Getting Into The Swing Of Things

The New Paltz Swing Club held their second annual Swing Invasion.
The New Paltz Swing Club held their second annual Swing Invasion.

With a local big band and eager swing dancers, the second annual Swing Invasion took place Nov. 18 in the Student Union Multipurpose Room.

“[The event]  brings an experience from the past of classic American history to life right on the New Paltz campus,” Alvin Arnold, co-founder of the Swing Dance Club said.

Arnold, a fourth-year education major, and Jill Exman, a fourth-year environmental and organizational biology major, started the New Paltz Swing Club in fall 2010 after transferring from Dutchess Community College. They said they wanted to bring the swing-dancing scene over to New Paltz with them.

Swing Invasion was designed to empower the local swing community in the course of a night of self-expression through dancing and swing music.

The first half hour of  Swing Invasion was dedicated to a practice lesson for those new to swing dancing, but interested in the style and the remainder of the night was social free-style dancing.

“Before the event we always have a short lesson for those who haven’t tried swing dancing before to give them some things to use on the dance floor,” Arnold said.

Arnold said the idea for Swing Invasion arose from his desire to bring a swing dance event to the New Paltz campus and to expose more people to this style of dance and music.

“So far, we’ve held one big event each semester and hope to continue with this tradition,” Swing Club President Kelly O’Connor said.

At each event held by the Swing Club, a local big band is invited to play music from the swing era for attendees to dance to. This year’s band was “The Big Blue Big Band” (BBBB). BBBB is an independent swing band from Kingston, N.Y. They are an 18-piece ensemble that has been performing for more than 30 years and is currently accompanied by vocalist Mark Raisch.

Similar to the event, the club holds weekly meetings that encompass the enthusiasm of dancers. O’Connor said the club is comprised of devoted members that are truly interested in learning to swing dance and appreciate the era, but no experience or partner is necessary. She said at its best, the club has had more than 30 attendees and there are usually 20 regular members. This varies based on students’ schedules, assignments, time constrains and obligations but no one is ever turned away.

“We usually have a handful of dedicated dancers who show up every week, as well as those who can only make it once in a while” O’Connor said. “Our event is open to everybody and we will have everyone from first time dancers to seasoned swingers.”

The New Paltz Swing Club holds meetings every Friday in the dance studio in the Elting Gym from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Each meeting consists of a swing dance lesson at the beginning and ends with group dancing.