On Saturday, April 17, 2010 DFW Swing Dance partnered with Dallas and Houston Dance Association to present the Originator’s and Legends Appreciation to celebrate our history in the Fort Worth/Dallas area by honoring the originator’s who first started the swing dance momentum in this area of Texas and the legends who kept swing dance alive and moving to greater levels. Let us share some of the history with you!!
“Together Let’s Preserve our Dance History”
Brigitta Baylor & Willie Starr II – DFW Swing Dance
Beverly Neal – Dallas and Houston Dance Association
Tommy Pye aka “Terrible T”
Tommy Ray Pye aka Terrible T is a Fort Worth native growing up in East Fort Worth near 2nd and 4th streets downtown. He remembers dancing as early as age 5 with his sister Betty who was about 6. They would go to the local juke joint “Mrs. Ella’s Club, with their mom and dad when they would go there to do some jitter-bugging. They would dance and the people would give them money which they would put in a Mrs. Garrett’s snuff can. During his early years of swing-out, Tommy danced in several competitions and has a few trophies and certificates in his home to showcase his accomplishments; along with a few domino trophies. During his teaching tenure, he taught at several clubs in the DFW area such as: Steppers, Crystal’s, Gold Rush, Billy G’s and Club Coconut only to name a few. He even bartended at Club Ice for about 3 years. These days he spends his time with his family, (which includes 2 daughters and a wife) going to church and watching sports. He says that he taught for so many years not for the money but because of his love of the dance. He feels that the best blessing that he received from teaching was when he met his wife, Teresa, who was one of his students at Gold Rush 3 years ago. He married her last year. On April 18th they will be celebrating one year of marriage. He owes it all to God and swing-out…..Because they were “United In Swing”. He officially stopped teaching in 2008, but will occasionally do private lessons.
Lawrence Bradley aka “Bad Brad”
Mr. Lawrence Bradley aka Bad Brad grew up in the stop-six neighborhood located in Fort Worth, TX. At the age of 10 years old he started dancing. When he turned 18, he entered the military. He was stationed at Fort Hood, TX. On his weekend pass he would frequently travel back to Fort Worth, just so that he could frequent the clubs. Back in the day, Brad’s two favorite night clubs were the Riviera Night Club and the Electric Circus Night Club both of which were located on the corner of Riverside Dr. and Berry St. in Fort Worth, TX. This is where it all started for Mr. Brad; he found himself entering into his first swing dance competition where he neither won nor placed in the first round. Thereafter, he began to practice more and more and his love for swing dancing blossomed from there. In 1994, Mr. Bad Brad became co-owner of Steppers Night Club located in Grand Prairie, TX. Working with Mr. Ivan Jordan, a new style of swing dancing broke out, and the rest is history.
Walter Bishop aka “D’Extra”
Walter Bishop aka D’Extra, is a Fort Worth native. He began dancing at the age of 12. In high school he found himself dancing in school talent shows where he would often win. D’Extra has always had a love for dancing and in 1976 his brother-in law taught him how to Texas Swing Dance. Thereafter D’Extra found himself in many swing dance competitions in the Fort Worth, Texas area. In 1995, D’Extra got together with his two dancing buddy and came up with a concept on how to teach swing-out to others using a counting system and a new era of swing dancing got on its way. D’Extra, Terrible “T” and Bad Brad, became DFW first swing-out dance instructors and the rest is history.
Cheryl started teaching swing at Coaches Corner in Dallas after Mr. Frank Jones saw her and Tommy Pye (Terrible T) dancing. Mr. Jones talked to Cheryl about teaching because he wanted a lady to teach the dance. At the time Tommy Pye wasn’t able to do it because he was teaching at Gold Rush. So Cheryl got another call from Ms. Carol of Coaches asking her again to teach so she did. First night was in April 1998 on a Wednesday night. Her first student was Mr. JR long time member of Coaches and Nicole and from there her classes grew larger. Some of her students are names you know such as Pee-Wee (The Peoples Champ), Jeff Hawk (GiGi’s Jazz), Jerry Palmer (Art in Motion), Dominique Martin (Next Level Swing), and Joe Mennins (who passed away). Cheryl was the first female teacher in Dallas along with Tommy Pye at The Gold Rush between the two they joined forces graduating over 100 students in the first year and afterwards they continued to grow and just enjoy the fun of the dance. The first Swing-out contest was at Coaches Corner. It was a great event with cash prize going to Jerry Palmer and his partner Sabrina. After that Jerry Palmer took over teaching at Coaches Corner. Cheryl was the first female to teach swing lessons in Dallas.
