If asked about what their opinion on dancing in college is, many people would say that college or university students spend their time dancing as if they were in a nightclub, a rave, or a Friday night party. However, on the campus at Fairfield, there is a small group of university students who embody a completely different idea and form: ballroom dancing. This form of social dancing has receded into the background of our society today despite its immense popularity throughout the Renaissance Period, Victorian Era, and the early 20th Century. Trying to keep the tradition alive here at Fairfield University, dedicated club President Emily Casale and Vice President Lauren Chacho welcome anyone and everyone to join them regardless of dancing experience. The club meets on Wednesday nights in the Oak Room of Barone Campus Center from 9-10pm.
Each Wednesday, the club meets and welcomes their instructor Pam Holt from the Ballroom Dance Studio in Derby, Connecticut and prepares to learn a new dance. Close to twenty men and women students attend, some dressed formally and with heels and others in whatever clothes they happened to be wearing that day. Each week their instructor introduces a new dance, and they practice other dances taught to them in earlier sessions, including the salsa, cha-cha, rumba, east coast swing, waltz, fox trot, hustle, and tango. The list of dances goes on, as these high steppers learn moves from the Argentine tango, lindy hop, quick step, west coast swing, and the samba. Although this type of dancing is extremely different what many students are used to, each dance is taken step-by-step and very slowly in order to ensure that each and every student understands their steps, which in turn affect the steps of their partner.
Students switch partners every few minutes to makes sure that they are able to work with more than just one person and it allows them to help others learn more about the steps of the dance. Of course the students who have just begun to learn the dance routine are not perfect, and the missteps and bumping into each other only provides laughter and smiles from those involved. The club is not a place where people judge those who do not know exactly what they are doing, proven even more so by the club’s president, Emily Casale. Casale, who has been a member all four of her years here and personally admits to having “no ballroom dance experience. The club is a kind of time away from the chaos of every day university life and provides students with an opportunity to socialize with their peers, get a bit of exercise, and learn a beautiful dance that may come in handy someday in their personal, business and social lives.
Although not the most well-known club on campus, it is one that gives back to the students immensely and gives members the opportunity to go to further experience ballroom each week at the Ballroom Dance Studio in Derby, Connecticut. On Friday or Saturday nights, they can free form dance for a few hours to gain more experience in the dances they have learned or show off their newly perfected skills. Through their Wednesday night sessions and the free form dance at the studio on the weekends, Vice President Lauren Chacho was able to “make some of the best friends she has here on campus” and other students share the same feelings as well. The club provides a creative outlet for those involved and allows them to share time with each doing a type of dancing that can be hard to find today. Ballroom dancing allows them to break from the normal routine of most college and university students and try something completely new and exciting. It gives them exercise and experience, along with the knowledge and skill of something uniquethey know may become special in their lives.
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