Gusties partake in a variety of activities that uplift their mental and physical well-being. Through dancing organizations, Gusties learn and interact with diverse traditions and groups of people while creating spaces of affiliation and cultural understanding.
The Gustavus Swing Club has played a pivotal role in fostering community engagement, broadening cultural comprehension, and strengthening social bonding through swing dancing.
Senior Caitlin Pott, President of the Swing Club, illustrates the ways in which swing dancing has created a space of acceptance for her and even aided in her networking at Gustavus.
“I came to Gustavus not really knowing a lot of people. Right away after the involvement fair, I joined the swing club. Through the swing club, I was able to meet two people that I am still friends with. Through these friends, I met everyone that I am also friends with now,” Pott said.
Pott also explains the various events and methods the swing club has performed at and created in the past in which they were able to showcase their talents, all while creating a sense of inclusion and affirmation among its members.
“Generally we do clinics where we have professional dance instructors that specialize in different types of dance. Some of the main events that the swing club members would perform at include the President’s Ball, Diversity Ball, and Phonathon. We also have a Fall Swing and then a Spring Swing, which are our main events where everyone gets dressed up and shows up to dance,” Pott said.
Pott emphasizes that while the swing club is an organization open to all community members, they are currently facing a plethora of limitations and struggles in planning public events for all as social interaction is limited among campus members.
“We were going to have a blues clinic this fall, but it’s really hard to dance with a partner when you have to be six feet apart from them. We’ve even considered numerous online options just to keep things in motion. The only problem with that is you have to be able to twist your roommate’s arm into dancing. But many members, unfortunately, do not have that as being an option,” Pott said.
Regardless of said challenges, swing dancing helped her and other members cope with the current struggles imposed on the Gustavus community as a result of COVID-19 and increased isolation.
“When you’re moving and dancing, you’re not thinking about anything else. You’re not thinking about the stress in your life and the stress of college. You’re just thinking about dancing in the moment.”
Pott hopes to continue using swing dancing as a means of encouraging campus participation and social bonding.
“When we say social dance, it’s not just social because you are dancing with a partner. It’s also because you are physically around other people and get to interact with them. I hope that whenever we are able to meet in person and socially distanced that it allows for people to continue to interact with and meet new people,” Pott said.
The swing club meets on Wednesdays from 9-10 p.m. (via online or in-person is yet to be determined).