On Valentine’s Day, the Arizona Lindy Hop Society is asking East Valley residents to grab their partners and enjoy a night of dancing and fun in the grand opening of the Swing Lounge in Tempe.
The Arizona Lindy Hop Society was founded in 1996 by Steve Conrad to help promote and preserve vintage vernacular jazz and blues dance.
Conrad himself has been dancing for 18 years and teaching for 17 years. He started swing dancing — an energetic style of dance popular between the 1920s and 1950s — in 1995 and said he immediately fell in love with the craft.
In 1996, Conrad received lessons from legendary Lindy Hop — a style of swing dancing — dancer and choreographer Frankie Manning. Apart from dancing, Conrad was a veterinary technician for five years before becoming an actor and appearing in commercials for Kit Kat and some films like “No Code of Conduct” starring Charlie Sheen. He has been a concert producer, DJ and was even a stand-up comedian.
Conrad was the DJ, promoter and dance instructor of the former Bash on Ash night club and concert venue, located just off Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe; the club had a Tuesday night swing dance event that lasted six years before it closed down.
Even though Bash on Ash closed some years ago, Conrad kept the Tuesday night event alive by offering it in different locations throughout the Valley.
That included free evening events at Tempe Town Lake, and Conrad said he always wanted to come back to Tempe permanently. The Swing Lounge will open in the Mill Avenue area — it will be located at 1290 S. Mill Ave., in the Tempe Woman’s Club — and will offer weekly Thursday dance lessons on styles such as Charleston, Balboa, East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop.
“One of the reasons why we decided to start on Valentine’s Day was because of the timing,” Conrad said. “It’s a day that brings people together and is a lot of fun.”
Conrad said his teaching method consists of making dancing fun and approachable by first starting with simple moves so participants can relax. And Conrad is convinced there’s no person he can’t teach how to dance.
“There’s always a person that says that they have two left feet and can’t dance, but in a few hours they are surprised about what they can do,” Conrad said.
He said that it’s all about having an open mind and letting the rhythm take control.
Thursday, the lounge will open up with a 7 p.m to 7:45 p.m. set consisting of teaching Charleston and Balboa; from 7:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. the lesson will include the East Coast Swing, and from 8:45 p.m. to midnight a DJ will be on hand for those in attendance to dance to New Orleans, swing & blues and electro swing styles.
Conrad said the lounge will also have a chocolate fountain on hand to celebrate the opening night and holiday; The event costs $8 and is for all ages.
What: The Swing Lounge
When: Feb. 14, 2013
Where: 1290 S. Mill Ave. Tempe, AZ
• Abel, a senior studying journalism at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact him at (480) 898-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org.