Vinnie’s jump & jive
a history

It all began with a spark of an idea, inspired by a fun evening of dancing.

Mark Masselli, Founder, President and CEO of Community Health Center, Inc., with his wife Jennifer Alexander, founder of Kidcity children’s museum, had just enjoyed a swing dance event at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.

Later that same evening, walking along the city’s Main St., Mark and Jen found themselves stopped in front of a vacant space, and imagined the potential to start a community dance program in Middletown.

Mark brought this idea to his friend Vinny Amato, owner of the building housing the vacant space at 424 Main St. Vinny was the founder and longtime owner of Amato’s Toy and Hobby, a Connecticut institution.

It didn’t take long for Mark to convince Vinny to offer the space to Community Health Center to start the dance program. Vinny was a big fan of CHC, and always looking for opportunities to make Middletown a better place to live and work.

Thus, in 2000, Vinnie’s Jump & Jive opened its doors, honoring Vinny Amato. Vinnie’s immediately became a big hit in town, offering “All Kinds of Dance for All Kinds of People.” As a program of CHC, its focus was on promoting health and wellness through dance.

True to its roots, Vinnie’s remains a treasured hub for Connecticut’s swing dance community. And among “all kinds of dance”, over the years classes were added in tap, ballet, salsa, ballroom, hip hop, belly dancing, country line and many others.

Having survived the pandemic, Vinnie’s original location was sold in 2022 and a new home was sought. Community Health Center was able to repurpose space it owned on Main St., closer to its flagship health center. Vinnie’s reopened in 2024 with support from the city of Middletown, and dancers now enjoy a fresh new space with a great dance floor and secure parking.

Come dance with us at 635 Main St. in Middletown!