MTU Swing Club
Picture this: Jazz music drifts softly through the air, and you’re having the time of your life as you’re spinning (or being spun) around the dance floor. Dressed in your evening best, you’ve made new friends, explored a new hobby (or increased your knowledge on an old one!) and you can’t stop from smiling. Does this sound like a good time? If you said yes, then fear not, as you have found the perfect organization to join: Swing Club!
Swing dancing is a specific category of dances that developed alongside the swing jazz music genre that started appearing in the 1920s-1940s, a time alternatively known as the “Swing Era.” While the thought of swing dancing and jazz music may bring to mind flapper costumes, pinstripe suits and other images of the past, Michigan Tech’s Swing Club is just one example of how the genre is very much in the present.
The Swing Club has been active in its current form at Michigan Tech since 2000, and they’ve provided a unique atmosphere on campus that contrasts nicely with other student orgs, many of which are focused on STEM, the outdoors, or what some may refer to as “nerd culture.”
According to Griffin Abbott, Public Relations Officer for Swing Club, the group is the only social dancing organization on Michigan Tech’s campus. Composed of Tech students and Houghton-area community members alike, Swing Club is a place for experts, beginners and anyone in between to learn new dances and perfect old ones. While Michigan Tech does have a Dance Team, Swing Club focuses more on the social aspect of dance in comparison to the competitive side.
“Typically, we do our lesson and afterward we have an hour of just social dance,” Abbott says. The social side of the club brings its members closer together, creating a tight-knit group of friends. “I think that’s a unique experience,” Abbott says of the low pressure atmosphere within the organization. “You can just walk up to anybody and ask to dance and just do a song.”
Beyond their meetings, which happen every Wednesday and Sunday, Swing Club also participates in various local performances and dancing events nationwide. Travelling events include the Midwest Lindy Fest, held annually in Minnesota, and PittStop, a lindy hop festival that the club attends each year during Thanksgiving Break. They also sometimes play with local bands and are invited to perform to local events.
As seen in many student organizations, the COVID-19 has brought many challenges to Swing Club. As a socially-based organization that typically focuses on dances involving two people, the club has had to make some changes. Lessons have switched to teaching one-person dances in a socially-distanced environment, and travelling events have been cancelled or hosted virtually. Abbott is hopeful that next semester, the club will be able to resume some of the normal routines they are used to, but as with many things, the pandemic leaves many unknowns.
Now more than ever, perhaps, organizations like these are important for students as a means of escaping the pressures and stress of everyday life. The carefree and fun attitude of Swing Club helps take away the stressors of homework, classes, and other things students go through daily.
Anyone interested in joining the club can reach out via email at [email protected], or check out their Facebook page, where they share all events, at www.facebook.com/groups/mtuswing.
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