Heartland Swing Festival and Collegiate Jitterbug Championships

During the weekend of 3-6 March 2011 dancers from all over the Midwest and beyond will meet in Des Moines, Iowa for Heartland Swing Fest, a workshop and jazz dance weekend featuring instructors Kevin St. Laurent and Jo Hoffberg, Peter Strom and Naomi Uyama, Tiffiny Wine and Kenny Nelson, Jon Tigert and Mandy Spencer, Jenna Stworzyjanek and Oscar Hampton, Mikey Brafford and Eve Johnson, Dee Daniels-Locke, Kenna Sarge and Voice of Cultures (yes, there are many); live music by the Grand Marquis and the Hot Swing Combo; exciting contests with the Collegiate Jitterbug Championships; and, of course, hours and hours of social dancing! In an e-interview Michael Brafford, the festival’s primary organizer, had this engaging information to share about the event:

1) What is the purpose/mission of the Heartland Swing Festival?

The Heartland Swing Festival preserves vintage Swing dance by providing a venue for dancers to share their passion for the Swing culture through classes, dances and competitions, thus inspiring a new generation of Swing dancers in the Iowa community.

2) What excites you the most about this event?

I’ve always been excited about the opportunity to invite dancers from all over the country and introduce them the Iowa swing dance scene.  Des Moines doesn’t have a lot of opportunities like the Heartland Swing Festival and this is a great way to inspire dancers in our scene.  The Team competition has always been my favorite part of the weekend because I know how much work goes into putting a routine together and how satisfying it is to final perform it for others.  The Cutters’ Cup contest has always been free to enter because we want to encourage others to work with a group to grow as dancers and performers.

3) What should dancers attending your event expect to see/experience from the Collegiate Jitterbug Championships?

The CJC has always been run a little differently.  Low-pressure is key and our number one priority is to have fun.  Team competitors have danced to a variety of music including Jazz, Hip Hop, Latin, Show tunes and everything in between.  One of my favorite all time performances was the “Star Wars Medley” by the University of Minnesota.  While we want to stress the importance of swing preservation, we also promote creativity and Teams like the U of M and Truman State have always brought creative routines to the event.  The AnySwing Goes contest is also a crowd favorite.  The format is like none that I have ever seen; it’s a no holds barred street jam.  The finalists have no restrictions and are expected to “Take it, if they want it.”  There is no order or time limit and Any Swing Goes!  The competitors battle it out in a jam style format while the band takes them to the limit.  It’s always an exciting event.

4) So, tell us about this Miss Heartland pin-up contest . . .

We are very excited about the addition of the Miss Heartland Vintage Pin-up Girl Contest.  It was inspired by the Miss Camp Hollywood contest in L.A. and we see a lot of possibilities for this event.  Contestants will register on-line and send it their pin-up photos (tasteful photos please).  The top 12 will be selected for our Miss Heartland Swing calendar that we intend to promote all over the country.  Miss Heartland Swing will be crowned on March 6th, 2011 and will win a pass to Camp Hollywood and Airfare to Los Angeles.  We think this contest will be a lot of fun and gives us another means to promote the swing culture.

5) Why should we all be in Iowa for HSF/CJC 2011?

The people that come to this event are the most welcoming and fun people you will ever meet.  The dancers love to share their passion for swing and we all get carried away in the swing culture.  The music, the dancing, the clothes and even the lingo creates an atmosphere that the outside world may not really understand.  For many of us, swing dancing is a way of life and the Heartland Swing Festival is one of the best opportunities we have to share that with others.  We offer a variety of classes for all ability levels taught by some of the world’s greatest instructors, we have the region’s best Swing bands and our contests are like none you’ve seen!   The Heartland Swing Festival and Collegiate Jitterbug Championships has something for everyone.

You can find out more about (and register to attend!) the Heartland Swing Festival at http://heartlandswingfestival.com/

Nevermore Jazz Ball DJ Battle and Kickoff Event!

Sunday, December 5th, join swing dancers and music enthusiasts from throughout St. Louis as local DJs face off to see who spins the tunes to keep the floor HOTTEST! Each DJ will have one set and they’ll be bringin’ their best so don’t miss your chance to vote! Dancers and listeners will choose their favorite DJ at the end of the night, and the winner will have the opportunity to DJ at the Nevermore Jazz Ball in St. Louis in November 2011!

The DJ Battle marks the kick-off  fundraiser for St. Louis’ new event: the Nevermore Jazz Ball!!! NJB  will be  a blowout celebration of jazz and blues dance and music in St. Louis and the Midwest, by dancers, for dancers. NJB will feature the best local swing and blues bands, classes by local and national instructors, competitions with a St. Louis twist, panel discussions, and a uniquely hometown atmosphere for social dancing. GET PUMPED! More info, announcements and opportunities to get involved to come at the DJ battle!

