It doesn’t happen nearly enough, but on occasion I run into a Tri-Cities business that knocks my socks off. Considering those rapidly shifting brick-and-mortar retail sands, it’s always a pleasure when it does happen, and it’s even more fun to get to share it with you.
Having accused my wife of becoming a bit too sedate, and somehow surviving that endeavor, (wives generally don’t take too well to constructive criticism from their husbands) her first thought was, “let’s take dancing lessons.” My immediate response, despite my obvious and eternal Caucasian-ness was, “Why not?”
So, after embarking upon a serious dance studio crusade, we discovered Vargo’s Dance at Route 38 and Second Street in Geneva, and we started taking the Friday night beginner swing classes in December.
The cool thing was, there was no contract, no enrollment fee, and no commitment necessary. For a mere ten bucks a head, you’re in! That small fee includes a 45-minute lesson with another 20 to 30 minutes of practice time with some really great music thrown in for good measure.
I’ve kinda become partial to Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, but I’m just as good with Van Morrison or Ray Charles. C’mon! How can anyone possibly sit still when that bouncy base piano beat indicates ‘Hit the Road Jack!’ is about to come on?
You don’t need to bring a partner to participate, either. Much like a massive volleyball tournament, the leads, typically but not always the men, rotate with the followers, typically but not always the women, such that everyone gets to dance with everyone else.
That kind of variety really keeps you on your toes, too (no pun intended).
And just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any better, it does! Friday night swing is one of the Vargo BYOB classes where you can enjoy a glass of wine before and/or after the lesson. Not to worry! If you can’t polish off that entire bottle of pinot noir, the studio provides law-enforcement approved sealable bags to safely transport the remnants back home.
Having done dance in her youth, my wife took to it right away, but as an absolute beginner, I was a bit intimidated at that first lesson. But those fears quickly proved to be unfounded because swing instructor Carl Linder breaks dance down in such a way that it’s very easy to catch on.
You see, dancing is based on the same 4/4 time that anyone who’s ever played a musical instrument implicitly understands. And once you have that timing down, everything else tends to fall into place.
Carl also harbors the kind of irreverent sense of humor that made you fall in love with yours truly in the first place. And that type of levity goes a long way towards dispelling any of those dancing doubts, too. My personal favorite is his reasonably accurate Geraldine impersonation (please look up Flip Wilson).
I won’t spoil the rest of the joke.
Meanwhile, studio owner Jamie Vargo, who floats on air like she’s been dancing since the day she was born, roams the studio assisting students who require minor adjustments. The fact that she and Carl play off each other so well makes the class even more entertaining.
Jamie is also eminently available to answer all manner of questions during the practice period, and the other students, always a supportive bunch, are willing to help out as well.
As you might imagine, with that easy payment methodology, the excellent instruction, and a generally great time, the studio sees quite a few repeat customers with a some fresh faces thrown in each week for good measure. Regardless of their skill level, the Friday night class draws a great group of people that I look forward to seeing every week.
“Wait a minute! What! There’s a group of people that Jeff Ward actually enjoys?” I know! I know! It surprises me as much as anyone else! But let’s just keep that between you and me – I do have a reputation to maintain.
But the best thing about taking these classes is, whenever The Reverend Al Green, the Staple Singers, or Modest Mouse come through that Google Music kitchen speaker, I can now break into the kind of dance that won’t have fearful onlookers believing I was suffering some sort of seizure or stroke.
Perhaps I’m not nearly as white as I thought I was!
I’m not saying Mikhail Baryshnikov should start looking over his shoulder, but it certainly makes cooking dinner a far more delightful proposition. And if after all these years I finally discover I can dance, then trust me, you can, too!
As their schedule indicates, Vargo’s Dance offers much more than just swing. Whether it’s salsa, the Charleston, hustle, waltz, or slow dancing, there’s something for everyone at every skill level.
So, what have you got to lose? In the words of that great philosopher Howard Jones, “Throw off your mental chains,” head down to Vargo’s Dance in the heart of downtown Geneva, and enjoy a fun evening learning something new, moving not sitting, and meeting interesting new people.
Let’s just say it really doesn’t get any better than that!
Who knows guys! Perhaps if you take your wife dancing you might just get…well, either that or she’ll faint at the mere prospect, which could be equally as entertaining.
P.S. Rest assured! As is always the case, I do not receive any consideration for recommending a local business. But I certainly enjoy the opportunity whenever it presents itself. If there’s a local business you love, let me know and I’ll be happy to add it to the column list.