Ballroom and Latin Dance Club Highlight

Katie LaDuke , Staff Reporter

This winter semester marks five years since the start of Oakland University’s Ballroom and Latin Dance Club. However, before last summer, the club was known as just the Ballroom Dance Club. The reason for the rebranding came because the club does Latin dances as well as Ballroom dances and wanted to display that.

“We wanted to include more of the social aspect since we’re not just competitive ballroom,” club President Megan Carson said.

Unlike most club sports at Oakland where students have experience with the sport, the majority of the Ballroom and Latin Dance Club members have never danced. There are few members who have danced their whole life.

“I came in with zero experience, and by the end of [my first] year I was winning ribbons and competing,” Vice President Annie Fuelle said. “I think sometimes the hardest part is getting the rhythm down with the music.”

The Ballroom and Latin Dance Club is Oakland biggest club sport with 60 members. This is the most the club has ever had since the average amount of members is around 40. Since the club is so big, a large group travel to competitions.

The club emphasizes that anyone is welcome to join regardless of skill level. Since there are no official tryouts, interested members can just show up to practice and work their way up to feeling comfortable enough to compete.

“We will always accept new people,” Carson said.

Practices take place four times a week. Sundays are for open practice, Mondays are dedicated to beginners, Wednesdays are advanced lessons with the club’s instructor and Thursdays have a mix of advanced and open practice.  

Competitions typically take place two to three times a semester. By the end of the school year, the club will have traveled to Michigan State University, Purdue University, the University of Michigan and Ohio State University.

These competitions are divided into four sections: rhythm, smooth, Latin and international. The club primarily competes in rhythm and smooth with a variety of dances including the waltz, tango, foxtrot, viennese waltz, cha-cha, rumba, swing, mambo, quickstep, samba and jive.

For these competitions, members do not learn full routines. Since there can be around 30 couples on the floor at the same time, pairs mostly improvise and stick to patterns of certain moves.

“At every competition, we make memories that are great,” Carson said.

The social aspect of Latin dances comes in with the bachata, salsa and merengue dances. Members have danced at several salsa nights in Detroit including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s and Vicente’s.

The club also participates in events around campus and puts on their own events. Last year, the club learned a choreographed routine and took part in Vitality Dance’s annual showcase. At the Jan. 27 Meadow Brook Ball, members were giving free ballroom dance lessons to guests.

On Monday, Feb. 12, the club will be hosting their annual Ballroom with Bae for Oakland students. This event doubles as a fundraiser with it being $10 per couple and $7 for one person.

“[Ballroom with Bae] is a really cool fundraiser that we get to teach other people who don’t usually get to ballroom dance,” club Treasurer Jean-Pierre Ortiz said.

The club does accept new members anytime during the year and also holds an open house during the first weeks of school for any interested students. for more information on the Ballroom and Latin Dance Club, check out GrizzOrgs and the club’s Facebook page.

“Anybody can join Ballroom Dance Club, and anybody can dance,” Carson said. “If you can walk in a straight line, you can dance.”