The Swing Swag Dance Group is working to build an open swing dancing community on campus one step at a time.
The group started about three years ago when a couple of people started teaching swing dancing in the rain outside Maple Hall, now Potter Hall.
“I was sitting in what was Maple Hall next to Jamie playing ‘Apples to Apples’ and I randomly asked him, ‘Have you ever swing danced before?’” said Maddy Fowler, a junior social work major. “We just got into a big conversation about it. It was pouring rain outside and we just got all of our friends to go out and do it.”
Since then, Fowler and Jamie Schmidt, a senior songwriting major, have been swing dancing around campus and bringing Belmont University students into the 1940s world of dance.
Schmidt first started teaching from his home in Florida. He became so passionate about dance that he took ballroom classes for three semesters as a part-time student at the University of West Florida before moving to Belmont.
After teaching some students how to swing dance and promoting irregular swing dance sessions on campus, Schmidt started the Facebook group Swing Swag Dance Group, Fowler said.
“I think it’s great that I get to share something that I love so much,” Schmidt said. “It’s fun to get to see somebody that gets it.”
Fowler started dancing as a junior in high school in her home town of Kansas City. Since moving to Belmont, she has been learning new moves from Schmidt and has helped to teach students how to twirl and step.
“It’s really cool to see the different people that come out,” Fowler said. “We try to do it outside because a lot of people walk by and see what we’re doing, and a lot of people just jump in and don’t even know what it is.”
Carrie Chalker, a senior public relations major, was in Patton Hall about two years ago around 1 a.m. when she and a friend heard Schmidt and other swing dancers outside. She ran out to see what was going on, jumped in and hasn’t stopped dancing since.
“I like swing dancing because you’re working with a partner,” Chalker said. “Since then, I started going to every swing dance on campus.”
The swing dancers have been known to show up in the Maddox Grand Atrium, outside Dickens Hall, Potter Hall and McWhorter Hall.
But Potter Hall is apparently the place the group congregates the most.
Nathan Blees, a junior music business major, has become an avid member of the swing dancers at Belmont after watching a group lesson there.
“It gives people a chance to try something that is outside of the normal,” Blees said. “By sharing something that seems different, you can really learn stuff about each other.”
Caroline Mitchell, a junior music business major, joined in one night after walking by a group of swing dancers outside Potter Hall.
“I like it because it is actually a really great way to meet people and I’m very much a people person, an extrovert, so any chance I get to meet people I like,” she said.
Swing Swag Dance Group on Facebook has grown to include over 140 members and doesn’t appear to be waning in popularity.
Catch the next swing dance session by joining the Facebook group and watching for break-out sessions around campus.