Kylie Martin, Student Life Editor
James and Cynthia in an aerial dip during a Swing Dearborn session. Photo//Kylie Martin
Ever wanted to learn how to dance but don’t know where to start? If you join Swing Dearborn on Monday evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Victor’s Den, the free beginner-friendly class can take you from a newbie tripping over their own feet to a show-stopping swing dancer in no time.
Swing Dearborn has been active for several years and is currently led by seniors James Eichelberger and Cynthia Dragos, and sophomore Gabe Fritz.
In its most basic form, swing dancing is a social dance consisting of two partners’ loosely clasped hands and a series of simple steps. As dancers gain experience, they can become more creative with their steps, adding spins, twirls, dips, and other artistic exchanges.
Throughout the decades, swing dancing has evolved into several different forms: East Coast, West Coast, Fusion, Country, Modern, and more. Country swing is the style taught at Swing Dearborn because of its “recreational” feel, as described by Eichelberger. The style typically features lots of spins, dips, and even some lifts.
“In country swing dancing, we flow in a circle as we dance. Other swing dancing can be more abrasive or fancy. It’s just not as fun or not as beginner-friendly,” explained Eichelberger, who has been swing dancing since his freshman year of high school. “There’s lots of different varieties, but I think country is the most fun and universally-friendly swing style.”
However, in a Swing Dearborn session, you will only hear pop music playing from the club’s boombox due to Eichelberger’s ironic distaste for country music.
“The dancing would go so well with country music, he just doesn’t like it,” Dragos laughed, poking fun at her dance partner.
Each session follows a more free-style format, starting off with greetings to newcomers and a review of the simpler moves before breaking up to teach individual pairings any new moves that they would like to learn.
“I like to do a lot of individual training. If people come up to me and say, ‘Hey I want to learn this move…’ or ‘I saw this on your Instagram, can you teach me this move?’ I can determine ‘Yeah you’re ready, I can show you this move,’ and then we go from there,” said Eichelberger.
However, within the first session alone, the two instructors were able to take newcomers with no previous dancing experience from the basic swing steps to more complicated moves like spins and lifts.
“It starts off with really basic things that anyone can do, and then there really are building blocks. I can do all sorts of crazy looking flips and stuff now, but I started with literally zero knowledge,” said Dragos, who started with Swing Dearborn in her freshman year of college. “I learned the basic steps and then everything built off of that.”
Each session of Swing Dearborn is open to newcomers and dancers of any experience level. Every week, the instructors make a habit of getting to know the dancers in order to recognize their strengths, what they might have already learned and what they can improve on, and what type of moves can be taught the following week.
“When I come to the meeting, I gauge who’s here, and depending on the crowd and depending on their experience, I might recognize ‘Okay, I taught this group already, I can build up from that.’ Depending on who’s here, I can teach a very, very beginner move, an intermediate move, or a hard move,” explained Eichelberger.
As for some of their favorite swing dance moves, the pair laughed before sharing their answers.
“Anything really spinny, I love,” said Dragos.
“The Spiderman Dip is a great, fun one. It’s hard though. It’s hard for the girl. I find that most girls like the Flying Squirrel,” said Eichelberger. “I have a lot of favorite moves, especially the ones I made up!”