- Ryles (upstairs room) (link)
212 Hampshire St., Inman Square, Cambridge.
617-876-9330. Admission $10. Age ID req'd (19+). Freebie
lesson at 9:15, dancing to recorded music until 1:30 am.
Ineffective air-conditioning; dress lightly. It's also a
bar. The music on Saturdays is unusual for a dance
a mix of Ballroom, Swing, and Salsa, and occasional Funk
or House. The music has improved and is pretty good these
days, and the sound system is excellent (but a bit loud,
especially by the end of the night — the DJ keeps
inching the volume up as the night progresses).
Interestingly, almost all of the songs can be danced
multiple ways and people cheerfully do so without anybody
sneering at anyone else. For example, some folks will
dance Samba while others dance Merengue to the same tune,
because it falls right in between. Similarly for Foxtrot,
Swing, Jive, Lindy Hop and Quickstep. The dancers are an
unusual mix, in keeping with the unusual combination of
music genres played; some people are there just for one
particular genre and will sit out all other songs, while
a few will dance to almost everything. And a large chunk
of the room will often be dominated by the strange
gyrations of the young MIT ballroom dance team members
who come here to practice. Another large chunk will be
dominated by the competition-dance students of the dance
organizer/DJ, who runs a dance studio the rest of the
week. Nevertheless, it is a rather friendly crowd and
people change partners and dance with each other. And
there are usually plenty of beginners and intermediate
dancers to have fun with.
Boston Swing Dance Network (most people call it
"the Watertown Dance") (link)
2nd Saturday of
each month (except when not), but not in July or
St. James Armenian Church, 465 Mt. Auburn St., at
School St., Watertown. Admission $13. All ages admitted.
Freebie lesson at 8; dancing to live big band music from
about 9:00 to exactly 12:00 midnight. Lightly
air-conditioned. Dress is on the spiffy side, at least by
Swing dance standards — most women wear dresses,
for example. Comments: The longest running
Swing dance in the Boston area. There's good live music,
a huge dance floor, people at all skill levels who love
to dance (from complete novice to complete expert), lots
of friendly changing of partners. We recommend going to
the freebie lesson, taught by the dance organizer,
beforehand — not for the content (nothing new for
us), but for two other reasons: first, you'll see a
completely different teaching style; and second, you'll
get to see how many beginners there are (and who they
are), which makes the whole dance less intimidating once
the band begins. [Very minor note: BSDN is a
private outfit as far as we know, despite what the name
- Current schedule of
BSDN Saturday dances. (Our personal, opinionated comments
appear in parentheses after the band's name.)
Jan 12: Dom V and the Swing Out Big
Band. (Good musicians, but usually play in a
low-energy, low-projection way, unfortunately. Hey! Pick
up those instruments and point them at the dancers!)
Feb 9: White Heat Swing Orchestra. (Superb
classic big band sound. However, they tend to play lots
of fast songs and slow songs, with only a tiny number of
medium tempo songs.)
Mar 8: Eight To The Bar. (Easily one of the
best Swing dance bands in the country today. A terrific
local Swing band with a big, crisp, clean sound and lots
of fun energy. Great for dancing ... usually. However, in
the recent past they have been, shall we say,
"experimental" and pretty mediocre for dancing. Let's
hope they go back to being a good dance band.)
Apr 12: (TBA)
May 10: (TBA)
Jun 14: (TBA)
(No dances in July or August)
Uptown Swing Dance Club (link)
Saturday of the month, except Dec 2007 is the 1st
Run by Hop To The Beat studio, held at
Brookline Tai Chi, 1615 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA,
opposite the T Green Line 'C'
train's Washington Square stop. Time: 8:30-Midnight
(beginner lesson 8:30-9:00pm). Admission: $15.
(We haven't tried this dance yet because it started
up after we left on sabbatical.)
- Current schedule
Jan 19: The Racky Thomas Band.
Feb 16: Sax Gordon Band.
Mar 15: (TBA)
Apr 19: Solomon Douglas Trio.
May 17: (TBA)
June 7: Shawn Hershey and the Fried
Blues Cafe (link)
4th Saturday of
the month (previously third Friday
of the month)
SpringStep facility, top floor. 98 George
Hassett Dr., Medford Square, immediately off I-93 by the
AmeriSuites Hotel, Medford, MA. Ample free parking. MBTA
bus 96 from Harvard Square to bus's last stop in Medford
Square, then walk just past Medford's City Hall. Free
lesson 8:30-9:00 pm. Dancing 9:00 pm-12:30 am. Admission:
$15 ($8 for students/seniors w/ID), includes free coffee,
bottled water, and finger-snacks.
A dance with a combination of Lindy Hop, Blues, and
West Coast Swing, run by Elizabeth & Matthew Miller.
The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, the building
and its dance space are gorgeous, the sprung hardwood
floor is excellent, the sound system is really superb.
The live bands have almost all been terrificly good jazz
musicians and excellent for Swing, Lindy and Blues
dancing, and the DJs have also all been excellent so far.
The music is quite good for 6-count Swing dancing. Just
be prepared for a large percentage of slower music, which
will let you practice dancing smoothly with Triple steps.
A large majority of the crowd are young Lindy Hoppers at
the moment, but Swing dancers are very welcome. The
pleasantly unusual mix of music along with more
out-of-towners than at most Boston dances, seems to
loosen the crowd up and lend a bit of playfulness to the
vibe. This is helped by the way the hostess walks around
giving out homemade chocolate chip cookies.
- Current schedule
Jan 18 (Friday): Solomon Douglas
Feb 15 (Friday): Two Hour Change.
(Funk-pop. The music samples on their web
site don't sound promising for dancing Swing or
Blues, or anything else really, but ya never know.)
Mar 21 (Friday): Beantown Swing Orchestra.
(Crisp, tight big band sound. Most nights, all their
songs are extremely fast. Occasionally they use a
playlist that is nicely balanced for tempo, but which
includes several abusively long songs, between 10 and 14
minutes long — even champion dancers were walking
off the floor in disgust. The arrogant band leader claims
to have been a swing dancer in the past, but he does not
play like one. We strongly dislike this kind of playing,
but some people seem to enjoy it.)
Apr 24 (Saturday): Mike Wyatt Quartet.
May 24 (Saturday, 9:00 pm - 4:00 am. Free lesson
8:00 pm. $40 / $35 students/seniors w/ID): Shawn
Hershey and the Fried Bananas (first half) and the
Cangelosi Cards (late-night half). The May 24
dance is anomalous. This happens to be the main dance for
a full-weekend "BIX
lindy and blues exchange," and since it runs much
later than usual, and is taking over the entire building,
and has 2 live bands, the pricing is completely
different: $40 ($35 for students/seniors w/ID). Note that
there is a pre-registration option for a $10 late night
buffet, but it is ONLY available for paid
pre-registrations, not at the door. Shawn Hershey
is a great Boston-based Lindy dancer who also fronts a
terrific little band. The Cangelosi Cards are
staggeringly good New York musicians who play fast or
bluesy 20s/30s style swing with a sweetness that you just
have to experience. If you like Django Rheinhardt, you'll
like the Cangelosi Cards.