Young singles drawn to swing dance revival

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by JOHN McCAA

Bio | Email | Follow: @johnmccaa

WFAA

Posted on October 24, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 24 at 7:19 PM

How many times have you heard this from single friends: "Finding the right man (or woman) is nearly impossible?"

They tried online dating, computer matching, every modern method — to no avail.

One group has returned to an old method that, to hear them tell it, still works quite well: Dancing.

Nearly a century after dances like the "Lindy Hop" spread from Harlem and 60 years after big band music faded, young singles still can't get enough of swing music.

At places like Dallas' Acme Swing Company… they learn grandma and grandpa's dances — the Jitterbug, the Lindy Hop, you name it — they’re learning and performing it, and — more importantly — they are loving it.

"I just feel like dancing is a lot of fun, Dana Scott said.

"It's a blast," added Tom Meindl. "It's demanding... it's time-consuming."

But he keeps coming back.

Dallas Swing Dance Society co-founder Kathy Warwick says she hears that complaint all the time from students she teaches... until they get the hang of it.

"I see them up there on the stage, and it's all worth it," she said. "They're all moving together as a unified group. There's no other feeling like it. I get goosebumps!"

This is a "not so lonely hearts” club. Several couples have met here and married (including Warwick and her husband Jerry).

For others, it’s a breath of fresh air.

"It has been life-renewing," Stefany Bales said. "Life-giving and life-changing."

"I was actually very shy," competitive dancer Tamo Blaise told us. But now that he has performed in dance competitions, the ladies have started paying attention.

"Some girl I would never be able to talk to, they come to me and say, 'Hey, want to dance?' I was like, wow... dancing can do a lot of things!"

There’s no pressure at casual get-togethers; you don’t have to dance, but everybody wants to get out on the floor and learn.

"That's all I ever really think about... that I'm here, I'm dancing with somebody, and I'm having fun," said Melissa Johnson.

Perhaps the best explanation of swing dancing's popularity came from Kathy’s husband, Jerry Warwick:

"It is not the 'hot' thing to do; it is not the 'trendy' thing to do; but if you want to come to an event that is accepting who you are, then swing dancing is the place where you can come and have fun.”

All, it seems, have discovered the secret: Music may make the heart grow fonder, but it's swing that keeps people smiling.

There are many swing dance groups throughout the DFW area, including Dallas Swing Dance Society and DFW Swing Dance in Arlington.

E-mail jmccaa@wfaa.com

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