West Coast Swing
The dance style came out of California in the 1930s. The person that got the most credit for it was a dancer/choreographer named Dean Collins. He came from New Jersey to California to work in the movie industry and was asked to choreograph a swing dance scene. The director wanted more people on the dance floor. To accomplish that, Dean had the dancers move forward and back in a slot. Therefore came the birth of a new dance.
As more people on the west coast started doing this version of swing, the dance studios began teaching it. It was originally called "Western Swing" or "Sophisticated Swing" to differentiate it from the more familiar East Coast Swing. In 1959 dance organizations and studios changed the name officially to West Coast Swing.
West Coast Swing dancing came to the Twin Cities via servicemen returning from California after WW II. Two individuals that had a big influence on the Twin Cities dance scene were Jackie Brewer and Blaine McDonough. They attended dances at the old Marigold and Prom Ballrooms (now demolished) and got a lot of attention dancing West Coast Swing. They began showing others how to do it. Several local dance studios started offering classes in the dance.
Swing dancers from the Twin Cities, attending the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships in Anaheim, noticed there were a lot of Swing Dance Clubs in California. They thought "why can't we have our own club in the Twin Cities?" So that's exactly what they did.
Minnesota West Coast Swing Dance Club
A committee of five, Roy Widstrom, Loren Greenberg, Harry Schwab, Frank Jaskulka, and Ray Nyberg, called a meeting at the Palm Studio on March 21, 1982 and 35 people attended. The original purpose of the group was to have regular dance parties where they would exclusively dance West Coast Swing and Balboa.
The committee informally ran the Club during the first year, holding dances at numerous locations around town about once every six weeks. In June 1983, 26 people attended an organizational meeting to formally start the Minnesota West Coast Swing Dance Club. A proposed charter was discussed and accepted. Loren Greenberg was elected as our first President, Carole Lundgren Vice President and Harry Schwab Secretary-Treasurer. The other board members were Marilyn Miller, Ray Nyberg, Jim Curran and Elle Van. The first dance at the B-Dale Club was held in January of 1984.
Many of the Club's current activities were started by those early members and Club officers. We currently have two dances a month with music supplied by other club member DJs, which also includes a free dance lesson. While West Coast Swing is the primary musical focus at the dances, a few numbers, featuring other dance styles, are played throughout the night to add some variety. The Club's annual special events include the anniversary dance, the holiday dance and a picnic. Club membership fluctuates around 200 members.