Now there’s nothing to stop you from living the life of a 1920s libertine. Swing 46, where you can dance to live big band music every single night of the week, returned with a vengeance Thursday when scores of dancers descended on 46th Street to strut their stuff to the tunes of the George Gee Orchestra.
The midtown jazz club closed for “major structural renovations” at the end of May but, to the delight of the Jazz Age Lawn Party types, is now back. Evidently, a tree out behind the building threatened the back wall and needed to be cut down to size …
The vintage feel runs deep at Swing 46. A dim red glow lights up the bar. A row of couples’ tables runs along a shiny, tiled wall. In the back room, a hardwood dance floor runs right up against a red velvet stage.
To celebrate the reopening, Swing 46 invited the Syncopated City Dance Company and the Sugar Shakers chorus line to perform.
“I cannot think of another club that’s dedicated to jazz music in a swing-era way,” said Michael Jagger, who co-founded Syncopated City with his dance partner Evita Arce. “What you find today in terms of jazz are very small combos, maybe three to five people … And oftentimes those clubs are dedicated to the musicians. There’s rarely a dance floor. So what makes Swing 46 unique is that the bands they bring in are big bands.”
Swing 46 is the New York home base for the George Gee Orchestra and appears most Tuesday and Friday nights. Other nights in October and early November will feature Felix and the Cats, the Ron Sunshine Orchestra and more. The club also offers complimentary swing lessons Thursday through Sunday with teachers from around Manhattan.
Thursday’s dance lesson was taught by Christian Perry, a California swing dancer who starred in a 1990s Gap commercial that featured some Gap-inspired swing dancing. (He’s the one in the loose blue shirt.) But the biggest celebrity who made an appearance at Swing 46 last week was Bill Nye the Science Guy. That’s right, Bill Nye, America’s most popular bow-tie aficionado/popular scientist, is a swing dancer.
When we asked how long he’d been dancing, he told us, “About an hour and a half.”
Clever, Mr. Nye. Very clever.
Swing 46 is at 349 W. 46th St. between 8th and 9th Avenues. $15 cover gets you a swing lesson every night except Monday and Wednesday. Check calendar for show times. The dance floor can get crowded, so if you want space to turn around make sure you get there early or stay late.