The first time I found myself at Tuesday Swing Dancing in Rosa Parks Circle was during the afterglow at West Michigan Intern Connect, a networking requirement of my summer internship; and the first experience hooked me. It was certainly nerve wracking to stand at the edge of Rosa Parks Circle, in the middle of downtown, surrounded by people, many of whom I work with, but it only took a mere thirty seconds before being invited to dance, with no worries about my lack of experience from my partner.
Meet Ben: my first, and very patient, swing dancing partner. He showed me the basic four steps to get me started, which were deceivingly simple. As soon as I was comfortable with that, the real fun began. My coworkers watched from the sidelines as I attempted to mimic Ben and the other dancers around me. Several times, Ben turned me or had me all twisted up so quickly that I wasn’t even sure what happened. All I knew was that I was having fun, and it was nice to hear myself laugh and relax while someone else led the way after a long day at my internship.
I did eventually get my friends onto the dance floor with me, and they couldn’t help themselves from embracing in the contagious nature of the fun. Some people in the circle were obviously long-time swing dancers, but most people there were just like us, looking to try something new and be a part of a unique Grand Rapids experience. The way the veteran dancers were willing to teach and embrace the awkwardness of first time dancers was incredible.
By the end of the night, several in my group danced, flipped, twirled, and were lifted off the ground, all things we didn’t think would happen when we timidly stepped up to the edge of the circle for the first time. As our feet left the ground, so did our worries leave our hearts for just a little while. It was some of the most genuine and old-fashioned fun we have had in a long time. Work, summer classes, and other stresses happening in our young professional lives melted away when we hopped on the dance floor with strangers graciously teaching us their hobby. There isn’t any phone app that could supply us with such warmth and power of connecting with other people.
Tuesday night swing is now a part of my routine. It’s a great way to make friends because it draws repeat dancers every week, versus a one-off event where you might connect with someone once. Be sure to follow Grand Rapids Original Swing Society of Facebook for their schedule and updates.