Community thrives in dance


Courtesy of Lindy Hop St. Louis Facebook page

A hidden, but welcoming community of dancers swings away month after month in St. Louis, celebrating the music and dance styles of the ’20s, ’30s and ‘40s. Lindy Hop St. Louis is an organization that hosts classes, live music and social dance opportunities.

Friday, Jan. 30, was the “West End Stomp,” a monthly evening of social dancing with a live band, which took place at the Mahler Ballroom in the Central West End. The evening started off with an optional hour of dance lessons for beginners; no prior experience or knowledge is required to attend. During this hour lesson, the instructors go over a variety of basic steps, encouraging dancers to switch partners often so as to build community and become comfortable dancing with new people. When the hour ends, the band takes over, and there are no more instructions, but novices hopefully have enough of a grasp on some steps to dance the night away.

West End Stomp occurs on the last Friday of each month, but this past event was also the debut of a new event for Lindy Hop. An hour before “West End Stomp” was “Rock Steppin’ Out,” a swing dance night that, as stated on its website, offers a safe and supportive environment for members of the LGBT community to “dance outside narrowly defined traditional gender roles.”

A jazz band called Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers provided the music for the night, which was lively and created the perfect backdrop as dancers stepped and twirled in rhythm with the songs. Many dressed up in vintage outfits to fit the aesthetic of the era. Experienced dancers took the floor with confidence, while newcomers to the swing- dancing scene laughed as they struggled to move in sync with the music. The community-aspect of the event become clear as strangers asked each other to dance, regardless of experience level, age or gender. By the end of the night, everyone felt comfortable enough to dance without worry.

Although Lindy Hop St. Louis offers many classes in swing dancing each month as well, the main goal is not to make sure everyone gets the steps exactly right. The goal of the evening is fun and community; even during a competition near the end of the night, which was judged not by Lindy Hop instructors or experienced dancers, but by a group of newcomers. About a dozen dancers signed up to compete throughout the night, and they took the stage to show off their moves as the evening wound down. Entrants were to be judged solely on how much fun they were having. Couples did not stop smiling as they spun around the dance floor and kicked up their heels in joy.

Lindy Hop St. Louis offers various classes and dance opportunities around the city, offering discounts for students at each event.