Only one group of toe-tappin’ troops is devoted to spreading, teaching, and performing the partner-dancing style of the early through mid-20th century’s jazz age at Boston College-the BC Swing Kids.
Founded in 1998, this “hep cat” club originally began in order to fill the swing dance void on campus. While this goal still holds relevance, “Swing” aims to provide a practice and performance outlet for all dancers, regardless of skill or grade level. “We want to teach,” said Andrew Carleton, president of BC Swing Kids and A&S ’14. “It’s a way to give people an opportunity to learn how to dance that they wouldn’t otherwise have.”
Since its founding, Swing Kids has administered free lessons to and hosted socials for interested individuals. “We also throw in a rookie dance-it’s a really good way to get exposed,” Carleton said. From there, those who express the desire to perform are put into choreographed dances that the club showcases several times throughout the year.
In addition to Swing’s on-campus social dances, the club occasionally ventures off-campus to Boston Swing Central, an organization in Charleston that offers Friday night swing dancing. During first semester, the club hosted a winter dance, and its spring dance will be held on Mar. 28.
Regarding competition and showcasing, Swing Kids will perform at the upcoming Arts Fest and battle various BC dance groups at Showdown in the spring.
While swing dancing is typically associated with the jazzy style of the Roaring ’20s, BC Swing Kids incorporate both classic Lindy Hop music and more contemporary songs in their routines. Often, they choose their background music based on an event’s theme and qualifications. There is a big distinction, therefore, between the pieces they choose for each event, and their selections range from ’20s music to P!nk songs and even singles from Kanye West’s Yeezus.
Currently, Swing accommodates about 45 active members with an almost 2:1 female to male ratio. “It’s almost like cheerleading,” Carleton joked.
While swing incorporates partner dancing, Carleton deems it unnecessary to attend practice or events with a partner. “You can come in by yourself-it’s really accessible to anyone who wants to join,” he said.
The breadth of the club and its eagerness to grow can be problematic, however. “One disadvantage we have is by always looking to expand, routine isn’t practiced as much and members aren’t involved in as many of the dances,” Carleton said. Therefore, the group attempts to practice as many times as possible-once to twice a week since September-in order to polish its different pieces. Regular lessons are held every Monday from 7 to 8 p.m. in the O’Connell dance studio.
“We want to expose as many people as possible to dance,” Carleton said. “We have worked really well as an e-board to unify the club in the past two years.”
The best way to get involved in BC Swing Kids is to attend one of the weekly Monday practices in O’Connell House. “When I joined, I joined halfway through my freshman year,” Carleton said. “It’s never too late to join, and it’s really a life-long skill to have.”