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Stage Name

Birth Name

Kenny Wetzel Kenneth Wetzel

            Kenny Wetzel started dancing as a teenager in east Saint Louis, MO. Later his sister taught him how to swing dance and entered a Swing dance contest with him and they won. This lead to many pairings with his sister over the years. Eventually they became unbeatable in St. Louis and surrounding areas. He was known as the 'King of Flying Lindy' and the "St. Louis Shag". THERE WAS and IS NONE ANY BETTER than he was, he was amazing even in his late 60's. He would also excel in Latin dancing in the 1950's. Here's an early video of Kenny just social dancing in a Disco 1982. Click Here (Video pop-up)

    Upon leaving St. Louis, Kenny moved to Las Vegas, Nevada looking to get into show business, partnering with Ione for about three years. They were billed as "Kenny and Ione". It was here he met alot of Los Angeles dancers. He came to California in the 1950's and settled in Glendale, CA. with his mother, 2 sisters and nephew Mike. There he would meet many more swing dancers and started teaching for the Arthur Murray studios in Glendale and later Palm Spring as well. He Still danced in Las Vegas and danced quite a bit there on stage, even danced with Ione in "Artists and Models" in the early 1960's.

    Kenny was well versed in all styles of dance and would win many Dance & Swing Contests including the Harvest Moon Ball. Kenny was also a Champion Golden Gloves Prizefighter who would work with " Sonny Liston." He was also a very funny man and became a successful comedian who eventually opened the show for legendary comedian " Lenny Bruce" for many years which you could see in his brand of 'colorful comedy'.

    Later, Kenny would hold many dances at local nightclubs and would be one of the very first DJ's to spin records for dancers here in the United States starting in the 1960s. Kenny would hold his very first swing dance, with he as D.J. at the Legendary "Staircase" in Downey, CA. This would prove to be his special calling in life as no one could spin music and MC as well as Kenny. Kenny probably did more to keep swing dance alive than any other human, through his Dancing, Choreography, Teaching, Emceeing, DJ'ing and support of all who danced or competed, especially during the 1960's and 1970's when most had quit or retired.

    Kenny is mainly known for his swing dance formats but many don't realize he DJ'ed many other types of dance venues as well such as Hustle and Latin dances in the 1960s thru 1970s. Kenny Choreographed many winning swing dance routines for some of the best names in the West Coast Swing and Lindy Hop swing dance world such as Mary Ann Nunez and Lance Shermoen, Jim Fisk, Sharlott Jansen-Bott-Scheuffle, Eddy Vega and Lisa Nunziella, Robert Cordoba, Keldee B. and many more... just to name a few. The video clip on the right shows Kenny later in life, he was still amazing even older and out of shape.



    As a LEADER in the SWING DANCE COMMUNITY, Kenny founded and formed the " R.E.B.E.L.S. Swing Dance Club" (Rebels) in Los Angeles with Dino and Al White in July of 1982 at the Lion D' Or in Downey, Ca. and later moved to the King's Table Lounge - later called the Press Box in Westminster, CA. Soon after, he joined Sonny Watson in many nightclubs in the Los Angeles / San Fernando Valley area as well in the 1980's. Kenny's Club (R.e.b.e.l.s.) was so popular that other clubs throughout the country would franchise with Kenny on his club name. Kenny was emcee / or DJ to almost all swing events throughout the country as well as the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships for 18 years. Kenny supported everyone who was into dancing and knew just about everyone as well in the dance community. Kenny semi-retired in November of 1998 after DJ'ing and MC'ing for over 35 years. Kenny passed away due to a brain tumor in March of 2000 at the age of 71. Kenny is missed by many who knew him well and those who never knew him unknowingly benefit from Kenny Wetzel's life in dance today.


Birth Place

Birth Date

Spouse

Offspring

East St. Louis, MO. 4/3/1929 - 4/2000 Never Married None
              Mike Watson (Nephew)

Dance Types

Dance Partners

Some Music Titles Used by DJ Kenny

Ballroom "Showstoppers Dance Team" Handclappin' (Baxsters)
Flying Lindy (WCS) Cyndi Pecka Strokin' (Clarence Carter)
Hustle His Sister Red Beans and Rice
Jitterbug Ione      
Latin (Cha, Mambo etc) Judy Thomas    
Lindy Hop Lynn Vogan      
Pachanga Cha Mary Ann Nunez      
St. Louis Shag Reina      
'Tune Down Bounce' Shirley Fietsem    
West Coast Swing        

Night Clubs

Contests

Stage

Chi Chi Club (CA) 1st. - Harvest Moon Ball Artists and Models (w/ Ione, 1960s)
Club Imperial (IL) Goodfellow & West Florisant 1st. - Murray Medal Ball's Many Las Vegas Stage shows  
Crest Lounge (CA) 1st. - St. Louis City Jitterbug Championships  
El Mirador (CA) 1st - Midwestern U.S. St. Louis City Competition
     
Golden West Club (CA)        
Lion d' Or (CA)        
Kings Table/ Press Box (CA)

Awards

     
Latin Quarter (IL) (Grand & Olive) 1991 California Swing Dance Hall of Fame, Shining Star Nomination
     
Quiet Cannon (CA)      
Sleuth's Grill and Bar (CA) 1992 California Swing Dance Hall of Fame, Shining Star Award      
Staircase, the (CA)      
Top of the West (aka: Golden West - Norwalk, CA) 2003 DJ Hall of Fame "Wetzel Award"      
3 Time Feather Award Winner (Best Dj)      
  1984 - S.C.D.J - Top DJ      
         

Films

Television

Publications

n/a Eye On LA 9/1992 - Jitterbug Magazine
          Winter/Spring 2000 - In The Swing Magazine
          1983 - Jitterbugs Unlimited Publication
          1983 - Dance Tyme Magazine
            Book: "Our World with Rhyme and Reason" (K. Wetzel)