50 students attend swing dance event

Students say lessons give opportunity for social interaction, fun on campus

by Sally Claunch
The Shorthorn staff

Mechanical engineering junior John Franklin said he started swing dancing so he could get out and meet somebody-which he did.

"Tonight is my one year anniversary with my fiancee Jill Lester," he said. "She came to a swing night party last year and that's when we got together."

Lester said Franklin taught her how to swing dance, but she taught him a few things, too.

"I helped his dressing style a little," the communication senior said.

Franklin held his fourth Big John and Friends Swing Dance Night on Wednesday in the University Center Rio Grande Ballroom C.

About 50 students came out to learn basic swing dance moves and try them out without stepping on each other's toes. Students without partners were paired by Franklin. They danced to tunes by Lavay Smith and the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Royal Crown Revue and Louis Prima.

Franklin, who is a Trinity Hall resident assistant, is required to host several events each semester as part of his duties.

He said the events need to emphasize social and occupational skills as well as spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical health.

Electrical engineering sophomore Apexa Patel said swing dancing is good cardiovascular exercise.

"It's fun; it's wild because you get to do some really cool turns and twists," she said.

During the dancing instruction, Patel helped her friend, mechanical engineering junior Chris Ludwig, learn the moves.

"What are we doing?" he kept repeating. Patel helped him get the hang of it, and he was soon keeping up with her.

Stephanie Newton, mechanical engineering and math sophomore, helped Franklin teach the dancers. She said she learned how to swing by hanging around in clubs.

"When I took swing dancing here, I already knew all the moves," she said, adding that she'd been swing dancing for about 1 1/2 years.

After the instruction, Franklin and Lester danced in the middle of the room, turning and dipping as they smiled at each other.

"Swing dancing helps people interact more," he said, smiling.

The music was provided from the private collection of electrical engineering junior Andrew Draper.

"I like swing as a good alternative to mainstream music," he said. "It has elements of jazz and blues-it energizes you."

Sally Claunch

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