Meet the Boulder Swing Dance Staff: Interview with Auliya McCauley-Hartner

Boulder Swing Dance sat down with Auliya to learn more about her and how she got involved with swing dancing.

by Vicky Youcha

Tell us how you got started swing dancing.

I’d always been interested in cultural aspects of the past, specifically America from the 1940s-1960s. I’d grown up listening to oldies music and going to car shows with my friend’s family. When I heard of the 1940s ball in Boulder I had to go. But after trying unsuccessfully to make it to the dance lesson three events in a row I let it go. At the 2012 Summer Ball my friend was ready to leave so we did, but on my way back home from dropping her off I just had to turn around and go back to watch the dancers swing the night away until far past midnight. I started lessons at Boulder Swing Dance that summer.

How long have you been with Boulder Swing Dance? What’s your role?

As I mentioned before, I started taking lessons at Boulder Swing in 2012. I started working the front desk just before Stephen Newcomb left Boulder Swing and then with Krister. Over time I’ve developed a more participatory role doing blog posts and updating Facebook and the website and taking pictures. I also plan and host most of our social activities.

Mostly though, I like to joke I’m the bouncer.

This is what I wanted to ask you first – where do you get all your fabulous clothes? How do you find vintage swing dance outfits? What advice do you have for a newbie dancer who wants to start dressing the part?

I try to wear a dress every day I don’t work, and consequently my wardrobe is probably the most expensive thing I own beyond camera equipment.

I do a ton of shopping -  online, at consignment shops and other clothing stores. For vintage you really just have to keep your eyes peeled and know your measurements. Estate sales often have authentic vintage clothing at great prices. And my local go-to shops are the Brass Armadillo Antique mall, the shops on Broadway in Denver, Buffalo Exchange in Boulder and Denver and Rockin’ Robins in Longmont (and my grandma’s closet.) My style is definitely “retro” and consequently I wear more vintage-inspired than true vintage. The best brands are Pinup Girl Clothing, Heart of Haute and Freddies of Pinewood. I rarely buy anything brand new. Most of my finds are second hand through instagram shops and facebook groups, which I recommend for anyone starting out. And for those nervous about getting dressed up, I love this quote, "If you’re overdressed people will just assume you’re coming from somewhere better or going somewhere better.”


You take such great pictures. What’s the secret to taking pictures of people dancing that makes them look good?

That’s so nice of you to say! I often look at Krister’s and Ceth’s images from dances and think they capture an utterly different experience than what my images do. Regardless of style, it’s all in the faces. I try to capture smiling faces and people enjoying themselves in addition to cool dance moves. And it’s not easy! It’s the only time as a follow I really have to anticipate the lead’s moves to get the shot.


Your name is so beautiful. What’s the origin? Is there a story about how you came to be named Auliya?

Again, another compliment; thanks for saying so Vicky. My name is Arabic in origin, though I obviously am not. (Scotch-Irish and German if you’re curious). It means highest or most exalted which I try not to let go to my head. And it’s from the book Dune. My parents quite liked how it was phonetically spelled out in the glossary so that’s how I got the unique spelling. It causes much trouble when ordering food so I often just request the name “Red” for obvious reasons.

What advice do you have for folks taking their first swing dance lessons?

My advice is you don’t need a partner! I was so nervous to try dance lessons in the beginning that I made my friend, who had no interest in dancing,  go with me. Thankfully I fell in love and didn’t need the crutch of friend to get me to continue. But Boulder Swing has such a kind, welcoming community that friends will quickly be made if you open yourself up to it. Also go to different venues and see how they teach dance. And for goodness sakes, go dance to a rockabilly band!

 What do you do for fun outside of dancing? What would we be surprised to learn about you?

Dancing definitely consumes the largest amount of my spare time, and I try to see a band at least every other weekend. I frequent Rockabillies in Arvada and the Skylark in Denver, and The Lucky Few are my favorite local band to catch. I do my fare share of shopping of course, online or out and about. I also spend time with my cat who’s enjoying our move to a more remote part of Boulder County where he can explore and prowl. I enjoy going to the gym, or at least I tell myself I do, and practice yoga. I’ve been setting a book goal for the last three years and have already met this year’s goal in June. And once a week I host a game night where we stay up till all hours playing board games and arguing over the rules.

As for a fun fact, I’m a tattoo! I did a space-girl pinup shoot last year and a friend saw them on Facebook asked if they could use my likeness for a tattoo. How could I say no?