OlyDance at The Eagles Ballroom for Swing, Blues and Salsa Dancing

Live music at The Eagles Ballroom as the dance floor is packed with members of the community swing dancing to the tunes. Photo courtesy: OlyDance

Are you looking to connect with your community? OlyDance is all about supporting one another and healing your soul by moving with your fellow Olympians. Their core values have been community, dance and fun for over 11 years. They offer weekly classes in swing, salsa, bachata and fusion dancing. Partners are not required, and they provide a beginner-friendly atmosphere.

The History of OlyDance Connecting the Community

David Accurso and Christine Corey founded OlyDance in 2008. Known initially as OlySwing, they hosted their weekly Thursday night fusion dancing at the now-closed Ben Moore restaurant on Fourth Avenue W. They explain fusion dancing as, “The combination of elements from different dance styles brought together to create a unique dance experience or something completely new and unique on its own, usually based in partnership, connection, and interpretation.” So, it’s up to you to decide once you are there and what feels best when you start moving with your community.

“OlyDance has held its classes and events at hundreds of different venues around Olympia over the past decade,” says David. But, they currently host their Tuesday swing and Thursday fusion nights at The Eagles Ballroom on Fourth Avenue E. The Equal Latin Restaurant and Bar is where they currently host their Friday salsa, bachata, and cumbia nights, which is also on Fourth Avenue E.

The Eagles Ballroom entrance is hard to miss, but you will find it easy to locate the swing and fusion night by looking for the golden eagle above the doors to the ballroom. Photo credit: Rose Hayes

They encourage newcomers, or “two-left-footed beginners,” as Sunny Paguirigan, the other half of OlyDance, puts it. He says they are his favorite students because he started as one too. They aim to create a community that supports individuals, upholding compassion, consent and diversity values at every event.

“Our goal cannot be accomplished alone,” David adds. “We are grateful for all the support that our community, both new and old, has given us.”

Dancing in Thurston County

Olympia has a rich history of dancing, dating back to 1931 when The Olympia Ballroom first opened its doors as a barn-style venue. David studied at The Evergreen State College here in Olympia, learning from remarkable African American mentors such as Kabby Mitchell, Frankie Manning, and Brenda Russell.  David has been teaching since 2007 all around America, Mexico City and Valencia, Spain, bringing all that experience back to Thurston County, where it amplifies into the community through OlyDance. Olympia is known in the Pacific Northwest as one of the most welcoming dance communities out there. The space OlyDance has created has had a profound effect on many members of Thurston County, all through the expressive message of dance.

A glimpse into a Friday night at the Equal Latin Restaurant and Bar as Olympians dance salsa, bachata, and cumbia into the night. Photo courtesy: OlyDance

Teaching Dance in Olympia

These days, Sunny and David are the two you will find teaching the classes, hosting the events, and offering private lessons. Both consider themselves social dancers, as their passion for the art resides in connection and expression. “Instead of performing like in a competition, social dancing is more about connecting with one another,” David explains

Still, their impressive combined backgrounds include modern, ballet, hip hop, kizomba, odissi, lindy hop, tango, blues and more. Sunny studied at the Tacoma School of the Arts and started social dancing in 2012.

 “My first introduction to dancing was through my Jewish and Italian grandparents who met on the east coast,” shares David.

For Sunny, it was when he was 12, and his Philipino father told him: “Listen, guys in our family know how to dance. Get up, time to learn.” Once you get the chance to meet either one, you will find their love for dance genuine and dedicated.

Sunny Paguirigan leads a class of swing dancing before the regular festivities of a typical Tuesday swing night begin. Photo courtesy: OlyDance

Dance Classes, Events and Live Music in Olympia

OlyDance has live music every second Tuesday of every month during their swing nights at The Eagles Ballroom. They also have special events throughout the year, check the OlyDance website to learn about upcoming dates.

“Financial accessibility is important to us,” says David. “Let us know if money is the reason you can’t come.” They offer general, discounted and “pay it forward” admission, alongside the opportunity to volunteer for free admission to their dance nights. Their general admission even includes free introduction lessons for the dance nights. All ages are welcome, and no partner is necessary. OlyDance can be evolutionary for dancers from all levels of experience. They say, “If you are having fun and not hurting anyone, you are doing it right!”

For more information, visit the OlyDance website.

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