The Revitalization of the UD Swing Club

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Greg King swing dancing on the mall. Photo by Emma Powers.

As a prospective student researching UD, I soon came across the reported prominence of swing dancing in UD culture; however, what I saw in my research did not quite reflect the UD swing culture of today. Instead, it reflected the pre-COVID swing culture supported by a pre-COVID Swing Club. As Eleanor Hamlet, sophomore, said: “Before COVID [swing dancing] was huge. It was actually known throughout a lot of the college world as being a big thing.”

In the years, a coldness slowed UD’s swinging heart; the club’s attendance dropped, and the energy and enthusiasm for swing dancing declined across campus. As Joshua Bell, sophomore, said, “You think about the classes that danced a lot; they never had the effects of COVID.”

Currently, though, the heart of UD Swing is having fresh blood pumped into it. As Hamlet said, “I think Swing Club definitely suffered with COVID—like any club that requires being in someone’s physical presence—but it’s definitely come back over the last couple [of] years.” Yet this comeback is not complete; in particular, there is an ongoing need for men to attend.

Now, some men may believe swing is not worth their time and effort, which it does indeed require. Yet the work is well worth the final product: a beautiful and invigorating pastime that strengthens our traditional University of Dallas culture.

“I think the UD culture is something that wants to be separate from the modern culture, which modern culture has lost the deeper meaning of dancing,” said Justin Hwang, a freshman officer of the UD Swing Club. “It’s supposed to be a cooperation between men and women to learn and follow and lead, and I think swing does a beautiful job of portraying what it means to truly be able to lead well and truly be able to follow well.”

Others might see swing dancing as intimidating, even frightening. As Hamlet said, “I think one of the reasons that guys end up being afraid is mostly because leading is a lot harder than following at the beginning.” Yet, as with most worthwhile things, swing dancing will only become more comfortable through practice.

As Becca Leonard, junior, said, “once you just take that initial step of showing up, it really does become a great thing.” Likewise, as Nico Walz stated: “I would just encourage people, especially guys, just to get out there and give it a try. It’s one of those things that you will not regret knowing—how to swing dance and social dance in general—and there are definitely opportunities where you will regret not knowing how to dance.”

Another source of discouragement—for both girls and guys—is the belief that dancing is intrinsically romantic. Don’t worry, gentlemen, I can personally attest that I have danced with many girls, and I have not been forced to marry any of them—yet. In all seriousness though, the joy of dancing is not bound up in romance and simply asking a girl to dance should not have a romantic connotation. (However, I have been informed that it is an attractive skill, and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner).

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, Hwang and Katherine Kelsh—both fabulous dancers—will hold an introductory swing dancing class at the start of the UD Valentine’s Dance on Feb. 10. Swing Club welcomes dancers of all skill levels every Wednesday and Sunday from 8 to 10 P.M. If you’re new, don’t worry; there will be plenty of great dancers there to show you the ropes. So, UD, let’s go out swinging this semester!

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