We had the good fortune of connecting with Birkley Wisniewski and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Birkley, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I really wanted to see this dance style, Lindy Hop, grow. It requires a partner, and it’s more fun when more people are in the same place, doing it all together. The more people who do it, the better the dancers become, and the more fun it gets too!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Lindy Hop and vernacular jazz dance is super fun, it’s my passion. It’s a dance from the 1930s, largely pioneered by Black Americans, that is done to old school, rhythmic, big band jazz/swing music. You meet lots of new people, and having a good dance with a skilled partner to a jamming tune is an unforgettable feeling. It took me quite a lot to obtain proficiency though. The basics are relatively easy to pickup, but to become an expert and do the fancy things takes a ton of practice, study, and persistence. I’ll admit that because it’s a blast, you’re often having fun just working at it! I’ve also had to spend a lot of money to travel to far-away places to pickup the skills from other masters, or to transport them here for lessons.
Doing something I love has certainly brought me success, and keeps driving me forward. Music and dancing, in the right setting with the right people, is wildly fun and freeing, it’s unforgettable! This is what we try to bring to everyone who walks through our doors.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d take them on a few tours. During the day, we’re going on a coffee tour to check out a few local roasters. Ace Coffee Roasters, Transcend Coffee, Iconoclast, and The Grizzlar would be on my list. The next day, we go on a craft brewery tour! Blind Enthusiasm, Sea Change, Situation, Omen, Polar Park, SYC… there are now sooo many to choose from. Might take a few days
During the evenings, I would def take them to my club, Sugar Swing Ballroom on a Saturday night for some swing dancing. I’d also check out The Grindstone for comedy and improv shows. If they are new to town and like shopping and attractions, I’d honestly take them to West Edmonton Mall, since there’s an amusement park, water park, and good shopping. Lame to locals, but actually pretty cool for out of towners
Also daytime, the Edmonton River Valley is spectacular. In particular, Gold Bar Park, Hawrelak Park, and Kinsmen Park are great locations The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to my wife Jenna. She gets to hear all the good and bad that happens, and she’s helped me endure some tough times!