Founders of Lexington Hepcats swing-dance club share their passion with others

amolden@herald-leader.comOctober 10, 2013 

  • IF YOU GO

    Hepcats Swing Dance Club

    Dance: Oct. 12. Doors open at 7 p.m., swing dance lesson 7:30-8:15, dancing and music at 8:15. With Keith Jones and the Makeshifts. Arthur Murray Dance Studio, 1801 Alexandria Dr. $12 at door. (859) 420-2426. Luv2swingdance.com.

    Class: Beginners' class: 7-7:45 p.m. Mon., Nov. 18-Dec. 16. $40, $35 students. Temple Adath Israel, 124 N. Ashland Ave. Register at Luv2swingdance.com. Details about other classes at website.

Mike and Mary Richardson fell in love with the Big Band era, so 12 years ago they started Hepcats Swing Dance Club.

The Hepcats offers a variety of opportunities for beginner and experienced swing dancers. There is no age restriction for involvement with the Hepcats. There is often a large difference in the ages of swing-dance partners.

"We cater to grandkids, grandmas and everything in between," Mary Richardson said.

The demographic profile of the Hepcats' Monday night beginner class is diverse. Experienced swing dancer Katie Brown, a high school freshman, found herself in the same class as beginner Melita Kelsey, whose husband thought that the Hepcats beginner class would be fun for the two of them to do together.

"I hope to learn how to dance to every type of song without choreography," Katie said.

Bennett Skaggs, 22, is a law student at the University of Kentucky. He discovered the Hepcats beginner class at the annual Dance Blue benefit dance marathon that he helped plan at UK this year. He isn't taking the classes just for the choreography, though. Skaggs sees the classes as a break from his difficult course load at UK, he says.

No matter what their reason for taking the class, all of the beginner students say they are enthusiastic about learning to swing dance.

Two popular swing-dancing moves are the Lindy hop and the Balboa.

In addition to teaching classes, the Hepcats have dances three times a month where students and the public may show up in vintage clothes. A partner is not required for the classes or dances.

For dances, the Hepcats hire bands whose music resembles that of some of the kings of swing — Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Glenn Miller.

The next dance is Saturday at Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Gardenside Plaza on Alexandria Drive. Keith Jones and the Makeshifts will play music. Based out of Cincinnati, the group's sound is a throwback to the late '40s and early '50s.

The Richardsons are passionate about dancing to live music.

"Swing dancing is dynamic and exciting. You can't separate the dance from the music," Mike Richardson said.

The Hepcats will offer another beginner session starting Nov. 18. The classes are held in the social hall at Temple Adath Israel.

Beginners often fall in love with the dance and want to continue swing dancing. In that case, the Hepcats offer an intermediate class and two performance groups.


IF YOU GO

Hepcats Swing Dance Club

Dance: Oct. 12. Doors open at 7 p.m., swing dance lesson 7:30-8:15, dancing and music at 8:15. With Keith Jones and the Makeshifts. Arthur Murray Dance Studio, 1801 Alexandria Dr. $12 at door. (859) 420-2426. Luv2swingdance.com.

Class: Beginners' class: 7-7:45 p.m. Mon., Nov. 18-Dec. 16. $40, $35 students. Temple Adath Israel, 124 N. Ashland Ave. Register at Luv2swingdance.com. Details about other classes at website.

Alyssa Molden, a senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, is interning at the Herald-Leader through Fayette County Public Schools' Experience Based Career Education program.

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