‘Sweetheart Swing’ 

GVL / Courtesy -  Alex Candela

GVL / Courtesy – Alex Candela

Ty Konell

As Valentine’s Day approaches, students at Grand Valley State University are spreading positive vibes across campus. In celebration of the romantic holiday, the GVSU Swing Dance club will be hosting their annual Sweetheart Swing Dance.

The dance, which will be held at 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9 in the Kirkhof Center’s Pere Marquette Room, will feature a night of open dancing for all GVSU students.

Executive board members of the club said they are excited for this year’s event, which will be a different set-up than the typical weekly lesson.

“I look forward to seeing the people who have been working week after week, including last semester, put their skills into practice,” Brenden Hoekstra, president of the club, said. “The moment you go to a social dance and just dance and put those into practice and try new things, that’s when you really get good at dancing.”

“My major is event management, so I look forward to practicing what I want to do in the field. I also want the members to enjoy the few dances that we hold, because they really earned it,” said Alex Candela, the club’s event planner. “We have social dances because we like our members to show off all the new moves they have learned and socialize with other members and practice their dancing.”

Alongside dancing, the Sweetheart Swing will also be a night filled with club involvement. The members are said to be selecting club T-shirts, and the future executive board members.

“General members enter T-shirt designs and the whole club votes on which shirt they would like, and they get them at the end of the year,” Candela said. “We’re also voting on the (executive board) since two of our members, including me, are graduating, so those positions need to be filled.”

For the club’s members, swing dancing has given them something to look forward to, both as a weekly club and as a lifelong activity.

“I love when I come into the room during open dance and everyone is dancing. I like seeing everyone dance and have fun,” Candela said. “I want to keep swinging after I graduate, even if it isn’t specifically here. I want to stay apart of the swing community.”

“My goal with swing dance is to set up my own scene wherever I happen to get a job,” Hoekstra said. “I’m an education major so I’ll have a teaching job, but on the side I would like to run a dance studio where I can teach everybody how to Lindy-hop.

“No matter where I go, I’m either going to join the existing community or I’m going to make one.”

Furthermore, swing dancing has also left some members with fond memories to last beyond their college years. For Hoekstra, Lindy Focus, a swing dance event held in North Carolina, was an influential moment with the dance style.

“Lindy Focus put on a project to resurrect Chick Webb’s music and transcribe 33 brand new charts that have not been performed live since 1933,” Hoekstra said. “We were dancing to this music all night and it just hit me how special of an opportunity this was, that fact we came together to make that happen brought me to tears.”

Moving forward, the GVSU Swing Dance Club has events in the works for members and other GVSU students to look forward to, including the annual “Swing Dance Showcase.” The event will be held Saturday, April 22 in collaboration with other organizations on campus.