Learning to Jitterbug in Elko

by Krys Munzing

I grabbed a camera and stopped by Let’s Dance! at the Western Folklife Center on April 27 to check out the night’s Jitterbug lesson: a very relaxed and really complete class with returning students and newbies interested in learning the dance. Instructors for the night were Ali Helmig and Stefan Goehring, and they had it down to easy, show-n-tell steps that the dancers followed, including individual tips as the lesson progressed.

This fun community event has been produced by the Western Folklife Center since May of 2013, twice monthly February through October (once monthly during November, December and January). Let’s Dance! is run by a volunteer group of dance enthusiasts – from bartending to dj’ing to teaching, these Elko folks do it all to bring together dance lovers of all ages from all walks of life. The event is held in the Western Folklife Center’s G Three Bar Theater: the beautiful hardwood floor is ideal! On this night, the music was dj’d by Rob Hegemann and Robin Wignall worked the Pioneer Bar when anyone was thirsty.

For singles, the best part of Let’s Dance! is that you don’t have to have a partner with you, there’s usually a good mix of gals vs. guys – – and on this night, I noticed that Ali and Stefan even asked for a switch of partners a couple of times so everyone could get used to the slightly different styles throughout the room: it’s helpful at dance nights to be able to do the steps with whoever asks, right? One of my friends says it’s a perfect date night with her husband, too.

Another really great aspect of the lesson planning done by Elko Let’s Dance! is that they take into consideration what’s happening around Elko. For instance, the California Trail Center west of town is  having its annual Trail Days event the first weekend of June, which includes a dance night, out under the stars, so Let’s Dance! is featuring Contra Dance on May 25. The National Basque Festival is coming up in Elko on July 4th, so both June lessons will be in Basque dancing. And leading up to the Silver State Stampede…well, I’m sure rodeo swing or another topical lesson is in the plan.

It’s a great opportunity to get out, meet people, exercise a bit, and have fun without spending a lot of money ($5 for the lesson and you’re good for the rest of the evening) on music, dancing and socializing. In fact, once the lesson was done, I noticed quite a few dancers taking a break right there on the dance floor to visit awhile.

Elko Let’s Dance has a facebook page that is full of info – check it out here and get more information by email at wfcdance@gmail.com or visit http://www.westernfolklife.org, where we post the upcoming lesson on our event calendar.

Poster image by Jessica Brandi Lifland

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