4:10 PM EDT, June 29, 2012
For Chris Aubin swing dancing has been a passion since he was in high school. At least a couple nights a week, you'd find him doing the Lindy Hop with a variety of partners at events around town.
In early 2003 he was at the Willowbrook Ballroom in Willow Springs when his friend and dancing mentor Riley Wimes Jr. told him he should dance with a talented newcomer.
Bridget Ryan was home from college, visiting her family for the Christmas holidays and made quite an impression on Wimes.
"Bridget was a fantastic dancer. She had really fantastic feet — which means she had good moves," says Wimes. He pointed at Bridget and told Chris, "Hey man, you need to dance with this girl right here.' "
And so he did.
"I remember going back to Riley and saying, 'She's a really awesome dancer. We partnered really well together,' " says Chris.
And that was that. Dancing with new partners is part of the swing dancing scene. No big deal. "We didn't have any conversation. We danced and then we went our separate ways," he says.
About 10 months later, Chris and Bridget ran into each other in Minneapolis, where they both had traveled to watch The Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, swing dancing's national championship.
"I saw her there and I remembered dancing with her in Chicago so I asked her to dance again."
Here's how the conversation went:
Chris: "Where are you from? I know I've seen you in Chicago."
Bridget: "I'm actually from Chicago."
Chris: "What part?"
Bridget: "The southwest suburbs."
Chris: "Oh, me too. Which one?"
Bridget: "You've probably never heard of it. It's just a small town called Homer Glen."
Chris: "What? Me too! How is that possible? What subdivision?
Bridget: "Pebble Creek."
Chris: "Whoa. Pebble Creek. That's where I'm from. What street?"
Chris: "That's crazy. I lived on Boulder."
What are the chances?
For 10 years, Bridget and Chris had lived 17 houses apart on Boulder Drive — but never met.
Recalling the aftermath of that chance meeting in Minnesota, Chris says to Bridget, "I don't remember NOT hanging out with you after that. We certainly quickly became dance partners and then the dating started quickly after that."
As they got to know one another, the couple tried to figure out how they could have lived so close but didn't know the other existed.
Perhaps it was because Bridget, 31, is a year older than Chris, 30. So, although they went to the same grade school and middle school, they hung out with different friends. They took the school bus together but have no memory of each other. Bridget remembers thinking when she saw Chris for the very first time that there was something "familiar" about him but she dismissed it.
They went to different Catholic high schools so that's another reason their paths didn't cross, and they attended different Catholic churches (St. Dennis in Lockport for Chris; St. Bernard in Homer Glen for Bridget).
Whatever. They were together now. Partners in life as well as in dancing.
In 2004 and 2005 they won the top Chicago-area swing dancing competitions, the Bringing the Heat contest, and in 2006, on a ski trip to Colorado, they were engaged. The 2008 wedding was at St. Bernard's, Bridget's parish.
When the DJ — their friend Riley Wimes — took over after the wedding dinner, the dance floor at Orland Park's Riviera Country Club quickly filled up.
Many guests just pulled up a chair to watch the swing dancing, thinking it was a floor show. The dancers were that good.
"A lot of people were asking us if we'd hired dancers and we said, 'No, they're our friends!' " says Bridget.
Both Bridget and Chris say they can't imagine marrying someone who wasn't crazy about dancing — which brought them together (although they're both rabid White Sox and Blackhawks fans too).
Right now, however, Bridget is taking a break from swing dance competition. "No throwing through the air for me," she says.
That's because their first baby is due in four months, Nov. 10 to be precise. To celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary in June, the Evergreen Park couple didn't go dancing.
Instead, Chris and Bridget went to the doctor and listened to their baby's heartbeat.
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