Stomp Swings Past the Hype
By Tony Adams
always been fascinated with swing and the culture that surrounds
it. It may have started when I was a kid, watching old movies
where people danced in ways that looked humanly impossible but
were also cool as hell. Or it could have taken hold of me through
my grandma's old albums by Nat "King" Cole and too many big bands to name. Who knows the actual point of impact on my soul? To put
it plainly: I love the music. I love the dancing. I love the fashion.
hated the hype.
1996, when Vaughn and Favreau were saying "baby" this and "money"
that and big band music burst on the scene, the media latched
onto the movement like a pack of hungry wolves. Although the rebirth
of swing culture was a great thing indeedwith the Cherry
Poppin' Daddies zoot-suiting it up on MTV and The Gap selling
chinos to a jump blues beatthe media whirlwind left many
swing fans with vertigo.
with any pop culture movement, when the hype gets to be too much,
you just have to step back, bide your time and reassure yourself
that this too will pass. The media doesn't stay on anything too
long. Like vending machine bubble gumwhen the flavor's gone,
you spit it out.
Stomp's Marketing Director, Quinton Snodgrass
Still the Thing
But here in Indianapolis, Kathy and Aaron Altschul had a different
idea. Last February, they decided to start a swing dance club
called Naptown Stomp. It wasn't the easiest undertaking, since
by 2001 the attention swing had received just a few years before
was gone. That wasn't an entirely bad thing, though. Not everyone
group's main focus wasn't the media trappings that turned up in
ads or boring exposť pieces in weekly magazines. It wasn't about
modern-day zoots or chompin' on stogies or jumping on the bandwagon.
As group member Roland Walker puts it simply, "It's about the
Out to a Broader Audience
"Naptown Stomp was organized to teach and educate
the general public on swing dancing, specifically Lindy
Hop, swing music and its history," says the group's marketing
director, Quinton Snodgrass. "We conduct a series of classes
to introduce beginners to the dance as well as perform
private shows for groups or clubs who are interested in
adding some flare to their functions."
Although the members of Naptown Stomp are trying to keep swing
going in Indy, once the heat of the "Swing Craze" died down, it
became hard for folks who enjoyed the scene to find a place to
do their thing.
is the main issue," says Quinton. "Some clubs that jumped on the
swing wagon during the '90s, when it was more of a fad, have really
fallen by the wayside. It is tough to keep a swing venue in the
black. Most of the dancers aren't big drinkers, so they go to
the bar and order water. But most of the places that did swing
figured out that they could make more money catering to the college
crowd, who were less interested in dancing and more interested
in the drink specials. I think this has pretty much happened across
the country, and is one of the things that has made swing more
of an underground phenomenon again."
Naptown core consists of only five officers, with an additional
group of indispensable volunteers. These are the "Swing Geeks"
who go to weeklong workshops in Chicago or travel cross-country
because they heard about a cool place to dance.
it's that kind of spirit that gives me hope that something I cherish
and admire so much won't be forgotten after the media's eye has
turned to The Next Big Thing. Naptown Stomp is not going to give
up. Swing music and dance are too important for these people,
who continue to celebrate this enduring cultural movement.
view the Naptown Stomp calendar of swing events in Indianapolis,
Tony Adams can be reached via email at Hobgad95@aol.com.