After 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Lakeside room at the Reily Student Recreation Center turns into a dance floor. Here, members of the Tulane club ballroom dance crew sparkle and shake all night long — at least until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.
The students involved in the club practice three main categories of dances. The first, soft, includes most of the waltzes, the foxtrot and the tango. The second, Latin, includes salsa, merengue, rumba and cha-cha dancing. The third, the swing, mainly includes the east coast swing and the west coast swing.
All dances practiced by club members require members to dance with a partner, and all pairs are made up of leads/follows. These terms are not gender-specific, meaning pairs are not limited to male/female pairings.
Those who are afraid to find a partner need not worry. At many practices, the Tulane Ballroom does “social dancing”, where club members change partners frequently, allowing club members to get to know each other.
For competitions, however, people usually train with the same partner, but an uneven number of leads/follows sometimes necessitates changes. This is not a frequent occurrence, as the club only competes once a year in the Rock and Roll Tide Dance Contest in Alabama.
Except in the event of a competition, Tulane Ballroom does not require members to purchase equipment. Although some members use dancing shoes, many, including club president Andrew Cerise, dance in their socks.
“I still don’t have any dancing shoes,” Cerise said. “I’ve been using socks for three years now, and will do so for my fourth year as well.”
The club’s equipment policy is certainly a microcosm of its welcoming attitude and willingness to accept new members. While discussing various aspects of the club, Cerise was quick to encourage anyone interested in joining.
“We pride ourselves primarily on being a social ballroom organization, for people who are keen to learn one dance style or all of them,” Cerise said. “[Members] don’t have to feel pressured by an environment that expects you to compete and win.
Tulane Ballroom practices Tuesdays from 9-10 p.m. and Thursdays from 9-11 p.m. in the Reily Center’s Lakeside Room. All are welcome, regardless of their past dance experience.