Kathryn Powell, a senior history major, didn’t swing dance until her sophomore year. Now, she is the president of Ball State Swing Society and teaches others how to dance.
“I thought, this is something beautiful I can do,” Powell said. “I can do it with other people and not feel self conscious about my body or who I am, I can just dance and have fun.”
At first, the club was simply a way for Powell to get over her fear of dancing, but her determination to learn the steps along with the relaxed, noncompetitive atmosphere of the club made her return each week.
“It took me about two or three weeks to become comfortable,” Powell said. “If you practice a lot and have the mindset that ‘oh I can do this,’ you will.”
Joseph Bloom, a freshman music performance major, has been dancing since high school and found that swing dancing was easy for him to learn. He was drawn to the Swing Society booth at the activity fair and is excited to continue dancing in college.
“It's a really nice way to mix staying physically active and getting exercise with being social,” Bloom said. “It's usually called ‘social swing’ because the whole thing is just talking to people, hanging out, learning new stuff and getting exercise the whole time.”
Bloom also enjoys how each meeting is run.
At the beginning of a meeting the moves to the dance are taught, then the dancers are allowed to put together what they learned in their own creative way. Each pair of dancers can also decide who will lead and who will follow, but no one is required to dance.
“We accept the fact that it’s OK to say no to a dance if you don’t want to dance,” Powell said. “It’s not an offensive thing to be like ‘oh I’m really tired, I don’t want to dance right now.’”
The Swing Society wants to make every class open to people of any skill level, and Powell hopes that more people will be able to come and enjoy themselves without getting discouraged after their first time. To help encourage new members, board members can help dancers individually if they feel like they need help with the dance.
“We all just want more people to dance with,” Bloom said. “Nobody is like ‘oh no another new guy we have to teach,’ people are like ‘Yes! More new people to dance with.’”
The club meets to dance at 7 p.m. on Mondays in room 200B of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, but members also organize events like bonfires and workshops outside of the regular meeting times.