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Dancing in the shadow in Lisboa, Portugal. Photo by Ardian Lumi on Unsplash.

UNM swing dancing club celebrates first dance

A crowd of over 50 students gathered in the Student Union Building for the first meeting of the University of New Mexico Swing Dancing Club on Sunday, Nov. 20. Starting with an introductory West coast-style swing lesson from the SouthWesties dance troupe, the night brought dancing to campus for students of all skill levels.

By meeting on campus, the Swing Dancing Club gives students the opportunity to engage in dance in a safe and welcoming space for those under 21 and without the transportation to go off campus, according to attendee and dance enthusiast Brianna Knox Hubbard.

“I’ve been looking for an under-21 space to social dance since I’m 19, and this provides that,” Hubbard said.

The club intends to create a space where students can connect and unwind through dance, according to founder Curtis Madden, a junior studying film and digital media arts. 

“Dancing helps free the soul and make you feel good. It's a physical activity, it helps keep you breathing. It's aerobics and, in my personal opinion, it's very fun. It's a fun way to stay active, stay healthy, and meet people,” Madden said. “For a lot of people, that can be a barrier, but all barriers are broken the second you are holding onto each other, and that happens from the second you begin.”

Doubling as president of the UNM Magic: The Gathering Club, Madden first started the Swing Dancing Club after connecting with the SouthWesties at one of their recurring Thursday night dances at the Lloyd Shaw Dance Center in Albuquerque.

“I got talking to the people running it and they were talking about how they've been wanting to get a swing dancing club going on campus for quite a while. And I just happened to have just learned everything I needed to know to start a club. And so I was at the right place at the right time,” Madden said.

Though the club currently is operating in conjunction with the SouthWesties, who specialize in West coast-style swing, Madden hopes to invite other dance troupes in the future to diversify the club’s offerings.

“I would recommend the SouthWesties because they’ve got a lot of young people, so there’s a youthful energy in the room. I've been connected to the CSP Dance Studios and the Square Dance Center of Albuquerque. I've been trying to figure out where and when dancing is happening so I can open that up to the college students interested in that,” Madden said.

Students interested in attending the swing club’s next dance have one more opportunity this semester, though Madden hopes to schedule regular meetings for the spring.

“Currently in this fall semester, we don't have any regular meetings because we're a new club … We're gonna do a Christmas one … And then, come the spring semester, we're gonna try for regular meetings then. So keep your eyes open, keep your eyes peeled and keep your schedules clear as well,” Madden said.

Spenser Willden is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @spenserwillden

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