1940’s Swing Night at The Wiltern
Step. Step. Rock-Step.
Designed by architect Stiles O. Clements of Morgan, Walls, & Clements, the city’s oldest architectural firm, in 1931, the Wiltern (a combination of its fame corner of Wilshire and Western) was passed on to many hands over the decades. In the 1970s, however, the Wiltern plummeted to severe neglect to the point where the owners filed for demolition permits to be rid of it. The Los Angeles Conservancy, a historic preservation organization, though stepped in and won one of its first victories by rescuing the Wiltern. The theater is now on the list of National Register of Historic Places and declared a “Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument” by the city.
In the present, the Wiltern is a LA staple – for concerts. From alternative to rock to pop and punk, the Wiltern has housed numerous musical talents over the years. You can’t miss the tower of blue-green jetting into the sky – a north star for its walking and driving guests. From its colored glazed terracotta tiles (a nod to the French “Zig-Zag” Moderne styling) to the awe of its sunburst on the ceiling when you walk into the theater, the Wiltern leaves an impression. It is an awe-inspiring reminder that history is not dead nor dull.
Last Sunday night, the Wiltern revived the golden era of swing: the 1940’s. Kaylee Metzger, Live Nation’s house manager, created the event out of her love for “swing dancing, big band jazz, and vintage attire.”
“For a long time now I’ve been wanting to curate an event that showcases the theater in all its art deco and historic glory!” We couldn’t agree more.
To walk into the theater of the Wiltern and see its distinctive tiered platforms filled with dancers of all ages and all styles was a brilliant wonder. Never had we witness so many dancers (novice to expert) and fashions (vintage to modern casual) rock-step in unison. Couples matched like prom dates, mothers held their daughters’ coats as they watched them learn basics from Ashley Perretta and partner Zander Thiele from Lindy Loft, a popular downtown swing dance studio. Marshall Watson and partner Chelsea Beach strolled through each tier making sure every guest had guidance.
Even as cues were missed and twirls broken halfway, everyone was smiling. There was an infectious glee that lasted through the night and further heighten when The Fabus Four with special guests the San Andreas Sisters hit the stage. And as the night swung on, more filed through the auditorium doors. Suits multiplied, dresses and skirts ruffled above excited twinkle toes, and hats finely brimmed.
It was a sight for vintage eyes, Metzger’s eyes, who foresaw the possibility of rubbing something old with something new and getting a spark.
Be a part of the next jive Sunday June 11th, 7:00-10:30pm.