By Juan A. Ramirez, news correspondent
As dozens of students wearing suspenders, newsboy caps and flapper dresses poured into the ballroom, it seemed like the Curry Student Center was hosting one of Gatsby’s legendary parties last Friday. With smokey eyes and tight trousers, members of the Northeastern University Ballroom Dance Club had invited students to try their hand at swing dancing in a free introductory lesson.
“We have beginner lessons every week with a different dance at each,” Kathleen Newcomer, a third-year computer science and biology major and social chair of the club, said. “We have these bigger events just to get a little more dressed up and put a little more fun into it.”
Fun was not in short supply at the event, as students, both veteran and first-timers, looked the parts and shed their inhibitions to step back into the 1920s. Even those who were unfamiliar with swing found themselves swept up in the moment, as the long skirts and immaculate period hairstyles moved to the sounds of big band jazz. Reminded to keep their eyes locked on their partner’s, dancers swayed, spun and two-stepped in an inimitably jazzy style one would find in an old movie.
“Swing is a very social dance,” Newcomer said. “We have a really sweet photo booth with props, the actual lesson and some general dancing with people welcome to ask more experienced club members for tips and more moves. Everyone’s here to have a good time.”
Some in attendance had been swing dancing for many years, often starting clubs in their respective high schools. However, since membership is not required to attend the events, swing nights are often populated with casual dancers, including sophomore mechanical engineering major Eric Hull.
“I come to a lot of the club’s events,” Hull said. “There are the people who come to the meetings, and there are people who actually do competitions. I’m not sure if I would do competitions just because I’m more interested in dance for the social and fun aspects of it.”
Watching the students pair off and let loose, it became evident that swing dancing had a particular appeal – one of energetic abandon and old-fashioned charm. Laura Baker, a junior health science and biology double major and member of the club, said she finds the “chaos” of swing appealing.
“Swing dancing, as a general trend, starts out as a favorite,” Baker said. “A lot of the fun of swing is that it’s sort of chaotic and very musical so when you start learning the technique it kind of takes the dancing to the next level, but it also takes away some of that chaos that makes it so fun.”
Though some of the newcomers at the event have always been interested in dance, others were simply looking for a fun night out.
“I’ve never danced before, but I thought it’d be fun to try,” Emma Landsman, a senior at Northampton High School visiting a Northeastern friend, said. “I knew it was ‘20s-themed, so I was excited to dress up and have fun.”
Photo by Robert Smith