Denton Swing puts a welcoming spin on a lesser-known dance community

Denton Swing puts a welcoming spin on a lesser-known dance community

Denton Swing puts a welcoming spin on a lesser-known dance community
June 13
03:47 2018

Feet tapped and jazz blared throughout the room just as it does every first Saturday night of the month for the Denton Swing event at the Hickory Inn.

The swing dance community is one that is hidden yet loud. In the Denton area, a handful of board members keep the 1920s-era dance going twice a month.

Ashley Lundgren, a current board member and teacher  Denton Swing, has been dancing for about three years. Since she was little, Lundgren said she has always enjoyed the dance. She first got into swing dancing when a friend invited her and told her they desperately needed more girls.

“I really didn’t have another hobby to go to and I [thought] this [was] fun and [a way to] get social interaction,” Lundgren said.

After her first year of dancing, Lundgren quickly became sucked in. She began going to various local workshops and events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including events hosted by The Fort Worth Swing Dance Syndicate, the Dallas Swing Dance Society, Southside Preservation Association and more.

Prior to becoming a board member, Lundgren said she liked the thought of teaching other people how to swing dance.

“I’ve always wanted to encourage people to dance more,” Lundgren said. “I like it when people [have it] finally click in their head what they’re doing,”

Swing dancing began in the 1920s, when people would strum along to jazz music with different types of dances such as lindy hop, the Charleston and Balboa. Denton is big on art, which is why it’s no surprise there is a swing dance community. The thought of aerial moves, shimmying, flapper dresses and suspenders may come to mind when some think of swing dancing. Though the outfits are now out-dated, the atmosphere of swing dancing remains the same, the dancers said — there is always movement going around whether people are on the dance floor grooving or tapping their feet on the sides of the room.

Bryan Ricci is another dancer who has been a part of the swing community. He has been dancing for eight years.

In 2010, Ricci made a New Year’s resolution to go swing dancing with some friends. Despite never being into dance prior to taking a class, he made it his yearly goal.

Ricci said his first class was terrible. He wanted to leave because he was anxious about dancing with another person and said he felt very embarrassed. If it hadn’t been his resolution for that year, he probably would not have kept with the dance.

“I guess it was a New Year’s resolution,” Ricci said. “I went back the second time, and I sucked, but I sucked a little bit less.”

Ricci kept on with the dance for fun and never allowed himself to compete because he didn’t want to take it seriously. His favorite variation of swing became the Charleston — a variation of swing dance that is fast-paced and one Ricci said he is able to express himself most as a dancer.

“Charleston was always my favorite because it was just the most fun,” Ricci said. “I like the kicks.”

In addition, the swing dance community has allowed these swing dancers to make many friends.

“I made so many friends in swing dance,” Ricci said. “The people were just so friendly — swing dance definitely attracts a nice community.”

Lundgren said she has also been able to make lifelong friends within the community. She has gone to many swing festivals where she has met new people.

Abril Carraballo Marin, a newbie to swing dancing, has been attending dance socials for two months. Like the Lundgren and Ricci, Marin was invited to a Denton swing social by a friend.

Marin had in mind that the dance was like an old-fashioned dance.

“I knew the moment that I saw two older people dancing that I loved it,” Marin said.

Despite only having been in the community for a short amount of time, Marin has already taken it upon herself to take intermediate classes.

“The first time my friends and I went swing dancing, it was scary,” Marin said. “We didn’t know anyone — we didn’t know what we were doing. But what made us stay was the sense of community and that it was [OK] to learn and mess up.”

Marin said the dance is risky but that it pushes participants to put themselves out there.

“I like that it’s very freeing and there is no one formula,” Marin said. “You can make it your own, but it’ll still be swing dancing.”

Diversity in the dance community allows the community to grow, and Denton’s roaring jazz community has helped to add to its popularity. Denton Swing holds two socials a month, on the first Saturday and the third Friday of the month. They hope that their relocation on the square at The Hickory Inn will bring in new faces.

Featured Image: Bryan Ricci enjoys swing moves with pauses and shifts in momentum. The Denton Swing Dance Club meets on the Denton Square to practice and dance. Josh Jamison

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Kenya Menjivar

Kenya Menjivar

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