Each week, a nostalgic air of the early twentieth century fills Phillips Hall 385 as the UNC Swing Dance Club enjoys jazz music, lindy hopping and a whole lot of dancing.
The club, which meets twice weekly, has grown exponentially since its beginning, and now hosts up to 70 students at each lesson, according to junior and co-president Jessie Vohwinkel.
“We had upwards of 160 people the first night, so we had three classrooms going and there were a couple people dancing in the hallways,” Vohwinkel said. “It was awesome.”
The club is open to anyone and new members are always welcome. Even Vohwinkel and her fellow co-president and senior Sam Sykes had never danced before coming to UNC.
“I was like, ‘girls like guys who can dance,’ and I learned how to dance,” Sykes said of his swing dance beginnings. “But the more I got into it the more it became something that just really made me happy.”
The club hosts social dances throughout the year, usually partnering with the Triangle Swing Dance Society. Their most recent collaborative dance took place in the Great Hall, complete with a live swing band.
“I think that our last dance with the UNC Swing Club that we had there was really great,” said Tiffany Linquist, co-president of Triangle Swing Dance Society. “We’d like to do more with the UNC Swing Club.”
Sykes said both groups benefit the other by providing dancers as well as venues.
“We help each other out in that we’re helping the community itself grow,” he said.
Linquist said Triangle Swing Dance Society hosts about two social dances a month with the mission of providing era-appropriate music and swing dances for the community that stay true to the time period when swing was born.
“Some people come and they really enjoy the music, or they enjoy that nostalgic link into our history, and some people just love the dancing,” she said. “I think dancing is good for your body, mind and soul –– it’s good for everything.”
Vohwinkel echoed those sentiments and said dancing allows her to gain confidence and simply enjoy herself.
“In general, it’s definitely given me more confidence in my body. I think that sounds like a kind of weird thing to say, but I’ve never considered myself coordinated or graceful at all,” she said. “But it’s given me the ability to let go of that, let it fall away and just enjoy being in that moment.”
Vohwinkel and Sykes attend swing dance workshops and exchanges throughout the Carolinas, and Sykes has also traveled to Washington, D.C., and New York. Both say they intend to keep dancing long after their college years.
“It’s not just something that you do in college,” Sykes said. “This is something that I’m going to do ‘til the day I die.”
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