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Arts and Entertainment

Swing Dancing's Evil Cousin: Blues Dancing Comes to L.A.

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With all its hustle, the flips and fast paced jittering, swing dancing can be intimidating. But as lindy exhanges across the nation became bigger deals in the early part of this century, party goers danced and drunk their way into the night begetting a much slower, groovier and inebriated style. Enter blues dancing... the resurgence, at least.

"Blues dancing evolved from dark rooms, groovy music and lots of liquor," explained Tim O'Neill, who teaches the form in Sherman Oaks. "It's kind of like the evil cousin of swing dancing."

Like with blues music itself, historians can't pinpoint an exact location of where blues dancing first sprung up. O'Neill, who studied dance and communication at UCLA, says historical documents indicate that it may have origins in 1930s and 40s juke joints of the South. He says it seemed to have sprung up in different areas at different times. As for the recent resurgence, it's a latecomer to Los Angeles.

With locals asking to be taught blues dancing, O'Neill partnered with Whitton Frank, another dancer also known in the scene as Dj Lil' Red (yeah, a blues DJ with fiery red hair). They began teaching classes last year in Santa Monica until the studio they rented space from closed down in May. But just last week, they came back, and to a big hurrah of fans since the two are the only ones teaching it in Los Angeles. "We're the only show in town," said O'Neill, who also travels the country teaching and taking workshops.

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Classes are offered every Wednesday night for a rock-bottom price of $10 for two to three hours of dancing (detailed info on their Facebook page). An intermediate class is at 8 p.m. and beginners at 9 p.m. At 10 p.m., it's a free-for-all hour of practicing with your partner or with O'Neill and Frank. Alcohol not included.