Dancers at the RIT live band dance. Photo by Robyn Mac Chlerie.

I did not teach at swing club during the fifth week because I had enough on my plate preparing for the live band dance and doing homework. Therefore, most of my post will be about the dance and not about the lesson. I had two e-board members Dan and Laura teach the beginner lesson (swing out from closed and lindy circle) and for the second hour the entire e-board conducted a “swing out clinic.” The second hour was for all club members, not the usual intermediate lesson, and consisted of a lot of feedback on basic steps. Some of the e-board was in the rotation giving advice on connection, frame and how the dance feels and others walked around and critiqued the visual aspect. I heard it went really well. If you are thinking of doing this at your club be sure to announce who the e-board is so that nobody is surprised when somebody starts telling them to change the way they rock step.

Now for news about the live band dance! First off, it was a great event. I had so much fun and I heard the same from e-board, club members, other attendees, photographers and the band. I will start at the beginning. I got to the venue an hour before the lesson along with my sister Ellie and two volunteers. Prior to the event we had submitted a diagram of how we wanted the chairs and tables arranged but this apparently did not get into the right hands. There were tables and chairs everywhere. Now, I was already nervous about the dance so this was not a reassuring site to walk into. After some frantic rearranging we moved onto the rest of setup which went well.

About 20 couples showed up for the lesson. Most of these people I had never met before and I was very happy to see the new faces. The students were smiling, laughing and dancing by the end of the hour and most of them stayed all night.

The Smugtown Stompers were exquisite. I had only heard them once before on a riverboat at the Rochester International Jazz Festival and they certainly lived up to my expectations. They had a great energy and even spent one song playing their instruments while walking around the dance floor. Vocalist Katie Ernst joined them for several tunes and I am constantly amazed by the quality of her voice. They finished up the night with “That’s A Plenty” and a high-energy charleston jam circle broke out (pictured above).

There were about 100 people who attended the dance. This was far more than I had anticipated. We had only posted fliers about five days before the event but part of me thinks that kept the event fresh in people’s minds. Most of the attendees were RIT students. There were also some members of the Rochester swing dance community and other local colleges.

With money from student government funding, admission cost, t-shirt sales and raffle tickets we were in the green. The money we raised will most likely go toward our club trip in the spring. I want to bring the club members to a really great event and these earnings will certainly help.

There is so much more to say about the event but you just had to be there to truly appreciate it. We will certainly have another live band dance next year and I hope the tradition will continue for as long as the RIT Swing Dance Club is around.

Thanks to Steve, Ryan, Dan, Adrian, Laura, Colin, Mike, the volunteers and The Smugtown Stompers. I couldn’t have done it without all of you.

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