March 5th. Saturday Evening: a light breeze blows on a dark night. Campus is tranquil and still. But if one should venture into Green Center and wander down a grand staircase into Friedhoff, a whole new picture presents itself—one of times long past and big brass bands. Dozens of students swirl about the room, dressed to the teeth in feathers and class. The Colorado School of Mines Jazz band plays on the stage: classic swing tunes to get feet moving with rhythm and bodies moving in tandem. This is another snap shot into the creative side of Mines’ students.
To start out, club leaders taught the room the basics of east coast swing, throwing in a few fun turns and spins for flavor. The ladies wore traditional flapper dresses with sequins, vibrant colors, and tassels and the gentlemen looked dapper in pinstripes, fedoras, and suspenders. There were light provisions for between dances and a fun mock photo-booth stocked with mustaches and bow ties. Friedhoff itself was dressed festively in streamers and a decorative gramophone.
The dance, carrying the Gatsby Roaring ‘20s theme, is the second so far this semester that the Colorado School of Mines Ballroom Dance Club has put on after the Harry Potter themed Yule Ball Waltz in January. And what is the cause of this series of themed dances?
“There was […] a mentality in the board of leadership before this one that having themes discouraged attendance if people felt they couldn’t fill or fit the theme and so we tried […] earlier this year […] to do a Harry Potter themed yule ball for our opening waltz ball which was, we feel, a huge success and so we wanted to try something special for our swing dance, and one of the SlideRulers came up with a Gatsby theme,” said Zac Mimlitz, current president of Ballroom Dance Club. This Gatsby Dance proved to be another success with nearly 100 people in attendance.
This dance was hosted in order to raise funds for the SlideRuler’s swing team, Mines’ only competitive dance team, to participate in the upcoming InterCollegiate Swing Battle in early April. There they will compete with a handful of other universities in Colorado. Last year the SlideRulers placed second out of six teams and they are confident in their team’s capabilities this year as well. The SlideRulers have been an established team on campus since at least 2008, with several videos on YouTube of past competitions.
They are “a really solid […] swing community here on campus,” said Mimlitz, who also commented that, “[the] team has exploded [in recent years].”
The Mines Ballroom Dance Club is not done yet though; their next event will be right around E-days, a blues-tango fusion event inspired by Denver’s own dancing community. “Blues-tango fusion is a fairly recent addition to the world of social dancing in the grand scheme.” Blues-Tango fusion has taken off in Denver especially with monthly Hot Nights, devoted to the style.
Mimlitz hopes to use the upcoming event “as an avenue […] to expose the greater community to dancing,” which he says is a “way for students to get out and interact, both with each other and in the greater community.” Mimlitz elaborated: “you […] get a structure[d] and really fun environment to express both socially and artistically.”
The Blues-Tango fusion style is a curious mix, which toes the line between the “showmanship” of tango and “getting really into […] just the movement and the rhythm” of blues. Mimlitz is a fan of both of these styles and looks forward to this next event, another opportunity for outreach in the Mines’ community.