Focusing on West Coast Swing, the Atlanta Swing Dancers Club (ASDC) is a 501c7 non-profit organization chartered to promote swing dancing in the Atlanta area. Established in 1995, the ASDC has been working to spread the love of dance for over 15 years. As a non-profit organization, the ASDC has a unique approach to growing the West Coast Swing community that includes demos, DVDs, written documents, and a mentoring program.
“What we’re working toward is a one on one dance mentoring program,” explains Chris Lynberg, President of ASDC, “Currently, we have a practice assistant program where advanced dancers assist during the lessons. The practice assistants go through formalized training.”
While the one on one program is not yet complete, what distinguishes ASDC from other groups is that it offers a nurturing way to welcome beginners. New dancers often experience anxiety about starting to dance, “The hardest lesson is lesson one. It’s like being dropped into a foreign country with no friends, no family, no mentor. You look around and think, ‘Where am I? Who are these people? What are they talking about?’”
With the ASDC’s program, beginners are given a smooth entry. Dancers first attend a six-week progressive class. During that period, the formally trained practice assistants advise them and help them with their technique. When they complete the course, dancers receive a graduating certificate and free membership to the ASDC for the first year.
“We find that after the class series, new dancers need a mentor so they have a reference model, somebody to talk to, and somebody to introduce them into the community. Otherwise, it can be hard to progress,” Lynberg says, “We highly encourage all senior dancers to engage the beginners. This relieves a lot of those anxieties beginners experience.”
West Coast Swing is a very inexpensive, informal dance as well, “We wear blue jeans. There are no expensive ballroom gowns, unless you want to wear them. Lessons are relatively cheap, as low as $5-$10. The only real investment a dancer should make is in a good pair of dance shoes,” Lynberg says.
The ASDC’s regular event is their Sunday night swing lesson and dance at Nemoe’s Tavern and Grill. Entry is $10 if taking the lesson or $5 for social dancing. The intermediate lesson is at 5pm, the beginners lesson is at 6pm, and social dancing begins at 7pm. They also host an annual, non-competitive dance event called the Atlanta Swing Classic.
Memberships for ASDC are $35 for one year. Membership benefits include reduced lesson fees, reduced door fees, and access to the West Coast Swing library. Anyone and everyone is always welcomed at the ASDC.
“Why I believe in West Coast Swing so much is that it will improve you in every regard as a human being socially, emotionally, musically, kinesthetically, visually, and mathematically,” Lynberg says with a smile, “It makes you a better person.”