[media-credit name=”Amanda Lewark” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Saturday, dancers stood in a circle as they learned the quick-quick-slow rhythm of swing when Weber State University hosted the Junction City Big Band Dance, complete with lessons for the fee of $1.
“It’s nice because the younger generation doesn’t know these dances,” said Frank Telford, retired WSU faculty and co-founder of the Junction City Big Band.
Margene Anderson, owner of A Dance Scene, was the instructor for the night and has been for the last 10 years.
“I love teaching because it’s like, ‘OK, those guys don’t know how, but they knew how after,’” Anderson said. “It’s fun to watch people that have never danced before and see they do get it. In my class, I can guarantee that.”
After they were given a chance to practice the steps on their own, dancers lined up with partners to really get the feel of swing. Anderson said she was teaching a very basic form of swing, since there are about 13 or 14 different types.
“It’s fairly easy, and it fits to this big band music,” Anderson said. “Some of the other forms of swing, they don’t fit so well to the music, so we try to fit what works best for the students.”
The Junction City Big Band Dances didn’t always offer lessons preceding the dance, said Steve Ericksen, son of Earl Ericksen, former WSU music professor who founded the band but passed away last summer. Steve took over for his father, promising to keep the band going for at least another year.
“When we actually first started,” Steve said, “we didn’t have the lessons with the dances, and then things kind of got to the point where we thought it would be to the advantage of anyone who attended to at least have that option of coming and learning the basic steps.”
Some who attended the lesson weren’t in need of the basic steps.
“I’ve been swing-dancing since I was in high school,” said Tyson Etherington, a community member who regularly attends the dances.
When asked about the turnout for the night, Steve responded positively, but amended that the band would always like to see more.
“Quite a few of our players come from quite a long distance away to participate,” Steve said, “and it’s because, I think, more that they like (playing) than any other reason.”
When the band began playing, the dance floor slowly filled.
“If I wasn’t involved in the band, I’d probably be out on the floor dancing,” Steve said.
Steve told about how he thought it was strange that out of the four major universities in Utah — WSU, Utah State University, the University of Utah and Brigham Young University — WSU is the only one not to have a swing kids club.
“We had one back about four or five years ago, and I thought it was going fairly good, until the president graduated . . . and then it kind of fell apart,” Steve said. “Yet this is the university that has a big band associated with it.”
Though most came for the dancing, some came just for the music.
“The band’s really cool,” said Heather Blaisdell, a community member who saw an ad for the dance in the paper. “It’s worth coming just to watch them.”
WSU student Amie Cook agreed with Blaisdell.
“I think the band is fantastic,” Cook said. “I just wish I would’ve brought a date.”
The next Junction City Big Band Dance will be on April 7, 7-10:30 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Building Ballrooms. The cost is $5 for the dance and an additional $1 for dance instruction.
“For two and a half hours of dancing to a live band,” Steve said, “$5 is really cheap.”