Eric Wolf, '20, and his partner, Cassandra Brown, dance together on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 at Lamberton Hall. Lehigh Swing Dance Club is an open and free organization that aims to foster the social swing dancing community on campus and provides opportunities for education in swing dance. (Bryan Kim/B&W staff)

Swing dance club brings 1920s to Lehigh

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Swing dancing is a partner style of dance created in Harlem in the 1920s and is typically accompanied by jazz music. Swing dancing is different than most other styles of dancing, as it does not have a set choreography. Instead, it requires a lead, who chooses the moves, and a follow, who mimics the lead.

Lehigh’s swing dance club wants to educate members of the community about the style of dance, both its background and how to actually swing dance.

The club hosted its semester social dance Oct. 29 featuring a live band. The event, which was held in Lamberton Hall, consisted of a lesson as well as a social dance.

The live band at Saturday’s event added a new dimension to the social dance, as the club usually dances to recorded music.

“We’re giving people an opportunity to dance with live music, which should be a lot of fun,” the club’s vice president Ryan Newberry, ’17, said.

The event was open to anyone who wanted to come, even if they had not come to a previous meeting. About 50 people, both from outside and within the Lehigh community, attended.

The club meets at least once a week and tries to involve as many people as possible.

“I love how easy it is to meet new people,” club president Amber Wallace, ’18, said. “It’s a social dance form, so the nature of the dance is you can approach anyone and ask them to dance.”

There are typically 15-20 members of the club who attend regularly, plus many more who show up occasionally. The club focuses on beginner lessons in order to draw in the most people possible on campus, and the lessons are taught by Lehigh students in the club.

Since Wallace and Newberry have been in the club, many things have changed, and Wallace has several goals she would like to see the club achieve.

“We used to have the lessons we had every week as a means to learn moves to put together a choreography, and the main focus of the club was a big performance,” Wallace said. “We’ve sort of transitioned it into providing lessons and having a social dance, so any given week people can come learn some new stuff and dance with people.”

Other activities include going off campus to attend other events, including workshops and social dances held at other schools, which they have already been doing more often.

Traveling is an important aspect for the club. Every year, the club attends a workshop at Penn State, where Abdulrahman Humayed, a general member and semester exchange student, said people from different universities and clubs come together to dance.

“By just going off campus, you get introduced to a lot of different people’s kinds of dancing,” Newberry said.

The club prides itself in its alumni relations. Wallace said former club members who have graduated frequent their events, and they often tend to find swing dance communities after their time in the club.

“I think more people should give it the chance that it deserves,” Humayed said. “The club offers a lot of fun stuff, not only just dancing.”

These non-dancing events include getting together for lunches and dinners and playing board games together, which creates a family environment for the club members.

“I think it’s a really cool environment in general,” Wallace said. “It’s not like any other group that you can join on campus. Something about it — there’s just like an energy. There’s a fun spirit to the dancing.”

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