A Growing, Weekly Tradition

For the past few years, students have gathered for swing dancing nights, which take place on Sunday nights at 7:30 in the DMC lobby or at various venues where the jazz band plays throughout the year. Though a common sight now for students, the Sunday dance was the brainchild of two Cedarville students with a passion for swing dancing.

In the fall of 2011, Cedarville University began allowing students to participate in group dances on campus. Chase Kitzmiller and Alex Huffman quickly latched onto the opportunity to organize a group dancing event to bring together students interested in learning the art of swing dancing and taking a break from the stresses of college life.

The event is open to students of all abilities.

“If you don’t know how (to dance), that’s fine,” said Eric Hinson, a three-year swing dancing participant. “There’s lots of us that are more than willing to teach (swing dancing).”

Since its early days, participation in swing dancing has experienced significant growth. Knowledge of the events spreads by word of mouth and through weekly emails sent out by Micah Bernard, a senior pharmacy student and president of the committee who plans the events.

“It started out that 10 or 15 people would come each week. It’s grown tremendously since then,” Bernard said. “(One night this year) we had over 120 people come.”

Bernard said she hopes that as the year goes on she and her partner can begin teaching interested students Lindy hop, a variety of swing dancing that is different from and more difficult than the East Coast variety students are currently learning. The East Coast variety is relatively simplistic, allowing beginners the chance to learn the six-count step and some basic twists, turns and aerials. Lindy hop, on the other hand, is a much older style, which features a combination of eight-count steps and six-count steps, that requires both partners to have some skill rather than relying on the leadership of the male in the dance.

In addition to learning how to dance, students are given the chance to participate in a tradition that traces back from the earliest stages of swing dancing history, Hinson said. This tradition, commonly known as “snowball,” serves the purpose of introducing students to other dance styles rather than just having them become accustomed to a single style, he said.

Hinson said the activity, which takes place near the end of the night, begins with all remaining dancers standing in a circle in the middle of the dance floor and one couple dancing in the center. When someone shouts “snowball” the couple breaks up and each person picks a new partner from those on the sidelines. The process repeats until everyone is dancing or has had the chance to dance with at least one partner.

Students interesting in learning more about the swing dancing events can contact Micah Bernard at mfbernard@cedarville.edu and will be placed on an email list to know when and where the next swing dancing night is taking place.

Naomi Burhoe is a freshman liberal arts major and reporter for Cedars. She loves reading fantasy, sci-fi and classical novels, as well as writing poetry, listening to a wide variety of music, and spending time with friends and family.

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