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It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing

July 12, 2009|By Yasmin Nouh

“One, two step, one, two step, now turn,” instructed dance teacher Francisco Martinez of the Dance Family Studio in Pasadena. He and his wife, Stacey Martinez, gave beginner-friendly dance lessons Thursday evening at the AMC Walkway in Downtown Burbank before the nine-piece band Phat Cat Swinger took the stage under a clear, summer evening sky.

For the past six years during the summer, the Downtown Burbank Partnership has hosted free dance lessons at 6 p.m. before a free concert at 7 every Thursday for nine weeks.

The series started last week with a successful turnout of 1,000 people, said Gail Stewart, Burbank business district manager.

The theme is “Come out and dance,” she said.

“Downtown is so busy over the weekends, so we do this on Thursday nights to give people another day of the weekend,” Stewart said.

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More people came out on the dance floor, as Francisco and Stacey Martinez kept the crowd tapping and turning on their feet.

“It’s a neat opportunity to come out when the breeze is beautiful,” Stacey Martinez said.

“Yeah, turn off the air conditioning in your house and come out here,” her husband followed. The two met in 1996 while choreographing a dance together for the children’s program at the Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena.

They married two years later and opened their own dance studio. They also teach at the YWCA in Glendale.

They’ve been teaching at the downtown concerts for the past five years.

The dance lessons started out simply, while Francisco and Stacey eased into teaching more moves. Some immediately headed for the dance floor to get their feet tapping, but others preferred to be in the audience. Some even danced in place, like Jo David, who imitated the dance moves.

“I just came from Tai Chi class, and it’s so hard, but this is simple,” she said.

Phat Cat Swinger took the stage after the lessons and played for those who danced the night away, while others, like Dick Campbell, simply came to enjoy the music.

“Good music makes the world a better place,” he said.

Children and parents, friends and couples alike were rocking the promenade, or listening like Ginny Sills.

“It’s fun to watch,” she said, “My husband and I used to dance during the swing years. I can’t say we were great dancers, but I had a lot of enthusiasm. I could kick high.”

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