Many years ago, swing dancing had a revival. Swing Detroit came about during this revival, where there were more people becoming interested in lindy hop, east coast swing, charleston, solo jazz, balboa, and shag. Part of the inspiration for the revival was the increase in popularity of swing bands in top 40s music. These bands included the Big Bad Voodoo Daddies, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, The Atomic Fireballs (from the Detroit area), Indigo Swing, and many others as well.
The name Swing Detroit was coined by Sean McDonnell, and this group was one of many things that kicked off another heyday of swing dancing in Detroit. This was the first Detroit swing dance group in this era, with swing dancing in Pontiac, among other places. Sean McDonnell also started the Big III swing dances, and since then, the name Swing Detroit was used by other people.
The name was also used by John Lozano, who also was the main organizer of the first Detroit Lindy Hop exchanges. Lindy and Swing Exchanges are all weekend events that feature bands, DJ’s, and dancers from all over the country, and sometimes the world. When John left for California, Jason Herron took over the name, hosting events that revolved around both Lindy Hop and Balboa.
Also happening around this time, perhaps a little later, though unrelated to the Swing Detroit name, were Collegiate Shag workshop weekends hosted by Kelly Palmiter. Terri Baumann Houton used the name after Jason Herron moved to Montreal, continuing the events for some years. After a haitus of events, the name was picked up by Paul Carryer again and events were held at that same venue. Many of these events, from John Lozano to Paul Carryer, were hosted at the Atomic Dog. The name of the venue changed before Paul Carryer was hosting events, getting a remodeling and being called Virgo.
Paul Carryer also picked up the DetLX name and hosted two more Lindy Exchanges in 2010 and 2011. When he moved to Cleveland, Marilyn Rotko Kruchkow took over the event, and it was moved to Rosy O’Gradys in Ferndale, bringing it to a more central location. Marilyn moved to Texas, and the event moved again to Mr. B’s in Royal Oak, where events are hosted today. This last move saw some changes, as the event moved to become a board run event and non-profit organization. The board members for the current Swing Detroit group are Peter Halabu, Whitney Hardin, Paulette Brockington, and Terri Baumann Houton, and Marilyn Rotko Kruchkow.
In the late 90’s swing dancing happened in Pontic as well. There was dancing four or more nights a week during the swing revival, and Detroit has always been one of those cities that had its own personality in its dance community. There were many people that were integral to the dancing in the city, suburbs, and region. In 1996, Paulette Brockington started teaching workshop and helped introduce many genres of swing to the area. She went on to organize the American Lindy Hop Championships, and international dance competition and weekend that has been hosted in many cities, from Chicago to Toronto, Minneapolis to Cleveland.
Other dance instructors that have taught for Swing Detroit and other places in the Detroit area include Janene Nelson, Kelly Palmiter, Adam Vallus, Jim Berg, Donna Berg, Boy Racer, John Salalila, Julie Pickering, John Lozano, Sean McDonnell, Jason Herron, and many other people have dedicated their time and their talents to the group.
Now, the legacy lives on, and we still all appreciate the positive contributions everyone is making. There have been many wonderful volunteers involved with keeping the group running and helping it continue to be a great part of the Michigan dance community. We are excited for you to join us and continue the swing dance tradition!
As do Velvet Lounge that was late 90s into mid-2000s (by then as Tonic). Terri was heavily into that lounge crowd. I had started teaching by then. They would stop dancing when I came in. So I stopped going. I didn’t want to Ruin their fun. I went back when it was Tonic. The basement was less imposing and you couldn’t really tell who was there. But I did teach most of them to dance. My workshops started in March of 1996. Omg. I introduced Lindy, West Coast Swing and Chicago Steppin’ all in the same weekend. I did 3 workshop weekends – one of which was a camp at OU for 3 years. It was too must teaching on the road, doing 3 regional workshops and ALHC. So I cut back to 2 regional ones. Then to just one. It was fun in the beginning. All the scenes really developed out of the workshops I started. Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland, Milwaukee and even as far away as Minneapolis (Peter Storm). Is this enough?