Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dancing Update: Swinging, Two-Stepping, and Salsa

A few months ago I wrote about dance lessons at Arizona Ballroom Company (ABC). The dance lessons have blossomed into several new friendships and many nights of dancing at local clubs.

Through friends at ABC, I learned of the Tucson Swing Dance Club. This is a lively and very friendly group of folks who get together every Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Tucson Women's Center for West Coast Swing Dancing. For 5 bucks, they offer beginning and intermediate West Coast Swing lessons and a dance with DJ musci. Up until April or so, I didn't even realize there were two types of swing dancing-- East Coast and West Coast Swing. I had only danced East Coast Swing. I like both dances. East Coast is freer and bouncey. West Coast is more stylized, slower, and very sexy.

In addition to dancing West Coast Swing at the swing club dances, I've discovered the Maverick. The Maverick is a cowboy bar that has been around forever, but until June I had never been there. Outside of the rodeo, I'd never seen so many cowboy hats and big belt buckles in one place before. (I thought I had stepped back in time to the old John Travolta Urban Cowboy movie the first time I went there.) The Maverick has West Coast Swing lessons on Saturday evenings, and two-step classes during the week. Many of the Swing Club people go there on Thursdays and Saturdays to dance. They have live music on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The three regular bands are all great C&W groups-- Full House, Jadi Norris Band, and Robert Moreno Band. Much of the music consists of covers of Dwight Yokum and old country standards like Meryl Haggard, George Jones, etc. Two-stepping and swing dancing to this music has been loads of fun. Everyone dances with everyone else.

Besides the Maverick, I've also been swinging at two old favorites the Boondocks Lounge and the Chicago Bar. The Rowdies played the Chicago Bar the other night. They have been around town for many years, but I had never heard them. They played mostly oldies covers from the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Cream and others from my teenage years. I hadn't danced to that music (except in my living room) for many years.

Another old favorite for dancing is El Parador. With all of the two-stepping and swinging, I haven't forgotten my love of Spanish music. Two different bands usually play at El Parador-- Descarga on Fridays and Salsarengue on Saturdays. The cover charge is a little steep at $7, but the bands and the dancing are hot and exciting. Descarga plays primarily salsa music, where Salsarengue plays more variety of Spanish music--salsa, marengue, cha-cha, rumba. Again, as with the Maverick, everyone dances with everyone else--regardless of age.

Here are some reviews by the Arizona Daily Star:
Chicago Bar
El Parador


Anonymous said...

So is there any East Coast Swing in Tucson?

Jai said...

The best place for East Coast Swing is Armory Park on the fourth Saturday of each month. There is a live band, and they play 90% East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop music. The crowd is very friendly.

Beyond that, look for specific bands like the Kings of Pleasure, Juke Joint All Stars, the Cochise County All Stars, the Rowdies ('50s jitterbug + rock oldies), and Jay D. Norris Band (country + swing). The Kings of Pleasure are the best swing dance band in Tucson.