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It Don't Mean a 'Thang' if It Ain't Got That 'Swang'

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RALEIGH — It is time to put on your dancing shoes and get the weekend off to a rousing start, but for a growing number of people who like to kick up their heels, it is not hip-hop or rap that has them shaking, rattling and rolling.

"Each dance has a different style and a different personality," said Melanie Dale.

The Big Band sound of the 30s, 40s and 50s is clearly from a bygone era -- but the swing dance appeal is ageless.

Lindy hop, shag, west coast swing. The arm twirling, hip shaking, sexy moves are vintage "swing" -- and they've made a triumphant return to the dance halls of today.

However, before the dance floor come the dance classes for many swing dance enthusiasts.

Melanie Dale says she has no trouble filling up her weekly class. She says the draw is the touch.

"It may be just for a fleeting moment, a minute, two minutes, but you gain a feeling for what that person is all about by the way they move and the way they hold you," Dale says.

For adding a little flair to those dance floor moves, you've got to throw in a dash of 1940s style.

Maybe for men it could be a lounge jacket, which is sure to throw you into a time warp. And what would an outfit from yesteryear be without the perfect fedora, well fitted and just right for dancing.

The fast pace and gyrating moves were just right for Tom Tucker's weight loss, 30 pounds since May.

"Personally, I think it's just about feeling good, about being with each other and having fun together," Tucker said.

There is one more thing about swing you should know.

"It makes the man feel special because he is finally in control," Dale says.

The classic moves are steeped in the way things use to be. In this age of political correctness, the battle for supremacy on the dance floor is a work in progress for newlyweds Mark and Amy Weldon.

"You have to really let the man follow, I mean let him lead. I'm still working on that. It's really different," Amy Weldon said.

But there is no difficulty attracting a crowd to the growing number of swing dance nights in the Triangle.

"Swing will always be here. It'll never die because there's so much music out there that gives you the feeling of swing," Dale says.

Dales says even her class for pre-teens is full. She says this new generation is seeing their parents and college students getting into it, and they want to do the same.

Mad About Dance Academy has a swing night at The Warehouse in downtown Raleigh on Wednesdays. For information about lessons from Mad About Dance, call(888) 21-SWING.

For more information on lessons from Dale, call(919) 365-7837.


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