‘Underground’ swing dance opens Elliott stage for dancingOpportunities to dance on the Elliott Hall of Music stage usually remain reserved for professional companies putting on lavish shows. But Purdue Bands’ annual “Underground Swing Dance,” opens Elliott’s spacious wooden stage to all dancers on Friday, Feb. 1.
Purdue Night Train Dance Club will offer free swing lessons and dance coaching from 7 to 8 p.m. on the stage, with live music provided by American Music Review and the Purdue Lab and Concert Jazz Bands from 8 to 10:30 p.m.
Dancers from the club will stay and dance along with the crowd to provide inspiration to those wishing to duplicate their moves.
The Underground Swing Dance was introduced in 2001 as a casual alternative to the more formal “Evening of Romance” Valentine’s event the Purdue Jazz Band sponsors. “We’re constantly looking for new ways to have fun with music. That led us to the idea of having an ‘underground’ dance in a usually off-limits location,” says Purdue Bands spokesperson Kathy Matter.
Admission to the swing dance, which begins at 8 p.m., is free. The event is open to those who simply enjoy music from the big band era and want to listen, as well as to those who want to dance.
Much of the evening’s music was made popular in the 1940s when ballrooms were crowded with dancers. “Music then really was for dancing, particularly with swing bands and big bands,” says American Music Review director William Kisinger, whose band and singers pay homage to the era.
Glenn Miller’s famous “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” a standard from the big band era, is just one of the tunes on the Feb. 1 dance card which includes Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train,” Duke Ellington’s “Cottontail” and Paul Lopez’ “Cha Cha in G.” The modern swing era gets its musical due with tunes like Brian Setzer’s “Rock This Town.”
Emphasizing the “underground” nature of the dance, those attending will not enter Elliott through its normal entrances. The loading dock entrance will be used. It will be marked with signs and is located on the north side of Elliott just off the Armory parking lot.