“Night at the Gatsby” demonstrates, educates art of swing dance

The spirit of swing lived on in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom on Friday Sept. 30. Geneseo’s Swing Dance Club hosted their “Night at the Gatsby” event in partnership with Geneseo Late Knight to create an affair that was both fun and instructional. Students took to the floor as philosophy major senior Mo Hossain—president of the Swing Club—instructed participants on the basics of swing dance. Slowly, the room began to sway and swivel to the beat of the live instrumental band.

The rest of the club’s members strategically scattered themselves across the length of the ballroom for the stragglers and the unsure. They approached those who were not dancing, offering encouragement. Some members even extended their hands, willing to give the doubtful a one-on-one lesson.

Despite leading the group, Hossain practiced this kindness with a few wall-huggers. His very presence was supportive enough for many of his pupils to encourage one of their own friends onto the dance floor. Students who entered the room nervous about their lack of experience exited with a sense of confidence.

“I liked how it was low pressure,” English major freshman Merrin Sardi said. “They were very calm in explaining how to do the dances.”

Hossain felt incomplete at Geneseo before starting to swing dance. “I started dancing because I felt like I was missing something in my college experience,” he said. “Dancing and jazz gave that to me. I hope that other people can find what they’re looking for in their college experience. I’ll be even happier if they discover swing for themselves.”

While swing dance elicits grand images of Gatsby parties and lively flappers, it is actually a broad term that encompasses an assortment of partner dances based off of the jazz music that dominated from the 1920s-40s. During this “big band” era, dances such as the Lindy Hop and the Balboa became popular. The deft movements that they required attracted younger dancers, and they continue to draw in an audience to this day.

Almost as impressive as their dancing were the outfits students donned for the event. While many opted for their daily wardrobe, a choice that did not hinder their dancing in the least, others channeled the styles of the 20s for the night. Students wore jeweled headbands that dangled in front of loose hair or decorated themselves with a single massive feather to mimic the image of a typical flapper. Some even wore flapper dresses with dangles, beads and lace as they flew freely around the dance floor.

The Swing Dance Club created a magical night and lent students a new talent. “Night at the Gatsby” provided a great way to get in the “swing” of things for this year’s set of Late Knight events.