Swing dance rocks the Red Oak Victory

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Ship-shape swing dance rocks the Red Oak Victory
Photos by Zach Chouteau

By Zach Chouteau

The ‘Rich Life’ segment clambered up the gangplank of the Red Oak Victory on Saturday night, and experienced a tune-filled trip back to Richmond’s glory years of the 1940s.

Folks in vintage fashions swung and shimmied to jumping tunes from Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers on a parquet floor, and enjoyed beer, wine—and even dinner prepared in the massive cargo ship’s authentic galleys. It was all part of the Shipyard Swing Dinner Dance, which also offered discounted tickets for anyone arriving in a pre-1970 automobile.

A big highlight for first-time visitors was touring the ship’s various nooks, crannies and venues. The spirit bar, for example, was arranged in the Red Oak’s theater area, site of an annual movie series showing patriotic and historic-themed films for all ages. Another surprise for many is the ship’s awesome little gift shop, bursting with souvenirs and collectibles related to Richmond’s home-front years.

It was also a perfect evening for strolling around the top deck and taking in some of the clearest views of San Francisco I’ve ever seen on a Richmond night.

But the hit of the evening for most everyone was definitely dancing the night away to Lavay Smith and her grooving group, who had guests up on their feet moving to songs of all tempos. While this reporter has been to several events aboard the iconic vessel, none has provided as intensive a ‘time-travel’ experience as the Shipyard Swing Dinner Dance.

If you’ve yet to explore the Red Oak Victory, a perfect time to get your feet wet (not literally!) is at one of their unique and affordable events that frequent the calendar. Upcoming movie nights are set for May 31 (Das Boot), June 14 (Destination Tokyo) and June 28 (Casablanca); other offerings include a Father’s Day pancake breakfast slated for June 17, and an Independence Day celebration on July 3 with live jazz tunes and firework views.

To find out more about visiting the Red Oak Victory, visit www.redoakvictory.us.

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