Learn some new moves with the Liberty swing dancing group

Get into the swing of things with Liberty Swing, an on-campus swing dancing group that puts a spin on learning some new moves and shaking off the stress of school on the dance floor. 

The dance group was kickstarted last fall when its president, Grace Runkle, decided to make flyers announcing a swing dance event after learning a previous swing group on campus had disbanded around COVID-19. 

“I just like printed them out (and) hung them up,” Runkle said. “(I) found a guy from my brother dorm who knew how to swing dance, and we just put it on and made a GroupMe, and like 40 people came.”

The group has now more than tripled in size and meets Monday evenings, alternating between regular meetings and workshops. Each meeting starts with a beginner’s lesson to teach newcomers basic step patterns before diving into additional dips, spins and moves.  There are different styles students can learn: east-coast, west-coast and country.

“I would basically describe it as fun, upbeat partner dancing that doesn’t have to be awkward,” Runkle said. “I’d say that’s kind of the beauty in it. You get to mess up, and you get to not be perfect because that’s half the fun.”  

Tommie Riner, an accounting major in his junior year, was one of those first students to give it a shot last year. That was his first time dancing, but now Riner is a regular in the group.  

“If you’ve ever seen a movie set in like the 40s or 50s … like if you imagine Captain America dancing … that’s what it is,” Riner said.  

 Beyond the dancing itself, the group’s members and leadership agree that the tight-knit but welcoming community is their favorite part. Lauryn Sharp, for           example, graduated in the spring of this year, but she still comes back to enjoy the company, meet new people and learn new tricks.

“It’s really fun to be dancing, just as a joyful thing to do, and everybody’s having a great time,” Sharp said. “It’s a happy place to be.” 

Kailey Elliott, the group’s social media and marketing manager, loves the community it provides as well.  She also leads dances, including some impromptu meetings members will initiate in their group chat.  

“When you have people who find something in common that they love and will skip out on Monday night football … that’s something special. You hold onto that,” Elliott said.

The group is close to attaining official club status, which would mean being able to take their expanding meetings to other areas of campus, such as the Alumni Ballroom. They are eagerly  awaiting one more signature of approval. Throughout the  approval process, Runkle sees the Lord’s faithfulness in growing this thriving community.

“It’s something that glorifies the Lord in such a beautiful way through community,” Runkle said. “It’s … sharing a little part of my heart with the campus and watching so many people fall in love with it. It’s been really, really encouraging to me.”

Liberty Swing meets Monday nights at 7 p.m., typically in either the DeMoss Grand Lobby or at the slab behind the Freedom Tower. It is open to students of all skill levels. For more details, follow @LibertySwing_ on Instagram.  

Malanowski is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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