This is the first post in a series about the winter quarter of the RIT Swing Dance Club. I have been president of the RIT Swing Dance Club since Fall 2008 and have thoroughly enjoyed it. As I wrote about previously, it has certainly been a learning experience for me as a teacher and organizer. Many people have asked me for advice about their current swing club or starting up a swing club at their college. I often write lengthy responses and/or direct them to my already mentioned post. However, I think these people deserve more advice. This is part of the motivation for this blog series. Another reason is that 10 blog posts are required for my Specialized Reporting (with a focus on new media) and Public Relations Writing classes this quarter (5 posts for each class). Since the RIT Swing Dance Club runs for 10 weeks, this works out pretty perfectly. I also hope that this series will bring feedback from others about the RIT Swing Dance Club for me and how to make it better.
Last Thursday was the first week of swing club in this winter quarter. At the beginning of each quarter there are usually many new faces that are eager to learn how to swing dance. By the end of the quarter there are notably fewer of these faces. Part of this, I imagine, is due to the fact that each student must pay the club dues ($15/quarter or $40 for the year). As a swing dancer, I know that this is a steal. I calculated that the entire year, which includes instruction, a practice CD, t-shirt, and club trip (last year we attended the Boston Tea Party) is worth about $300. However, even though I explain this to the students, I think that they do not always see the value. I’m not sure of the other reasons that people decide to leave the club. It may be because of the time commitment or lack of interest.
This quarter began differently than most. We had fewer than 10 new people show up. This was discouraging to me but I do realize that I didn’t advertise as much as usual. I am pretty good about hanging fliers around campus but this quarter I haven’t gotten around to it. It is possible that RIT students simply aren’t aware of our club. Adrian (on the executive board and in charge of PR/advertising) did create and hang a large sign on the quarter-mile (a high-traffic area at RIT), but it got taken down the next day. We weren’t aware of any posting limitations for this area, but we are looking into it. We are also looking into getting a large number of fliers posted around campus. RIT will hang 50 fliers around campus for student clubs/events. I plan on handing in those fliers this week for posting. Now we just wait and see how many people show up on Thursday.
Despite the lack of new people, the beginner lesson went very well. We extended it to the full two hours instead of one hour for beginners and one hour for intermediate dancers. This allowed Colin (my teaching partner at club) and me to cover a lot of material and not rush through it. I got the students comfortable with 6-count basics in closed and open, turns, and basic dance concepts (connection, bounce, lead/follow). We return to our regular format this week. Another thing I changed this quarter was the introduction of “Shave and a Haircut” to wrap up an exercise. I call out the first part “ba dada da da” (shave and a haircut) and the students respond by stomping their feet to finish the tune with, “da da” (two bits). This will help me with getting students to end at the proper time and remain quiet when I begin speaking.
Lastly, I have some exciting news for the RIT Swing Dance Club. We are holding a swing dance on January 16, 2010 featuring the Smugtown Stompers! This is the first swing dance with live music at RIT in seven years. This dance will benefit the RIT Swing Dance Club and I hope that a lot of people will come out and support us. Here is the info if you are interested in attending:
Location: RIT, The New Campus Center in the Student Alumni Union (SAU, building #4) rooms 2610/2650
Campus Map: http://facilities.rit.edu/campus/maps/general/general.pdf
Parking: U-lot or D-lot
Cost: $10 $5/students
Time: 7-8pm beginner lesson, 8-11pm dance
RIT Swing Dance Club T-shirts (designed by Adrian Yablin)