Vashti Baluch and Marta Bloemsma have been cutting a rug — tearing up those rugs — in Greenville, SC, for years. Recently they reintroduced Hendersonville to the perennially popular swing-dance craze. Those high-octane jazz moves of the 1920s-’40s were revived during a national craze in the mid-’90s to early ’00s, and seem destined for some new local love.
Bold Life asked Baluch about the dance events he helps organize.
Bold Life: Why now?
Vashti Baluch: Swing dancing is alive and growing down in Greenville, and Marta and I felt that Hendersonville also needed to have its own dance scene.
What’s the response been like so far?
Our smaller group has been 12 people, but our biggest group has been close to 50 people.
About 15 years ago, swing was all the rage around here, especially amongst people in their twenties and thirties — but it died out.
Most of my generation considers swing dancing to be outdated or for “old people.” On the contrary, it’s a dance that people of all ages should enjoy.
But what caused that shift in perception and popularity?
To be honest, I am unsure. It may be that the people who enjoyed swing dance left town. So word-of-mouth disappeared.
But young people are coming to your dances, right?
Yes. Instead of going clubbing or to a rave on a Friday night, we offer the cheaper — but no less meaningful — alternative of
. Hendersonville is also known as a retiree town. There’s not much for high school and college students to do in town … another reason for us to start a swing-dance group in Hendersonville.
Is this just for the summer, or beyond?
We are hoping to continue throughout the school semesters. The only days we won’t have it will be national holidays.
What makes swing endure through the decades?
We most definitely find it an energetic, exciting, and sexy form of dance in that we can project our personalities through it. It’s one of the most thrilling feelings when you dance with a partner you connect with in every way.