Swing dancing the night away

Swing dancing the night away

Swing dancing the night away
June 17
21:45 2017

Michael Vu | Staff Writer

“Rock step, triple, triple, and rock step!”

Those are the words flowing through every dancer’s head in the beginner’s swing dancing class, as experts and newbies alike sidestep and spin their way around the dance floor. At the Denton Swing Dance Organization, for just $7, you’re taken into a time when the bands were big and there was no such thing as text messages or Twitter.

The Denton Swing Dance Organization’s humble origins begin in 2005 with founder Will Thornton and a group of about twenty willing students at a nearby gym with no music. After over a decade of passionate regulars and popularity, they’re now at their new location at the Green Space Arts Collective meeting every first Saturday and third Friday of every month.

“I remember what inspired a bunch of my friends back in the day to swing dance was that old commercial for GAP in the 90s” Thornton said. “I think if you ask a lot of instructors now, that’s probably what started their interests as well.”

The organization has had dances all over Denton, ranging from judo gyms to churches and, most recently before the move, at Sprocket’s Bicycle Shop on the Square.

At the start of the night, they begin with an intermediate class, where they teach students how to do The Madison to Dizzy Gillespie’s “School Days.” For some, it’s a little fast-paced. For others, it’s just another night of dancing. But the welcoming and encouraging atmosphere from not only the instructors, but with the fellow students, allows everyone to jump right in.

They also conduct beginner’s lessons at 8 p.m. They teach the essential steps and basics to prepare yourself for the upcoming night’s dance. Each student partners up and after a new steps and spins are introduced, the guys move and switch to a different partner.

“It’s a really great place to just get out there and just have fun,” UNT graduate student Athena Buxley said. This is her fifth dance in attendance. “Plus, it’s a really welcoming environment and no one is judging you here.”

Once the clock strikes 9 p.m., it’s time for the main event of the night. The social dance is where beginners take whatever they learned from the hour before and show it off with a partner on the dance floor. Here, it doesn’t matter if you’re an expert with years of experience or if you’ve only had a lesson an hour earlier to help you. Everyone is willing to help dancers improve and show you the right moves to get back at it.

Near the end of the dance, the group routinely gathers in a circle to celebrate the upcoming birthdays. While the song plays, other members try to steal the birthday person away to be their own dance partner.

The final dance before the night is over is the snowball dance. The snowball dance starts off with two partners and whenever the DJ says “snowball,” everyone must go out and find a new partner. Eventually, all in attendance will have danced with almost everyone in the studio.

At the organization, you’ll be meeting people from all around with different reasons to wanting to learn to swing dance, whether it be for the love of dancing and wanting to try something new, or just keeping a new year’s resolution of learning how to dance like one board member of the organization, Bryan Ricci.

“At first I went as a social activity and spent most of my time talking and making friends,” Ricci, a seven year member, said. “I went from almost walking out of my first lesson seven years go to now teaching lessons as a board member.”

Featured Image: Two dance partners grooving to 1940s swing music during the first Denton Swing Organization meet up for the month of June. Dancers from all over were allowed to freely swing and groove to the catchy music being played inside of the Green Space Arts Collective, located just off Malone St. Amber Nasser

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Michael Vu

Michael Vu

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