June 24, 2013 • 05:03:06 a.m.

Tri-City Swing Dance to host Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers


Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers is playing Saturday, June 29, at Water Street Studios in Batavia. The show starts at 7 p.m., and Tri-City Swing Dance is offering swing dancing lessons starting at 6 p.m. (Photo provided)

If you go

WHAT: Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers performance, accompanied by a swing dancing lesson.

WHEN: Doors open at 6 p.m. with a dance lesson, and the band will play from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 29.

WHERE:Water Street Studios, 160 S. Water St., Batavia

COST: Admission is $10, and the show is for all ages. To learn more: Search for “Miss Jubilee & the Humdingers at Water Street Studios” on Facebook.

BATAVIA – When Michelle Marquardt Greene moved to St. Charles with her husband, Kevin Greene, they had a hard time finding a place in the Tri-Cities where they could participate in one of their favorite activities – swing dancing.

So in January, they decided to start their own organization, Tri-City Swing Dance. They now teach swing dancing and other types of dances, such as the lindy hop, at A Step Above Dance Academy in Batavia on Tuesday evenings.

“Our desire is to share this wonderful phenomenon with as many people as possible because the friends we have made swing dancing are some of the best we have in our lives, and we want to share that experience with as many people as possible, as well as build that community around ourselves,” Kevin Greene wrote in an email.

The classes cost $5 each, which Marquardt Greene said goes toward bringing jazz and swing musicians to the community. They’ve raised enough money to throw their first big event – hosting the St. Louis-based swing band Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers at Water Street Studios in Batavia on Saturday, June 29.

“They’re electrifying,” Marquardt Greene said. “It’s like you step into a room and you step back into the 1930s or 1920s.”

“Their sound is great – if you close your eyes, you can really imagine you’re back in time,” Kevin Greene wrote in an email.

The band is fronted by Valerie Kirchhoff, who Marquardt Greene said channels a young Judy Garland when she sings. The band members dress in vintage-style clothing, as well, she said.

For Marquardt Greene, jazz and swing music never has gone out of style.

“This particular music is just classic. You can always play it, and it will always be great,” she said. “Today’s music is rooted in this old jazz beat. It’s almost that standard you go back to that you’re able to easily listen to.”

Tri-City Swing Dance focuses on what Marquardt Greene calls East Coast Swing. A group of dancers now meets regularly in Batavia, learning basic swing and the lindy hop in the style of the old Savoy Ballroom dancers in Chicago from the 1920s through the 1940s.

It was through swing dancing that Marquardt Greene and her husband met. They were both in New York and met one another while going out swing dancing with friends. When they moved to St. Charles, they had a hard time finding swing dancing venues, so they decided to start their own.

“We thought, let’s build a community here,” said Marquardt Greene, noting that they found several experienced swing dancers who had been looking for the same outlet.

“The dance itself is, to me, a wonderful example of communication and shared artistic exploration. One thing I love about dancing is that you’re not just dancing with your partner, you’re also dancing with the song your dancing to – it’s a three-part partnership,” Kevin Greene wrote in an email.  

Marquardt Greene said she hopes to fill that void in the Tri-Cities by bringing more swing, jazz and blues acts to the area through Tri-City Swing Dance.

“I feel like there aren’t outlets in our area that bring musicians like this, or hidden talents to our area,” she said. “This is a very special event because they’re high-quality musicians who are highly sought after. It’s an event that creative people in our area will sort of flock to.”

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