studio directory, and photos from recent events. Members utilize the board to arrange transportation and roommates to large events and ask any questions they have about the dance.

Both organizations are working towards bringing the community together and welcoming new faces. New dancers are encouraged to get their feet wet as those in the scene for a while ask them to dance and introduce them to others in the big family. Outings off the dance floor are also arranged with movie trips and parties. This sense of family and belonging is what makes the West Coast Swing community so strong. Friendly faces and good music keep people coming back week after week.

West Coast Swing at The Saloon
Photo courtesy of Michael Diener

West Coast Swing at The Saloon
Photo courtesy of Michael Diener

West Coast Swing at The Saloon
Photo courtesy of Michael Diener

Hazel and Tybalt
Photo courtesy of Michael Diener

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