Swingin’ on the streets

Joyce Rudolph

From beginners to swing dance die hards, a hefty crowd came out for

the kick-off of the Swingin’ Sounds from Downtown concert series

Thursday night in the AMC Plaza.


An estimated 600 people attended, said Gail Stewart, downtown

manager for the city and the Business Improvement District.

“I’m thrilled so many people turned out for this,” Stewart said.

“This is where we were with the crowd at the end of last year’s


series. We just want people to have fun. It’s going to be a great


Alan Low, 34, took a break from the Lindy Hop Thursday.

He’s been taking swing dance lessons for three years at the

Pasadena Ballroom Dance Assn., which sponsors a dance on Saturday

nights with a live band. He and a group of 20 friends meet every

Saturday night at the Pasadena dances.

While it’s good exercise and a lot of fun, it is also mentally


challenging for the guys to try to lead the woman on the dance floor

and communicate the movements you want her to do nonverbally, he


“I think I do all right,” Low said. “I haven’t injured anyone,

which is a good sign.”

In swing dancing there are always fresh steps to try, which keeps

it interesting, he said.

“Every time I’ve learned some new move, I realize there is always


something more I have to learn,” he said.

Jeff Strunk, 35, of Placentia came to the Downtown Burbank series

last year. “It’s fun to dance outside to swing music,” he said. “It’s

very easy to learn and you learn more and different things and styles

of dancing.”

This event is a bargain, Strunk added, because admission is free.

Most other places charge at least $10 for an hour of classes and


The event drew dancers to the floor and customers to surrounding

businesses. Burbank resident Melissa Smith brought her mother, Marcia

Ross, who was visiting from Indiana. Smith thought the event would be

a nice outing for them.

They ate dinner at the Greek and Mediterranean Cuisine restaurant

and were sitting in the courtyard listening to the music.

“We’re going over to Cold Stone for dessert,” she said. “This is

great for business in town.”

Sitting nearby were Grace and Gabe Pagliaro of Burbank, who were

enjoying the music but had no interest in dancing.

“I would like to do that kind of dancing, but not in front of the

people,” Grace Pagliaro said with a laugh.

Swing music has had a resurgence over the last decade, and some

believe it will never goes out of style.

Michael Andrew, band leader of Swingerhead who appeared last

Thursday, believes songs from the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s are just

reinvented by the next generation of performers.

He gave Bobby Darin, a popular singer in the 1960s, as an example.

“The music he did in the ‘60s was already a hit in the ‘30s,”

Andrew said. “There’s always a market and audience for [this kind of

music] and it draws a wide variety of people and demographics. We

have people here tonight from 6 to 99.”