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Robert Abrams
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Editorial: NYC bans dancing at Swing 46 - a response

by Robert Abrams
March 26, 2003
Swing 46
349 West 46 Street
New York, NY 10036

Editorial: NYC bans dancing at Swing 46 - a response

March 26, 2003

I discovered tonight that the dancing at Swing 46, a key New York City swing venue, has been shut down by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. This ban is clearly wrong and should be reversed as soon as possible. Swing 46 has provided live dance music every night for the past six years. They have lifted the spirits of countless New Yorkers. They have put a positive face on New York City for countless visitors to our city. For instance, some months ago, I happened to be at Swing 46 and as a result had the chance to dance with people from London. They clearly walked away with the sense that New York may be a city of eight million people or so, but we are also a city that values community and we know how to build it.

New York City is arguably the dance capital of the world. Between Lincoln Center, the Joyce Theatre and City Center, between the New York City Ballet, the American Ballet Theater, the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance, Alvin Ailey and Paul Taylor, to name just a few, New York City is home to some of the best performance dance companies in the world. New York is also home to some of the best competitive ballroom and swing dancers. Dancers come to New York City from all over the world to realize their dreams: from Russia, from Denmark, from Argentina, from California.

Swing 46 is not just a dance club. They have also been an incubator for innovative dance shows, such as Swango. Swango ran for four months at Swing 46, which led to a successful run at the Helen Hayes Theater in Nyack, and is now in development for a likely debut on Broadway.

Swing 46 employs some of the nicest wait staff in the city. I can also attest to the fact that the food is pretty good too, having tried nearly everything on the menu over the last couple of years.

In this time of global strife, when there are all too many people who would be more than happy to shut down freedom of expression, dance is a form of expression that needs to be zealously protected. Swing dancing is a wholesome alternative to the mindless, solely-alcohol-focussed entertainments that lie on the path of least resistance. Swing dancing is perhaps the most American of dances, having been forged from the music and movement of diverse strands of our culture, both black and white (and when done properly there is a bit of hip action in there too, so there is a Latin influence on the dance as well). The Lindy Hop, one of the main forms of Swing, was invented in Harlem, so not only is Swing a very American dance, it is emblematic of New York City.

Now, ExploreDance.com always strives for fair and honest reporting. In this regard it is only fair that I state that while I don't always agree with Mayor Bloomberg's decisions, I have come to the view that he is doing a good job overall. In this spirit, until evidence demonstrates otherwise, I would encourage people to attack the policy, but not the people.

What ever may have prompted this action by the City can surely be resolved in an amicable manner. It would be a terrible shame if dancing is not restored at Swing 46. In the meantime, I encourage you to go to Swing 46 for dinner to show your support.

      Robert Abrams
      Editor, ExploreDance.com

Swing 46 is located at 349 West 46 Street, and can be found on the web at www.Swing46.com, by email at info@Swing46.com and by phone at 212-262-9554.

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