(Jittebug Club San Diego meets every 1st & 3rd Sundays)
Jitterbug Club San Diego celebrated its 30th Year Anniversary on March 15, 2014 at the Pattie Wells’ DanceTime Center, where it was held from (1998-2014) where the last Jitterbug Club San Diego was hosted by them on May 4, 2014.
All of the sponsors and hosts, including Pattie, Lucky, David, Maxine, Louis and many others are grateful for the three decades of support of the Jitterbug Club San Diego from San Diego dance community!
Currently, the Jitterbug Club is hosted by Dance For 2 Studio, read more here.
Pattie Wells closed the DanceTime Center on May 15, 2014, to start a new business as a curator of dance across the internet culling the best of dance on the web at DanceTime Global. Pattie is also available for private dance lessons only, in San Diego, California.
(Click picture for video at 30th Anniverary of Jitterbug Club party)
Jitterbug Club San Diego History
The Jitterbug Club San Diego has had a long and interesting history. The seed for the Jitterbug Club was planted in 1983 when Ron Seale, a friend and dance student, suggested I (Pattie Wells) teach classes instead of only offering private dance lessons. He had taken lessons from Carter Lovisone in Boulder, Colorado and thought that we could start a new system in San Diego that would include, “Repeatable Classes,” and contemporary music. At first, I was skeptical and somewhat reticent since I was uncomfortable in front of groups and preferred teaching “one-on-one,” lessons but eventually I agreed.
Ron and I advertised our dance classes in the San Diego Reader, Yellow Pages and Learning Annex. Our first venue was at the California Aerobic Dance Center on 5th Avenue in Hillcrest, the future site of the Corvette Diner. Ron and I decided to offer West Coast swing dance classes featuring contemporary music.
I remember a six week class included the usual basics like a left side pass, sugar push and underarm turn but also whips, tucks and other more intermediate movements. We noticed a considerable attrition in our classes and tried to figure out what we were doing wrong. Finally, I arrived at the conclusion that the West Coast swing was too advanced to teach to people off the street and suggested we switch to single-rhythm East Coast Swing.
We researched other names for the dance other than the label assigned by the Arthur Murray dance studios, which was “single rhythm East Coast swing,” for a few weeks. I asked some of the original swing dancers I knew, who danced in the 1940’s, what they called it and finally we arrived at the name, “Jitterbug” to use for the dance we wouldl teach at our swing dance classes. After we switched from the West Coast swing to Jitterbug, the classes maintained their numbers, people kept coming back and our dance classes grew. Ron Seale was a molecular biologist at Scripps Institute during the daytime. During the second year of teaching the classes together, Ron moved to Seattle, Washington where he was hired as chief scientist at a large firm. I continued teaching the classes and hosted/deejayed the Jitterbug Club San Diego.
(Click picture for an East Coast Swing routine with Trevor & Stephanie)
Some of the dance students in our early classes at the California Aerobic Dance Center still attend the Jitterbug Swing Club on Sundays occasionally, while others have come and gone over the years. One of the early students, John Paul Munson, suggested that we start a dance party for the dancers to go for practice since they did not fit in very well at the San Diego Swing Dance Club, which was exclusively for West Coast swing dancers.
A small group of us including John Paul Munson, Jim Scofield, Sue Winfrey, Dan (not sure last name), Gaylord Henry and Dorothy Howard, met and decided to hold our first dance party on March 17th, 1984, on St. Patrick’s Day. We found a venue that was located near the Stadium in Mission Village, the Emerald Ballroom, formerly Dance Masters owned and operated by Lowell Gosser. We put together a volunteer group and planned our first dance party. We held the dance party twice a month for many years until 1998. In the early days, more men showed up than women, so we incentivized the participation of women by charging them less for a short period.
In the first year, one of the dances had only 5 women and 10 men. I was disappointed but decided to persist believing it would grow. Our holiday dance that year had between 40-60 people and it was our biggest dance party up to that date. Every year after that we increased in size until we reached 220 dancers at the old Elks Lodge in Hillcrest. The Elks Lodge on 4th Avenue at Nutmeg was a very popular dancing venue for many decades but was eventually torn down even after a struggle to declare it a historical site.
Jitterbug Club @ Pattie Wells’ Dancetime Center
The venue for the Jitterbug Club changed a few times in its 30-year history. It was held at the Elks Lodge in Hillcrest, Champion Ballroom Dance Academy, Ballroom Academy in Mission Hills, finally in 1998, we moved to the Pattie Wells’ Dancetime Center in Baypark near Mission Bay until the last dance under the sponsorship/host of the Pattie Wells’ DanceTime on May 4, 2014.
