This term, the Lawrence Swing Dance club (LSD) has made a challenging but creative transition from their usual traditional partnered swing dancing to a new practice of socially-distant line dancing to accommodate Lawrence safety guidelines during the pandemic. Through these efforts, as well as others including hosting social events such as virtual movie nights, the organization has attracted a wide variety of participants ranging in year, dance background and interest.
LSD holds weekly practices at 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays in the Somerset Room in Warch Campus Center, during which time they learn line dance recreations of classic swing dances such as the Charleston, the Shim Sham and the Tranky Doo. During the Nov. 7 session, the dances were primarily instructed by sophomore Patience Garcia with leadership from junior Macy Veto. The pair led an enthusiastic group of about 15 students through the repetitions slowly at first, checking in with their participants until they worked their way up to a full speed in-time run- through with the accompanying big band music.
Among the enthusiastic and diligent members of LSD are a large group of dedicated freshmen, who Veto estimated comprise slightly more than half of the 20-student organization. Freshmen Lauren Chamberlain and Pearl Sikora shared that they learned about the group via the virtual activity fair Flipgrid shared at the beginning of the term and had hoped to get involved with some sort of in-person participation, especially while acclimating to Lawrence. They have routinely attended every Saturday practice and stated that it has been a very welcoming environment and has been a good way to be safely involved in the in-person events on campus they craved. Many other students echoed their sentiment that it has been a great distraction from Zoom fatigue and the pressures of starting college in the midst of a global pandemic.
A significant factor in the creation of the welcoming LSD environment participants love so much is the organization’s willingness to welcome dancers from any background or skill level as well as its devotion to cultivating community. Junior Gaby Hernandez-Gonzalez, who records many of the videos shared on the organization’s Facebook in addition to participating herself, has a background in ballet that she explained was quite difficult to transition to the style of swing, but such a drastic stylistic change has also been very rewarding for her experimentally. Meanwhile, fellow junior Spencer Sweeny contributed that she had very little dance experience prior to joining LSD, and the organization has been a fun and accepting environment to try it out and improve her skills among friends.
LSD’s emphasis certainly lies in a love of dance, creativity and the community it creates rather than a competitive or intimidating environment. Veto encourages anyone who wants to get involved with LSD to send her or sophomore Miles Cochran-Branson an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information. Otherwise, videos, information and updates may be found on their Facebook page, @lawrenceswingdance.