For more than 22 years, Friday Night Swing Club has welcomed thousands of dancers 16 and older of every ability to tango, cha-cha, foxtrot, jitterbug, salsa, waltz, hustle and others, from 9 p.m. to midnight Friday nights.
The club started at the ROTC building at Johns Hopkins University, then moved to the Boomi Temple on Charles Street until that property was sold to Loyola University Maryland. Through the years, the club's home has been the Scottish Rite Temple in Tuscany-Canterbury, Tall Cedars Club and the Towson Armory.
These days, the club meets at the American Legion in Towson and on March 15, a crowd of about 200 gathered for the St. Patrick's Day-themed event.
Newbies gather at 8 p.m. for a free swing dance lesson. Then at 9 p.m. a live band cranks up and the hall starts jumping. Partners aren't required and it's mostly singles who show up to try their hand—or feet, as it were—on the dance floor.
Countless dance partnerships and also romantic partnerships have been formed over the years, says Chuck Alexander, co-founder of the club.
"A lot of the early couples who started with us, their kids are in college and will come in and say, 'My mother used to dance here'" Alexander says. "There are whole families that are swing dance families."
Alexander says the club is a good and healthy place to meet people.
"It's a safe environment, just people coming together to dance Friday night. And it's a good place to let off steam on a Friday night," Alexander says. "I guess that's why we've been around for so long."
The club hosts dance classes at the American Legion, Mondays through Wednesdays. In addition to "Ballroom Survival, West Coast Swing, Lindy Hop and others, there is always a beginning swing dance class going on because, as Alexander says, " We need new people to keep going."
A special dance marathon will be held March 22 during Friday Night Swing Club and sponsored by Cockeysville Middle School is to benefit the Children's Cancer Foundation Inc. To learn more about Friday Night Swing Club, dance lessons, or the dance marathon, go to http://www.fridaynightswing.com.