Story by Katherine Hunt
Photo courtesy of Alyson Browder
Energetic music, budding friendships and a lively atmosphere. These were the vibrant elements in the air at the Swing Dance and Jazz Night on Nov. 30. The Bulldog Swing Society, in collaboration with the Turner Jazz Center, helped put on this event in celebration of becoming an official student organization on Drake University’s campus. Although students and community members alike attended for different reasons, the 60 dancers in attendance enjoyed dancing the night away.
“I attended because I absolutely love swing dancing, and I try to go every chance I get,” first-year Austin Garner said.
Senior Caitlin Podemski attended the event for a different reason entirely.
“I attended because I am the marketing coordinator for the jazz center, plus the event was a huge hit last year, and I didn’t get a chance to go, so I wanted to check it out.”
Senior Alyson Browder, founder of the Bulldog Swing Society, explains why there needed to be such an organization on campus.
“My hope in founding Bulldog Swing Society is to get college-age students to have a place that is convenient for them to learn the culture of swing dancing as well as the dance itself in a fun, safe environment, so that they will have the drive to eventually go out and enjoy all the other wonderful swing opportunities in the area.”
Browder has always had a passion for swing dancing and wanted other students to “catch the bug” that envelops the excitement of swing dancing.
Swing dancing is not an overnight skill. It takes time and practice. Garner, as an experienced swing dancer, explained one of the difficulties he has with swing dancing.
“One main difficulty is keeping your correct footwork even as you are doing the all of the cool stuff, because once you get off, it’s hard to get back on.”
There are also massive benefits. Browder explains that it’s about self-betterment in several ways. “Swing dancing is not simply about having fun. It’s about meeting new people, developing new skills, challenging yourself intellectually and physically when learning new moves, being introduced to new cultures, learning how to interact with your dance partners, getting physical exercise in a fun way, relieving stress, learning the art of dance and the musicality of the songs and all in a healthy, fun and safe environment.”
Garner also said being a swing dancer “isn’t too bad with the ladies either.”
Podemski enjoyed the feeling that swing dancing provides even with being new to the scene, “I sucked at it and still had a good time. You can pretty much just go with the flow and do whatever which is really fun.”
To find out more about Bulldog Swing Society, visit its Facebook page.