Swing, Swing 

Barn dancing may not be the new ballroom dancing, but it could be a new way to spend a Saturday night. Twice a month, fellers swing their partners round and round to live, old-time fiddle music in midtown and Merriam. Organizer Laura Bogue, of the arts alliance CrossCurrents, says the crowd has swelled to 80 people, with an age range of 20 to 70. The diverse mix includes the single, the married, the graceful and the rhythm-challenged. “It’s traditional to change partners for every song — regardless of who brung ya,” Bogue says. “We encourage experienced dancers to dance with beginners to help them learn.” Despite the open atmosphere, regulars have become a tightknit pack, traveling together to dance camps and sending group photos to a dancer now serving in Iraq. They try to give “contra dancing” — folk dances that follow orders from a “caller” — surprising twists. They’ve worn wild finery to springtime “contra proms” and staged outdoor waltzes at Loose Park. “One of the St. Louis dancers has said contra dancing is like ‘an amusement park ride we make for ourselves,’” says Bogue, whose upcoming 50th birthday will be celebrated with a faux-somber waltz. Dances take place the second Saturday of every month at the Merriam Community Center (5701 Merriam Drive) and the fourth Saturday of every month (that’s tonight) at the Jack-o’-Lantern Ballroom (3921 Baltimore). The beginners class starts at 7 p.m., followed by the dance at 7:30. Admission costs $7, and the classes are smoke- and booze-free. For information, call 816-516-1876.
Fourth Saturday of every month, 7 p.m., 2007

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