Get your dance on at Harbourside Swing

A group of no less than forty youth have been spending Saturday nights for the past year learning to swing dance.

Among the nearly 100 guests at Ezra Tsai’s first swing dance ball in December were

A group of no less than forty youth have been spending Saturday nights for the past year learning to swing dance, thanks to a local dance enthusiast. The group celebrated the end of the year with a formal masquerade ball on Saturday, Dec. 12, an event that would not have been possible without a team of leaders and the support of the community.

Ezra Tsai picked up swing dancing in the fall of 2014 while in Vancouver attending university, but in 2015 returned to Port Alberni for a career opportunity. It was in Vancouver that he became interested in swing dancing and spent many nights learning at a couple of clubs. Ezra was taught by friends initially, but turned to the internet to learn further.

When he returned to Port Alberni last February, he was asked to teach for a fundraiser. That turned into something larger than he expected. He received so much interest from his peers and other youth that he set up Harbourside Swing.

“It hit a vacuum and then exploded right from the start,” Tsai said. “Almost instantly we had thirty-plus youth come out. As it grew, it continued to pick up momentum.”

Originally the club attracted teens from the high school who attended lessons and the social every second Saturday night. Now all ages are interested in dancing every week. Tsai said he has kids as young as seven years old to adults who want to dance.

“The leadership team and I are looking at solutions to address the large interest from different ages and are contemplating whether splitting the club some nights is possible,” he said.

Open to all levels, Tsai brings a mix of different dance styles to the floor. He said he likes to modernize different moves from east coast swing, country, jive and salsa.

“I use music from the big band era, jazz and modern so it is a fusion between music and dances from eras of the past,” he said.

A typical evening starts with 45 minutes of lessons and then the floor is open for social dancing.

“Sometimes I throw in games or special dances for birthdays or celebrations,” Tsai said.

The masquerade ball was his largest event with over 90 people in attendance.

“It started as an idea, just a dream,” he said. “From there we started fundraising in August.”

Tsai and the club held bottle drives and an online auction to be able to pay for prizes, decorations and food.

“It was very exciting to see the support of the community in what we were doing,” Tsai said.

He said the club has become more than just something to do on Saturday nights and has become an inclusive group of close-knit friends and family.

“It is a good alternative for youth on the weekends and the dancers see it as a family and a community of acceptance,” he said. “As a teen, I think that is something they really value.”

After a break over the Christmas holidays, Tsai plans to work with his leadership team to address the growth in size and age range of dancers. His goal is to help serve all ages and promote the club’s close knit community at the same time.

“I want to keep youth engaged and this gives them something to be happy and excited about,” Tsai said. For more information, Tsai has a Harbourside Swing group on Facebook.

Just Posted

West Coast Hockey Prep Camp draws nearly 1,000 players to Port Alberni

History-making Korean hockey coach joins league of celebrity instructors

Port Alberni co-ops targeted in different crimes

One break-and-enter, one case of graffiti at each gas station

Offroad racing happening at Alberni Motorsports Park July 21–22

Last mud truck event until September on the Port Alberni track

Lease agreement signed for Port Alberni oil spill response base

25-year lease agreement is part of a larger expansion plan

Cherry Creek sets water restrictions for summer 2018

Stage One water restrictions are in effect immediately

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

Special Olympics athletes take on BC Games during Global Day of Inclusion

Twenty-five athletes and nine coaches are here in Cowichan Valley during the 50th anniversary

Scammers dressed as Mounties threaten to arrest senior if she doesn’t cough up cash

Pair of fraudulent officers threaten to arrest 90-year-old woman

Fundraiser launched to help mom of French jogger detained after accidentally crossing U.S border

Cedella Roman, 19, was detained in America after accidentally crossing the border

Trump slams Federal Reserve rate hikes

Fed raised benchmark rate for a second time this year in June, and projects two more hikes to come

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Friday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

UPDATED: 1,500 residents on evacuation alert as Peachland under state of emergency

The Mount Eneas wildfire has forced an evacuation alert of 596 properties

Police to provide update on case against alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur

McArthur worked as a landscaper, allegedly concealed the remains of seven men in planters

Premiers to wrap up 2 days of meetings at New Brunswick seaside resort

Meetings held in the scenic seaside town of St. Andrews on Thursday focused on trade

Most Read