Alexander Steward, the creative and organizing force behind Swing Farmington writes about the upcoming Rampage Swing event, and its origins and goals.
When Swing Farmington decided to host Rampage Swing for the first time four years ago, I had no clue it would become the event it is today in the community. I, along with a few others within our group had wanted to take a chance on doing something different than normal, and expose our audience at the time (mostly high school-aged) to a style of music that wasn’t played much at our group.
I heard Rampage Swing make their debut performance at another swing dance group, Swing Ann Arbor in June of 2010. Having just taken over running Swing Farmington, I said to one of my friends “Wouldn’t it be cool to host a band like Rampage Swing at our group?” As the next year began, it became more apparent that it would be worth taking a risk, reaching out to Rampage Swing, and seeing where we could go with it. As I worked with a few individuals within my group to develop how we would put on this event, we realized that it wasn’t just to do something for our group, but to also open a way to reach the community around us.
Because our group tended to be a younger audience, it felt to me that many within the city didn’t feel like they could show up and have a fun time as well. This was a way to start to change that perception, or at least allow those that lived within the city, parents & other family members of those who attended, and individuals who might have heard faint whispers of swing dancing going on in downtown Farmington, to check us out and experience dancing to good live music.
When our approval for the permit to allow us to hold the first time event was given at a Farmington City Council meeting in June of 2011, I remember Councilwoman JoAnne McShane even saying that she hoped this event (Rampage Swing) would become an annual event. Four years later, I think it’s safe to say that this is definitely a highlight event within the city every year. Not only has the success of this annual event surprised me, but it also inspires me and everyone involved at Swing Farmington to bring more individuals from around Metro Detroit to Farmington, and host something unique on a weekly basis. We want to be a weekly event that reaches out to many people of all ages, and our Rampage Swing event opens up a door to many that probably wouldn’t check us, or the city, out.
It also important for us to put on something creative within the city. It helps show that we want to be a mainstay within the City of Farmington, opens up opportunities to build relationships with other city businesses and organizations, and gives us a way to put on something special for those within the community. It also allows us to showcase an amazing part of Farmington, The Walter E. Sunquist Pavilion. It’s one of the best pavilions around Michigan and has an added layer to it because it easily allows those wanting to sit and listen to the tunes performed by Rampage Swing that opportunity while not taking away any space to all of the swing dancers that come. Swing Farmington’s Rampage Swing event is special to me because I see how much people look forward to it, are blessed by it, have fallen in love with a style of dance that seems to bring joy to anyone exposed to it, and its overall significance in allowing people of all ages to connect through music and swing dancing. I hope that you’ll join us at Swing Farmington for our Rampage Swing event this year & enjoy the sights and sounds of people dancing, laughing, listening to cheerful music, and experience something you probably won’t find in many other communities!