By Christina Graw, contributing writer
I’ve always felt connected to a different time period other than my own. I’m drawn to the 1940s and 1950s, in particular. Maybe it’s the glamor of the clothing or the polite manner in which people treated one another.
That’s why I was ecstatic when I heard about the free swing-dance lessons offered at The Volstead every Sunday at 7 p.m., co-sponsored by Grease Rags Clothing Co. I’ve never been swing dancing but always wanted to go. So, this Sunday, I donned a fancy dress and my highest heels and showed up to dance.
At first, I was a bit apprehensive. I have two left feet and worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I was proven completely wrong. The energy at The Volstead was amazing. About 20 men and women of all dance skills showed up to learn. The women wore full dresses with red lips and big curls in their hair.
There was one dance instructor for the group who split the men into one group and the women into another. We were put into two lines that faced each other. Our dance instructor then showed us a step, which we were then expected to do ourselves. We learned a series of steps to do with our feet and hands.
Swing dancing is a fast-paced, active type of dancing in which a dancer usually lifts, twirls, and flips his or her partner. Partners hold hands as they twirl around the dance floor. We started by learning the East Coast Swing, which is often seen in clubs or taverns.
I learned quickly the art of swing dancing is all in your hands. The male leads the female in this type of dancing. So, it’s quite important for the male to know what he is doing.
The dance instructor pulled me out onto the floor a few times to demonstrate a few moves. I was terrified. But I let go of my fear and simply let him lead me, and I was fine. The atmosphere at The Volstead is extremely social and open, which means everyone dances with everyone – your partner might be brand new to swing dancing or an experienced dancer with more 15 years of experience.
Members of the First Coast Blues & Lindy Society, a local East Coast Swing group are present every week. Starting next week, there will be a live DJ, Jason Provost.
I left The Volstead feeling more alive and happy. The Volstead is a great asset to Downtown Jacksonville. It’s another fantastic addition to Downtown’s nightlife scene, offering a fun and unique – and popular! – event to the heart of the River City.