Swing Dance Society turns back the clock

Story by Maddie Gee | Reporter, Video by Melanie Pace | Broadcast Reporter

Swing dancing, according to The Swing Dance Company, is “a variety of partner dances evolving from the 1920s to the present day.”

The movement began with a dance called the “lindy hop” and has become a classic part of dance culture ever since.

Colorado Springs, Colo., junior Michael Coale has been involved in Baylor’s Swing Dance Society for the past two years.

“I had a little bit of experience with swing dance in high school but not very much, not enough to learn footwork,” Coale said. “When I went to my church, I met people who were connected with swing dance, and they said I should come. First my brother went and he said it was great and then I came. Once I came that first night, I never stopped.”

Aside from learning some killer dance moves, Coale said the organization has personally influenced him for the better.

“I am a lot more comfortable with meeting people who I have never met before,” Coale said. “The way that we teach swing dance is as long as you know the moves and the person you are dancing with knows the moves, you can walk up to a complete stranger, and ask if they want to dance. You are already connected by this common ground that is swing dance.”

The boost in self-confidence is not the only thing that Coale said he has gained since joining the organization. He has also made many new friends from all over campus.

Claremore, Okla., junior Emily Messimore said she has always had a passion for dancing.

“I have always loved dance,” Messimore said. “The summer before my freshman year at Baylor, I was already looking at all of the organizations online, and I was like ‘Oh my goodness they have a swing dancing society?’ I kind of had a relative idea of what that was. I knew it was 1940s and jazz music, and I love jazz. I thought ‘This is really something that I want to check out!’ So I came and started the lessons my first week of my freshman year. I really got into it the spring semester of my freshman year and have been consistent ever since.”

Along with exploring everyone’s love for dance, the organization also hosts and attends events throughout the year. The organization hosts workshops, performs at events (like Dia), and even has a giant end-of-the-year formal.

“I love our formal every year,” Messimore said. “At the end of the year, we throw this big dance that is usually off campus and we have a live band that comes up from Austin … tons of people come in from different cities. It is the epitome of the swing dance experience to go out and dance all night with people in front of a live band.”

Even if students are not professional dancers, anyone can come out and learn some of moves from the past.

“It’s really not that hard because unlike ballet or ballroom dancing where it is super structured, we are here to have fun,” Messimore said. “It was born out of being a street dance so people need to realize that you do not have to worry about getting everything right because swing dance is about the experience, the community and coming out and having fun.”

The Baylor Swing Dance Society keeps this dance style alive from 8-10 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday in Burleson Quad. The best ways to get in contact with the group are by showing up to the practices or reaching out through Orgsync.