Atomic Ballroom is a popular venue for all levels and ages.
“We welcome anyone who wants to come and dance,” Swing and Ballroom teacher Rachel Pires said.
For Friday night Big Band swing, a college student pays the discounted price of $8 after showing a valid student ID, and gets a wristband. Then, he or she can feel free to ask anyone to dance, no matter if the student is experienced or a first-time dancer.
“It’s pretty friendly, especially beginner-friendly. It’s definitely a sub-culture where people go to dance and have fun. It’s not really a place to pick-up dates, because that’s not the point,” Siebert said.
Because dancers of any age or level can be asked to dance, this eliminates the need for people to bring partners with them.
“At first I was a bit nervous, asking strangers to dance, but once you get used to it, it’s a blast. Once you get over the initial fear of dancing in front of people or deciding who to ask, you can just have fun,” local dancer Daniel Cummings said.
Many swing dancers stay well past midnight.
“It’s kind of one of those floors where you lose track of time. You say ‘Oh, I’m only gonna stay an hour tonight,’ and then you realize that it’s been four hours,” Pires said.
Tuesday night Swing averages 150 people and Salsa and West Coast Swing nights average 75-100. But on any given Friday night, there are as many as 300 people dancing with energy and animation to swing music the DJ plays. Siebert has been a Friday night Swing DJ for quite some time.
“I had a significant collection of swing music, and I said ‘Do you mind if I DJ for an hour or two?’ That turned into three or four, and I eventually got to DJ all night. That was six years ago,” Siebert said.
While Friday nights bring in a lot of swing dancers, Saturday nights at Atomic are for Ballroom dancing and average about 120-130 people.
“On Ballroom nights, it’s similar to swing night except the median age is a little older, maybe 40 years plus. There’s less of a younger demographic and it’s a little stiffer because of style. Ballroom is a studio dance, whereas swing is more of a ‘street’ dance,” Siebert said.
Pires enjoys the aspect of community in partner dancing.
“I do both [solo and couples dancing], but I think couples dancing is more fun because you’re actually interacting with someone else and it’s sociable. Swing is much more social: you get to pick and choose a partner and there’s no set choreographer. So for comparison, it just depends on what you want to get out of it,” Pires said.
From the social aspect to the dance experience, Atomic creates an environment where partner dancing can be appreciated and enjoyed.
“For the amount of money you’d spend on a movie, you can get at least four hours of dancing. In the OC we have a really big swing scene. In other areas, swing is less developed so [Atomic] is a great place to dance,” Siebert said.
Atomic also offers lessons in several different dance styles. For more information, directions, etc. students can visit www.atomicballroom.com.