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If you go
What: “Downtown Swing” featuring Terry Lee and the Rockaboogie Band
When: 7 p.m. today; band begins at 8 p.m.
Where: Embassy Theatre lobby, 125 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Admission: $15; go to for more information
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Dance student Trista Miller practices swing moves with partner Troy Baeten at the local Arthur Murray Dance Studio.

Looking to give city that swing

Dance student sponsors event, hopes for more

In order to swing dance, one must have someone to swing.

Just as a person who attempts a Lindy Hop, jitterbug, jive or boogie-woogie must have a person who will hop to their Lindy and woogie when they boogie.

“You have to be in tune with your partner,” says Trista Miller, a student of the local Arthur Murray Dance Studio. “You have to be really attentive and responsive to make it work.”

The same theory can be used when you’re trying to catch the attention of the community.

Miller, with the help of a small group of friends, has planned “Downtown Swing” – a swing dance event happening today that she hopes will be able to eventually support local charities.

“Downtown Swing” begins with a swing dance lesson with Arthur Murray instructors followed by a performance by swing act Terry Lee and the Rockaboogie Band in the lobby of Embassy Theatre. Miller says there will be plenty of room for a dance floor and performance area. Participants who choose to sit out can watch the performance from the balcony overhead.

Miller has been a student at Arthur Murray for two years and has performed in 12 genres. Miller and other students frequent dance events such as Fountain Square Theatre’s “Friday Night Swing Dance” in Indianapolis. Every other Friday, the theatre hosts an hour-long swing dance lesson and a live performance from swing bands.

“We just thought that Fort Wayne could use an event like this,” Miller says. “There’s really not much of a dance scene in Fort Wayne. There are only a couple small events in town.”

Miller says she has heard nothing but positive responses about the event. But it doesn’t mean a thing if there are not enough people to swing.

Financially backing the event, Miller will need more than 275 partners to show up in order to break even and continue the event on a monthly or quarterly basis. In the future, the event could raise money for charities such as Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana.

Miller says her mother, who was supportive of her dancing, died of lung cancer in December.

“If we have any proceeds, then we know it went well,” Miller says. “We’ll put the money right back in to repeating the event and making it more profitable for charities.”

Miller, owner and lead designer of the wedding floral company Rose’s Bouquets, opened her business at the age of 22 and has kept it going for 10 years. She says she knows a little about high-risk, high-reward investments.

“I’m kind of fearless in that way,” Miller says. “I just power through it.”

She says that by the end of the first “Downtown Swing” event, every one will be able to dance basic swing steps with a partner.

With additional Arthur Murray instructors and dancers on hand for single dancers, Miller says that all participants can expect to have a full dance card.

“You should really try to change partners, so you don’t get used to the same style and the same steps,” Miller says. “It’s fun to mix it up, and it’s just a great way to meet people.”

Though participation is important for Miller to be able to keep this event going, she says it isn’t so much about making the first event a fundraiser, as it is about bringing something new to the city. She expects the evening to be a rewarding experience, even if it comes at a small financial loss.

“I know we’re going to have fun, even if it’s not the perfect turn out the first time,” she says.