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Swing Syndicate: Social dance club teaches power of swing, community

By Megan Bowers, Staff Writer

Sophomore Megan Archdeacon stands in the center of a large circle of people dancing. As the upbeat music plays, each person takes turns coming to the center to dance with her.

It is her birthday and the Swing Syndicate always celebrates these properly with a "Birthday Jam."

The Swing Syndicate is a social dance club that meets every Tuesday to teach its members how to swing dance. They learn around six dances as well as some other routines over the course of the semester, including the East Coast, the Lindy Hop and the Charleston.

These dances are put into practice once a month when the club holds dances in Shriver.

"The monthly dance is meant for everyone," said junior Publicity Chair, Jackson Herbertz. "People who are really good are there and maybe freshmen who don't know as much, but we try to encourage as much mixing as possible."

These monthly dances are also a good way to spread the word about the club.

"We get people who have never come to our lessons before, but a friend dragged them to one of our monthly dances, and they seem really interested, so they come to the next lesson," said senior Co-President Klementina Stojanovska.

The club also hosts an annual event every February called "Mood Swings."

"The annual dance allows us to bring in people from different swing scenes and colleges and have a good time," said senior Co-President Mackenzie Haney.

The group gets about 60 people to come to their monthly dances and has a regular attendance of around 25 at weekly lessons.

The weekly lessons are generally focused on one dance in particular, which changes week to week and increases in difficulty throughout the semester.

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"We try to build up from lesson to lesson as much as possible by teaching an easier dance the first two weeks and then moving to a slightly more difficult, but fun dance," said Herbertz. "Then by the end of the semester we will teach something with more solo dancing."

Apart from polishing everyone's dancing skills, the weekly lessons provide the members with the opportunity to meet new people.

"We have people switch partners throughout the entire lesson because it is a social dance and we want people to get to know everyone," said sophomore Social Chair Megan Archdeacon. "We switch every five to 10 minutes to make sure everyone goes around the circle at least once."

This in turn helps members with their dancing skills as the partner they practice with actually affects the way they dance.

"It prevents you from getting used to dancing with just one person because the way one person dances is completely different from how someone else dances," said Haney.

Everyone who is currently in the club had different expectations coming to Miami and not all of them included being in a swing dancing group.

"When I came in, I initially wanted to join the co-ed hip hop team, but unfortunately didn't make it," said Haney. "A friend in my dorm told me to come to swing because he thought I would like it, and I came and fell in love instantly.

The positive atmosphere that surrounds every event the group holds is something that is rare to find.

"You see a lot of people doing amazing and then a lot of people who aren't doing very well, but they're laughing and not caring about it and still having fun, which is great," said Herbertz.

Dancing itself is a huge stress relief for almost everyone. It also helps boost confidence for people who don't usually like to be in the spotlight.

"I get a little scared people are going to judge me, but then I get out on the floor and start going with people, and it just feels awesome and incredible," said Archdeacon.

Withdrawal from swing dancing is a real problem when the summer begins, so the executive board encourages everyone to branch out in their own communities to find the closest swing scene they can.

This has the added improvement of making people stronger dancers when they return the next semester.

The club strives toward helping people become the best dancer they can be and expand their relationships.

"I always encourage people to branch out in their own communities and to find the closest swing scene they can so they can build more relationships and make those lasting impressions," said Haney.