Social Dance Club loosens people up on the floor

William Witwer

If popular culture is any indication, ballroom dancing is not for the faint of heart, nor, stereotypically, for men. The Social Dance Club would love to change that, but their goal is not to boldly shake up the status quo. They just want to get as many people to dance and have a good time.

Enthusiastic member and part-time instructor Justin Daigneault, resident director of Jewett Hall, explained that the club is designed for beginners.

Students attending the third annual Winter Ball learn new moves. The event had more than 70 attendees.  Credit: Marie Von Hafften

“The Social Dance Club is a space where we teach people how to go out to social events and gatherings and know how to generally dance with groups of people,” said Daigneault via e-mail. “We don’t teach exact [or] perfect ballroom techniques and styles [since] we are not classically trained professionals, but we do show people how to feel comfortable on the dance floor, how to work with a partner and how to have fun with dancing.”

The club teaches a variety of different dancing styles to anyone who will show up to the weekly meetings held on Sundays from 3-5 p.m. in the Sherwood Athletic Center. The club devotes the first hour to swing/waltz/foxtrot lessons and open dance. The second hour becomes a space for teaching Argentine tango, if they have enough leaders. Daigneault mentioned that a lack of instructors can create problems.

“In order to join the club people do not need any previous dance experience, the only thing you need is to be interested in learning how to dance and wanting to meet some other people in the same position,” said Daigneault. “Sometimes we are a little ‘follower’ heavy and would love to get more guys/leads involved in the club, especially for tango.”

The club held their third annual Winter Ball on Saturday Feb. 26, which was not a type of recital, but a chance for socializing and more dance instruction. Leaders of the club had high hopes for improving on the attendance of the previous years, which had been around 50 people. In fact,  Annette Patton, one heavily involved club member, estimates that there were [insert estimate when I receive it] there.

“It was a great success,” said Patton in an e-mail. “We had an awesome turnout (Reid Ballroom was filled with swinging Whitties!) and a wonderful time dancing swing and waltz. We started off by teaching basic waltz and swing and then had an open dance, where we played swing and waltz music and went crazy.”

Along with Daigneault, Patton emphasized that absolutely anyone can come to a practice. She says that what they do in practice depends heavily on the makeup of the group.

“We usually tailor each meeting to the group who shows up,” said Patton. “If the group includes beginners, we teach the basics, but if the group is mostly returning members we practice what we already know and teach more advanced material.”