last night with my swing dance buddies and as usual it was time well spent. The music was live blues and swing by a group called Buick Wilson. Smooth lead guitar, strong bass work, great salty-voiced vocals, and the best part – two one hour sets of nothing but swing, East Coast, West Coast, and One Step with an occasional slow dance to cool us all down. It’s a tradition that’s been going on here in the North of San Diego county for 35 years and counting. It started out as a Friday night Happy Hour back in the 80’s, low cost drinks no cover no minimum. Then the club, the world reknown, Bellyup Tavern, added a Wednesday edition. I can’t tell you how easy that made the work week. It was like having two weekends a week. Great for your conditioning too. Since dancers don’t drink too much and serious ones like my crowd try to dance every dance, you can’t help but burn off the lbs and develop real staying power.
As I said it has been going on for a long, long time through many different variations. Now we pay $5 at the door and the drinks are regular priced except from the well. But they put out pitchers of water and glasses of ice at a pour your own spot on the bar so it is still by far the cheapest date in town. Not that my crowd is really into the dating thing. It’s more of a meeting place for old friends and new faces but the focus is on the dancing first and the meeting mostly second. We also get to share the news about where else the bands we like are currently playing, like The Coyote Grill up in Carlsbad or Tio Leos down in Old Town San Diego or the Elks in Encinitas. I guess you could say we have by happenstance formed a real community that shares concerns: how can we support a band we like or what else can we do to convince the club owners to keep using live bands. The thing is that it is all rather unplanned. The original BUT owned by Dave Hodges was a neighborhood bar with a small dance floor and no stage. We went there to try out the stuff we learned in our dance classes and found out that it was a comfortable place to be. Then as times changed, ownership too, we changed into a group concerned that we not lose this valuable experience to the vagaries of time and money. Whenever it was needed somehow the word got spread and the dancers as we’ve come to be known in the community at large were there.
So as I said, I went out dancing with my swing dance buddies last night and it was still great.