Swing Dance Crosses Decades

Junior+Madeline+Bresson+enjoys+learning+new+swing+dance+steps+at+the+Farmington+Swinginfusion+location.

Cassidy Connolly

Junior Madeline Bresson enjoys learning new swing dance steps at the Farmington Swinginfusion location.

Cassidy Connolly, Copy Editor

Junior Madeline Bresson enjoys learning new swing dance steps at the Farmington Swinginfusion location.
Junior Madeline Bresson enjoys learning new swing dance steps at the Farmington Swinginfusion location.

You can do the Cupid Shuffle, the Casper Slide, the Wobble.  Maybe you break out the YMCA at family weddings or can Macarena with the best of them.  But do you know the lindy hop?  How about east coast or the shim-sham?  For a growing group of Mercy students, swing dancing has become a way to socialize, exercise, and try something new.

“A friend told me about [swing dancing] about three months ago,” said freshwoman Summit Dempster.  She and sister Phoenix, a junior, have been dancing ever since through an organization called Swinginfusion.

Swinginfusion began in 2007 with an old guitar amp in a Farmington park, with the mission to “create weekly environments where teens and young adults can learn to dance respectfully”, according to the Swinginfusion website. Today, the group includes five different swing dance clubs throughout southeast Michigan, and one in Quincy, Illinois.  Each club meets one night every week and charges $1 for a few hours of dancing.  In some locations, like Brighton, lessons are included in the weekly program.  While dances are held outside during the summer, they move inside with the colder weather.

“It’s really fun,” said Phoenix Dempster, “and there are a lot of nice people there.”

Swing dancing reached its popular height during the 1940s and 50s, and is often associated with “big band” music styles.  However, Swinginfusion events involve a mixture of pop music and classic rock, along with a few big band or jazz songs.  This allows teens to dance to songs they regularly listen to.

“It was really fun learning the steps,” said junior Madeline Bresson, who started dancing last week.  “My partners have been helpful, kind and patient in helping to teach me how to swing dance.”

Swing dancing ranges in difficulty from basic steps to complicated aerial tricks.  As daunting as this may seem, Summit Dempster concurs that level of experience – or lack thereof – is rarely an issue at Swinginfusion.  Most potential partners, she says, have enough experience to teach basic moves.

“Everyone is so nice,” she said.  “They will show you anything you want to know.”

Swinginfusion offers an opportunity to make new friends and learn new dance styles.  If you find yourself bored next Thursday night, you can join fellow Mercy students at the nearest Swinginfusion, located at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Farmington.