Swing kids


About 15 minutes into last night’s beginning swing class, the second in the Chicago Swing Dance Society’s six-week summer session, Adeoye M. Mabogunje, AB’04, told the seven females and three males circled around him in pairs, raising their arms as if embracing giant balls and clasping each other’s hands, to hug their partners. Flashing a wide smile, he explained that in swing, you have to touch your partner and feel comfortable with it. Throughout the lesson he and co-instructor Debra Raich, a “Chicago dancer at large,” emphasized the important connection between the lead and the follower. The follower, they said, should be constantly aware of the dance’s natural momentum, never moving without a signal from her lead—the gentle pressure of his hand between her shoulder blades, for instance, or the direction in which he propels his body. By the end of the lessons, a student should be able to swing dance with anyone.

As the novice dancers shimmied around the third-floor theater of Ida Noyes, both without music and to jazzy tunes from big-band CDs Swing America and Compact Jazz: Count Basie, rotating partners with each pause in the dance, Mabogunje clapped the rhythm, shouting out counts and names of moves. He and Raich gave tips such as how to hold one’s arms—like holding a grapefruit or pushing a shopping cart. Around 9 p.m., 45 minutes after the lesson was scheduled to end, the class disbanded, still bubbling with enthusiasm. The instructors encouraged the students to practice—and show off—their new moves at Friday’s Java Jive, a weekly three-hour swing fest preceded by a free one-hour lesson.

Hana Yoo, '07

Photo: Instructors Adeoye M. Mabogunje, AB’04, and Debra Raich.

July 13, 2005