Flashing back into history

Although it may not be possible to go back in time as Michael J. Fox did in the movie Back to the Future, there are some things that may allow us to relive our history. Swing dance is one of these.

At Eastern, we have our very own time warper and that is ETHELS swing dance club. ETHELS is an acronym that stands for “Eastern’s Toe-tappin’, High-steppin’, East-coast, Lindy hoppin’, Swing Club.”

Swing dance was a significant part of the roar of the Roaring Twenties. Its cradles were the numerous ballrooms of New York City, where the best dancers of the nation would debut with breathtaking, fired-up moves.

The energy of swing dance was not only important over 70 years ago, but it is important today. It signifies a turning point in American history where many changes took place such as great advances in aviation and the invention of the car.

Swing dancing’s importance comes not only from its links to our historical culture, but also its influence on many of today’s styles with lively beats and creative moves.

Jennifer Kasecamp, ETHELS’ current president, said in an e-mail, “Swing dancing is always fun. I feel like I’m back in the ’30s and ’40s dancing to real big bands.”

ETHELS meets in the cafeteria on Thursdays at 9 p.m., where students dance to the songs of great legends like Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller and Ella Fitzgerald.

One famous swing dance style, the “Lindy Hop,” was named after Charles A. Lindbergh, a North American aviator.

As reported by an online writer, Lori Heikkila, one night a local dance enthusiast named ‘Shorty George’ Snowden was asked by a reporter the name of a step that was being danced. He had a newspaper with the Lindbergh flight article titled “Lindy Hops the Atlantic,” in it. George just read it, “Lindy Hop” and the name stuck.

Today millions of swing dancers, from beginners to aficionados, dance to the hopping groove of the Lindy Hop.

Even though the dream of getting inside a machine and entering the worlds of the past is fiction, the concept of escaping to the past is real: Swing dance does the trick. It’s just like hopping on a roadway to the past to reenact the fun and aliveness of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.

“ETHELS helps build the Eastern Christian community by bringing students together to participate in an exciting and enjoyable form of dance in a non-pressured atmosphere. It’s a good time for everyone,” Kasecamp said.

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