The roaring ’20s and the jazz music of the time gave birth to swing dancing and, almost a hundred years later, the dance form remains popular. Upholding the presence of this art form on campus is the Swing Dance Club, which works to provide a platform for new and existing dance enthusiasts to learn and practice swing dancing.
Aubrey Toole, a senior biomedical sciences major from Pace, Florida, is the founding president of the club that has been meeting since the 2012 spring semester.
“I swing danced a lot in high school, and I came to Troy thinking, ‘Hey, I can join some kind of swing dancing group and swing dance some more in college,’ but there wasn’t really any kind of a group,” Toole said.
“So I met my friend Theresa (vice president of the club),” she said. “She and I talked about how we both did swing dancing in high school and how we both thought it’d be a great idea to have a club at Troy, so we decided we should start one and just kind of went from there.”
The group’s meeting starts with the reviewing of steps from the previous week and the teaching of new ones. A beginners’ class is taught during the first hour and is followed by an advanced class, during which members can practice more intricate moves, including lifts and flips.
“I have swing danced for several years now, and they teach us a slightly different style of swing dance here than I’m used to,” said Michael Engelman, a sophomore English education major from Foley. “But it’s still kind of fun to switch back and forth between the two different styles that I know. I like it.”
The club has even garnered attention from people outside the campus who come to practice the dance form they love. Todd Guison, from Springfield, Missouri, works at Fort Rucker and came to hear about the Swing Dance Club through some friends from church and has been a regular attendee.
“I also I think it’s a good way for people to exercise and meet new people,” Guison said. “That’s the very reason I come. I’ve made several new friends this semester alone, so it is a good time.”
Cassidy Counter, a freshman business major from Huntsville, described her first meeting as a casual yet fun event where she got to meet new people and learn a new dance form.
“I think it helps students come together and get them out of their comfort zones,” Counter said. “But not a lot of people know how to swing dance. It’s kind of a dying art, I guess. So it’s fun to teach people how to do it and get it revived.”
The club also goes to the meetings of other student organizations or events at their requests and teaches or performs as needed.
“Off campus, we have done a jazz night,” Toole said. “The jazz band here at Troy did this jazz night in the square where they played for the Troy public. They invited us to come swing dance. So we got to swing dance while they played their jazz music out in front of the square. That was really neat.”
Toole encourages students to join the club, as she says that swing dancing is a good skill to learn.
“I think it’s really a great way to come and learn a new skill and meet new people,” she said. “You know, you really get the fellowship and kind of enjoy the college atmosphere, but also learn a new skill that you can take with you, like wherever you go.”
The Swing Dance Club meets every Monday in the Trojan Center Ballrooms from 8 to 9:30 p.m.