While ballroom dancing may seem an unlikely activity for college students, members of St. Olafs ballroom dance club continuously attract new members by boasting an informal atmosphere and the opportunity to learn something a little offbeat.
The ballroom dancing club has existed at St. Olaf for several years, and student interest in the organization has always been substantial. "I had no idea that I would end up trying, much less enjoying, ballroom dancing," said Club President Mike Bongard 04. Like many other students on campus, Bongard was under the common assumption that ballroom was simply, "an old-fashioned thing that nobody really did anymore." It was just "something that my grandparents would do for a fun time," Bongard said.
Club members are hopeful that this stigma, along with others, will be relinquished as students discover how much fun the dancing can be. While ballroom dancing certainly has its roots in the past, members of St. Olafs club believe it to be a great way to have fun and relieve some stress (something everyone could stand to do).
The art of ballroom dancing, although a seemingly rare talent among college students, is a valuable skill thats sure to impress anyone. St. Olafs ballroom dance club typically holds semiformal dances around Valentines Day, but the rest of the clubs year is dedicated to the informal atmosphere of instruction and practice that dominates the clubs weekly meetings. During meetings, members typically learn one to two dances from the weeks chosen instructor and practice the dances in their remaining time. The number of students in attendance is usually the determining factor in how fast-paced the evening will be.
Last semester, the women in attendance outnumbered the men by about five to one. But, as time progressed, numbers became more even and there were about 20 male-female couples. According to Bongard, attendance also diminishes as the year goes on and students are inundated with more schoolwork. However, attendance tends to skyrocket when the Presidents Ball draws near and students are scrambling to look classy at the dance.
Another common misconception that often prevents students from attending ballroom club is the assumption that the dancing is difficult. Many members disagree and insist that this is not the case. Bongard says the dancing is "not terribly difficult to learn" and encourages the student body to attend a meeting and give it a try. Bongard especially encourages men to attend, as it is generally more fun for all when the sexes are equally represented.
Beginners are more than welcome to attend all current members are eager to give the so-called "newbies" any pointers they need. First-time dancers can expect to learn anything from the fox trot to the waltz to the cha-cha.
Additionally, ballroom dancing can be a helpful supplement to any of the ballroom dancing classes offered at St Olaf. In the past, students could receive credit for missed classroom session if they attended a club meeting. While this is not the case today, it remains true that any missed instruction can be benefited by a club lesson.
Regardless of ones motivations for attending ballroom dance club, one is guaranteed a relaxing and informative time.
Ballroom Dance Club meets every Thursday from 8-10 p.m. in Dittman Studio One (refer to www.stolaf.edu/orgs/ballroom for any changes in the regular schedule).