It’s a typical Tuesday night, as 50 students enthusiastically twirl, dip and step in tune to the music in studio E in Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.
SMU Ballroom is a student organization that people use to make new friends and learn how to dance. The group is also a competitive team. Couples are taught a variety of dances and compete in different competitions around the nation. The group most recently participated in the Dances with Owls competition on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Rice University in Houston, Texas. SMU placed members in every heat, team captain Dillon Weir said.
The most noteworthy aspect about SMU Ballroom is how much it has grown over the past eight years. SMU Ballroom started in 2009 with about three students, Weir said. The club now has over 70 members.
Students join for a variety of reasons. Eleanor Feinman, a sophomore finance student, joined SMU Ballroom this year because she loves to dance.
“I’ve had a little bit of experience with ballroom dance in the past. I did it for about a year in middle school, but I just couldn’t continue because of other time commitments,” said Feinman, a ballerina and figure skater. “When I got to SMU I remembered how much I loved it, so I thought it would be a fun thing to join to meet a bunch of new people and learn how to ballroom dance.”
However, you don’t need prior experience to join. Junior Destiny Rose Murphy signed up for SMU Ballroom at Night at the Club her freshman year because she didn’t know how to dance, and her mother and grandmother are both dancers.
“I went to the first meeting with my roommate at the time who was my best friend, and we were just going to go to one practice and take pictures for our family and then leave,” Murphy said. “And then we walked into the door, and SMU Ballroom is full of attractive young men who dance with you. We knew it was the club for us.”
Murphy loves SMU Ballroom because twice a week she can put down her schoolwork and go to the gym to workout and laugh with friends.
“I immediately fell in love with the sport,” she said.
Students interested in joining SMU Ballroom can join next fall. The club hosts three weeks of open practices where they teach the potential new members the waltz, salsa and the tango. The students who still want to join the team will be invited back the following week. SMU Ballroom limits its enrollment to the fall semester to ensure everyone is on the same level and can progress together.
During their time on the team, the members of SMU Ballroom master 10 different international dances. The standard dances consist of waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep and Vietnamese waltz. The Latin dances consist of rumba, cha cha, samba, pasodoble and jive.
“It’s a really valuable skill that you’ll be able to use throughout your life,” Weir said. “You can see noticeable improvement. Any time you look back at either newcomers or yourself, just looking back several years ago, you can see enormous improvement, and it’s really satisfying.”