Ellensburg Swing Out


Cassandra Hays, Staff Reporter

The Events Hall in downtown Ellensburg  is packed to the brim with people of all ages. A full jazz big band sits on the stage, filling the room with upbeat jazz music as couples swing around the dance floor. People line the walls, enjoying refreshments as they look for their next dance partner.

An event anticipated by many, the community comes together to dance the night away to live swing music at the Ellensburg Swing Out.

The Ellensburg Big Band, a local jazz band, will host the free event. They’re a nonprofit group that has played together for six years and has played at various events in the region.

The group includes members of many different backgrounds. Some members are music educators from around the region. A few came from the jazz program at CWU and others have completely different jobs and simply play with the band because they are passionate about music.

“The neat thing about playing an instrument or playing in a group like this [is that] it doesn’t matter how old you are or what stage of life you’re in,” said Bruce Herman, who manages and plays trumpet in the band.

Herman added that despite the fact that the band is made up of a wide range of musicians, from students at CWU to retired Ellensburg residents, they are able to come together and play as friends.

The Ellensburg Big Band has hosted the Swing Out several times a year for the last five years.

“When we first formed the Ellensburg Big Band, one of our goals was to try and have a regular community swing dance,” Herman said. “It’s part of our mission to have more live music in Ellensburg. When we formed the group, we wanted to expose more people to swing music and promote swing dancing as well as music education.”

He added that although the Ellensburg Big Band plays at many events, the Swing Out is their favorite event to put on.

“What we like to do most is the Swing Out because people are having such a great time and the band interacts with the audience,” Herman said. “It’s always fun to watch people having a good time.”

The band will be playing swing music from the big band era of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, with the occasional Latin or old-time rock chart. They will also be playing jazz classics including Frank Sinatra.

Chris Peterson will be giving a free 30 minute basic swing dance lesson at the start of the event at 6:30 p.m. Dancers will then be free to dance the night away to classic swing music. Swing groups from all over the region will be attending the Swing Out, including CWU’s Swing Cats and several groups from Wenatchee, Tri Cities and Yakima.

The Swing Out will take place at the Ellensburg Events Hall, a venue utilized for countless events in the city.

“The Ellensburg Events Hall is a great venue for this,” Herman said. “It’s right in the center of downtown, has a nice dance floor and the Events Hall kind of cosponsors [the Swing Out] with us. So, it’s a nice community service that we can get together with them and put on a free dance.”

Although this event has free admission, the band will be accepting donations at the door.

“We’re always looking to get the word out and have people come and have a good time,” Herman said. “We hope to continue to do this on a regular basis.”