As swing-dancing students strolled through the gymnasium doors at Community Christian Fellowship Saturday night, unfamiliar words met their ears.
“Now that we’re official, we would ask you to sign this wavier,” said sophomore Hannah Wright, club treasurer. “And please remember, swing dancing is about meeting new people, so dance with a few you do not know. We want to be a community here.”
The Swing Society became an official John Brown University club after being approved by the Student Government Association on Oct. 1.
Senior Lisa Mayhue, club president, was the main force in pursuing this change.
“I was surprised by how easy it was,” she said.
The group met with Andre Broquard, the dean of students, to make sure it aligned with the student handbook and University regulations. Danielle Keller, coordinator of student activities and orientation, gave input and advice on their club constitution. Finally, the group presented their proposal to SGA, which decided if they could be an official club on campus.
The main questions the club faced were the concern about liability for the University and whether the club fit within the community covenant and student handbook.
The 2012-2013 handbook states, “Dances, including the selection of music, should be done in a way that upholds the scriptural principles of modesty and respect for others. JBU considers the genres of dances that typically comply with these principles to include folk, square, line, swing, salsa, and other recognized forms of ballroom dance. It is generally expected that lessons in a particular genre will be offered prior to and/or during sponsored dances.”
The University deemed that the club fits well within these guidelines.
“The Swing Society has existed for a while and has operated with integrity even while not a club,” said junior Jeremy Enders, student government vice president for communication. “They came in good standing. We checked with student development and cleared the decision with administration to make sure JBU could have a dancing club without breaking the rules.”
Keller said she thought the club would benefit campus by offering the opportunity for students to learn more about the culture and technique of dancing.
“I look forward to seeing where this club goes and how it will benefit the campus not just through fun but that it will honor Christ and students will learn,” she added.
Mayhue explained, “Dancing helps us figure out what it is like to live in community. That is important to who JBU is. We see the antagonism against dancing disappearing. The key is there is a way to go about it.”
To address the liability issue, students will sign waivers releasing the University from all responsibility for injury while swing dancing. Junior Laticia Warren, club secretary, will keep track of these.
Now that the Society is an official club, some things will change.
“It allows us to do more, to expand,” Mayhue said.
The club now has permission to advertise on campus, request funding board monies and utilize space and equipment on campus. They also will be able to update their music playlists, teach more moves and have more events. The president and vice presidents will be in charge of teaching lessons before the dancing begins each Saturday night.
Students can join the club as members by attending four times, learning 12 basic moves that fit together into a dance, respecting the church facilities, and demonstrating caution when doing aerial moves.
“Making swing dancing a club is a good way to enjoy JBU community,” said Matt Abbott, sophomore and club vice president.
To celebrate becoming an official club, the Swing Society held a special opening night, including a showcase of 16 University students performing the 12 moves required for membership, plus some more advanced and fun steps. Well over 100 people attended, including students’ parents.
Junior Jessica Williams was excited to perform in the showcase, especially a combo dip, which is one of her favorites.
Senior Glenna Pittman, who also performed, said it was about time for the group to become a club.
“I love dancing, and the more the merrier,” she added.
“Tell people guys need to come. We need guys!” said Josh Tures, junior and club vice president.
The Swing Society gathers each Saturday at Christian Community Fellowship gymnasium beginning at 9 p.m. See the Society’s Facebook group for more details.