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For students who love to dance, the Cal Poly Swing Club offers weekly lessons and dance venues that are all opportunities for dancers to improve their skills, have fun and bond with other participants.

Swing Club president Mary Freitag, a political science and speech communication senior, said club members strive to be friendly and approachable.

“We want to build a community through dance and inspire our dancers to have fun and build friendships,” Freitag said.

Business administration senior Jenna Laverty is in her fourth year as a member of the Swing Club. She said the club has made it easy for her to meet people.

“The club isn’t competitive at all,” Laverty said. “The people who are involved are the people who show up all the time. It’s really good exercise and a great way to hang out with people.”

Since its creation in 2000, more than 60 students and community members attend the weekly events put on by the club.

Lessons are offered on Sunday afternoons in room 225 of the Architecture building and are taught by several different teachers, including club officers.

“We mainly teach what is called lindy hop,” Freitag said. “It’s an eight-count dance that originated in the early 1920s and through the big band era. Lindy hop is set apart as a dance because it looks circular and very elasticy. It is a very athletic dance because the music is upbeat and lively.”

Other dances taught are the Balboa and Charleston, which are both eight-count dances. Balboa is danced primarily in a close embrace. Charleston was named for Charleston, S.C., and is a style associated with white flappers and the speakeasy.

Intermediate lessons are from 1 to 2 p.m., and beginning lessons are from 2 to 3 p.m. Participants can move to intermediate lessons after completing beginning levels one and two, which each last for three weeks.

Following lessons is an open dance session with DJ music from 3 to 4 p.m. The cost for an afternoon of dance is $3.

Freitag said that after lessons many of the instructors take dancers to Mother’s Tavern to dance for free to a live band that plays from 3 to 6 p.m.

The big venue of the week is at the Madonna Inn, where club members head on Monday nights from 8 to 11 p.m. to dance to DJ music. Freitag said that the free session is most popular for club members.

On Saturdays, the Swing Club switches gears into Blues dancing in the same classroom. Open dancing from 9:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. follows the free lesson from 8 to 9:30 p.m.

Kimberly Daum, a horticulture senior, was president of the club last year. She said that the Swing Club is an option for everyone from beginning dancers to the most experienced.

“It’s a group of friends that loves to have fun,” Daum said. “We put on awesome events, have fun dancing, and go to work and school all at the same time. We can be friends dancing as well as dance partners.”

On Saturday, the Swing Club will host the “Thanks for Giving” dance in Chumash Auditorium. A beginning lesson from 7 to 8 p.m. will be followed by the dance at 8 p.m.

The event is also a food drive, and entry is free for anyone who brings five cans of food. All food collected will be donated to the Prado Day Center.

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