Shake, shimmy and swing

Track Town Swing holds monthly social dance clubs

Nathan Calkins // The Torch
Track Town Swing volunteers, teachers, and dance-attendees get together for a group photo near the end of Saturday night’s social dance. The social dances are a monthly event that are open to the community.

In the midst of swirling skirts and crisp corduroy jackets stood Track Town Swing Club founder Nick Davis. Davis’ monthly Lindy Hop swing dances are a local gem for Eugene and Springfield dancers.

Nathan Calkins // The Torch
Madelin Woodrum and Andrew Wray lindy hop together at the Track Town Swing dance held in the Veterans building every second Saturday off the month. The first monthly gathering attracted nearly 80 attendees.

“I actually learned the dance at LCC,” Davis said. He started with hip-hop, then moved towards Latin and ballroom dancing. “One of the years I was taking ballroom,” Davis said. “The ballroom teacher did one week where it was like ‘this is what Lindy Hop is,’ and she basically let me know that there was a swing dance teacher in Eugene – this was back in like 2001 or 2002. I met that teacher and she introduced me to Lindy hop swing dancing.”

In 2012, Davis and his then-dance partner started meeting at a dance studio and practicing. “I was just like ‘we’re getting together at a dance studio, do you want to come hang out with us?’ Davis said. “Nobody would come hang out with us.”

Nathan Calkins // The Torch
Partners Nick Davis and Nika Jin watch as community members swing dance. Davis is the founder of the Track Town Swing club and the main instructor for both the weekly classes and monthly events.

“After a while, it was like three people, four people, then twelve people came.” It wasn’t too long, though, before the two held the first Track Town Swing Dance. “We just rented a space,” Davis said. “A bunch of people came down, we had like eighty people come down.”

“I really like swing dancing ‘cause it’s really creative,” long-time Lindy hopper Amanda Lachner said. “I do ballroom, mainly, and it’s more restrictive on like, what you do and do not do in the dance.”

The club now holds monthly social dances, usually featuring live music. “It’s just fun to move your body to the music,” swing dancer Zach Jandrasi said. “I mean that’s like the idea, right?”

Nathan Calkins // The Torch
Track Town Swing volunteer Andrew Wray and partner dance to local band, the Whiteaker Hot Club, at the monthly community event. Wray has taken part in instructional dance videos and performances as a part of the swing club.

Local band Whiteaker Hot Club, performed at Track Town Swing’s Saturday night dance. “The younger generations aren’t that into this kind of stuff anymore, and we definitely don’t want this to die out,” Whiteaker Hot Club clarinetist, trumpet player, and singer Parkpoom Aempoo said. “We don’t want all of this music to just go away. Jazz and swing is such a deep-rooted thing in American culture.’”

Davis’ club also offers lessons, from beginner to advanced. “I enjoy all the people I’ve met through it, for sure,” Track Town volunteer Dodi Hake said. “There’s a lot of really cool people that like swing dancing.”

“I really like the venue and the dancing for Track Town Swing,” Lachner said. “Nick puts on really cool dances.”

The club’s monthly social dances are hosted at the Veteran’s Memorial Building, at 1626 Willamette Street. The next dance will be May 11 from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., with musical stylings from the Blue Skies Big Band and a 15 dollar cover charge.