Prior to moving into the Dancetime Center, we had held the Jitterbug Club twice a month and on the alternate Sundays we hosted a West Coast swing or Country Western dance party. At the Elks Lodge, we grew to over 220 dancers. Shortly after moving into the Dancetime Center, the dancers packed the place, so we decided to hold the Jitterbug Club every week on Sundays. We have reached 150+ dancers at the PW Dancetime Center and continued to host one of the most successful weekly swing dancing venues in the United States.
(Click picture for video of Bugle Boy routine at Elks Lodge)
Jittebug Club San Diego: Hosts & Deejays
Thanks to Lucky Pahl and Jamie Hanrahan, friends that helped me with the both the Jitterbug Club and the Dancetime Center. There were many volunteers/trade people that helped out over the years. Jim Scofield assisted me for years and kept me calm when things got wild like when we were locked out of the Champion Ballroom. Jamie was the sound technician and audio consultant with the sound equipment and the computers, George Popa lugged around the portable system we used at the Elks Lodge in Hillcrest. We had a volunteer committee in the early years which included: Joe Piper, David Masterson, Whitney Faye, John Heglin, Michael Whitley, Pam Thomas and Mila Hanny plus many more.
In recent years, Maxine McDonald and Louis Atiles have been our loyal, faithful helpers at the front desk of the Jitterbug Club. During the years at the Dancetime Center, the Jitterbug Club featured music and dancing of all the different types of swing dancing including Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing, East Coast swing, Jitterbug and Carolina shag dancing.
(Click picture to watch a Lindy Hop Performance Team 2010)
For about the first 15 years, I hosted and deejayed until Lucky stepped in to give me a break on Sundays, later David Nguyen joined the host/deejay staff. David has contributed so much to the Jitterbug Club and the Dancetime Center. He has helped with deejaying, teaching and promoting dance in San Diego. He headed up the IT Department at the Dancetime Center and created and maintained most of the technology at Dancetime including all the computer systems. Brandon Detty joined the host/deejay team between 2010-2012 and also taught private and group classes, hosted/deejayed West Coast swing dance parties, built a database, contributed to getting a sign for the front of the building, website and SEO (search engine optimization) for the Dancetime Center’s website! In October 2011, Bill Bacellar joined the Dancetime team, contributing enormously to Dancetime’s online marketing and social media presence. The Jitterbug Club expanded in 2011-2013 to a Swing Double Deck party with West Coast swing dancing downstairs and Jitterbug upstairs.
(Click for 28th Anniversary Jitterbug Club downstairs West Coast swing)
Along the way, there have been so many (too many to name all here) wonderful customers, staff, dance friends and colleagues that have been an integral part of the success we had for 30+ years. In the last year, Trevor Davidson joined the host/deejay staff of the Jitterbug Club for a period toward the end of our tenure.
Most importantly, the Jitterbug Club San Diego would not have been possible without all of our wonderful dancing friends that have consistently supported us by attending our dance party for so many Sundays over the past 30 years. It would not have succeeded and been one of the longest running, successful swing dance venues in the United States. Over the years, I have seen many of our dancing friends return or stop by to visit us. We have continued to grow and add new members to our Sunday swing dance community.
Jitterbug Club San Dieog 30th Year Anniversary
The 30th Year Anniversary Jitterbug Club dance party was the last anniversary party under the management of Pattie Wells and the Dancetime Center.
Jitterbug Club move to Dance For 2 Studio
The JBC San Diego moved to the Dance For 2 Studio ( Kearny Mesa). I hope the Jitterbug Club will be successful at its new home under new management for many more years to come.
Pattie Wells’ Good-Bye to DanceTime Letter
Read Good-bye letter here Dancetime Center’s good-bye to dancing friends).
News About Pattie Wells
The summer of 2013, just before my mother’s passing, I promised her I would finish the novel I started in 2007. In so many ways, it was inspired by her and my ancestors in Italy. During the holidays that year, I realized the time had come for me to fulfill my promise and finish the novel.
Also, I will be launching my new website featuring excerpts from my novel, poetry manuscript, blogs and articles. In the future, I will also be building DanceTime.com into a world dance resource site.
Meanwhile, you can read my articles on the DANCE TALK BLOG, check out short reviews of the different dance steps at Dance Class Reviews, follow me on Twitter at DanceTimeGlobal and connect with me on LinkedIn Pattie Wells.
Help support swing dancing in San Diego by attending the Jitterbug Club San Diego at its new location at the Dance For 2 Studio so we can all celebrate many more anniversaries of the Jitterbug Club San Diego in the future!
Watch/read more dance videos & articles at the Dance Talk Blog here!