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New Friends, Old Friends, and Foxtrot Tag

A Luther College Social Dance

By Alexzandra Enger

In May, near the close of the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club’s season, several of the competition team members and I took a road trip to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, to attend their final social dance of the year. It’s not a dance we usually go to, primarily because the drive is not a short one, but as the Luther club’s members are good friends of ours, commonly found at our own social dances and competitions hosted here in Minneapolis, we decided that we’d like to return the favor and visit our friends to the south.

We left Minneapolis in the afternoon the day of the dance, slept in the vehicle most of the way there, and arrived shortly after the dance had begun. After a not-so-short adventure in the unfamiliar building to find a bathroom (we eventually settled for a locker room) where we could change out of our traveling clothes and into our dance clothes, we claimed one of the many tables set up next to the dance floor and sat down to lace up our dancing shoes. Naturally, we wore our very well broken-in (or should I say much-loved?) practice shoes, as we wanted to be able to dance all night unhindered by the pesky sore feet that inevitably show up to remind you of all the fun you’re having.

The night was wonderful. Our club’s last social dance had already taken place, so we were somewhat dance-deprived, aside from the practices we gleefully attended each week, and having new partners to dance with was very exciting. There’s just something about dancing with a new lead or follow that helps you grow as a dancer—perhaps it’s learning new moves or being thrust out of the comfort zone of familiar dance partners.

New to me were the dance games that we played about halfway through the evening. We have waterfall dances and a samba line dance to break up our social dances, but Luther’s club did it a little differently with literal dance games, which is something I’ve never encountered before but gladly would play again. Two personal favorites were a foxtrot tag, where each couple wears a pair of streamers and has to race around the floor and get the streamers off the other dancers, and red-light, green-light waltz, which was a progression on freeze waltz after the remaining couples left in that game proved to be too skillful at instantly halting mid-twinkle.

As the festivities of the night wound down, dancers resigned to catching up with their friends whom they usually only see at other dances and competitions. Eventually the dance floor was all but empty, the snacks and punch were taken away, and sound equipment began to disappear. It was late. We changed and packed up, then began the long drive home.

The dance had come to a close, and it had been a wonderful night.