By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
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Trends come and trends go--which means, no doubt, that the current swing revival is likely to become the dead-and-forgotten swing revival before too many more flicks attempting to exploit it can stiff. (Did you see Blast From the Past? Me neither.) Still, James Glader, 24, is confident that this craze is built for the long haul--and even if it's not, it's been good to him thus far. All Swing Events, Denver's most comprehensive guide to the movement, began in February 1998 as a single piece of paper with a circulation of a hundred, which Glader photocopied himself. By contrast, the April edition of the free publication, which is available now, fills 24 pages, boasts a circulation of 15,000, and is distributed in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. But while Glader is appreciative of the response All Swing Events has received, he's even happier about the changes swing dancing has had on his personal life. Why? Because before he was a publisher, he was a drunk.
"I used to drink a lot," Glader admits. "When I quit drinking, I had five extra hours a day."
Glader's journey from alcoholic-in-training to successful entrepreneur began after he hit a roadblock while pursuing his initial career of choice, art. "I used to make my living as a portrait painter, using watercolors and pencils," he says. "Then I decided to try oils, and it was a big ego thing: I figured that I was good enough with watercolors that oils would be a natural. After that, I got hired to do a whole series of reproductions of this famous portrait by John Singer Sargent for this fellow, and I worked on them for a couple of months and just about lost my mind. The best way I can describe it is that it was like that movie Shine. It was just too much."
Reeling from the discovery of his limitations, Glader attempted to booze his way into oblivion. But an epiphany got in the way. "It was July 9, 1997," he remembers, "and I was at the Rock-N-Rhythm Billy Weekend dance contest. I had to stand on two chairs that were stacked on top of each other to see, but it was worth it. I knew right then that I needed to stop drinking and start dancing--and that's what I did. Beginning the next night, I danced every night for three months straight."
Although Glader had gone swing dancing a couple of years earlier, he was essentially a novice when he embarked on his mission. But by the following year, he was an expert, winning the very Rock-N-Rhythm Billy competition that had inspired him. "I'm a lot healthier now," he points out. "I've lost forty pounds, and I'm at, like, marathon weight. I can dance for six hours straight. I dance as hard as I used to drink."
All Swing Events is another offshoot of Glader's newfound passion. At first, it was simply a calendar that he put out with his partner, Victor Ward, but within two months it had graduated to flier status--and before long, its pages were multiplying at the same rate as the swing festivities it was founded to celebrate. Today, it's a full-fledged 'zine that Glader and Ward get into the hands of fellow swing junkies with the assistance of several lindy-hop troupes, including Boulder's Jump 66, Colorado Springs' Sidecar Swingers and Fort Collins' Jumpin' Jive Cats. Issues can be found at assorted CD stores, swing-oriented clubs, vintage-clothing stores and dance studios across the Front Range, as well as online at www.allswingevents.com. Subscriptions are also available for $12 per annum.
Naysayers claim that swing has already plateaued, but Glader sees no sign of that. "This summer's going to be the biggest swing summer since the Forties," he declares. "Last year at this time, there was usually only one thing to do a night, so everyone who was into swing would congregate in the same place. But now you can find swing in a lot of places--and the dancers are getting really, really good."
Part of the credit for this improvement in technique goes to Glader and Ward, who have become two of the most sought-after dance instructors in the area. But Glader has ambitions that go beyond helping the left-footed among us perform aerial stunts without winding up in the emergency room. He co-produced Brother Tied, an independent film by local director Derek Cianfrance that was accepted at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998, and he hopes to dive back into the cinematic arena soon. "I'm thinking about doing books, too," he says. "But right now, All Swing Events is a really good platform for me to get in front of people and showcase my talents--and it'll grow as my talents grow. And that's good, because I'm a terrible employee. That's why I figure other people will have to work for me.
"The only reason this magazine isn't four-color and on glossy paper is because I'm just learning how to run a business," he continues. "Even writing invoices was totally foreign to me before I started this. But my timing was good. The vacuum was huge, and I'm trying to fill it. I'm just lucky that someone who knew what they were doing didn't step in front of me."