The Rocky Mountain Swing Dance Club

Club History

In the Beginning

Or: How the Rocky Mountain Swing Club Was Formed

by Bev Thomas and Karen Dovel-Parker

In The Beginning…..

…………many dancers in Denver went to places like the bar that was in the Sheridan at the Tech Center, called Lily's. It had a DJ that played top 40 music, a small dance floor and they had a strong dislike for dancers because they were cheap. (Not many bought drinks other than water and soft drinks). There was also Apples on Orchard, and many other places that had music and a dance floor, and with a few people making phone calls, a decent crowd of dancers (somewhere around 20) would show up and dance. When there was a shortage of male dancers, Jean Smith, who was one of our dance instructors, would lead a few of us to the disco music being played. It wasn't perfect, but it was what we had and we had a blast.

In the summer of 1989, a small group of swing dancers from Denver went to their first national swing dance convention, which was held in Phoenix, Arizona, and was hosted by “The Greater Phoenix Swing Dance Club”. The dancers from Colorado who attended that infamous weekend were Mike and Amber Cross, Andrea Deaton, Anita Deaton, Harry Lester and Kathy Lorenz. These dancers gained a totally new insight into the world of dance, including new music (rhythm & blues), Jack & Jill contests and more fun dancing than they could ever imagine. You might say they thought they had died and gone to ‘dance heaven'. With the help of Ramiro Gonzales from Dallas and Wayne Bott, who had just moved to Phoenix from Denver, they became inspired to bring the message back to Denver that dancers here needed a club for swing dancing. This handful of people embarked on a mission to go about forming a club, enlisting the help of Robert and Connie Bryant of Phoenix, who provided their experience with the Phoenix club and who educated us about the meaning of ‘by-laws'. They also generated excitement to the many swing dancers who were hammering for a place to do their stuff. A wonderful friend in the dance community, Judy Girard, had a party at her house and invited everyone from Carter's dance studio and, after Mike and Amber and Andrea showed videos from Phoenix (we were simply stunned into silence at the sight of those amazing dancers from all over the country), people signed a list, showing their support for starting a club.

The club that was formed in the fall of 1989 is now known as “The Rocky Mountain Swing Dance Club,” with some of that very first group that went to Phoenix, becoming board members. Mike Cross was to be our first President, Harry Lester the Vice President, Bev Thomas was the Secretary, Anita Deaton the Treasurer, Amber Cross was the Dance & Entertainment Committee, Sara Steckler was the Fund Raising Committee, Judy Girard was the Historian and photographer, JoAnn Marrs was the Hospitality Committee, and Andrea Deaton was the Publicity & Newsletter Committee. Shelly Austin designed our great RMSC logo. Harry Lester knew of a place called “Ollies Round Up” on Morrison Road and eventually arranged for the new club to meet there on Sundays. (Here's to Linda Carr, Jackie and Monique, who knew us all by name and by drink preference). On October 15, 1989 with more than 50 people attending (and joining) the club, we held our first official club dance at Ollie's, rockin' to the new R&B sounds they heard in Phoenix, and the rest, my friends, is history.


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