It will be a blend of old and new during a social dance taking place tonight in downtown Joplin.
Joplin Avenue Coffee Co., 506 S. Joplin Ave., will look the part of a 1920s-era speakeasy as Vintage Swing Movement’s Ashley King introduces the swinging ’20s — the 2020s, that is — to area residents.
While swing dancing has become a familiar sight during the first Friday of each month at the popular coffee house, dating back to July, “this one is going to be special,” said King. After all, she continued, when you throw big parties, people will come.
Few alive today “has been in the ’20s, and the (1920s) was a huge era for swing and jazz music” and dancing, she said. Dance lessons, led by King, will take place at 7 p.m. All are welcome.
“Usually over half the group have never (danced swing) before,” she said.
At 8 p.m., the social dance will commence, with live jazz music provided by Freddie Green and Friends. Dancers — either beginners or experienced — are encouraged to dress in 1920s period dress. The dance is expected to draw swing enthusiasts from as far as Wichita, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Fayetteville, Arkansas, King said.
The monthly dances “have been a good place for our community to rally behind and for people to support it,” she said.
King, who moved to Joplin from Wichita three years ago, had left behind a huge swing dancing movement. In Joplin, nothing of a sort could be found. So the Vintage Swing Movement was launched, where King and a number of dancers teach area residents the Lindy Hop and its variations, hoping to create a new swing scene in Southwest Missouri.
Swing dance was born in the late 1920s in the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem neighborhood in New York City. It began as a movement where people of all races could mix and take part in dancing with live music and have fun.
King hopes the monthly Friday night dances will spark a surge of interest for the popular dance.
Cost is $5.