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If you’re looking for it, a walk around downtown Long Beach can show you evidence of an important window in time. The era between the 1920s and the 1940s was one of our city’s most significant development booms. Many of our world famous Art Deco buildings were constructed, including the The Cooper Arms, which was the first high rise that began our skyline. Soon after The Breakers, with its elegant Sky Room was erected, and Conrad Hilton flooded the club with the most glamorous Hollywood stars.

During this time oil was discovered in two oil fields that would become the fourth largest in the United States. Terminal Island housed a Naval Station and Reserve, and Ford Motor Company and Douglas Aircraft established their largest factories here. Amongst all of this innovation and industry our city’s population soared from 55,000 to over 160,000.

Our newly thriving population, with lots of money in their pockets, were ready to party; and party they did. Long Beach quickly became a leader in America experiencing its finest hour economically and culturally, and accompanying this dream were the danceable big bands of the Swing Era.

After our country entered WWII the priorities of our citizens were forever changed and the swing era quickly came to an end to make way for blues and the foundations of what would become rock n roll, but the grace and style of the Swing era remains cemented within our city’s walls, its stories, and in the hearts of people who still value our more romantic and simpler times. 

Some of you may not yet be aware that there is a flourishing Swing community gathering momentum in Long Beach. The best evidence you will find of this growing resurgence can be discovered at a monthly event called 4th Saturday Swing. This two year old event aims to preserve and promote Swing dance and Swing music with Long Beach being the perfect backdrop historically and aesthetically. It is one of the few places in the country where Swing music and dance still thrive on a regular basis. 

Catalyzing this movement is 4th Saturday Swing founder Alice Pye and her co-organizers Mark and Claire Guillen. Each month they lovingly curate this event and bring live Swing bands from around the country into our city. For the last year the event has been housed in downtown Long beach area at The MADhaus. Every monthly event has a different theme, but the event always starts with a beginners dance lesson, accompanied by hours of live music, specially mixed cocktails, period costumes and dancing until 1 a.m. 

A unique quality of this event is that it is a space where all levels of dancers feel comfortable moving to the music together. It is an inclusive place where internationally recognized award winning dancers eagerly encourage those clumsily bobbing around to Swing for their first time. The spirit of friendship, enjoyment, and acceptance is something you won’t easily find in quite the same way at a traditional dance club. In addition to finding people of all skill levels you will also see people of all shapes and sizes, all ethnicities, and in all kinds of dress. Whether you want to be fancy in your period clothes or shorts and a t-shirt, you are a welcome addition to the community. 

The theme for this month’s 4th Saturday Swing is a kickoff party for Swing lovers to prepare for Camp Hollywood. Camp Hollywood is the largest Swing event in the country that draws hundreds of dancers and professionals to California every year. Hollywood glamour is strongly encouraged for the 4th Saturday Swing Kickoff event this month, but not a necessity. This month’s party will include live music by Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five featuring Hilary Alexander, a specialty Popsicle cocktail created by Marko’s Treats, a Jack & Jill contest, and a beginner Lindy Hop class. 

So take a trip back in time, and have some fun making new friends, and lasting memories.

The MADhaus is located at 624 Pacific Ave, Long beach, CA 90802

To find out more about this month’s 4th Saturday Swing and upcoming events please visit their website at www.lbswingdance.com

To see the schedule of activities and for parking info visit the fb event invite here https://www.facebook.com/events/659711584130520/

To find out more about this month’s featured band visit http://www.campusfive.com

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About the Author


Jewell Faamaligi

Jewell Faamaligi is an arts and culture activist affiliated with several nonprofit organizations in Long Beach. She also serves as the Downtown Council Area Representative for the Long Beach Music Council.



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