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Spring Swing Dance keeps beat despite snowstorm


This year’s installment of the annual Spring Swing Dance was not without its complications. A historic blizzard kept many from attending and created hazardous road conditions that kept the three St. Olaf jazz bands and extra vocalists from being able to perform. The dance was also cut shorter than was planned as Buntrock closed at 10 p.m. due to the weather conditions. 

As the dance is planned two to three months in advance, the unfortunate timing was obviously a bit of a let down for those who worked hard in preparation. But those who did attend started the night strong and excited, tapping and spinning under the lights of the Pause with bright smiles and close companions. One first year even prepared a homemade skirt set for the mood. 

Swing Officer (or “Swofficer”) Alec “Teddy” Woodruff ’20 has been involved with the club since his freshman year. Despite the circumstances, Woodruff does not believe turnout was affected. “It would have been a little more lively,” he said, “but there’s still a great turnout, and everyone’s having fun.”

The turnout was consistent with other dances the Swing Club has held. This may be due to the new addition of intro and intermediate/advanced crash course swing lessons the Swing Club hosted throughout the day leading up to the dance. Those that attended, even if for the first time, found the introductory courses helpful; they took the edge off of some of the nervousness beginners might face. 

“It’s just to great being able to show off how much effort we put into it.” – Melissa Engel ’20

In addition to the lessons, this dance added an extra treat in the form of two choreographed numbers. The first, choreographed by Cece Sagona ’18, was open to anyone who knew basic Lindy Hop moves. The second,  choreographed by Andreas Raduege ’18 and Elaine Grafelman ’18, was only open through audition. Melissa Engel ’20, who has been in the club since her first year, was had been working on the routine for at least a month and a half. 

“It was really nerve-wracking at first thinking about performing in front of all of my friends because they know the moves we’re doing. When we got out there, I remember thinking ‘Oh my god.’ I forgot everything I ever learned, but it’s sort of a muscle memory,” Engel said. “I just remember smiling like a doofus the entire time because it’s just so great being able to show off how much effort we put into it. It makes you really happy, just sort of a glowy feeling.” 

For those who weren’t able to attend the dance, the choreographed numbers will be performed at the upcoming President’s Ball. But in the meantime, those even vaguely interested are encouraged to visit one of the most popular clubs on campus and try out swing for yourself. 

Woodruff says to any who have thought about joining but has been afraid to show up that, “It’s a group of people where it’s not about how many cool moves you can do or how crazy it gets. it’s about having fun. You might feel silly a couple times, but I promise that you are the only one who looks at yourself and thinks that you look silly. Everyone else either  doesn’t care at all, or they think, ‘Yeah, they’re really learning very fast.’”

Engel adds, “The slogan that we have in Swing Club is, ‘You’re not bad, you’re new.’”

The club meets in CAD Studio 1 every Tuesday night from 9-11 p.m. As well, they are performing at President’s Ball and possibly one more dance before the end of the year.