West Coast Swing: Partner Dance Class Event

Beyond the walls of the SOU Recreation Center are a variety of activities and classes. One of these classes is a Partner Dance Class that learns and participates in a wide array of partner dances and events under the instruction of professor Dave Kahn. Dancers have the opportunity to practice a variety of dance styles under the blanket of partnership and explore choreography with many different partners for an optimum learning experience. This class meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 7:20 in the Rec Center dance studio on the second floor. 

One exciting addition to the class’s experience is the option to attend local partner dance events in the area. To kick off the fourth week of winter term, students and local citizens alike attended Southern Oregon Swing’s 4th Saturday dance on January 28th. This event was held in Phoenix, Oregon at Verve Pilates and Fitness Studio, hosted, taught and danced by Dave Kahn. Participants were offered to learn and execute a sequence of West Coast Swing dance, a form of partnered swing dancing that is very versatile, musical and enjoyable for dancers of all backgrounds to learn. Attendees varied from experienced dancers to SOU students, learners, and locals looking for an evening activity. Many dancers recognize one another, exchange greetings and offer a dance, showing the sense of community and togetherness that these events bring. 

The event began at 7pm for those who needed the opportunity to learn the framework of West Coast Swing. From 7 to 8pm, the appropriate pattern of steps for leads and follows was instructed by Dave Kahn and another instructor whose name The Siskiyou was unable to receive. Participants separated based on the role they wanted to dance and learned the sequence necessary. Then, dancers practiced these steps in a large circle, moving forward and backward in unison. Leads and follows would then partner up for a rough first run through, repeating this and using feedback from the instructors to improve and practice with the option of exchanging partners.

From 8 to 11pm was an open dance, many new people – familiar with the choreography – began to enter and enjoy the music. Dancers had the chance to further develop their West Coast Swing skills in an open environment, or participate in some freestyle fun with fellow dancers. Lights were dimmed to set the tone for a lineup of well-varied music to fit all guests, ranging from alternative to hip-hop, and more. The scene was relaxed, joyful, and perfect for an evening of swing dancing.

Dave Kahn informed The Siskiyou that his favorite part of these events is the act of selling happiness. There are many studies about how good dancing is for the body and brain, it’s an effective exercise and it’s fun. He adds that regional swing dance events especially can be incredibly diverse and inclusive, another reason to feel welcomed in the community of this dance genre. It’s a space to wear what you feel comfortable in, dance to any song you desire and be your true self.

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