Swing Dancing Takes the Stage at Prom


Allison Ensing and Abby Strait

Swing dancing is making a comeback! At this year’s prom, Junior Allison Ensing and Senior Abby Straight got a chance to show off their dancing skills that got some traction from fellow classmates. The two friends have spent months learning the basics of Swing Dancing with the Grand Rapids Original Swing Society and after finally being able to show their skills, Allison is ready to share all!

When considering a dance class, swing dancing is an unpopular option but Allsion isn’t shy from trying new things. “You don’t have to know anything going in…I didn’t know anything going in and now I keep coming back,” Allison expresses. The first time Allison went, her dance partner, an old man, told her she tried too hard.

She attends every Tuesday evening where classes are offered at various locations around the city. Allison shares, “There are a lot of great people there that I met…It’s a great environment.” The GR Original Swing Society offers many people the opportunity to get out and meet new people.

Swing dancing has had a resurgence these past few years due to social media apps that brought the dance style to a brand new generation. It’s an upbeat, livey partner jazz dance that was popular between the 1920s to 1940s even appearing in movies such as The Jungle Book, The Aristocrats, and Hellzapoppin.’

With its popularity, swing dancing has taken on many forms. Whether you’re into fast-paced tricks or a jazzy partner activity, swing dancing is accessible to everyone. “[You] definitely can do multiple things with it,” Allison shares.

Allison trains in East Coast swing dancing; the style that is primarily taught by the GR Original Swing Society. When asked about her dance skills, she shares, “[I’m] probably a six…and that’s being generous.”

Even though Allison doubts her skills, people at prom were cheering her on. One student shared, “I think Allison’s dance skills were magnificent.” Her top trick was the side-side-straddle; one partner swings the other from side to side and then is straddled by the person being swung. “We learned it a couple of hours before prom,” Allison reveals. “It was a lot easier than we expected it to be,” she continued.

Though Allison wasn’t expecting the attention, she was pleased with the response. Reflecting back on the experience Allison shares, “I definitely felt proud because just seeing other people look impressed, definitely gave me a confidence boost.” The best part about performing at prom, Allison expresses, “[Was] being able to show off the cool stuff we are doing in a place other than the normal place we do it.”