The Omaha Jitterbugs bring back swing dance

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Photo Courtesy of jitterbugs.org
Photo Courtesy of jitterbugs.com

Will Patterson
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

The Omaha Jitterbugs is a non-profit organization that is bringing back swing dancing. Through classes, workshops and a weekly dance event, the organization is helping revive the thrill of the dancing sensation that shaped America in the early 20th century.

“No experience needed,” Billy Sobczyk, executive director of the Omaha Jitterbugs organization, said, “Just come.”

The organization recently had its 16th anniversary since its foundation by Sobczyk and Christie Palmer. Today the organization operates out of the Eagles Ballroom at 201 S. 24th St.

Sobczyk and his wife Lindsay, who is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, met through and continue to operate the Omaha Jitterbugs. Along with many others at the Omaha Jitterbugs, they’re helping provide some nightlife to the city of Omaha.

“We try to break down barriers and make people feel comfortable,” Sobczyk said.

Sobczyk emphasized the easy going nature of classes at Omaha Jitterbugs. The philosophy behind their method is to help bring people out of their shell through a humorous and friendly environment.

Participants rotate dance partners and practice repetition to help make the dancing feel more natural and fun.

“You get a clean slate every time you switch partners,” Sobczyk said. “You can feel successful with your improvements and forget the mistakes you might have made a moment ago.”

Classes are available for a range of dancing ability from beginners to experienced dancers looking to improve. They typically meet once a week over the course of a month or two. Each week, participants will build on what they’ve learned and try to add to their method.

Omaha Jitterbugs is giving life to Omaha’s entertainment industry by hosting its weekly dance event, Jitterbugs’ Night Out.

The event, occurring every Friday, gives students of the organization’s dance courses, and thrill seekers alike, a chance to showcase what they have on the dance floor.

“The dance scene isn’t big in Omaha,” Lindsay Sobczyk said.

The Sobczyks both said the weekly event gives something new to the Omaha night life scene. Without many dancing opportunities, much less swing dancing, Jitterbugs’ Night Out fills that niche with a unique twist.

In addition to providing a place for people to let loose on Friday nights, Jitterbug’s Night Out also features a variety of live performances to accompany the sessions. Jazz performances by artists, both local and national, give attendants a rhythm to swing too.

One group that plays about once a month is UNO’s Jazz Band. In return for their performance they’re given a slice of the money brought in at the door.

Since the Omaha Jitterbugs is a nonprofit organization, volunteers are a major part of operation. Students interested in a chance to either help teach a dance class or run an event for the Omaha Jitterbugs can find more information at their website or Facebook page.

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