Arts and Entertainment

So, you think your generation can dance?

It’s funny how things change.

Fifty-some years ago, when a clean-cut college-aged kid would invite his sweetheart out for a dance, he’d most often be asking her out to a formal-style, prom-like social where guys in suits and gals in gowns would whirl each other all across the dance floor, swinging to big-band-style jazz tunes from a live band.

Nowadays, that same kid, 50 years into the future, asking that fine honey out to dance is likely to translate into a darkened, loud and crowded club packed with scantily dressed hipsters gyrating their bodies to booming beats emanating from a DJ’s turntables.

Imagine what it would be like if those different generations met up for a dance off. Now there’s an exposition for the next big reality dance show, whenever time travel finally comes around.

In the meantime, the Oregon State University performance ballroom dance team (a group called Cool Shoes) will be offering a glimpse today, as dancers from the latter generation come to Bremerton to perform and teach the dances of the former at the Charleston Ballroom.

“For me, it harkens back to a glorified time, the 40s, at a time when America was at its greatest, as people say,” Charleston dance instructor Eric Richards said. “The music is fun, and it’s not like you’re out there just shaking your butt, you’re out there doing a dance.”

Cool Shoes will be ballroom doing that dancin’ all night, starting at 7 p.m.

Their performance will be followed by a short swing lesson, which will be followed by a social-style dance. Cost for the entire event is $10, $8 for the dance only.

“They’re going to do the Tango, Fox Trot, Swing, Lindy Hop... all in costume, it’ll be nice,” Charleston Ballroom owner Mary Schweiger said, explaining the dance antics of the OSU group.

“The talent is so much higher that the dancing is incomparable to just going out on the social floor,” Richards added.

The Cool Shoes group has been to the Charleston before, though they couldn’t make it last year. They’ve been coming to Bremerton for the past few years, ever since Richards, a former Cool Shoes member, started teaching at Schweiger’s ballroom.

But it’s the kind of event that doesn’t come around Kitsap all too often. Ballroom dance around these parts is mostly relegated to seniors’ dance classes, private events like wedding receptions and occasionally the stages of local community theaters.

Cool Shoes is a highly skilled, elegantly costumed group of college-aged dancers keeping the steps of yesteryear alive with an emphasis on performance. The group is one of only a handful of its kind left in the country.

Unfortunately Cool Shoes fearless leader, the faculty of OSU’s social dance program Cathy Dark, was unavailable for comment. She created the Cool Shoes team with a Lindy Hop performance in her first term at OSU in 1990. Since, the team has functioned and performed on a volunteer basis for the love of dance.

To reserve tickets to see Cool Shoes, call the Charleston Ballroom at (360) 373-2205.

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