Get your swing on 

New Orleans Ale Stars aim to start a swing dance revival


WHO: New Orleans Ale Stars

WHERE: Elephant and Castle

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 17, 8 - 11 p.m.


Do you want to dance? I mean, really dance? None of this two-stepping' or dubstep wobbling. I'm talking real dancing, the king of all dancing. Swing. That dancing.

The New Orleans Ale Stars are offering you that chance. Bandleaders, married couple, Whistler residents Simon Stribling and Lauri Lyster are trying to ignite a swing dance revival in town. Yes, they're trying to create a new thrill by playing something very old.

" It doesn't matter how old you are. If you want to dance to something other than rock and roll that feels good - you know, because it's happy music - then you should come check it out. You can always leave," Lyster says.

Don't let the name fool you, there's nothing New Orleans-y about the band members, all of whom are from Vancouver. The name is a nod to jazz's hometown and a cheeky jab at all the jazz bands that call themselves "All Stars."

"We don't take ourselves too seriously, but the music is hot," Stribling says.

The band was an institution on Vancouver's Commercial Drive during their residency at Bukowski's for years before the bistro shut down. Since then, they've toured Europe and have played "umpteen" jazz festivals in the U.S., Stribling says.

During that time, Vancouver's seen its own swing dance revival, the epicenter of which is at the Fairview Legion on the Drive. People of all ages, from 15 to 85, are attending these nights and what's fascinating to Stribling and Lyster is how swing is knocking down generational music barriers.

"The nice thing about it is looking out into the audience and seeing that mixed age and seeing everyone getting along. There's been some really unique friendships that have occurred because of it," Lyster says.

They want to start something similar in Whistler. Earlier this summer, the Ale Stars held swing dance lessons at Dusty's and 62 people showed up, all of them middle-aged. Since then, there's been considerable interest from people of all ages.

"I think there are a lot of people up here that want something a little culturally different," Stribling says.

He adds, "Everyone we speak to, all the merchants in the village and at Nesters... are all very optimistic and think it's a great idea."

There's no question that middle-aged people with more sophisticated tastes will dig the music, but why would younger folks be interested? Stribling has a, um, "simple" answer:

"A lot of the post-bee-bop stuff is getting rhythmically tricky," he says, "whereas the kids like the straight up 4/4, that four-to-the-four feel because they know it's a 32-bar form, it's either an A-A-B-A or a blues format."

"I think you're over-elucidating," Lyster cuts in. "It's just a straight forward rhythm to dance to."

So there you have it. Get jivin'.



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