Willie Johnson aka “The Hitman”
Willie Johnson held his first swingout class in 1993/94 in Fort Worth, TX at a club called Honey’s teaching with Carmen. He officially started working at The Stepper’s Club, in Grand Prairie, TX where swing lessons were being taught and later started another class at the Tipp Top with Carmen, Anita and Lady Champagne. Hitman has always been a big hit on the dance floor with his smooth, elegant style of dancing and showcasing. You can always see Hitman offering many styles of swing dancing using his Hat to showcase some of his moves. He has taught at several locations within the Dallas/Fort Worth area including American Legion Hall, Club Ice and Holland Hills in Fort Worth and the Diamonds Club in Dallas. You could often hear his name mentioned on the radio for swing out lessons. His accomplishments include five time winner in DFW swing dance competitions and respect among the swing out community which he has rightly deserved. Due to a shoulder injury Hitman retired from teaching swing lessons for 3 years but he is back on the scene where he has taught at Tipp Topp, Sugar Daddy’s Swing Dance Studio and Coaches Corner.
Anita Hogans aka “Lady Champagne The Queen of Swing”
Lady Champagne was born in Springhill, LA. She moved to Fort Worth Texas at the age of 6 and has been swing dancing for over 35 years. A multi-talented performer since an early age, she shares her love of entertainment with anyone she comes in contact with. Lady Champagne and husband Kevin “DJ Smooth K” have hoisted large dance classes at more than fifteen locations throughout the DFW Metroplex including Gold Rush, Rumorz, Visions, Coaches Corner, Club 67, Club Legends, The Chit Chat Club several churches and recreation centers. You can often pick her students out of the crowd by the technique, style, and grace they exhibit. Lady Champagne has taught Swingout, lyrics, and modeling classes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for over 10 years, graduating over 1000 students from her swingout classes alone. Teaching not just the basic line dance, but make sure her students can actually get on the dance floor at an event!!!
Jerry Palmer aka “The King of Swing”
Jerry Palmer first got his taste of swingout dancing from the Stepper’s Club in Grand Prairie, TX where he would go and just watch people dance and be amazed at how well this dance looked between two partners. He decided to take swing lessons and graduated from Coaches Corner where Cheryl Head was the instructor. He later moved over to Gold Rush for more advanced moves with Tommy Pye (Terrible T). After graduating Jerry started dancing at Club Life in Dallas and would get many stares and compliments from people wanting to know about this dance called swingout. He first started teaching swingout at the Diamond Club for the swingout organization Dallas Swingout Society. He later followed Cheryl Head and taught at Coaches Corner for 1 year. He then moved on to Club Blue and Stone Trail where he graduated many students for 7 years. Often times you will hear Jerry Palmer’s name mentioned on all the radio stations as “The King of Swing”. His mainstream radio publicity first started when he would go dance at the Adams Mark Hotel for the Oasis Radio Jazz events in Dallas. Jerry would later branch out into Houston, Oklahoma and Louisiana where he shared the instructors dance floor with Steppin Instruction Dre at a Club called Cobol in Houston, TX. His accomplishments not only include graduating over 2000 students but winning 1st place in the Annual Swing Dance Competition held in Washington, DC.
Tracy first learned to swing dance from The Originator’s (Tommy Pye, Lawrence Bradley and Marcus Bishop) at Stepper’s Club in Grand Prairie, TX. Where beginners, intermediate and advance swing lessons were taught. After graduating Tracy would later start teaching at Phat Katz in Dallas for over 5 yrs graduating over 1117 students. His class was one of the biggest classes taught in Dallas. Even though Tracy has officially retired from teaching swing dance a couple of years ago he can still be seen as the MC at many swing events, showcasing, and DJ in and around Texas.