Besides winning and holding the title Beer City USA, Grand Rapids, Michigan is also known for having one of the largest Swing Dance clubs in the world. The club was founded in 2004 by Steve Zaagman and now boasts over 6,500 members. They hold swing dancing every Tuesday evening in downtown Grand Rapids.
When the weather permits, the club fills Rosa Parks Circle. They begin with a basic swing dance class and then continue swinging through the evening. They welcome dancers of all ages and abilities.
Tonight it was held in the Grand Rapids Public Museum due to the rain. Fortunately the museum has a large hall with windows on one side that allow a beautiful view of the Grand River. Overhead in the hall there is the giant skeleton of a Fin Whale. Various other museum exhibits surround the dancers, giving them a weird and wonderful venue in the inclement times.
Tonight’s DJ, Vourteque, is well known in the swing, burlesque and steampunk circles in the Midwest. In addition to a full menu of electro swing music he has collected, he brings his own original dance music that he has written and produced in collaboration with a number of other musicians such as Eli August and the Abandoned Buildings and Sabrina Chap.
At the end of the evening, when the dancing at the museum swung to a close, Steve, Vourteque, and a few friends went to Z’s Grille and Bar for food, chat, and a little, friendly Karaoke. A beverage and a burrito later, Steve headed home, but not before assuring this writer that they intend to take back the title for World’s Largest swing dance in 2016.
So if you are in the area on a Tuesday, be sure to stop by and swing with the Grand Rapids Original Swing Society.