Toes tap and skirts swirl, in a new venue

You may have heard them perform hits like “Fly Me To the Moon” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside” during Memorial Park’s Music in the Park or at other local venues, such as Friday nights at the Green Hotel in Pasadena.

La Cañada resident and saxophone player Dennis Kaye and his band Swing, Inc. have been setting toes a tappin’ and skirts a swirlin’ for the past 10 years, since swing music made a comeback in the 1990s.

This past Friday night, Swing, Inc. began a new milestone in the band’s smooth swaying career — as the premier swing band at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where, for the first time in the club’s 100-year history, the doors open once a month to the public for an open bar swing dance.

About 150 people showed up last Friday night to dance the night away along with Swing, Inc.

“It was great. The band loved it, the people loved it, the dancers loved it, and everyone was jumping up and down. We had a blast,” Kaye said, as he described the band’s premier performance at the club.

The Los Angeles Athletic Club’s grand, seven-story-tall facility at the downtown Los Angeles Pershing Square was built in 1912, and offers the perfect acoustics and venue for swing dances, Kaye said, adding, “It’s a drop-dead gorgeous room and the biggest thing in town. Just perfect.”

Kaye has been a fan of swing music for many of the past 40 years, since he began playing the saxophone, as a child growing up in New York. “The music has been around for 70 years, it’s terrific music,” he said.

Kaye moved to La Cañada 30 years ago, primarily to escape the traffic of New York, he said.

He also works in computer programming and teaches swing band at Pasadena City College. He’s initiating a new parking structure dance June 12 with that band at the Hill Street parking structure in Pasadena. “The top of the parking structure is just sitting vacant, so having a dance there is a great idea,” he said.

Kaye also performs locally with his other three bands: Classic Rock, Inc.; Dixieland, Inc.; and Klezmer, Inc., a Jewish folk music band.

There’s a $12 cover charge to attend the Los Angeles Athletic Club swing dances, and the club is only open to adults who are at least 21 years old. For those who haven’t danced to swing music before, there’s also a free swing dance lesson, which begins at 7:30 p.m., taught by dance instructors from the Ballroom Dance Club at UCLA.

No partner is required.

The swing dances are offered the fourth Friday of each month at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, 646 S. Olive St., in Los Angeles. The next dance is scheduled for May 22.

For more information, call the club at (213) 625-2211.

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