Columbia’s very own Swing Dance Club has weekly meetings where they get sweaty and Lindy Hop together. Swing Supporter Sarah Thompson volunteered her limited dancing expertise to check it out. *Play the music at the bottom for an enhanced reading experience.
“Touch your partner with the level of pressure of a hug that’s comfortable, but not desperate.”
Desperate? Yes, this might have described my state of mind at the beginning of CU Swing Dance Club’s first large gathering, mostly because the night began with soul-searching that shouldn’t arise from such a quotidian event:
The few hundred people squished into Lerner C555, thus divided into leaders and followers and equipped with the basic dance steps, formed two long lines, where a teacher resembling Minnie Mouse paired us up randomly with a partner, like in fifth grade when you had to raise a sack of flour with a fake spouse.
One-two, three-four, five six! One-two, three-four, five six! Most of us mumbled that under our breath as we stared directly at our feet, intent on remembering the dance steps and not getting too sweaty from touching our partners; a few Fred Astaires shimmied and shook and twirled and bopped with the beat, and we all would’ve rushed to dance with them if we weren’t passed from awkward introduction to awkward introduction down the line.
From the basic six-count step, we learned how to do a sort of slow twirl where we ended up on the opposite side of our partner, invariably off the count we had been keeping, but nevertheless laughing at our mistakes and getting some sort of exercise that I didn’t hesitate to count as my weekly workout (usually it’s walking up to the 7th floor of Hamilton).
The two teachers kept the group engaged and laughing, and for the number of people they had to organize, they did a pretty damn good job of making everyone on their way to fitting in in the 1940s.