The Hep Cat Hoppers were a bunch of young, enthusiastic and crazy Lindy Hopping cats from 2009, living and working in Waterloo Region. They performed classic vintage solo jazz and partner swing dance routines. They went on to successfully create a swing era community, operated a sustainable swing dance studio uptown Waterloo, Ontario and was nominated by Waterloo Region's Arts Award for artistic excellence, sustained development and impact on the Waterloo Region community.
By September 2017, a new team was assembled to offer weekly lessons and play live swing jazz and blues music for dancing. Adding to their arsenal of dance instructions, performances and business skills, they went and created a new traditional jazz band to perform live music. This made themselves affordable and accessible to the all the surrounding dance communities. The Iron Tonic Jazz Band plays live jazz music for dancing, by having dance and music packaged into one organization, they are able to provide the perfect recipe for any social gatherings. You can find them playing live jazz music in and around town, while teaching swing dance lessons before their dance concerts.
However, given the recent pandemic in early 2020, the team went into isolation to help 'flatten the curve'.
While regrouping, a new strategy to deliver online instructions through both pre-recorded videos and
live internet conference style session was developed.
Today, the team is recording their own swing music for their instructional online videos for people to download and learn. Furthermore, providing group classes online in a video conference style, where participants can ask questions, all of this in order to stay connected and engaged so anyone can continue to learn.
-- David Trinh, Owner & Founder
The dance troupe began hosting local weekly dances with live music by local musicians. Soon, introductory dance lessons and beginner Lindy Hop, Charleston, West Coast Swing, Balboa and Blues classes were being taught weekly. They also hosted a weekly Swing and Blues radio show on the FM airwaves to reach out to those who couldn't attend but could listen in.
The Hep Cat Hoppers raised enough capital to open up their own swing era studio and dance hall. They soon were offering several classes each night of the week, with regular social dancing and jazz music jam sessions with two in house swing and blues bands. While priming successors to operate the club and preparing for a sustainable scene.
The community members of the local swing dance and music scene formed a not for profit organization and the Hep Cat Hoppers began phasing out their operations. As part of their vision to create a sustainable swing era community, they successfully implemented a two year succession plan that allowed this transition to take place.
In 2011, The Hep Cat Hoppers were awarded for
"The excellence in maintaining
the spirit and history of swing dancing
in the Region of Waterloo"
-- Toronto International Swing Dance Championships
In 2016, The Hep Cat Hoppers was nominated for artistic excellence, sustained development and impact on the Waterloo Region community.
Building a Sustainable Swing Scene. Watch a video of how The Hep Cat Hoppers created a sustainable swing era community in six years starting in 2009.Can't see the video, copy and paste this link into your web address bar youtu.be/rSt3ZXjNd_g
Nominated in the performing arts category for artistic excellence, sustained development and impact on the Waterloo Region community.Can't see the video, copy and paste this link into your web address bar youtu.be/3FSj9yT5FC4