Student brings swag in to swing dancing

Swing dancing is on its way back into popularity on the Belmont campus thanks to sophomore Jamie Schmidt.

“I really enjoy it, and I love being able to see other people experience it too. God really works through it,” said Schmidt.

Dancing brings out joy in people, and that is a gift straight from God, said Schmidt.

Swing dancing is a combination of dances developed between the 1920s and 50s that is done with a partner. The dance involves lots of fast pace twirling, rhythm, drops and lifts between partners.

Five years ago, Schmidt was reluctant to start swing dancing in his hometown of Pensacloa, Fla., but after being dragged to a class by an old friend, he began to love it. He then took swing dancing for credit his freshman year of college and has continued with it.

Along with his brother, Schmidt started teaching swing in his Florida home living room. The classes grew too large and had to be moved into a studio, which is when swing became a part-time job for him.

When Schmidt came to Nashville, he brought swing-dancing with him.

“It’s fun, clean, easy to learn and practical for young adults, it’s perfect,” he said.

That is why he started Swing-Swag Dance at Belmont. Swing-Swag is a group of Belmont students who meet regularly to dance, practice and just have fun.

They started with only a few couples who would meet for sessions outside on the McWhorter lawn with just an i-pod dock and Schmidt for instruction.

But with each session, the group became larger and attracted more people. Residence Life took notice and asked for the group’s help to put on events and to teach swing lessons.

Maddy Fowler, a sophomore at Belmont, teaches along with Schmidt at these events that take place around campus, often in the Neely Dining Room.

A year and a half later and swing-swag has more than 150 regular members. They stay up-to-date through Facebook and post events on their page.

From music to business majors, a wide variety of students have been drawn into swing.

“I really like to play the drums to swing music so dancing to it was naturally the next step for me,” said dancer, freshman Kip Allen.

Some students such as freshman Bobby Lorusso take part in the group for the connection between social experience and the love of dance.

“Dancing has always been a way for someone to express themselves and I think it’s important to be taught in the ways with people with similar interests,” said Lorusso, “It’s really a great way to connect with people.”

Around Nashville there are several events at churches, parks and venues for swing dancing. The group makes sure students are aware of these opportunities.

“It is so easy to learn and God really shines through it, I would love for more people to be a part of this.”