Sometimes, you really just can’t fight that urge to get up and dance. Fortunately, when that happens, there’s a club tailor-made for you.
Whitman junior Aidan McCormick first checked out the college’s Social Dance Club at the insistence of senior Andrew Wildman, who was recommending the club to members of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He soon found he enjoyed the club’s signature activity–social dance–and since then, he has been routinely attending the weekly meetings. The club meets on Tuesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Sherwood 223.
The club makes a point of being receptive to newcomers. “It’s definitely very open to beginners,” Wildman said. “The most experienced dancers are mostly the leaders in the club,” he added, and thus they act as the instructors for newcomers. Wildman stated that “[i]t’s also fun to teach people.”
“In general, as with all forms of dance, it’s kind of hard to pick up,” Wildman said. “But once you do, it gets really fun.”
Lauren Benedict, who joined the club in the fall semester, agreed, citing the dynamic between the “leads” and the “follows.” During a dance, “The ‘lead’ has to decide what to do one step in advance and they have to commit to it. So the whole time they are constantly thinking about both what they are dancing and the next move. But ‘follows’ have to pay so much attention to their lead so that they can expect the next move and not get left behind. Both are hard but so much fun!”
There is some occasional independent learning going on in the club, as sometimes the group will attempt to “learn some extra moves from the internet.” The bulk of club activity, however, is simply the dancing itself.
While McCormick states that swing is the club’s preferred style of dance, Wildman notes that the group also performs dance in salsa, waltz, and meringue styles. Sometimes, the dances can be more unique, as Wildman recalled:
“There’s this one [dance] called the Shorty George, which involves locking your knees together, squatting down as low as you can, putting your hands by [your] armpits, and waddling across the room. So we did that for a good solid thirty minutes. That was a good time.”
A typical club meeting, according to McCormick, usually hosts around six to eight students. He added that “[w]e’re always looking for new people.”
The club also performs a number of activities outside of the meetings themselves. They have performed in Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew in the past, and will do so again this year. Additionally, on April 4, the club put on its annual all-school dance, called the Spring Swing, in which students were invited to learn swing dancing and free dance with the club. This year, contrasting with the norm, students “kept coming in” over the course of the show, leading to a lot more individual instruction than usual.
One of Benedict’s favorite club memories, according to her, was at a Sigma Chi event where she realized most of the club’s members were present. “[W]e took over the music and started dancing to Ke$ha and more classic swing songs. It was so much fun and made me really realize how good I’d gotten by dancing every week and how much I loved the social dance group.”
“[G]oing to that first meeting was one of the best decisions I made this year,” Benedict said, “because I discovered I absolutely love to swing dance.” With that in mind, it may be worthwhile to consider taking a swing at Social Dance Club.