Twirl the Night Away at the Valentine’s Swing Dance on Feb. 9, 2024

Twirl the Night Away at the Valentine’s Swing Dance on Feb. 9, 2024

A smiling individual stands at a microphone while a guitarist and pianist play in a nondescript room behind her.

January 23, 2024 – Friends, sweethearts and music lovers can twirl the night away at the annual Santa Fe College (SF) Valentine’s Swing Dance beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, in the lobby of the Jackson N. Sasser Fine Arts Hall at the Northwest Campus, 3000 NW 83 Street, Gainesville. The semi-formal event will include light appetizers and free swing dance instruction.

Tickets are $10 per person and are available from the Fine Arts Hall Box Office at 352-395-4181 or online at

From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., experienced instructors will teach the basics of swing dance. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., SF Associate Professor of Music and Band Director David L. Smith will conduct the two groups providing live music for the evening, the Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz Combo.

“There are 14 musicians in the Ensemble and seven in the Combo and we’ll also have a vocalist,” he explained. “This is our first concert of the spring semester, and the students are really looking forward to performing.”

Swing dance is a partner form that was created by African Americans and evolved multi-racially along with the popularity of swing jazz that was performed by the big bands of the 1920s and 1930s.

“Jazz was the most popular form of music at that time and was played in ballrooms and hotels for entertainment and dancing,” Smith said. “That era was marked by segregation, but this music had the remarkable ability to break racial barriers by bringing people together to enjoy the music, to dance and to have fun.”

The bands will play a total of 10 selections that include such jazz standards as “Take the ‘A’ Train,” made famous by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra; the Count Basie Orchestra’s “Li’l Darlin”; and the signature Benny Goodman number, “Sing Sing Sing (With a Swing),” written by Louis Prima.

Of course, no Valentine’s Swing Dance would be complete without a rendition of “My Funny Valentine,” a show tune from the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart coming-of-age musical “Babes in Arms.” Over the years, “My Funny Valentine” has been covered by celebrities such as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and jazz trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker.

“Everyone is welcome!” Smith exclaimed. “This event isn’t only for romantic couples but also for friends and groups of friends.”

The Valentine’s Swing Dance is organized and sponsored by the Santa Fe College Fine Arts and Entertainment Technology Department.

For more information about the event, call David Smith at 352-395-5313. For information about tickets, call the SF Box Office at 352-395-4181.