Life | Sharing a Hobby: Swing Dance

It has been said by friends of mine at home that I talk about the University of Sheffield's Swing Dance Society an awful lot. But in the space of simply a few weeks of attending classes, it quickly became one of my favourite activities at university. Swing dance societies exist in universities up and down the country, and failing that, there are plenty of other places to learn swing or to go social dancing. As it's such a favourite hobby of mine I've decided that it needs blogging about, so here goes!

Swing dance refers to a family of dances originating in 1920s' and 1930s' America and danced to swing, and later jazz, music. The most popular styles of swing dance are Lindyhop and Charleston, but there are other styles such as Balboa and Shag. It's usually a partner dance but there are also the options of solo Charleston and solo jazz.
Later on in the twentieth century, swing dance waned in popularity, being replaced by rock and roll styles such as the jive, until a swing dance revival in more recent times brought it back into prominence across the UK, where most major cities have some sort of 'swing scene'.

Being a History student with a strong interest in the twentieth century, swing dance intrigues me for its place within the social history of the past, and of the present - with the popularity of swing dance today certainly saying something about how we romanticise the past by borrowing positive elements from it.

At university, it's easy to fall into the trap of only really leaving your flat for lectures, seminars and food. However, with swing dance societies putting on weekly classes, learning a new skill beyond your degree becomes a great motive to head on down to the SU. Beyond learning a new skill, you can also meet a wide range of people - I've met lovely students from completely different courses to mine, who I never would have encountered without swing dance.

I've also taken a step further with my university's swing dance society and become part of the committee. This year I'm taking on the role of Social Secretary, and I'm already very excited to organise events such as social dancing and our annual 'Murder Mystery Party'.

Swing dance is fundamentally a social dance and when you learn the dance style you are taught either how to give cues to your partner or how to follow your partner's cue, depending if you decide to learn as a lead or as a follow (or both!) Social dancing events are a really fun way to improve your confidence as social dances are always in really friendly atmospheres and you can really dance "like no-one's watching" because it is dancing but in a social, rather than performance, environment.

And of course, it goes without saying that swing dance is a brilliant way to get fit as it can often be very energetic. It's much cheaper than a gym membership and much more rewarding, in my opinion. You learn a new skill, listen to some great music and get to meet new people! Sounds better than a treadmill to me!

I hope you enjoyed this week's post, I wanted to do something a little different and resolve the many questions about my hobby that my friends often have! I'd love to see your comments below :)