Students began to file out of last classes and dining halls, ready to head home. A lively event on Armstrong Terrace captured the attention of passersby. Old tunes, like “Sh-Boom,” drifted over the lit terrace as pairs of students performed a variety of dances.
Swing Syndicate, one of Miami’s student dance organizations and the oldest of its kind, hosted the first of their monthly events entitled “Back in the Swing of Things” Tuesday evening. It was a chance for the experienced and inexperienced alike to share a few hours together through dances such as the Charleston, the Lindy Hop and the East Coast.
“We try to recruit people through performances on campus,” said club president, senior Rebecca Raig. “New people should come because it’s a great stress reliever, a way to learn a new skill and a great way to meet new people.”
Though some may have hesitations about learning a new skill, the club members clarify that experience isn’t necessary. There’s an opportunity to learn fundamentals including triple steps, swing outs and inside and outside turns, while later on, personal twists are added.
“I have two left feet, but they’re two good feet, so I manage,” said sophomore Ben Brush. “At first, it was very intimidating to dance with the people who are really good, but they’re very approachable.”
Students with majors ranging from music to engineering were in attendance; it’s one of those clubs that unifies people from all different backgrounds.
“I’m a terrible dancer, but everyone was so friendly and welcoming that after a while of coming to lessons, I got used to being with the people,” sophomore Jessie Hicks said. “It’s a social, communicative form of dance.”
Swing Syndicate offers its members the opportunity to join a friendly community while learning a new skill. Executive member, junior Megan Archdeacon shared how the club helped her overcome some social anxieties.
“It’s an open, accepting group,” she said. “You don’t need to talk, you get to just go dance with people and feel connected.”
The event was just beginning and the atmosphere on the terrace was casual, yet filled with energy. Music that resembled another era played from an Apple laptop, a pleasant combination of the old and new. Mid-song, students felt completely comfortable walking up to another member and asking if they’d care to dance.
“The swing community is where I met all my lasting friends, not my class friends; these are people I hang out with in my free time,” treasurer Nichole Rook said.
These are friendships that go beyond a brief hello while passing on the sidewalk; members go to dinner together, walk to classes and meet up on weekends. In between dances, they laugh and socialize with each other, talking and laughing as they catch up.
As the evening drew to a close, the last song faded and the members burst into applause. Then they were off to get ice cream Uptown.
Swing Syndicate hosts weekly lessons every Tuesday evening where student instructors teach lessons ranging from beginning to intermediate. For exact time and location, check their Facebook page.
For those interested in joining the swing dance competitive team that will compete this February, auditions are Thursday, September 28 (time and place to be determined).