By Sondra Rodriguez, Student Reporter
Swing Cats, ACU’s swing dance club, continues to grow through weekly practices, community performances, weekend trips and member dedication.
The club’s mission is to promote and sustain interest in pre-1950 U.S. social swing dance culture, including music, dress and period-accurate dance styles, according to its mission statement. These goals are achieved through practices every Sunday from 7 to 9 p.m., comprised of an hour of instruction, followed by an hour of dance.
“Typically our Sundays revolve around building on what we did the previous week, as well as throwing in some new moves,” said Jessica Johnson, junior elementary education major from The Colony and president of Swing Cats.
Additional practices are also conducted Tuesday nights.
“It’s a really informal get-together for whoever is interested in learning on a more individual level,” said Cole Bennett, English professor and faculty adviser for Swing Cats.
The group meets in various places throughout the community, such as the Hillcrest gymnasium or a private dance studio.
Weekly practices prepare club members to perform at the Ethnos Culture Show, Abilene Artwalk and at retirement homes throughout the community.
“We just finished our Ethnos performance, so now we’re getting back into the swing of learning new steps,” Johnson said.
Members willing to dance publicly may participate in weekend trips to dance workshops in cities such as Dallas, Forth Worth, Austin and Houston.
“All around the U.S., there are workshops where people teach dance, and a group of Swing Cats will go. It’s not a competition, it’s just dance,” Bennett said.
The club is planning a trip to Forth Worth the first weekend in December to attend “Buddy’s Big Band,” an event where an 18 to 20 piece big band plays, and people from all over the area come and swing dance,” he said.
Such trips and practices were made possible by Bennett’s passion for swing dance and his proposal to start an on-campus club dedicated to dance. However, due to school regulations, new members can only join at the start of each semester for an initial fee of $20, membership must be taken by officers within a certain number of weeks and practices must be held behind closed doors.
“It’s a little hard being a dance club on campus,” Johnson said.
However, the experience in the club has allowed Johnson to build relationships with other members.
“Some of the people in the club are my best friends. It has been a great experience,” she said.
Swing Cats is open to all students, no dance experience is necessary.
“We have a lot of people who have never done swing dancing before. We teach very basic skills that go from the bottom up. Anyone can join and pick it up, we just build new skills every week,” Johnson said.
Those interested in Swing Cats may place membership at the beginning of the spring semester.