Dance club

Waltz Around the Pandemic: Mercer Ballroom Dance Club Presents COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Entering Penfield Hall on a Monday evening, club attendees stand several feet apart with their hands and feet in position, while dancing with their partners. Although traditional ballroom dancing requires the partners to touch, that won’t happen here.

It’s the home of the Mercer Ballroom Dance Club, and the procedures are very different this year than they have been in the past due to the coronavirus.

Last March, when Mercer began announcing COVID-19 safety measures, including moving classes to a virtual format, the club was forced to end its meetings for the remainder of the semester. This fall, they immediately took over.

The club started the year with Zoom meetings. “We held all of our meetings over Zoom,” club president Bethany Newton said. “So we really thought it was important to keep the social aspect of the Mercer Ballroom Club in the Mercer Ballroom Dance Club. Because for us, mingling with new people has always been one of the most important things.

Meetings were structured to allow for one-on-one socialization so members could always make new friends, Newton said. During the first 20 minutes of each meeting, participants were sent to breakout rooms to introduce themselves to each other. Then they are taken back to the main room to start learning their dance moves.

Although the club’s management are doing their best to adapt to safety protocols with COVID-19 in mind, Newton admitted it was complicated to do so.

“It’s especially difficult on Zoom because it’s hard to see someone’s hands and feet at the same time on zoom,” Newton said. “Seeing hands and feet is important for ballroom activities.”

After a few weeks of meetings, the club cautiously shifted to a face-to-face format at the end of September. The change followed discussions regarding safety protocols between club management and several university officials.

“We are very grateful to the Mercer administration because we went to talk to a group of different advisers and supervisors to come up with a safety plan that would allow us to meet in person, as long as we are not doing touch dance. activities,” Newton said.

Safety protocols include wearing masks, providing hand sanitizer, taping the floor so each attendee knows where to stand, and appointing a safety officer, who liaises between club and campus life, sports club administration and administration.

Mercer also hosts a competitive ballroom dancing team, but Newton says that for the foreseeable future competitions are canceled. The team usually travels to Georgia Tech for the Helluva Dance Comp, but it’s not yet clear if the competition will continue.

Nevertheless, the team is still training in case they are able to compete.

“If things happen and we can compete, we want to be ready and prepared if that’s possible,” Newton said.

Ultimately, Newton says safety is the most important consideration and the club and team’s goals are to have fun and learn to dance.

“The goal of the ballroom club is to have fun and teach anyone who wants to come,” she said. “Mercer students, staff and faculty are encouraged to learn beginner dance moves in anything from waltz and tango to cha-cha and Charleston.”

The Mercer Ballroom Dance Club meets weekly every Monday at 8 p.m. at Penfield Hall.