Dancing brings diversity to Greenville ECU
Swing, Contra and Salsa heat up the night
Lauren Mason, Senior Writer
January 28, 2003

Some ECU students know how to dance; though this may not be the type of dancing seen at clubs downtown or at the parties on the weekend, they definitely know how to move. The ECU Swing Dance club and ECU Folk and Country Dancers have regular dances with lessons that teach students and then let them try their moves on the dance floor. These dances are open to beginners and dancers without partners, so anyone can join in the fun and learn some new steps.

The ECU Folk and Country Dancers actually offer several different kinds of dances for people to choose from. Each dance style is unique and done to a variety of music. This dance club loves to hire bands for their dances, so the energy from the live music and dancers keeps everyone moving throughout the night.

Salsa dancing is becoming extremely popular and many students are interested in learning more about Hispanic culture and the fun of salsa dancing. At the recent salsa dance on Friday, Jan. 17, about 100 dancers came to the Willis building on the corner of First and Reade Sts. near campus to participate in this event. Like most of these dances, the cost is only $5 for students and $7 for the general public, and lessons are always taught for the first hour or so of the dance. With included lessons and lots of partners to dance with, salsa dances always bring out lots of different people.

"This is always one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse events in Greenville," said Leanne Smith, president of the ECU Folk and Country Dancers.

The next three salsa dances will be held on Feb. 21, March 21 and April 18. All dances are held in the Willis building from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Contra dances are virtually unknown to many residents of eastern North Carolina but they are growing in popularity as more people discover this style - it is similar to line or or square dancing. Two lines of people face each other as couples dance up and down; they change partners often. Though hard to describe, it is usually recommended that interested dancers just come to see what the dances are like and join in. The music is varied and appeals to many different tastes.

"The soundtrack of a contra dance may include Celtic, old time, blue grass, swing and popular music styles-all from a live band-depending on where the dance is held," Smith said.

Some of the upcoming bands include Elderberry Jam, Sandy Ridge Ramblers and Bogue Sounds. Each dance includes a caller who leads the dance with the band. The last contra dance drew in about 70 dancers and the up-coming events are expected to be just as popular. Contra dances will be held on Feb. 8, March 8 and April 12 at the Willis building from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Cost is only $3 for students, $5 for Folk Art Society of Greenville members and $8 for the general public.

Some of their upcoming events also include a Valentine's Dance on Saturday, Feb. 15, with the ECU Swing Dance Club, Folk Arts Society of Greenville and US Amateur Ballroom Dancers of Greenville. There will be a swing dance lesson given at 7:30 p.m. and the dance will last from 8 p.m. 11 p.m. Music will be provided by the Emerald City Big Band and costs will be similar to the previous dances, most likely $5 for students.

The March 8th contra dance will be a great event for new-comers to the dance style. The Folk and Country Dancers are holding a pot-luck dinner that evening from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and a blue grass concert from 7 p.m. to 7:30 pm. Contra lessons will given from 7:30 p.m. until 8 p.m., with the dance ending at 11 p.m.

Similar to the ECU Folk and Country Dancers, the ECU Swing Dance club offers swing dance lessons every Tuesday night at the Wesley Foundation on Fifth St. with a swing dance scheduled once a month. There is always an introductory lesson given before each dance. Beginners and experienced dancers are invited to participate.

Swing dancing came back into popularity during the late 1990's and has continued to be a favored form of dancing for young and old alike.

"The beginning of the semester is always a great time to attend the lessons, particularly for beginners who want to learn the basics and work their way up to more advanced moves," said Mike Guzzo, senior politics major and member of the ECU Swing Dance Club.

The Tuesday night schedule for the ECU Swing Dance club offers a number of different levels for swing dancers and different styles. Beginner lessons are given from 7 pm to 8 pm, Intermediate lessons are held from 8 pm to 9 pm, and Lindy hop is taught from 9 pm to 10 p.m. All of the events and lessons are free and sponsored by the Wesley Foundation.

"There are always plenty of people to dance with, so you don't need to bring a partner," said Melanie Olson, senior German major.

"It's such a great place to meet new people, and it's where I met my boyfriend," Olson said.

So take these opportunities and pick up a dance style or just go to a dance to have some fun!

For more information about ECU Folk and Country Dancers, check out their website at and to find out about ECU Swing Dance Club lessons and dances, you can contact the Wesley Foundation at 758-2030.

This writer can be contacted at

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This page last updated on October 28, 2006.