Nancy Friend of Shelby in Richland County found friends when she joined the Mid-Ohio Boogie Club nine years ago.

Nancy Friend of Shelby in Richland County found friends when she joined the Mid-Ohio Boogie Club nine years ago.

"Where I live, there aren't a whole lot of dance opportunities," Friend said. "I wanted to dance more and better and started to look online."

Her search led her to the Mid-Ohio Boogie Club, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to the promotion and preservation of swing, jitterbug and shag dance and to the rhythm and blues music that gave these dances their start," according to the club's website.

Friend got in touch with club president and founder Georgia Watson, went to one of the group's Wednesday dances and has been returning ever since.

"We now say that we're the friendliest club in town," Friend said. "Everybody is nice. I feel like the Mid-Ohio Boogie Club makes sure that you feel good, feel comfortable. I've met so many nice people through dance."

The club's weekly dances are held in a former bank at 1960 Schrock Road in the Northland area. Dance lessons for novices are offered from 7:30 to 8 p.m., with dancing and music following until 10 p.m., Watson said.

What became the Mid-Ohio Boogie Club was almost a ballroom dance organization, she said.

A group of ballroom enthusiasts in the Columbus area chanced to attend a convention in Cincinnati for dance clubs from all over the United States and Canada, Watson recalled. Swing is a small component of ballroom dancing, and the Columbus contingent attended a demonstration.

"When we saw all the fun they were having in Cincinnati at that convention, it was just unbelievable," Watson said. "We decided just to concentrate on swing dancing instead of ballroom."

The club, which was founded in 2001, will hold a membership drive during February with free admission and lessons on Wednesday evenings.

Normally, to cover the cost of renting the space, members pay $3 and others $8 to participate, Watson said.

A year's membership in the Mid-Ohio Boogie Club is $35.

Liz Tyler joined the organization about 10 years ago. Newly single at the time, she was taking lessons at a dance studio so she could take to the floor at wedding receptions and similar events.

Then a former coworker invited her to drop in at a Boogie Club evening. Like Friend, Tyler has been going back ever since.

"Number one, you get to dance with a lot of different people," she said. "That was my goal, was not to be stuck with one but to be able to dance with anyone who asked me. Everybody was very friendly and very welcoming."

"We have two families," Watson said. "We have our normal families, and then we have a dance family."

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