If you happen to wander into Ackerman Union at UCLA on Mondays and hear the song “Love Me or Leave Me” playing from the conference rooms, then you are approaching the Swing Club! A non-profit, student-run organization, the Swing Club teaches anyone how to swing dance. The club’s No. 1 priority is friendly social dancing instead of training for competitions. The members encourage friends and everyone to join in on the fun. Jason Constantouros, a senior majoring in History, will be the 2011-12 president, and Campus Circle had the opportunity to interview him.

Firstly, what are the types of swing dancing?

There are three types of swing dance: Lindy Hop, East Coast and West Coast. East coast is very basic, while Lindy Hop requires more athletic movements. Lindy Hop is faster and more difficult to learn. West Coast is most advanced kind and was developed during World War II, so it is the most modern of the three. You can dance West Coast to most modern music such as R&B and even disco. My favorite is Lindy Hop because it was what was taught from the beginning.

What compelled you to the Swing Club amidst the myriad of clubs at UCLA?

During my freshman year, I thought it was cool to check out a dance club even though I never danced before. Honestly, I had a girlfriend back then whom I wanted to impress. Dancing is such a confidence booster. To not be shy and take the lead is a skill. To be able to physically direct your partner where you desire is definitely impressive. I would consider myself an intermediate dancer now. And there was really not any other club that I wanted to join besides Swing Club.

Do you attend any dance competitions?

Our club does not compete nor fundraise. We have volunteer teachers instruct us. We go to dancing venues in Pasadena to dance for fun. There is a swing convention in San Diego called Swing Diego that we’d love to attend as well.

How has the Swing Club changed your life?

I met some of my closest friends here. We are all friends, and the atmosphere is supportive and nurturing. Also, because I am more confident due to my dancing skills, I believe this confidence translates well into searching for a job in the future. The interpersonal skills that dancing teaches me are valuable in the job market.

What is your vision for the future of the Swing Club?

Right now, we are a modest club, and so we’d like to recruit more members and share our love for dancing with them. My biggest goal is to keep the club going. Perhaps one day, some of the members will form teams and train for competition. But most importantly, we just want a place to socialize and dance.

What advice do you have for others who are interested in dancing?

Anyone interested in dancing, go for it. Dancing is one of those things that not everyone does, so if you dance, that’s one thing that differentiates you from others. Many people think they are naturally bad dancers, but really, no one is born a great dancer. When I joined, I didn’t know either, but then I learned. If you’re shy, dancing will greatly increase your confidence. Dancing is a wonderful thing to learn and getting to make some friends along the way is an amazing bonus!

For more information, visit freewebs.com/swingclubatucla.