The thrill of dance: SMC students take up ballroom lessons

It was a hot day at high noon. In front of the school clock tower there was a small group of students practicing ballroom dance technique without music, just waltzing wildly in all directions.

It was the continuation of a long standing ritual which has been practiced on campus since 1998 when the SMC Ballroom & International Folk Dance Club was first founded.

Now, students meet twice on a weekly basis under the clock tower to learn the fundamentals of ballroom dance. Instruction is free and available to all students who may join at any time.

Ballroom dance incorporates a variety of styles which include swing, salsa, tango, waltz, cha-cha, and the fox trot. The instruction is progressive and there are opportunities to dance at social events in and around campus including a special event which will be held on the campus of UCLA on Saturday, October 24th entitled "The Valentino Ragtime Ball."

The newly minted club officers include acting President and first year student Georgia Eskew, and Vice President and first year Aerospace Engineering student Allen Alvarado. They share a similar passion, even thought they have very different backgrounds in the art of dance. When asked how long he'd been dancing Alvarado replied, "Three weeks," and said he joined because it had always been something that he wanted to do even as he encountered some anxiety in doing so. Eskew, on the other hand, has extensive training in a variety of dance styles including hip hop, modern, and jazz. She mentioned that she took her first ballet class at age three, yet had never had any partnered dance experience. She found out about the club from Alvarado while she was walking through campus searching to find a different dance class.

Right now, the students are learning the essentials of 1920's style East Coast Swing. Alvarado said the process of learning can be frustrating but the thrill of learning a new move turns the frustration into enjoyment. Eskew mentioned that a feeling of effortlessness occurs when one really connects with their partner.

The instruction is led by James Zimmer, an SMC and UCLA alumnus who's taught dance and volunteered his services on campus since 1993, in which time he has organized numerous events including a special costumed dance party to mark the 150th Anniversary of California statehood.

Eskew describes her passion for dance as a form of self expression stating that "I'm not good at talking to people in groups but I'm good at dancing with people in groups."

Alvarado encourages reluctant students that might be interested in learning to dance to take the plunge. "Take the initiative and challenge yourself to learn something new."

The SMC Ballroom and Folk Dance Club meets on Tuesday and Thursdays between 11:15A-12:35P at the college clock tower. The Valentino Ragtime Ball will be occurring on Saturday, October 24th from 8P-Midnight at Kerkhoff Hall. Admission is free and lessons will be offered at the event.

For more information please visit or send an email to