On Nov. 2, a classroom in Carolina Hall was transformed into a makeshift dance studio as tables were pushed to the side and jazz music flowed through the speakers.
For an hour, this space belonged to the Carolina Swing Dance Club, which hosts biweekly lessons for students to learn and practice the basic steps.
The dance form was created by African American dancers in Harlem during the 1920s and was typically a partner dance with fast, yet casual choreography.
“There are steps and rules and everything, but they’re very lax, and that’s what I think appealed to people in the 1940s and ‘50s,” Maddie Behnke, the club’s treasurer, said.
The lessons are currently taught by Behnke and Carolina Swing co-presidents Casey Lepley and Annie Veum. All three joined the club in the 2021-22 school year.
Although Behnke teaches lessons, they said they were initially bad at the specific steps of swing. They danced throughout their childhood, but stopped in middle school.
“I also love that it’s kind of brought me back to dance as well, even though I didn’t do it for a good eight years before, and it kind of reminded me — I can dance,” she said. “I thought I couldn’t because I hadn’t done it in so long, and it’s just a really great thing to do.”
There are many styles of swing, but the club specifically focuses on East Coast Swing. This style includes moves such as the 1930s Charleston, which includes a pattern of footwork that involves “rock steps” and kicks to upbeat music.
Veum said she enjoys meeting new people through the club and being present in the moment.