For many, the thought of swing dancing creates an image of women in long, flippy skirts being twirled by their well-dressed male partner. In present time, this scene of an old-fashioned swing dance would require a time machine.
Luckily for students at SPU, this is not the only way to take part in swing dancing.
On Thursday, Nov. 2, The Social Dance Company hosted a night of swing dancing in the Hill Hall lobby. Participants were not required to bring dance shoes, a partner or even prior dance experience; it was open to all.
The “Swing Dig” allowed students of all skill levels to gather together for a time of carefree fun and learn some new moves to a timeless dance.
The Social Dance Company was founded last year at SPU by four students with a passion for dancing. Among these include alumni Daniel Fenlason, junior Amy Davis, senior Charles Mitchell and senior Heidi Bacorn.
According to founding member Amy Davis, the club had a rocky start.
They had difficulty publicizing their events and bringing in new members. However, after the group was officially deemed a club, the events they put on gained momentum.
After a couple of months, the group had established that they did not want it to be an exclusive gathering. They knew that they wanted events where they could make traditional styles of dancing, like swing, available to students at SPU.
Though their club started as a simple way to dance with other people, they realized it could become a great space for SPU students to learn older styles of dancing in a judgement-free space.
“I just enjoy swing dancing. I enjoy getting out there and doing something different,” said second-year transfer Alex Ticknor.
To begin the evening, students were told to stand in two circles facing one another. Because not all attendees had a dance partner, the circle method gave students a chance to practice their new moves with somebody different. It also encouraged students to branch out of their social circle.
Once everyone had a partner, the instructors then gave basic steps which gradually led to more advanced techniques.
Some of the techniques taught during the evening include a basic rocking step, a couple of partner turns, a jump and even partner dips.
The instructors occasionally changed things up and had the inner circle rotate counter-clockwise, which allowed students to become more comfortable dancing with strangers, a common occurrence in ballroom styles of dancing.
In the second portion of the evening, students were given the opportunity to free dance and show off the skills they had learned without the guidance of their instructors. More experienced dancers progressed forward to complicated moves with their partners, while those still trying to understand the steps could continue to learn at their own pace.
Despite the fact that Seattle is a large city, there are not many opportunities to have ballroom-style dancing events. The Century Ballroom is a great place where residents of the greater Seattle area can take lessons in classic styles of dancing, including swing.
Although the Century Ballroom is available, it can be difficult for students to access. The Social Dance Company allows students to take part in this activity without exhausting their resources.
The club holds a dance event every quarter, this quarter’s being the “Swing Dig.” They intend on having another swing dancing event sometime in the future and plan to have a salsa night in winter quarter.
For those without dancing experience, or even experience with swing, this event was perfect for learning in a judgement-free place. Two students, one knowing absolutely nothing about swing dancing and another with years of practice, could both attend the event and have an equal amount of fun taking part in the classic, carefree activity.
The flyers distributed around campus gave details of the schedule for the evening so that students knew when to arrive if they wanted lessons or if they just wanted to dance independently.
The seemingly lost art of swing dancing is brought back to life through the dedication and hard work of people like the Social Dance Company. It is because of those who care enough to educate others that these styles of dance have not