Much of Greater Lansing’s recent wave of entrepreneurship is driven by a simple idea: If you can’t find something you want here, make it yourself. That principal also drives social groups like Sugar House, which began hosting blues and swing dance events in Lansing in 2014.
“It was started by a group of area swing and blues dancers, myself included, who got tired of traveling an hour or more to other dance communities,” said Janea Schimmel, an event organizer for Sugar House. “So we started our own, right here in Lansing.”
The group specializes in blues dancing, an early-20th century precursor to swing dancing. Sugar House started hosting monthly blues dances in October 2014 and eventually expanded to two blues dances per month. It added a monthly swing dance last year.
Blues dances are held the first and third Friday of every month, and swing dances are held on the third Saturday. Typical events feature a free beginner lesson followed by an open dance.
For its regulars, Sugar House has become an important social hub.
“As you can likely guess, dance has become a huge part of my life,” Schimmel said. “I've met people from across the country, traveled to places I had never been before, learned a lot of new things and I even met my husband dancing.”
The group strives to create a welcoming environment. No partner, dancing shoes or experience is necessary to take part in the events.
“The most important thing to know is that we’re very open to new people,” Schimmel said. “We don’t care what your background is, just that you’re here to share our love of what we’re doing.”
Friday, Sugar House hosts swing band Anna Cecilia and the Big Time for its first event with a live band. Led by Swedish/American singer Anna Cecilia Ferneborg, the sevenpiece band is touring in support of its debut album, “Live,” which was released last month. The group performs standard tunes from the swing and blues repertoire, as well as original songs written in a throwback style.
The event will have space set aside for several types of dances, as well as chairs for those who would rather shimmy and sway from the comfort of a seat. But Schimmel thinks the dance floor is the best place to take in the show.
“There’s always something really exciting and unique about dancing to live music and having that give and take — not only between dance partners, but also with the musicians on stage,” she said.
Sugar House Blues and Swing
With Anna Cecilia and the Big Time 8-11:30 p.m. Friday, June 10 $10 Lansing Central United Methodist Church 215 N. Capitol Ave., Lansing sugarhouseblues.com