The History Of St. Louis Imperial Swing Dancing


There are a total of eight swing dance clubs positioned in and about the St. Louis region (like M.U.S.I.C. in Collinsville, Illinois) that are members of the Midwest Swing Dance Federation, and all of these clubs are descended from the St. Louis Imperial Dance Club that was founded in 1973. The biggest of these sister clubs, the West County Swing Dance Club, has the distinction of getting one particular of the biggest swing clubs in the United States with an active membership that totals additional than a thousand dancers.

Imperial Swing got its name from the Club Imperial positioned at Goodfellow Boulevard and West Florissant Avenue. The creating, initially known as Imperial Hall, was constructed in 1928 as a dance hall, bowling alley and restaurant/bar complicated. In the 1930s and 1940s, it was the dance spot of Northwest St. Louis, just as Arcadia (later known as Tune Town), the Admiral Showboat in Midtown, and the Casa Loma on the Southside, had been the most well-liked dance halls in their respective places. In 1952, George Edick Enterprises bought Imperial Hall and George Edick renamed it the Club Imperial. For the duration of the early portion of that decade, he operated the club as a ballroom with the theme of “a good location for good individuals.” He played “significant band” music and catered mostly to private parties. He was in a position to consistently book guest appearances with well-liked performers like Stan Kenton and Louis Prima due to the fact Robert Hyland, of CBS and KMOX radio, broadcast his weekly “Coast To Coast with Bob Hyland” plan from the Imperial Ballroom.

For the duration of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Edick realized that the country's taste in music had shifted to “Rock 'n Roll” and he utilized his marketing-public relations firm, to aggressively market the Club Imperial on KWK, KXOK, WIL and WGNU. The Joe Bozzi Quintet, Jimmie (Evening Train) Forrest, Chuck Berry, Dolly Parton, the Monkeys, Glen Campbell, Ike and Tina Turner and a compact vocal group now known as the “Fifth Dimension” are amongst the a lot of artists who started their careers at his club. He promoted a “Jitterbug” contest exactly where a couple from the Club Imperial (Teddy Cole and Kathy Burke) won the National Jitterbug Championship. For the duration of the “Rock 'n Roll” craze, Edick held Tuesday “Teen Evening” dances, and it was through these weekly dances that a jitterbug variation that became identified as the “Imperial Style” of St. Louis swing was born. As the 60s progressed, music trends had been altering once more. The 'roll' began dropping out of “Rock 'n Roll,” the 'rock' got tougher, and the teenagers increasingly attended loud, psychedelic music concerts. Mainly because the freak-out beats of their acid rock music was just about not possible to dance to, Edick steadily discontinued all public dances at his club.

In the 1970s, George Edick wanted to reintroduce additional listenable and danceable music at Club Imperial and he located that hosting swing contests was just the ticket! He got collectively with Teddy Cole, the Jitterbug champion who was also a dance promoter in his personal proper, and they decided to sponsor a yearly St. Louis Jitterbug Contest “Imperial Style” to choose a “City Champion.” These extensively publicized contests prompted a lot of of the older, seasoned dancers to come about the club once more, and Edick sponsored a quantity of “Salute Dances” to introduce these old timers to the newer dancers. As additional and additional individuals started finding out the Imperial, they started organizing into compact dance groups that met in apartment complexes about the St. Louis region, and George Edick kept in touch with a lot of of their leaders.

In 1973 Al Morris conceived the notion of forming a club, and it was his group that initial met at the San Miguel apartments in St. Charles which became the St. Louis Imperial Dance Club. The founders are: Dave Cheshire, Jan Cheshire, Rick McQueen, Joan Fritz, Debbie Dustman (Wheelis) and Veronica Lynch. The new club alternated their dances amongst Lynch's apartment complicated in South County and the Wood Hollow apartments in West County. Edick contacted the Board and he told them that he was incredibly interested in assisting their club to fulfill their mission to maintain swing dancing alive. The wonderful promoter convinced them, with a persuasive new adaptation of his original 1950s theme, that their developing club really should hold their future dances at his Club Imperial ballroom due to the fact it is “a good location for good individuals who like to swing dance!”

Fantastic mottos in no way die but regrettably individuals do, and on June 11, 2002 George Edick passed away. The creating is silent now but it stands, not only as a landmark exactly where Imperial Swing all started, but also as a tribute to a man who, more than his colorful, eighty-six-year lifetime, was in a position to convert his dreams into reality . . . not a terrible epitaph!


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