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UI Swing Club heads to Ped Mall

BY BRI LAPELUSA | AUGUST 21, 2009 7:07 AM

When it comes to Iowa City’s dance nightlife, couples are more likely to be seen doing the “bump and grind” in a Pedestrian Mall bar than landing a Lindy hop.

“[Iowa City bar dancing] is interesting,” said UI Swing Club member Joe Smith. “When it comes to grinding, it’s a lead-follow dance … not my thing — I’m a little bit more chill than Iowa City.”

Although he gives off an easygoing impression, the dance style he prefers is by no means spiritless. Smith, the creator of Swingin’ on the Ped Mall, an event that features performances by members of both the UI Swing Club and UI’s competitive swing team the Flying Lindy Hawks, said he hasn’t stopped swing dancing since he started, and he practices at least five times a week.

“If you can walk, you can swing dance,” he insisted.

The free event will be held on the Ped Mall near the intersection of Washington and Dubuque Streets and starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

“[Swingin’ on the Ped Mall is] going to create exposure so people know that [the UI Swing Club] is there,” Smith said. “We’re going to hand out fliers so that people know when lessons are and will hopefully get more involved … [Swing dancing] is a really social activity … It’s a nice way to get out and network.”

He said he also hopes the event will spark enough interest to expand the Iowa City swing community. “It’s the rebuilding of the swing scene here,” he said. “Most of us [in the UI Swing Club] drive over to Des Moines just to dance.”

Matt Fuld, a UI Swing Club founding member, said he is excited about the upcoming performance.

“Most people have a distorted view of what swing dancing really is,” he said. “We want the opportunity to show people what we do … The Ped Mall is a great area for exposure.”

Though some might dismiss swing dancing and music as old-fashioned, Smith rejects the stereotype.

“There’s a lot of stuff that comes out today that is still danceable, swing and otherwise,” he said. “Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga — we do all that kind of stuff.”

Fuld agreed with Smith’s sentiment. “Most people wouldn’t necessarily realize that swing dancing evolved from African dance,” he said. “Swing is the hip-hop from the 1920s and 1930s.”

So can audience members expect to see any sugar pushin’ to Lady Gaga on the Ped Mall Saturday?

“Maybe,” Smith said. “That’s a good way to get people involved, because swing dancing isn’t strictly limited to jazz music — you can dance to just about everything.”

Fuld agreed.

“You can swing dance to almost any music that has a beat,” he said.


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