OU Club Strives To Keep Swing Dancing Alive

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In an era where hip hop and popular music dominates the college dance scene, an Ohio University student group is working hard to bring a popular 20th century dance style back to life. 

The OU Jitterbug Club is an Athens-based swing dancing group and performs at both university events and at dances across the country.

Claire Parlette, treasurer of the club, said the group was created in response to a swing dance revival.  

"The jitterbug club started in the late 90's around this swing revival when a lot of people just realized, looking back at this time period from the 30's to 40's, they saw that and they saw the energy of the dance and they wanted to bring it back," she said.

The name "jitterbug" comes from a style of swing dancing that became popular in the 1930's.

Parlette said the club is structured to allow members to participate as frequently as their schedule allows.

"You choose how much you want to be involved and maybe how much you want to learn or how much you want to travel," she said.

The group meets weekly on OU's Athens campus, where they prepare for competitions and introduce new swing moves to beginners in the club.

Parlette said she enjoys the opportunity to travel the country with her fellow swingers.

"One of the biggest events that I've gone to is called 'Pit Stop Lindy Hop,' and that's in Pittsburgh, and it is incredible," she said.

The club is currently preparing for the 2013 Dayton Swing Smackdown, a swing dance competition that occurs in February.

"People do get serious about it. They really work their technique and really refine the dance because they're so passionate about it," she said.

While the club attends a few competitive events, Parlette said most members are just in it to have fun.

If you step back and look at everybody you just see a bunch of people moving around, but then you can tune in on one couple dancing and they're having their own conversation," she said.

The Jitterbug Club will host a Winter Blues Masquerade in Athens this February.