He’s famous for his footwork, improvisation and individual approach. He has that Dean Collins style and can be seen not only on dance floors around the world but in fashion magazines, TV shows and music videos. He’s also known for his research on American jazz dance and the histories of American social dance. “History is like a road map to success—but only if you choose the right routes!” says Peter Winqvist Loggins and reveals where he would go if he could travel back in time.
Peter Winqvist Loggins began swing dancing in the early 1990s, in Los Angeles. He and his friends went out to see bands they liked—western swing Bands, rockabilly, Jump Blues, Big Band Swing and some early style jazz bands. It was all traditional American dance music. Peter enjoyed hanging out in front of clubs, watching the Hot Rods pull up. At this time he worked as a tattoo artist and didn’t dance at all. He had no idea what to do with his arms and legs. Not yet.
– I’d often see a few people dancing, but I never really thought about it until girls started pulling me onto the dance floor.
Peter really liked one of the girls and she became the main reason why he got into swing dancing.
– She loved it and dancing together was an amazing thing. My other reason for dancing was just as important: I discovered the dance style in Los Angeles, from the swing era we see in the movies. I knew right then that’s how I wanted to dance!
Peter never took classes, he watched and learned from a long list of dancers from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. It gave him a connection to the past and created a thirst for learning more.
– I was fortunate to grow up in Los Angeles, which had plenty of people from the Golden years who danced both professionally and socially, and I was on a mission to learn not just steps, but the reason to dance. The cultural significance was something i needed to understand.
Get your best Herräng experience ever: advice by Peter Loggings
As a kid Peter was living in Redondo Beach, and the Pier was the center of hanging out.
– I discovered quickly it was also were Hal Takier were from, and the pier was the location of the Pavilion and The Mandarin Ballroom, where he danced nightly starting 1934 doing Jigtrot contest.
– Lawrence Wise, Venna Archer and countless others were all part of the beach cities and During the 1990’s I was living in San Pedro, near Lola Cogan and Eddie Markwell who were both legends in the 1930’s. I actually, would go out with Lola if Eddie couldn’t make it because she couldn’t see very well driving at night. It was funny showing up with someone that could be my grandma and still get into jam sessions and have an amazing night out. Lola was a jitterbug through and through…i miss her alot.
Today Peter travels all over the world as an instructor, lecturer, performer and competition judge. He has been seen as a model in fashion magazines and has been featured in television shows, films and music videos. And after more than 20 years of research, Peter is known as one of the foremost authorities on jazz dance and social dance history. His work is extensive and he is credited for helping to bring back many of the dances that he learned from the original dancers of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. He started out studying early dance in California. In recent years, his work has been focused on the 19th century origins of Social dance, focusing on the Southern influence.
– Researchers are addicts, the more we research the more we realize how little we know, says Peter and goes on to talk about the subject of his latest research. It turns out 2017 is a big year.
– This year is the 100th anniversary of the first jazz recording ever. And it was the first time a jazz band played for a social dance in New York. That is this year’s celebration and what I’ve been researching.
How does knowledge of history make me a better dancer?
– Learning the history is like a road map to success if you choose the right routes. Hearing stories of generations before you is just lessons you’re going to encounter. The knowledge will become new abilities.
A good route? What is the most important thing to know and were to start?
– Well, what I mean by roadmap is the more you know the more streets appear on your map. Some bits of knowledge might be really important and represent Main highways, while other pieces of information are smaller streets, side streets. It’s all right in front of you as your learning. When you arrive to a problem, you know all your options.
If you had a time machine, were would you go?
– I’m not so sure I’d want to go back, but hmmm…perhaps Storyville around 1890 to 1910. That seemed to be the vital incubator for jazz music and dance. That was when the forefathers of what we love were really laying it down, creating a new frontier that would forever change American Music and there were no recordings. Why not check it out?
Swing dancing is still evolving. What footprints are we making today?
– What’s evolving is the thirst for knowledge once a dancer gets mature enough to understand what it is they’re doing. This evolution is the growth of other swing era dances becoming more popular. The balboa and Bal Swing scene is worldwide, and now the collegiate shag has events around the world. St. Louis shag is becoming a great sensation on the Scene.
Who do you draw inspiration from?
– I often find myself doing a full circle and revisiting some of the original Los Angeles dancers that first inspired me. i’m also often on missions to research other cities, states, countries with regional dances. I’m a big Facundo Posadas fan…I like how he defines and approaches social dance. He was in the first Argentina Rock and Roll movie in the 50’s and has become a Milonga and Tango legend, truly inspirational knowledge of dance.
If you had a magic wand, what would you give people social dancing?
– Social dancing is about dancing as small as possible, and watching all those around you to make sure your partner doesn’t get kicked. If i had a magic wand I’d wave over the floor and put the spirit of Dawn Hampton in them as a reminder of what social dancing is.
What do you appreciate in follows?
– Not just in follows but also Leaders–people that dress for the occasion, even if it’s extreme. It´s great when done on purpose.
Best shoes to dance in?
– Remix vintage shoes in Los Angeles all the way…the Owner is great and understands what classic style is all about.
FACTS: PETER WINGQVIST LOGGINGS
homebase: For the past two years, Österlen in Sweden. “My wife was living in Denmark when we got married and we both wanted to live in the countryside. We shopped around a little and decided on this area of Sweden.”
family: His wife Sophie Winqvist Loggins, daughter Brittney and three grandchildren—Scarlet, Violet and Sawyer. His dad John, mom Anette and younger brother Paul.
Work: instructor, lecturer, performer, competition judge and researcher.
Featured in television, films and music videos: Carsie Blanton’s “Baby Can Dance,” Marilyn Manson’s “Mobscene,” Royal Crown Revue’s “Zip Gun Bop,” the movies Mulholland Drive, The 13th Floor, and in the TV show Beverly Hills 90210…to mention just a few.