Swinging into the Weekend

by Sarah Burack

"GENTLEMEN!" Nam’s voice is cheerful, but insistent. "Remember, your lady is a flower! You don’t crush a flower. You guide your flower…"

Let’s be clear, I do not, nor have I ever, considered myself a flower. And yet tonight I found myself, like I do every Thursday, sweating it out on the top floor of the First Unitarian Church, watching as the ever-graceful members of Harvard Ballroom took us through the latest swing step in our repertoire.

"How did I end up here?" I thought, not for the first or last time, that night or this semester. Swing classes were actually my friend Jack’s idea—he’s set us the personal goal of tearing it up at our house formal this coming winter. Still, I’d imagine the rest of our class, which includes plenty of other students, as well as a few Cambridge residents, had their own reasons—including the fact that swing is just cool, and every bit as fun and ridiculous as it looks.

It starts with the names of the different moves. Once you get your basic "slow…slow…rock step" down, the dance floor presents a world of possibilities—the Texas Change ‘Em, the Washing Machine, and my personal favorite, the Hip Bump, which comes complete with hand gestures and sound effects. (That last part may be a personal embellishment on my part.)

If swing isn’t for you, Harvard Ballroom offers a variety of social dance classes, at various levels, each semester. Check out their website for more information. And before you come up with excuses, you should know that the football players who live above me attend formal ballroom classes regularly. And I bet they guide their flowers with the best of them.