Swing Dancing Ends at Soho Dance LA
Soho Dance LA, the “largest dance studio in West Los Angeles”, has ended its monthly Sunday Swing dance nights.
The event’s organizer, David Stockin, canceled all future Swing dance events on Facebook last Monday, July 11th after their last Swing dance event with Barbara Morrison, citing poor attendance.
The dance studio featured an immaculate 3000 sq. foot floating dance floor and some of the best live bands in LA including Dave Stuckey and the Hot House Gang and Barbara Morrison.
Since first offering Swing dancing in 2015, some nights at Soho were well-attended, but critical mass just wasn’t maintained unfortunately.
Swing dancing on the West Side has had a very tenuous history. For a while, Suzy Q’s in Westwood had a lively following. After that closed, Swing dancing cropped up at a number of other venues but never took hold.
A brief high point was when Dave Stuckey and the Hot House Gang had Wednesday residency at the Culver Hotel. In that case, the dancers were there, but the hotel management abruptly discontinued Swing dancing.
I personally enjoyed being able to be able to drive for five minutes from Santa Monica to go Swing dancing instead of going clear across town to downtown LA, Pasadena, Orange County, Burbank, etc.
On the bright side, Rusty’s Rhythm Club in Playa del Rey still has Swing dancing on Wednesdays and the first Fridays of the month. UCLA still hosts occasional Swing dances at Ackerman Grand Ballroom. These are the only regular night-time Swing events on the West Side.
I’m not sure why Swing dancing has so much trouble taking hold on the West Side. Soho dance had great bands, a huge dance space, and an excellent floor. Perhaps the location was a bit odd, a sort of business/industrial area right next to the 405 freeway off of Santa Monica Blvd. – not somewhere you’d expect to find a dance event.
Hosting live bands was also expensive, with $15 admission minimum. Venues which feature great live bands with no cover, like Clifton’s, might have conditioned patrons to expect free (or very low cost) live entertainment.
In any case, I’d like to thank David Stockin, Barbara Yeh, and all of the other folks responsible for Swing dancing at Soho Dance LA. They invested a lot of time, energy, and money to bring badly-needed Swing dancing to the West Side! Hopefully, another venue will find a winning formula for Swing dancing on the West Side (may I suggest somewhere in Culver City?)
Did you ever go to Swing dance nights at Soho Dance LA? What are your thoughts? Why do you think Swing dancing hasn’t lasted long at West Side venues? – Brian
Please Leave a Question or Comment
I believe they’re going to start swing back up here in at SoHo. Every third Sunday of the month. Dave stuckey and Barbara Morrison are to be performing.
Thanks for the head’s up Anna! If someone sends me a link, I’ll post it!
Speaking as a venue that offers swing dancing at Don the Beachcomber, I can relate to the need to have a dedicated dance crowd that can help to pay for the live bands we present. Veteran acts like Stuckey and Stout are cherished gems that require a cover charge to help pay for their time and travel. Kind of like crowd-funding. A $10-15 cover charge helps defray the cost and also lets the band know you appreciate their talent. That is why we only present live music (with an occasional DJ between sets) because we want to support the musicians. Sorry to hear about SoHo. We need more venues that offer dancing, not less. And thank you for patronizing our tiki ballroom!
1. The number one longevity factor for a dance venue is its close association with a dedicated swing dance school, (PBDA, Rusty’s, Atomic, Memories, Lindy Loft), that features series classes at times other than pre-event drop-in lessons. They provide a friendly and comfortable environment for beginning and intermediate dancers to practice and have fun on a regular basis. David and Barbara are excellent teachers, but I don’t believe they were ready to generate that kind of business situation.
2. Personalities famous in the swing dance community can keep a venue going (Palladino’s, Camp Hollywood, Lindygroove).
3. Lack of active support by the rest of the swing dance community on the Westside and DTLA contributed to the demise of SOHO. Constant and friendly promotion at all other venues, dance schools, and college dance departments would have answered.
4. Like Brian said, a regular clientele who does not dance but drinks and eats helps a venue maintain profits, like Clifton’s & Joe’s Bar.
*I still believe a weekly outdoors DJ’d event in Culver City would work, if dance attendance were strictly limited to the first 50 or so dancers to sign up on FB, in conjunction with CC authorities of course. (A band attracts too many beginners and looky-loos.)