by Araceli Esparza
Music from big bands such as Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and classics including Frank Sinatra and Glenn Miller echoed through the perimeters of the University of La Verne Supertents, as an estimated 34 students took swing dancing lessons Tuesday night.
The event, sponsored by the Associated Student Federation (ASF) Forum, was created to present the ULV community with one of the largest fads of the year. Junior Forum members Giselle Matus and Anna Werner helped organize a major part of the event.
“I have heard that swing dancing is popular, and we figured it would be a good idea to bring [it] on campus since there are so many interested students,” said Matus. “Even though not all ULV students would be interested in the idea, we figured we would target a big group to make this a popular event.”
After researching swing clubs and other sources, the Forum found Audrey Wilson, an ’89 alumna of the University.
Wilson has been involved in dance for 13 years, and has a respectable degree of experience and study in the area. She currently operates her own business, Audrey’s Body Conditioning & Dance, where she teaches forms of choreography and dance.
Primarily, she is attracted to swing dancing because “it is good, clean, fun dancing where I could bring a friend and not worry about what kind of words are in the music.”
Therefore, with each “kick-step, kick-step, kick-kick,” Wilson and her partner, Chris Shima, led participants through the basics of this renewed-popular dance.
“The most important thing about swing dancing is being able to lead properly and knowing what you want to do,” said Shima. “Swing is all about making the girl look good.
“If you’re not making the girl look good, you’re not doing your job.”
And through such expression of lyrics and melodies, whether they be fast-beat and lively, or calm and relaxing, Wilson and Shima taught the basic moves of the art. As more students began to get the jist of each rock-step and jump, they began to create moves of their own.
Lety Rosas, 23, of La Verne, and her partner, Doug Dorado, 27, of San Dimas, were among those who found the experience rewarding and overall entertaining.
“We thought we were going to learn the same steps, but we actually learned some new ones,” said Rosas. “It was a lot of fun.”
Rosas and Dorado attended the event after hearing about it through posters displayed around several areas of the campus. According to Rosas, both she and Dorado were initially attracted to the art of swing nearly two years ago. They have since visited several swing dance clubs in the Los Angeles area, including “The Derby,” which is one of the most recognized swing clubs for those 21 years of age or older.
For those whose age or distance limitations restrict them from this form of entertainment, freshman Chastity Archer has created the idea of a swing dance organization at the University. Through weekly meetings and off-campus activities, students would be offered the opportunity to learn various steps of swing dancing and apply those lessons to outside dance clubs.
“Basically, the club is set up so that anyone who wanted to swing dance could, they could have that facility and not have to be 21,” said Archer.
According to Archer, a sign-up sheet for the organization demonstrates that an estimated 40 ULV students have shown interest in becoming part of the “Swingers.”
She added that the goal of the organization is “to have fun, to teach people who want to learn how to swing and to evolve into a dance club with different dances.
“Some people know certain things that other people don’t, so it’s a good way of learning from each other.”
“This is the first time in a long time that partner-dancing is popular again,” said Shima. “We’ve gone through a period in which individual dancing has been a big attraction.
“But the dance isn’t about all aerials and tricks; being able to connect with your partner and dance in sync is very challenging,” he said.