The Story of MMISL & St. Louis Rebels
The St. Louis Rebels has its humble beginnings in the spring of 2004, via weekly West Coast Swing dances run by the St. Louis Imperial Swing Dance Club at the original Sports Cafe. At the time, this was the only opportunity to take lessons on West Coast Swing on a regular basis in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Yearly Jack and Jill competitions were then offered, in order to bring the flavor of West Coast Swing competition to St. Louis.
In the Spring of 2006 and after much success of the weekly dances, the St. Louis Imperial Swing Dance club’s representatives Jan Altman and Larry Eigland asked to help build "St. Louis Rebels West Coast Swing Dance Club". Mike Bicklein and Dawn DeGrushe took on the challenge - and with the help of over 65 volunteers and supporters, formed the St. Louis Rebels as a 501c(7) nonprofit organization. Honorary mention goes to those that worked endless hours to make this happen. Katie Slater-Hicks, Laura Dale Rutherford, Gayle Larson, Ruth Gilbert, Diane Kirley, Allen Kircher, Kathy Kennedy, Cory Johnson, Jennifer Vaughn, Mike Berkel, Natasha Berkel and many many more. Mike Bicklein served as the first president of the club and at the time was the youngest president in the country serving for a West Coast Swing Dance Club.
In 2006, the Rebels laid the foundation and began the MMISL event. For 13 years it has been a professional, growing West Coast Swing competition. Attendees are guaranteed to find the best Midwest hospitality at this event!
Over a decade after laying the foundations for the St. Louis Rebels, St. Louis has grown to have a terrific West Coast scene. Rebels still has Friday dances, and other clubs have used its example as inspiration to provide even more opportunities for "Westies" to practice their favorite dance in St. Louis.
In 2019 the Rebels made a move to focus on their weekly dance scene while still supporting the event that has been theirs for so long. The event was sold to Crystal Auclair and Katie Slater, who ran the event for the Rebels for several years. Their roots are in St. Louis and have always been with the Rebels.
Today, the St. Louis Rebels continue to pursue the same goals as it did back in 2006 - to foster a friendly and fun environment for social dancing, to enable its members to pursue their goals, and to provide a consistent opportunity to both work and play.