UB's Swing Dance Club takes a twist with a shout

A diverse group of students gather to dance and socialize


Music sounded throughout the Flag Room in the Student Union as partners coupled up, reaching for each other’s hands. Instructors began teaching new moves while swing dance veterans found a groove of their own.

More than 25 students showed up last week to learn how to swing dance at UB’s Swing Dance Club, which holds its meetings every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Union.

The crowd is just as diverse as the flags in the room, as many people have different academic majors and ranges of dance experience. The club is about more than just learning to dance – it’s about having a great time, according to members.

“I would say swing dance is a great social skill,” said Shane Nolan, a sophomore electrical engineering major and the club’s president. “We’re more of a social club with a special interest in dancing.”

The class begins with a 30-minute lesson. Instructors walk around the floor to clarify any confusing steps or partner moves.

“When you start [swing dancing] it’s very unfamiliar,” Nolan said. “Just being able to step out of your shell and ask someone to dance can be a little complicated.”

Once the lesson is over, students are visibly more relaxed. The next hour consists of “free dance,” as Benny Goodman, “The King of Swing,” blasts out of large speakers. Students are free to dance however they feel, practicing the day’s learned steps or opting freestyle.

This is the point in the class participants let go, get creative and have fun.

“[The club] is a good break from the day,” said Eileen Bennett, a sophomore mathematics major.

Many of the members have found their way into the club by chance.

“Fall [semester] of my freshmen year I was eating upstairs in the Student Union, and someone asked me if I ever wanted to swing dance, ” said Leslie Gil, a sophomore double major in chemistry and linguistics. “I said I really didn’t know how but I tried. I’ve been coming regularly ever since.”

As free dance continues, some students take a break while others keep practicing their moves or making up new ones.

“When I was really little I danced,” said Maggie Petrella, a sophomore economics and math double major. “Now, I do it for the fun of it. If I could learn how to dance better that would be great, too, but it’s more for the experience.”

The Swing Dance Club is planning an event for this November with live music.

“It’s not going to be just dancing; it will be a social [event],” Nolan said. “We’re going to be teaching some dance moves and there will be an open dance floor for people to dance and come hang out with us.”

UB’s Swing Dance Club hopes to attract more participants moving forward.

“This is a pretty diverse club. We encourage people to just dance and not be nervous,” Nolan said. “[Dance] is another form of communication; when you dance with a partner you’re communicating.”

As the lesson concluded, students were still showing off the moves they learned. The club promotes an environment of enthusiasm not only for dancing but for getting to know others on campus.

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