While most Ohio State students were on their way back from a very wet football game Saturday night, some were gearing up for a night of salsa, tango and ballroom dancing.
It was the third annual United We Dance, an event that combines OSU’s Swing Dance Club, Tango Club and DanceSport for a night of free dance lessons and socializing. The idea originated when students signed up for dance clubs at the Student Involvement Fair.
“A lot of students sign up for the dance clubs … but didn’t know what kind of dancing they wanted to do … so this is kind of a preview to show the students the different dance clubs we have,” said Rob Kapaku, president of Swing Club. “Swing Club decided to get this together and wanted to do this to have students sample the styles of the different clubs.”
United We Dance was free and open to the public but the majority of the attendees were OSU students looking for a place to dance.
“It’s something different than going out to the movies or to the bars,” said Jenny George, one of the instructors for Swing Dance Club. “And everyone changes partners, so you meet a lot of people.”
The event was at 8 p.m. in Recreation and Physical Activity Center North Gym. The night was split into three sessions. Each club had 45 minutes on the floor with its own instructors. The first half hour was spent teaching a dance, and the remaining 15 minutes gave everyone a chance to practice while members of that club walked around giving tips.
Each club had its own distinctive style. The first club that had the floor was Dance Sport OSU, a club that combines a variety of styles of ballroom dance. Dance Sport is a social dance club but has a separate section for those who want to compete. The competition club has traveled to other schools such as Purdue and Michigan, and it will be hosting its own competition later this year.
“The team always does very well,” said Alli Beecher, a third-year in zoology and a member of DanceSport who placed first with her partner in mambo at last year’s Ohio State Ball. “We’re getting competitive with Michigan, who is really big in DanceSport.”
The second club of the night was Swing Dance Club. The club works closely with SwingColumbus, the city’s swing dance club.
“A lot of our members teach the lessons, and a lot of our members were former Swing Club [OSU] members,” said Dave Martin, president of SwingColumbus. “There are close ties between the two groups.”
The Swing Dance Club focuses mainly on five types of swing: East Coast, lindy hop, Charleston, blues and Balboa. The club focuses on meeting people and having fun.
Neil Coplin, Swing Dance Club’s adviser and one of the founding members of the club, said his favorite part about the club is the people.
“Swing dancing around the nation is like a close network of friends. We’re a very welcoming society,” Coplin said.
The last club of the night was Tango Club, which also focuses more on being a social club than a competitive dance club. The club teaches the Argentina style of tango rather than the American style. Anyone is welcome to join, but Yuval DaYu, mathematics professor at OSU and Tango Club’s instructor for the night, warned that tango is not easy.
“Many people in math or physics do tango,” DaYu said. “It takes a lot of awareness and focus to do, but for everybody that works at it, it provides a lot of pleasure.”
The Tango Club also works closely with the Columbus club, Tango Ohio. Darcie Douglas, nursing student at Otterbein and vice president of public affairs at Tango Ohio, got involved with the Tango Club after attending a freshman seminar on tango last year. Transferring to Otterbein didn’t stop her from being involved with the Tango Club.
“We’ll take anyone who wants to dance,” Douglas said, “But most people are from OSU. [The Tango Club] has helped me make some really great friends, and we will help anyone who wants to learn.”
Last year’s event had a showing of about 200 to 250 people, but because of the afternoon home game and bad weather, only about 60 to 70 people made it out for the event.
Many of the people at the event had been dancing for a few years, but there were also quite a few beginners.
When asked why he decided to attend United We Dance, first-year in mechanical engineering Drew Murray responded, “I dance a lot at parties.”
DanceSport meets Monday and Thursday evenings. Swing Club also meets on Monday evenings, and Tango Club meets Wednesday and Saturday evenings.
For more information on the clubs, visit their Web sites at dancesportosu.org; osu.swingcolumbus.com; and tango.osu.edu.