Sunday December 5th 2010 | 7-11pm | $10 admission to benefit NJB!

The Focal Point (2720 Manchester Ave. in Maplewood)

DJ line-up will feature: Evan Groopman, Tal Stein, Clayton Smith, Scott Lowry, Nick Apperson, and more! Come tear it up and show your love to our DJs.


Beginner Swing Dance Lessons with the Wash U Swing Dance Club Begin Monday, September 13th

We’d like to introduce the very best way for beginners/dabblers to learn lindy hop/swing dancing in St. Louis: Monday night lessons with the Wash U Swing Dance Club. Taught by a variety of experienced and knowledgable instructors, Monday night lessons begin on Monday, 13 September with the very basics, and continue progressively throughout the semester. Once the basics have been covered, instructors will introduce important elements of lindy hop, including the 8 count swing out, partnered charleston, improvisation, and solo jazz movement and routines.  Each lesson is followed by an hour of open dance so that you can try out what you’ve learned, meet other dancers, and learn more about swing music and dancing. Remarkably, this lesson series is absolutely free for ALL students (Wash U and otherwise), Wash U alumni, faculty, and staff; for all others the lessons are merely $5/lesson or $30/semester. Things to remember:

  • Lessons begin with the very basics on Monday, 13 September
  • No experience necessary (for the first two nights. After that, lessons will build on the basics)
  • No partner required
  • Location is in Umrath Lounge on the Washington University in St. Louis campus. Umrath is near the intersection of Forsyth and Wallace.

For more info contact wuss@wustl.edu or call (314) 323-6854.

Devil at the Confluence: The Pre-War Blues Music of St. Louis, Missouri

Kevin Belford’s book, Devil at the Confluence: The Pre-War Blues Music of St. Louis, Missouri has been in bookstores since September 2009. This seminal book restores to St. Louis its due recognition on the early blues music which impacted some of the greatest popular music in American history. The factual truth-bearing of the development of St. Louis jazz and blues music combined with Belford’s exceptional artwork make this book a must-have for all blues and jazz lovers, music history buffs, and St. Louisans in the know.

Find the book here: Devil at the Confluence on amazon.com

Visit the blog: http://devilattheconfluence.blogspot.com/

More about the book:

“There’s a strange allure in these tales, resurrected by Kevin Belford, as he reveals St. Louis’ lost blues heritage. Belford’s richly drawn illustrations bring to life the forgotten men and women who played the blues as well as the city streets and clubs they inhabited.”  –Ron (Johnny Rabbitt) Elz, Host of “Route 66” on KMOX/CBS Radio, St. Louis

“I see St. Louis itself as the third party in the love triangle that we contemplate as we fantasize about the blues moving north from the farms of the south to the cities of the North, from Memphis to Chicago, from Clarksdale to Detroit, from Savannah to New York. St. Louis is the spot on the map that so many skip over when they look to Texas as the source of the blues. Texas Alexander scolds us about forever romanticizing Chicago when contemplating the blues woman’s journey: ‘I followed my woman to the St. Louis fair.” Or as James Stump Johnson suggested, ‘Take me to Kirkwood, I can make St. Louis all by myself.” –from the foreword by Paul Garon


St. Louis Blues Week: August 26 thru September 5, 2010.

Enjoy what St. Louis is known for: BLUES. Learn about what makes St. Louis blues history unique. Try your hand at blues with guitar and harmonica workshops. Get to know the city!

This festival will feature free band showcases in front of the newly remodeled Kiel Opera House, a blues brunch, blues history panel discussions, guitar and harmonica workshops, a Soulard blues “cruise,” and the first annual Blues Awards.

Check it out!

St. Louis Blues Week Calendar of Events

19th Annual St. Louis Tap Festival

Happening this week: The 19th Annual St. Louis Tap Festival! Brought to you by local tap dancer and event organizer Robert L. Reed, this event features great performers and instructors, young and old, from around the nation and beyond. You can still catch a lot of action: student performances on the night of Friday, 30 July, and All That Tap on the night of Saturday, 31 July. Check ’em out! Plenty more info here: http://www.tapheritage.org/2010a/index.html

Welcome to Lindy Hop St. Louis!

Hi Everyone! Welcome to Lindy Hop St. Louis! We’ve been working hard to get this website going and we are excited to finally invite you all to check it out, use the forum, and keep up with the Events Calendar! Keep in mind that it’s a work in progress, and while it has a very basic look now, we will continue to add more pictures, videos, and other exciting things to make it look good.

Our goal is to make this site an excellent community resource for all types of swing dancing– we have the framework here, but we hope that you will make this site come alive by posting your events and thoughts.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, let us know! Email us at info@lindyhopstlouis.org. with any ideas, questions, or comments you have! (Or… post them to the forum!)

Thanks for visiting; help us spread the word and make this a great community site!