Sports Club Showcase: Ballroom and Swing Dance Club
September 16, 2019
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Ballroom and Swing Dance Club has turned into a very popular club in the past year, with the help of president Austin Klum. Klum, a UWL senior, explained that up until a year ago, the club was very restricted towards only highly skilled dancers.
“Several years ago, the club was focused solely on competing. This created a small handful of really good dancers but made it difficult for most students to join,” said Klum. “Last year, I took over the club and changed the focus more on the fun and joy of dance and making sure as many people as possible could come.”
The Ballroom and Swing Dance Club is designed to teach people how to dance, meet new people in an open social environment, and to have fun. The club meets Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, however, members aren’t required to attend every meeting time. Tuesday and Wednesday nights are the lesson nights, while Fridays are the social dance where members come to dance and have fun.
Klum said, “We usually get around 20 to 30 people showing up each night for lessons. We run the same lesson both nights, that way we make sure everyone can make it to at least one of the nights…our social dances are more popular with around 60 to 80 people coming and dancing.”
The low stress environment and low commitment level is what members love about the UWL Ballroom and Swing Dance Club. Jessica Koski, a senior at UWL and member of the club explained just how casual the club is.
“If you want to join the club, we’ll add you onto our e-mail list, and that’s really about it. You don’t have to attend a minimum number of events,” said Koski. “If you can come to the lessons or social dances every week, that’s great. If you can only come once a month, that’s totally fine too.”
Both Klum and Koski emphasized that the main goal of the club is to teach people how to dance while having fun with it and, Klum said, “spreading the joy of partner dance.”
Both Klum and Koski explained they had little to no dance experience prior to attending UWL.
Besides loving high school dances, despite being self-conscious on the dance floor, Klum had no dance experience before three years ago.
Klum said, “About three years ago I went to a swing dance to try it out and fell in love. I was bad starting out, but it was fun. So, I went to as many local events as possible. When I wasn’t getting enough local dancing, I went traveling to farther and farther places. I started traveling to Rochester and the Twin Cities to do and learn more dancing. Even going so far as flying out to Dallas and Seattle to go to dance conventions.”
Koski also had virtually no swing or ballroom dance experience prior to joining the club. “A year ago, I would’ve considered myself an awful dancer,” stated Koski. Other than participating in ballet and tap when she was five years old and being forced into a two-day swing dance unit in HPR 105 class her freshman year, she had no background in dance whatsoever.
She said, “I went to my first swing dancing lesson because one of my friends suggested that we go, and I didn’t really have anything else to do that night. I ended up having a fun time, and I decided that I wanted to learn how to dance so that I could look good while doing it.” Koski has loved dance ever since.
“Our club helps people learn how to dance in a fun, and judgement-free environment,” said Koski. This is a reason both Koski and Klum believe UWL students should consider joining the club. Koski believes dancing is an activity numerous people get self-conscious about, but the only way to overcome that is through showing up and learning how to dance.
“I want the club to be a safe space to look silly and be awkward in your movements. Through that you’ll become better and more confident. You never know until you try,” said Klum.
Koski said, “You don’t need a partner, you don’t need any previous dance experience, and you don’t even have to be a good dancer. By joining the club, you’ll pick up some new dance moves that you can use at the next party or wedding you attend. Not to mention, knowing how to dance is attractive.”
For more information on UWL’s Ballroom and Swing Dance Club, visit //uwlmyorgs.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/ballroomandswing or contact club president Austin Klum at [email protected].