Story by Kirsten Fedorowicz, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Facebook
I have lost track of the times I’ve been told I’m not a good dancer. The reviews come in saying, “you use your arms too much,” and “you’re very awkward.” Despite this, I have always loved dancing, and discovering swing dancing in Grand Rapids has been one of my favorite experiences.
Swing Dancing is an older style of dancing that is making a comeback. It involves two people, one who leads and the other who follows. Often, it is fast paced, a blur of fast steps and fun moves and, most importantly, twirling.
Swing Dancing is offered in Rosa Parks circle during the warm months, and varies location during the winter. It’s a great experience, but getting there is always a problem, and there’s a small fee to pay. AQ’s new solution? Enter the Swingin’ Saints, a new RSO formed at the end of Spring 2016.
Vice President America DeGraw said, “We wanted to make this really great dance style available right here on campus so that people didn’t have to go downtown to experience it, or pay to learn. Most of all though, we just really love swing dancing.”
On Oct. 27, the Swingin’ Saints had a swing dancing event in the Library Piazza. Costumes were encouraged, and the club decorated the space with cobwebs. The music played varied, ranging from modern pop to old time swing dancing music to classic homecoming group dance songs. As fun as doing ‘Cotton-eye Joe’ is, club members encourage and offer to teach swing dancing. The club encourages dancers of all skill levels, and is equipped to help those with no experience at all.
President Mark Cistaro said: “ I really like it when people connect with the dancing, it’s really great teaching them and watching them freak out when they figure out a new move.”
There were a few groups of wallflowers and first timers, and club members would often go up and offer to teach them basic moves. It is amazing to see how the confidence of those participating in the swing dancing increases within the time of the event.
“There’s a beauty to it, and it’s really affirming when you’re able to dance with your partner and do these dance moves that look complicated, but really aren’t.” Cistaro told The Saint.
On the Oct. 27 event, I was able to get on the dance floor and embrace the moves I did know, while managing to learn a couple more. It can be awkward finding someone to dance with, but my experience at the event allowed me to see that everyone is very friendly, and participants don’t mind if someone accidentally steps on their toes.
DeGraw shares my sentiment.“I just generally enjoy dancing. I’ve never been particularly rhythm oriented, or very coordinated, but Swing makes sense and comes pretty easily to me. I like that because, let’s be honest, if I can do it with a little practice, anyone can.”
You can follow Swingin’ Saints on Instagram: @swinginsaints, Twitter: @swinginsaintsAQ, and Facebook on the Swingin’ Saints page for information on upcoming events. Specific questions are welcomed in DeGraw’s and Cistero’s Aquinas emails, ajd008 and mac007.
About the Writer…
Kirsten Fedorowicz is a sophomore English major and women’s studies minor. She is involved in the SAC, Enactus, and Interfaith clubs on campus. Kirsten is a runner, an avid seamstress, and a spoken word poet. She really loves trees.