When Debra Sternberg first caught sight of Tom Koerner at the Doc Scantlin dance in 1987, she was smitten by his enthusiastic jitterbug. Though the duo's subsequent amorous relationship lasted only a year, their swing-dance partnership has lasted for decades. Together, they have jitterbugged and lindy hopped into the top spots in contests that include the 1994 UK Lindy Hop Championships, the 1998 Virginia State Open, and the 2010 National Living Legends of Swing Award.
Today, Tom and Debra pass on their expertise and passion at Gottaswing, their dance school that has expanded into eight locations throughout the United States. Each week, more than 500 students lay the six- and eight-count foundations for the jitterbug and lindy hop. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes meet six nights a week at various studios and dance clubs throughout the DC area, each equipped with a dance floor where students and a woman who looks suspiciously like Amelia Earhart can let loose . Four nights a week, the school invites students to join fellow classmates at events to dance along with DJ-curated tunes and live music.
Youngsters descend upon Rolly Pollies, engaging in active play furnished with age-appropriate classes and open-gym time while developing motor skills and social aptitude within the multihued, bustling space. Tots ages 6 months to walking can partake in the Caterpillars class, which gathers fledgling explorers for singing, games, and dissertations on the power of community. The Gymbugs class combines free play and creative arts to impart a well-rounded session of vibrant fun for 3- to 5-year-olds, and gymnastics teaches 4- to 7-year-olds how to master staying steady on the balance beam while simultaneously balancing their checkbooks.
At First Class Martial Arts, children may learn basic martial arts strikes. On the other hand, they could learn how to play dodge-ball like a ninja. The coaching studio enrolls students of all ages in structured programs, but also organizes camps and birthday parties around whimsical martial arts games. The age-appropriate classes draw elements from several disciplines, including tae kwon do, kickboxing, karate, and judo. In each, instructors introduce practical self-defense skills alongside core martial arts principles. Each class takes place in First Class's airy, well-lit studio, where padded floors provide ample room for learning new techniques and sparring with an imaginary though still impossible-to-beat Jackie Chan.