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Homeschool swing dance party draws a crowd

Daniel Barr and Amarah Parks participate in the Paddle Dance song (a dance from the early 1800s). Anja Maijala/ 1 / 3
Joel and Una Barr laugh their way through the Paddle Dance song with Haley Johnson on Joel’s shoulders. Anja Maijala/ 2 / 3
Nathan Lonnes and Sarah Francisco (left) and Daniel Stevens and Makayla Suominen have fun at a rural Carlton swing dance party held at the Gregory family farm Friday evening. Anja Maijala/ 3 / 3

Step to the side, step behind, step to the side, and spin. Swing dancing begins with a couple simple steps, and on Friday evening, July 15, friends and families from all over Carlton County gathered at the Gregory family farm in Carlton to celebrate this unique dance.

Party host Courtney Gregory explained that several years ago a small group of homeschool kids began meeting to swing dance once a month. Now two groups meet on a consistent basis, holding dances at each of their homes. Inspired by the fun activity, three years ago Courtney and her sister, Ashley, thought they would host a swing dance.

After two years of holding the event with 10 to 25 people, this year’s dance attracted close to 75 people with the help of social media, a Facebook event page, and word of mouth.

Diana Lonnes (referred to by the Gregory family as the “Queen of Swing Dancing” because she helps out at the monthly swing dance practices) attended, motivating all to dance. With lights strung out over a gravel dance floor, a disco ball and a DJ, everyone — experienced or brand new — seemed to find joy in giving swing dancing a whirl, dancing until 10:30 p.m. and enjoying a bonfire afterward.

As an evening filled with not only a lot of dancing, but games of badminton and some great potluck food, it was a great social event to get to chat, smile and laugh with new people while trying new things.

“It was really fun, and very successful” said Tim Gregory.

The family mentioned that given the large turnout this year they might want to try holding the event at TJ’s Bratwurst building and potentially add some live music.

Either way, “It's definitely something we want to continue doing,” Courtney said.