Don’t be surprised if, at a live- music event, a group of dancers spontaneously erupt into swing dance.
It’s been known to happen at the Augusta Market and at a festival at Fort Gordon, when Bionca Davis and other members of the Augusta Swing Dance Club get together.
They just love to dance.
Davis organizes more formal meetings once a month at Cutno Dance Studio.
The formal meetings consist of a 30-minute swing dance lesson followed by two hours of dancing, and is really a social event for people who love dancing street swing and the Lindy Hop.
The Lindy Hop is an eight-count dance that uses a pulsating rhythm, which resembles a bounce. It is less formal than a ballroom swing dance, and it allows more freedom of movement.
“People that like Lindy Hop usually like other swing dances, or dances of the jazz era that came from those dances,” Davis said. “People who dance Lindy Hop usually like to dance to music from the early jazz era. West Coast and East Coast (swing dancers) dance to everything, really, but Lindy Hoppers usually like their authentic jazz music.”
Davis formed the Augusta Swing Dance Club when she moved back to the area after living in Denver. She took ballroom swing lessons for two years, and then discovered the Lindy Hop and fell in love with it. She travels all over the country to participate in Lindy Hop events and workshops.
“I moved back to Georgia for graduate school and we don’t have any Lindy Hop here,” said Davis, who is studying for a masters in public health at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. “They have ballroom swing here. You have West Coast Swing and East Coast Swing, but that’s mostly ballroom swing. But we don’t have any Lindy Hop, any street swing.”
Davis said she loves how free dancing makes her feel, but she also loves the history behind this particular dance.
“African-American teens in Harlem were the pioneers of this dance, and there was a place called the Savoy Ballroom that they danced at,” she said. “That was the first integrated ballroom in the United States. They had a strictly no-discrimination policy. They didn’t care about race. They just cared about whether you could dance or not.”
“It feels more natural. When you feel it, it feels different,” she said.
About 15 to 20 people typically show up at the monthly socials, which have been held since March. As more people become interested in dancing and join, the dance lessons will become longer and more events will be held throughout the month. Clubs in larger cities such as Columbia, hold dances weekly, Davis said.
Davis believes that swing dance holds appeal for all ages, from older generations that once danced the jitterbug, which has its roots in swing, to teenagers and 20-somethings, both of whom she often sees at dance event.
Athleticism and experience are not required. No one will throw you in the air like you see in the movies, she said. That’s mainly done in competition. And you don’t have to worry about messing up. No one cares. It’s all about having fun, Davis said.
“People don’t think they’ll like it until they do it, and once they do it they’re addicted,” she said. “And they find that while they’re dancing they’re constantly smiling.”