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Dekalb Neighbor
August 16, 2006

Tucker dancers spread the joy of swing
by Erin Greer
DeKalb Neighbor Staff Writer

At 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, Tucker resident Mike Cobb is not your typical Lindy twirler.

"At this size, I'm more of a lineman than a swing dancer," Cobb said and laughed.

Nicknamed "Moose" because of his stature, Cobb said many people, including himself, were doubtful when he stepped into his first swing dance class nearly a decade ago, as a favor to an old friend.

"About nine years ago my friend John O'Neal, who was a swing dance teacher, said 'Hey Mike, why don't you come to my dance class? We need some guys to dance with the girls.' So I went," Cobb said.

"And after about two or three weeks, the light just clicked on and I said, 'I can do this!' This ogre on the dance floor is not going to hurt anyone.'"

From his office as a senior business analyst for AutoTrader, Cobb recalls his first experiences during the Atlanta swing craze of the 1990s. The craze saw Cobb out dancing nearly every night, learning moves and making friends-friends that included Cobb's now-wife, April.

"Dancing just leads to romancing I guess," said Cobb, who met his dance and life partner in O'Neal's class. "Plus, it's great exercise and you're always meeting new people," he said.

Now, gliding across the floor of the Atlanta International Dance Club off DeKalb Technology Parkway, the Cobb couple look like seasoned pros-dipping, flipping and stepping their hearts out as leaders of the Atlanta Swing Era Dance Association.

Established after what Mrs. Cobb calls "the swing explosion" in 1996, the Cobbs and other local dancers founded the group to preserve the foundation of swing. Now celebrating its 10th year, the association claims more than 140 members, a majority of whom meet weekly at Atlanta International for dance lessons and for the organization's monthly parties.

To celebrate its success and growth, the association will throw a 10th anniversary party on Aug. 26 at the Georgia Tech Ballroom. Beginning at 9 p.m., swing band Kingsize will play Big Band era favorites for attendees who will all be wearing 1940s clothing.

"I think swing is coming back," Mrs. Cobb said, adjusting the laces on her Aris Allen dance shoes.

"A whole crop of new people have come onto the scene. I think it's coming back around because it is a partner dance where you actually have contact with another person. It's a contrast to club dancing which is essentially dancing by yourself," she said.

Taking her husband's hand, Mrs. Cobb makes her way to the Atlanta International dance floor where both she and Mike teach swing lessons. Within seconds, the couple is moving fast across the floor, joining national award-winning swingers Robert White and Kate Hedin in a spirited Balboa.

"We love Balboa," said White, a Tucker resident who recently received second place at the American Classic Balboa Championships.

"I call it the Sean Connery of swing dances. It's very smooth and classy," he said.

With the sounds of "Oh Lady Be Good," by the Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra echoing in the studio, White and Ms. Hedin show their award-winning moves-splits and aerials, and a spirited Charleston.

The moves, like the music, are fast, fun and celebratory, and the Cobbs said they can't wait to share them with guests at the anniversary party.