JACKSON, Wyo. — You’re perched on a stool at the Silver Dollar Bar on the Jackson Town Square. With one elbow propped on the iconic namesake bar, you’re sipping on your favorite drink, tapping your toe to the irresistible beat coming from the band onstage. The dance floor is abuzz; grinning couples spin and swing effortlessly to the tune. In their well-loved cowboy boots and faded jeans, they look as though they could have been transported from a winter barn dance generations ago — the very essence of the West that thrives on in Jackson Hole.
“I wish I could do that,” you muse silently to yourself. As you take another sip, you notice a stunning stranger at the other end of the bar. “If I could dance like that, I would ask that gorgeous person to dance right now!
Sound familiar? You need never find yourself in this situation again! Join Dancers’ Workshop for a three-class series on Western Swing Dancing beginning on Jan. 21. For three consecutive Friday evenings (from 7:30 to 9 p.m.), you and your partner can be well on your way to mastering the classic cowboy dance.
“There’s a very rich culture of dance in Jackson,” said BJ Reed, class instructor. “When you go out to the Stagecoach on a Sunday night, or to the Cowboy Bar, it’s not like everyone has to dance with only their partner. Everyone shares, everyone dances with each other — it’s very open and a lot of fun!”
“The way we teach Western Swing is not something you’re going to find on YouTube. It’s our dance. We’ve been teaching it the same way since we started 50 years ago,” added Reed. After this workshop, you’ll be empowered to strut right onto the dance floor and spin the night away at any one of Jackson’s traditional establishments — just like the longtime locals have been doing for decades.
In collaboration with instructor Clayton Schmidt, who Reed refers to as “The King of the Gentle Lead,” the pair will teach couples the classic moves as well as some Texas Two-Step and basic Line Dancing steps. Though it’s best to join with a partner, don’t expect to be paired with them the whole night! Just like on the dance floors of Jackson, Reed likes to mix it up a bit and have people dance with other partners. The practice, she says, is very helpful for people to solidify their skills.
If you’re not able to attend the upcoming workshop — or if you’re nervous that afterward, you might need to brush up on your skills before a particular date — you can always join in a free mini-class with Reed at the Cowboy Bar on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m.
Perhaps Western Swing isn’t quite your style? In late February, Dancers’ Workshop will offer a similar series of classes for Beginner Adult Modern dance. Join instructor Charlotte Landreau and explore in this ideal class for beginners. Charlotte will teach students the rudimentary movements that are the foundation for classical modern dance focusing on contractions, spirals, basic floor work, and elemental concepts of space, time, and force. You will also build core strength and flexibility in a fun and encouraging environment.
Register online for the Country Western Swing Workshop or the Adult Modern Workshop, or visit the Dancers’ Workshop website for more information. Western Swing costs $65 per single attending the full workshop and $120 per couple. Drop-ins cost $25 per single and $50 per couple. Reserve your spot now!
Note: Your safety — as well as ours — is of paramount importance at Dancers’ Workshop. All in-person classes require masks for instructors and participants, regardless of vaccination status.