Fredericton may not yet have spring, but next weekend, Fredericton will certainly have some swing.
On April 6-8, Fredericton Swing Dance presents its fifth annual yearly event, a weekend-long celebration of all things swing, featuring workshops, live music and, of course, plenty of dancing.
Fredericton Swing Dance was formed in 2010 as a St. Thomas University club. It soon expanded into UNB/STU Swing and operated out of the SUB ballroom. After about three years, the group ventured off-campus, and are now a group of volunteers—some students, some not—who teach and organize a variety of swing-related activities, such as Monday night classes and monthly socials.
The biggest event of the year, though, is Swingin’ to Spring. This year’s incarnation will feature two nights of dancing at the Fredericton Legion, located at 199 Queen Street. On April 6, the weekend will kick off with a beginner lesson at 8 p.m., while on April 7, the Alex Bailey Swing Band will provide live musical accompaniment for the dance party.
In addition, the weekend will feature a series of seven workshops, offered at various times over April 7 and 8. The workshops will be led by Daryl Begin and Jennifer Stout, a pair of instructors from Providence, Rhode Island, who will hold sessions on such topics as “Heels & Kick-Aways” and “Sailor Kicks.”
The workshop leaders are “a big deal for us,” says Alexander Carleton, public relations office for Fredericton Swing Dance. “Getting teachers from other dance scenes around the world is a great way to learn new things.”
Carleton first took a class with the club before leaving to pursue a master’s degree, but the experience left such a good impression on him, he had to continue as soon as he was back in town.
“When I returned to Fredericton, I joined right back up and have been dancing ever since.”
For Carleton—who cites Ella Fitzgerald’s “Solid as a Rock” as his favourite piece of swing music—the reasons he’s interested in swing dancing are fairly straightforward.
“It is very fun, the scene itself is very friendly and laid back, which is important as people can be intimidated trying to learn to do something so public and social as dancing. The music is enjoyable and catchy, and has a feel of both fun and class to it.”
However, perhaps the greatest reason, he says, is “more selfish”: “The style of dance lends itself to being a bit goofy. I am not the most graceful of dancers, but that is okay and appropriate if I can get a laugh or two.”
It’s this laid back nature that, Carleton says, makes Swingin’ to Spring particularly appealing to students.
“I think students should check out the event because it is an enjoyable and unique way to spend a weekend. It is not very often that one can get dance lessons, live music and out of town instructions all at one location,” he said.
“Even if one just wants to come and listen to the music, and watch some cool dance moves, it is a great experience.”