St. Louis Imperial Dance Club


HISTORY OF ST. LOUIS SWING



SWING BEGAN IN NEW YORK CITY AT THE SAVOY BALLROOM. IT WAS
THE ROARING TWENTIES AND EVERYONE WAS DANCING. THE NEW YORK
AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY HAD THEIR OWN MUSIC AND DEVELOPED A
DANCE STYLE THAT WOULD SUIT THE FASTER, HOTTER MUSIC THAT THEY
LOVED. THEY CALLED IT HOP. THE WHITE COMMUNITY WATCHING THE DANCE
SAID THAT THEY LOOKED LIKE “JITTERBUGS”. SO THE NAME STUCK AND
JITTERBUG WAS BORN. HOWEVER, WHEN CHARLES LINDBERGH FLEW THE
ATLANTIC, THE DANCE COMMUNITY, STILL CALLING THEIR DANCE “HOP”,
HONORED LINDBERGH BY RENAMING THE DANCE, “THE LINDY HOP”. SAME
DANCE, THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.



ALL THROUGH THE THIRTIES AND INTO THE FORTIES, AMERICA DANCED THE
JITTERBUG/LINDY HOP. NOW CAME WORLD WAR 11 AND THE ADVENT OF THE
BIG BAND SOUND. GLENN MILLER, TOMMY DORSEY, AND
SAMMY KAYE. SAMMY NEEDED A GIMMICK, SO HE USED THE TAG LINE “SWING
AND SWAY WITH SAMMY KAYE”. THE BIG BAND SOUND SUITED THE DANCERS,
IT WAS FAST (SINGLE TIME) AND IT WAS HOT. NOW A NEW NAME EMERGED—
“THE SWING”. SAME DANCE FOUR DIFFERENT NAMES.



THROUGH THE YEARS, THE STEPS WERE REFINED BY GEOGRAPHIC AREA. THE
EAST COAST CALLED IT “EAST COAST SWING” AND HAD UNIQUE STEPS THEY
DEVELOPED.

THE MID ATLANTIC STATES CALLED THEIR STEPS “SHAG”,
SPEARHEADED BY THE CAROLINAS; IT BECAME KNOWN AS “CAROLINA SHAG”.
THE CALIFORNIA CONTINGENT CALLED THEIR STEPS “WEST COAST SWING”.
WE IN THE MIDWEST MARRIED ALL OF THE STYLES AND CALLED OUR STEPS,”
IMPERIAL SWING”, NAMED AFTER THE CLUB IMPERIAL WHERE THE DANCERS
GATHERED AND CREATED NEW STEPS. WE ALSO CREATED OUR FORM OF
SHAG AND CALLED IT ST. LOUIS SHAG (ONLY THE HARDY NEED TRY THIS
ONE), IT IS FAST, FASTER AND FASTEST.



WE ARE NOW IN THE 1970’S, AND THE DANCERS IN ST LOUIS DECIDE TO
FORM A DANCE CLUB. IN 1973, THE ST. LOUIS IMPERIAL DANCE CLUB WAS
CHARTERED AS A NOT FOR PROFIT ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO THE
PROMOTION AND PRESERVATION OF SWING DANCING.  IN THE EARLY 1980’S
THE CLUB WAS 7OO MEMBERS STRONG.  GEOGRAPHY CAME INTO PLAY AND
WE FORMED THE MIDWEST UNITED STATES IMPERIAL DANCE CLUB (MUSIC) IN
THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, BASED IN COLLINSVILLE. THIS CLUB WAS FOLLOWED
BY THE SOUTHSIDE IMPERIAL DANCE CLUB, COVERING THE SOUTH CITY AND
COUNTY.  IN THE LATE 1980’S WE FORMED THE GATEWAY DANCE CLUB (NOW
KNOWN AS THE WEST COUNTY IMPERIAL DANCE CLUB), ST. CHARLES SOON
FOLLOWED WITH THE ST. CHARLES IMPERIAL SWING DANCE CLUB, LAST BUT
NOT LEAST IS THE JEFFERSON COUNTY IMPERIAL SWING DANCE CLUB, BASED
IN ARNOLD.



WE WERE NOW 3,500 DANCERS STRONG. IN THE ENSUING YEARS, THREE
NEW CLUBS WERE BORN, FIRST THE ST. LOUIS LINDY HOP CLUB, THEN THE
LAKE OF THE OZARKS SWING CLUB, AND THE ST. LOUIS REBELS WEST
COAST SWING CLUB WAS CHARTERED. IN MID 2000 THE JEFFERSON CITY
DANCE CLUB WAS CHARTERED, AND IN 2015 WE ADDED DESTINATION
SWING, A SECOND WEST COAST SWING CLUB.



AS YOU CAN SEE, SWING IS ALIVE AND WELL AND DANCING ALL OVER ST.
LOUIS AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES. WE ARE NOW 11 CLUBS STRONG.
WHERE EVER YOU LIVE, YOU CAN SWING DANCE IN YOU OWN COMMUNITY.



IF YOU ARE WANTING TO DANCE SWING, YOU CAN DO THIS SIX NIGHTS EACH
WEEK. WEDNESDAY EVENINGS THE ST LOUIS IMPERIAL DANCE CLUB IS AT
THE “SPORTS CAFÉ” ON PENNRIDGE DRIVE IN BRIDGETON, MO.







KEEP DANCIN’------       JAN ALTMAN-DANCE DIRECTOR,

ST LOUIS IMPERIAL DANCE CLUB-