Left to right: Olivia Brooks, Janessa Schuster and Tasha Hansen represent the Swing Dance Club
Aly Gulamhusein/the Gauntlet

The swing kids

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When Tasha Hansen started her ecology degree at the University of Calgary, she didn't have many friends on campus. Her university experience started to improve, however, when she joined a student club.

"I saw an ad for the swing dance club during the first week of school and I thought 'this sounds fun', and I went to the lessons and I just got hooked," said Hansen. "It has given me the basis of my social life.

"Ninety per cent of my friends now I've met through swing dance at some point."

Hansen, who had little prior dance experience, now chairs the U of C swing dance club as she works through the fourth year of her degree.

"Our mission is to spread the joy of swing dance to as many people as we can," she said.

Swing is a style of dance that developed with swing-style jazz music from the 1920s to the 1940s. At the U of C, the dances taught by the swing club include the Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, Blues, and East Coast Swing.

"I'd say it's one of the most fun types of dances in terms of being a good social experience," Hansen said.

The group offers weekly on-campus lessons on Tuesdays at $25 for 10 weeks.

"Some people really get into it and they're really enthusiastic," she said. "Others, it's not for them and they tend to say they're not silly enough for this."

But for Isabel Chan, a member and participant in the club, letting loose is part of the fun of swing dance.

"Swing dancing is silly, so if people are laughing at you, then you're doing it right," Chan said.

The third-year engineering student emphasized the importance of joining a club as a way to maximize the campus life experience.

"It's a really good opportunity to meet people, especially when there aren't that many in lecture or just hanging around campus," she said.

Chan says students need not feel intimidated by enrolling in a dance class.

"It's a really safe place to learn. I would say take the risk because it's not as scary as you think it might be."