Williamsport City Jazz Orchestra to put on September Swing
Back in the 1940s, big band jazz music dominated the national music scene and turned swing dancing into a beloved national artform. Though swing dancers are few and far between in today’s world, the Williamsport City Jazz Orchestra has an upcoming show downtown that might inspire a few people break out their zoot suits.
The WCJO will be hosting its September Swing from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday at Midtown Landing. The event, which will flood the city with the timeless sound of big band jazz music, will offer those in the community who don’t know how to swing dance a chance to take lessons from two local instructors.
“This just a way for us to play for the community and get the community outside,” said WCJO drummer Bobby Leidhecker. “Hopefully the weather will cooperate.”
Though the event will be held rain or shine, as it will be moved inside to the third floor of the Trade and Transit Centre in the case of inclement weather, those in the WCJO are really hoping that it will take place outdoors, so locals can enjoy food vendors while they listen and dance.
“It will be a beautiful evening to just have everybody out and listening to swing music, dancing and having a great time,” Leidhecker said.
The orchestra first came up with the idea to host the event at a monthly board meeting back in the spring. Since then, the group has worked diligently to make the event a fun one.
“Our schedule has been pretty busy preparing for this,” said Leidhecker.
Leidhecker said that, though he has never personally swing danced, he and the other members of the WCJO love playing music for those who do because it makes the performance much more energetic.
“I have played for a lot of (swing dancers) and it looks like a lot of fun,” he said. “It is certainly an art. It Is not like just going to a wedding and boogying; there really is a way to do it.
“Playing for swing dancers is really cool,” added Leidhecker. “It brings excitement to the music and it puts a visual with what you are hearing, and people are having a great time. It really is infectious to watch. You can’t help but love watching what these people do.”
The WCJO has reached out to several swing dance societies and hopes to have some of them on-hand during the event. Local swing dancers Tom Inman and Val Widaman will also be offering dance instruction for those who would like to give it a try for the first time.
The orchestra hopes that, by continuing to host fun community events like this, they will help continue to cement Williamsport’s legacy as an arts town.
“The arts bring people together and Williamsport is a great town,” said Leidhecker. “The layout of downtown Williamsport is very conducive to outdoor functions and music, and everyone coming together. It is important to do that as a community, because if you don’t things will start to go the other way, and nobody wants that.”