Dancers enjoy Suburban Swing in Abbotsford in January.

VIDEO: Suburban Swing dancing takes off in Fraser Valley

This Sunday night's swing dance meet in Abbotsford has a special Valentine's theme and live jazz band.



In a simple square building tucked away in a corner of central Abbotsford, 120 people practice their swingouts, turns, and Charlestons on a cold January night. Nearly everyone is in sneakers or flats, and a few women wear the short flowing skirts characteristic of an earlier era.

The Suburban Swing dance group has been around for 14 years in Abbotsford teaching Lindy Hop and East Coast swing with a fun and friendly attitude. It has recently become so popular that many people drive over an hour to get to the Sunday night practices.

On one January night, the jazzy beats of the 1920s to ’50s fill the regular venue, the Abbotsford Social Activity Association (ASAA) hall. When instructors explain how to peck, dancers giggle. The move involves giving a dance partner a quick air peck, a common Lindy Hop move. When participants try it, they break out in laughter. This happens a lot during the night.

“When you walk in, you’re going to feel very welcome. People ask you to dance. Right away you get included with the whole group, no matter what your age is or status,” said Jason Warner, who owns the club alongside his wife Crystal.

The club has seen its average participant numbers grow 25 per cent over the last year. A record 300 people came out on Dec. 29, 2013.

About 40 per cent of dancers are men. And while the event is all ages, the average age is 20.

Warner started the swing dance club in 1999 when he was a criminology student at the University of the Fraser Valley. The first meetings were in the cafeteria. After several moves, Suburban Swing was eventually invited to the ASAA hall, their home for the past 13 years. The hall is a community dancing mecca, with ballroom, square, and line dancing meets on other nights.

Eager swing dancers come from all over, with only about half from Abbotsford. On on January night, there were people from Chilliwack, Mission, North Vancouver, and as far as Bellingham, WA.

Warner explains that while the Vancouver swing clubs compete against each other, Suburban Swing gets everyone else – from Hope to Surrey to Sumas – who want to try something fun. A three-day winter retreat for the end of February filled up with the maximum 80 people over a month prior.

There also isn’t much else to do on a Sunday night, adds Warner. The well-respected club is very diverse, with people from all backgrounds, abilities, and ages mixed together.

Warner now works as a correctional programs officer at Matsqui Institution. It’s not as strange a mix as it might seem, he says. He pulls his correctional background into dancing, and vice versa.

“My passion is working with people…I like public speaking. I really like facilitating and helping people change their lives. So I think that’s partly what I do here (at Suburban Swing); a crossover of my correctional experience and my social experience.”

In addition to the Sunday nights at ASAA hall, Warner also teaches swing dance at W. J. Mouat secondary in Abbotsford, and G.W. Graham secondary in Chilliwack. He dreams of the club growing large enough to have its own venue capable of holding 300–400 people.

This Sunday night, Jan. 16, the theme is “Red” in honour of Valentine’s Day. Jazz musician Goby Catt is playing live. The drop-in beginner lesson runs from 7:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and the dance night is from 8:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. Tickets are $15 each. On nights when there is no live music, tickets at $9.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Giants earn seventh straight win while playing at Pacific Coliseum

G-Men return home for their next game at the Langley Events Centre Friday against the Silvertips.

VIDEO: Aldergrove Children’s Christmas Party

Princesses aplenty along with Santa and Mrs. Claus, ballon animals and face painting

VIDEO: Celebrity Christmas food and toy drive in Langley

Annual event helps families and abuse victims

Langley woman finds childhood decorations in Williams Park

Leah Storsley was pleased to find her parents’ homemade decorations at Christmas in Williams Park.

VIDEO: This B.C. school leads country in vaccine donations to UNICEF

Federally funded Kids Boost Immunity uses quizzes to earn vaccinations

Giants earn seventh straight win while playing at Pacific Coliseum

G-Men return home for their next game at the Langley Events Centre Friday against the Silvertips.

B.C. police stop drunk driver who offered up burger instead of ID

Roadblock checks over the weekend found at least two other impaired drivers

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

Canadians spent $1.7 billion dollars online in December 2017

Online retail sales accounted for 3.4 per cent of total retail sales

2-year investigations nets $900,000 in refunds for payday loan customers

Consumer Protection BC says selling practices were ‘aggressive and deceptive’

China: Canada’s detention of Huawei exec ‘vile in nature’

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet company

Most Read