Underground swing dance opens Elliott stage for dancing
Opportunities to dance on Elliott Hall of Music’s spacious wooden stage usually remain reserved for professional companies putting on lavish shows. But Purdue Bands’ annual “Underground Swing Dance,” opens Elliott’s huge stage to all dancers on Friday, Feb. 4.
Live music for dancing, provided by American Music Review and the Purdue Lab and Concert Jazz Bands, runs from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Members of the Purdue Night Train Swing Dance Club will offer free swing lessons prior to the event, starting at 7 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 an informal dance evening primarily for Purdue students and they’ve responded in force. So has the community. “We’ve had great crowds no matter what the weather. When you’re feeling cooped up, and snow and ice are limiting your mobility outside, dancing is a great stress-reliever,” says Bands public relations director Kathy Matter.
“The super casual atmosphere of the Elliott stage encourages people to just get out on the floor and have fun. Consequently, we have very few wallflowers at this event.”
The dance got its nickname as the “Underground” Swing Dance because it’s held in a location that’s usually off-limits to students and the public. Those attending don’t use any of the traditional entrances to the building either. Instead signs guide you to a loading dock entrance on the north side of Elliott.
Music is a mix of contemporary swing, old standards, a few ballads for slow dancing and specialties like the “Beer Barrel Polka.” Look for such tunes as “Jump, Jive and Wail,” “C Jam Blues,’ “One O’Clock Jump,” “New York, New York” and “Gotcha Cha Cha.”
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.
Admission to the swing dance 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. Because of the nature of the event, however, seating is very limited and can not be guaranteed.
Purdue University Bands, which sponsors the event, offers a more formal jazz/dance event in its “Evening of Romance” set for 8-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12 at the Holiday Inn Select in downtown Lafayette. The cabaret-style event includes a dessert buffet and music for dancing by the Purdue Jazz Band. For ticket information call 494-3933.