Rebecca Dickson, Reporter
The first beats of Footloose rang through the bottom floor of the College Center on May 26. Excited screams streamed through the air like confetti. Someone excitedly whispered, “This is their song!” More than 50 students, community members and friends jumped into it, doing each of the dance moves perfectly in sync with the music.
This was a scene that took place at the spring 2017 Swing Dance at Pierce College Puyallup.
The dance has become a tradition for the Swing Dance Club. Starting last spring, the club has held quarterly dances within the dining commons. The dance, while free to students, charges $3 to community members who wish to attend.
Because students outside of Pierce were allowed to attend, Puyallup Police officers were in attendance to watch over students.
Music choices for the evening ranged from contemporary pop music to old swing dance songs. The audio system was set up in the dining commons, slightly out of the way of dancers so no cords would be broken and no one would trip while dancing.
The dance started at 7 p.m. with a 45-minute beginner lesson. While it was meant for people who have never swing danced in their life, many who had been dancing for years attended this lesson.
Swing Dance Club President Grace Thomas instructed all participants to separate into two sections on each side of the dining commons. One side was for dancers who were “leads” and the other side was “follows.”
The dance lesson started with basic dance steps and then went into basic spins.
Follows were asked to rotate partners after learning each step, so each person could learn to dance with someone else.
After that, the dance floor was open to everyone to dance with partners.
While many students came with their significant other, others came in with a group of friends or went alone.
“What I love most is when people come out of obligation, and then they end up having the time of their lives,” Thomas said.
Thomas says Swing Dance Club starts planning each swing dance at the end of the quarter previous to when the dance is to happen.
While Thomas started taking swing dancing seriously when she came to Pierce, she began swing dancing when her older sister went to her high school prom. Thomas said she tagged along to a dance lesson and fell in love with it.
Thomas said the Swing Dance Club started last year with three club members. Now, it often has 30 people attend each club meeting.
The Swing Dance itself has grown significantly as well. According to official counts, more than 160 people attended the Spring Swing Dance.
In addition to open dance time, the dance also had two snowball dances where a couple would dance in the middle of a circle. After someone said “snowball” over a microphone, each would go into the circle and grab a new partner. This continued until everyone was dancing.
Overall, people had different motivations for coming. While some were forced by their friends to come, many had loved swing dancing before coming to the event. Kendra Larson, a friend of a Swing Dance Club member who doesn’t go to Pierce, has loved swing dancing since eighth grade.
“In middle school, we had a ‘50s/’60s week, and in eighth grade, we learned a swing dance,” Larson said. “The lifts are really fun to do.”
Dusty Peterson came for the enjoyment of it.
“I like dancing,” Peterson said. “It’s energetic and it’s one way I can get my boyfriend to dance. The freedom of it all and the energy, meeting people and learning new moves, (that’s what I like about it)”.
While Thomas is moving on to study at Western Oregon University, she doesn’t think Swing Dance Club will end when she leaves Pierce. Thomas said they’re currently looking for students in the club who are willing and able to take the presidency within the club, as many first year students want the club to continue.
“It blows me away to think that it’s grown so much,” Thomas said. “If you start with a small club, if you have a passion and excitement, it can grow into big things.”
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