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Gettin’ swingy with it

Joie Sullivan, Staff Reporter - November 14, 2012

Big band music and slick dance moves are sure to be found in the SURC Ballroom this Saturday as members of the Swing Cats club hold one of their quarterly dances.

Swing Cats, on-campus swing club, is held every Monday at 6 p.m. The club begins with a two hour lesson for beginners, followed by a dance session until 10 p.m. Swing Cats is open to everyone, including community members.

“I think almost half the people that come aren’t students from Central,” said club member Lacey Wuesthoff, senior Spanish and political science major. “They’re from Yakima and Wenatchee, and they come out and dance with us.”

Swing dance originated in the 1920s and 1950s and branched off into several different styles. Swing dance can be classified as any type of dance that goes with six or eight counts of music.

Swing Cats specifically teach three styles: Charleston, East Coast, and lindy hop.

“We’ve had over 100 people come to the club, and every week we average about 35-40 people who come to the lessons,” Wuesthoff said.

Wuesthoff became involved with the club around a year and a half ago.

“I traveled abroad with a swing dance fanatic. She talked about how much she loved it, so when I got back home I decided to try it. I was terrible for the first few weeks, and after that I started to love it.”

The club holds nine to ten lessons a quarter, depending on holidays.

“Every quarter, our lessons start over,” Wuesthoff said. “If you come on the first Monday, you’ll get the basic beginner lesson.”

Lessons cost $20 per quarter, but those not looking for a long term commitment can drop in for $3 per lesson. Experienced dancers are also welcome to come after the lessons each Monday and dance for free beginning at 8 p.m.

“We got together with the French club once, or we’ll go to one of the nursing homes and dance with them,” Wuesthoff said. “We’ve also danced with veterans for Veteran’s Day before.”

The club tries to hold a dance with a live band at least once a quarter. They’ve previously held Christmas dances or New Year’s dances. On Saturday, the Dennis Clauss band will perform jazz music for dancers to jive to. Swing Cats have also had the Central Jazz Band perform at prior dances.

“They’re a jazz band, but not a dancing jazz band,” Wuesthoff said. “Dennis Clauss is a dancer, and his music is a little easier to dance to.

The members of the band are all local or from the Yakima area.

A beginner’s lesson will begin at 6:30, the band will start playing at 7, and the dance will conclude around 11 p.m.

Wuesthoff encourages people of all skill levels to come out to the club.

“Even if you’re terrible at dancing you’ll have tons of fun. You’re not gonna get bombarded by weirdos or anything like that.”

Prospective dancers are also welcome to come and watch, but Wuesthoff advises against not participating.

“It’s great exercise,” Wuesthoff said “There’s no downside to going dancing.”

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