Thanks for Swinging with us for 20 Years

by Roger Weiss

A big thank you to all you folks who came to the big anniversary dance and helped us celebrate it. In 20 years of running the swing dances, I believe I’ve learned one thing… order more carrot cake! Well, at least we had plenty of chocolate! The performances by Rachelle Gaudet and Mike Richters, and the Hop to the Beat Dancers were great and a nice treat. And wasn’t it great to see some of the 20-year veterans? We had a record crowd and the 2 bands did a great job keeping everybody dancing, ending the night with a two-band jam. Please check out the 20th Anniversary Page. Below is the original thank you I wrote several weeks before this dance.

I know it sounds like a cliché when people say they can’t believe it’s been 20 years. Well, I CAN believe it. What I can’t believe, is that some of our dancers weren’t yet born when we started these dances! With our 20th anniversary gala event only weeks away, I thought this would be a good time to take a breath and briefly reflect over the past 20 years.

I don’t often get a chance to speak to people at the monthly dance, so I figured this would be a good way to thank everyone for their support over the past 20 years. This dance could not have survived this long without the dancers, old and new, and our great bunch of volunteers who keep the dances running smoothly. My partner, Claire Schlosser, has been running the dance with me for 17 years, and has been great to work with. She will be “retiring” after the June 2007 dance. But, who could blame her? I mean, how long can one person do this kind of thing?

Back in 1987, there were no regularly scheduled swing dances with live music happening in Boston. So, a group of us swing dancers organized a dance, hired a band, and the dancers started coming. So much so, that we quickly outgrew our first hall and moved to the IC Church in Cambridge for about 8 years. Back then dances were predominantly run by studios, so ours became the umbrella dance that everyone, regardless of studio affiliations, could attend and be sure to see all of their friends. We also ran workshops and brought in people like Frankie Manning (who was only in his 70’s back then), Margaret Batiuchok, Sylvia Sykes, the DC Hand Dancers, the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers, and many more. And for a change of pace, we’ve had Western Swing Bands and 1950’s style bands.

As the dance community grew, it spawned new dancers, new relationships, and new dance instructors who started teaching and producing dances and workshops. By our tenth year, we had moved to our current location in Watertown. The swing dance world continued to grow until it exploded with the emergence of the Gap commercials, which featured “hot” swing dancers dressed in khakis. Our dances started to sell-out, and we’d have long lines down the block. People would wait outside just for the opportunity to dance.

On April 14th, we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary, and we’d like to invite you to join us. We’re celebrating big with TWO Bands, TWO Performances, a special anniversary snowball dance jam, and plenty of cake. We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of our old friends, as well as our new ones. So please come out to help us celebrate what is sure to be a very special anniversary.