KRTU-FM promotes swing revival to engage the community as another way to experience jazz
by Sharon Jones Schweitzer '75
To the sounds of the world famous Jim Cullum Jazz Band, jitterbuggers of all ages dance to the music that galvanized a generation in the early 1930s. The dancers twirl to life to the Lindy Hop, the Balboa, and West Coast Swing – dances inspired by an era known as swing style jazz – as Trinity's Skyline Room is transformed into a hot spot for the swing revival movement.
Skyline Swing is sponsored by KRTU-91.7, Trinity's listener supported jazz radio station, the Trinity Swing Bums, the San Antonio Swing Dance Society and Tucker's Kozy Korner. On the first Saturday of every month, approximately 80 people come to dance their hearts out, drawn by the live music and a renewed interest in "partner dancing," something KRTU general manager J.J. Lopez says has been missing from the dance scene for many years. "Skyline Swing grew out of the station's mission to support jazz musicians, live jazz performances, and the burgeoning swing community in San Antonio."
Part of the "big band era" of jazz, swing style dance is considered one of the first big teen movements. According to Jim Cullum, "The music was sensationally popular with young people who gravitated toward dance clubs and ballrooms." He says swing declined in the late 1940s following the end of World War II. Today he says it is a "niche market," but it gives him more opportunity to perform regularly in San Antonio. A Trinity alumnus, Cullum was a member of the University's Wind Ensemble while a student in the early ‘60s. But his roots with Trinity go deeper. "My great, great grandfather, Davis McGee Prendergast, was an original trustee and law professor during Trinity's Tehuacana days," he said. Growing up, Cullum was inspired by the early music of Louis Armstrong and ultimately became a world-renowned jazz cornetist and leader of the long-running Jim Cullum Jazz Band.
Naomi Smith, a senior accounting major from Austin and member of the Trinity Swing Bums, is a regular at Skyline Swing. "I got hooked on swing dancing at my first ‘Involvement Fair'," Smith said. "I really like having the San Antonio community come to Trinity to enjoy swing and jazz music." Smith calls swing "really good, clean fun!" The Swing Bums is a social dance club on campus open to all Trinity students; they meet regularly for dance lessons and socials.
Skyline Swing is the first Saturday of every month, it starts at 7 p.m. with dance lessons. Swing dancing with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band runs from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Located in the Skyline Room in the Coates University Center, parking is available in Alamo Stadium. Admission is $10; $7 for San Antonio Swing Dance Society members; $5 for Trinity students; free for KRTU members.
Sharon Jones Schweitzer '75 is assistant vice president for External Relations. You can follow her @sjschweitzer.