So you think you can’t dance? Think again.


Nowshin Chowdhury

Ballroom Dance Club president Jessie Felix dances with her partner RJ Shoebottom in South Foundation Hall. Practices were held there in the summer.

As a new year approaches, students often survey involvement fairs looking at what the campus has to offer.

The Ballroom Dance Club at Oakland University is one of over 300 student organizations that may spark interest.

In the winter of 2013, the club hosted its first official classes in Vandenberg Hall. The initial e-board included Taylor Williams as president, Michael Williams as vice president, Kristie Nixon as secretary and Elizabeth Lawer as treasurer.

“Together, we met with the OU Club Sports manager and made a game plan of how to start the club,” Williams said.

They went to a club sports meeting and petitioned to make the club official, and it was eventually approved by the club sports e-board. The e-board then recruited members for the club by posting flyers throughout campus and meeting people at the involvement fairs.

“We all fell in love with ballroom dance and knew how wonderfully social, active and fun it could be for college students,” Williams said. “Creating this club allowed us to bring ballroom dance to over 60 students in our first semester.”

Recent alumna and former club president Ria Perez is still involved with the organization and has attended practices throughout this summer. As a sophomore, she heard about the club on Facebook after her friend liked the page.

“I took ballroom dance lessons before that and I was so excited that Oakland had a group where we could do the same thing,” Perez said.

After the original e-board members graduated, they “passed the torch” to Perez and other members, who later did the same to this year’s e-board.

The current president, Jessie Felix, and the e-board hope to increase numbers and bring more students together through dance. Felix said even that though it’s identified as a club sport, Ballroom Dance Club is a great place for socializing.

“We don’t just practice and just compete,” Felix said. “We are also planning social events, like going salsa dancing or to a swing dance event.”

At practices, students learn new moves each week and work on previously learned ones. Having a partner is not necessary to join because members rotate partners throughout the night. Previous dance experience is also not required to join the club.

“I think the best thing that you get from ballroom is a really good community,” said Ryan Bates, vice president of the club. “We have an incredibly diverse group and it’s nice having exposure to so many different walks of life. As a nontraditional student, I was worried when I went to my first open house, but it was a blast and I haven’t looked back since.”

Members of the e-board will be teaching the social class, which will take place Mondays at the OU Recreation Center. Those who choose to participate in the competition class will meet at Elegance in Motion Ballroom Dance Studio in Lake Orion on Wednesday nights.

Since the creation of the club, members have participated in many dance competitions in the Midwest and even won ribbons. Participants who wish to compete can choose to go to a competition at Purdue University in October and the National Collegiate DanceSport Competition in Ohio this November.

The Ballroom Dance Club is hosting an open house on Monday, Sept. 12 from 9 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. in Studio 919 in the Rec Center. There will be free food, free dance lessons and a few short performances for everyone to enjoy.

For further inquiries about the club, contact Jessie Felix at [email protected].

Find Ballroom Dance Club on social media and GrizzOrgs:

Instagram: @ballroomdanceou