Men wearing black ties and women in long shimmery dresses twirled, dipped and tangoed in pairs under a glistening disco ball at Ballroom Dance Night Thursday night.
The black tie event took place from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Bell Memorial Union Auditorium.
Ballroom Dance Night has been a tradition for more than 40 years. Willie Simmons, a former Chico State boxer, started the tradition when he taught ballroom dancing on campus.
The dance is a great way for students to build their skills, said Megan O’Mara, a junior child development major and president of the Ballroom Dance club.
“For students who were taking the ballroom classes, it was a really good way to get social dancing experience,” she said. “Learning and taking a class is one thing, but when you go dancing outside of class, that’s what it’s going to be like.”
The turnout was beyond what O’Mara was expecting.
“We had over 200 people there, and I know we made over $1,000,” O’Mara said.
Jolene Barry, a ballroom dance instructor and the club’s advisor, provided the music for the evening. She brought her own equipment to DJ for the dance.
The Wildcat Recreation Center assisted with the dance and helped the club all semester.
“We partner with the WREC a lot because we hold our dances there and they’re great,” O’ Mara said. “Last night they did our coat check, which was right next to our water, breath mints and hand sanitizer station.”
Many students took to the dance floor that evening to show what they’ve learned all semester.
Ben Scheuerman, a senior media arts major, said the tango is his favorite style of ballroom dance.
“The tango is the most fun and my favorite ballroom dance I’ve learned,” Scheuerman said. “The moves are the flashiest, and you just feel so cool doing the most basic steps.”
He also enjoyed the friendly environment of the event.
“I really like that you could dance with everybody and everybody seemed really fun to dance with,” Scheuerman said. “Everybody was in a good mood.”
Ari Schwartz, a freshman business administration major, classifies herself as a beginner ballroom dancer. She has enjoyed the dance more than others she has attended.
“I’ve taken a few ballroom dance classes and I liked the fact that everyone could just have a good time dancing and meet new people, as opposed to high school dances where there’s just music and people standing around on a floor,” Schwartz said.
The event is a great way to bring people together and build community, O’Mara said.
Faculty members and Chico locals were also dancing at the event.
“It’s a great way for community members to come because there’s a really great dancing scene in the Chico community,” O’Mara said. “They like to come meet the students and dance with each other.”
O’Mara believes students benefit from taking a ballroom dance course at some point in their life.
“You should always try something new, and I feel like for a lot of people it may be a little bit out of their comfort zone, but the beginning ballroom classes are a really safe way to try something you’ve never done before because everyone’s in the same boat,” O’Mara said.
Nicole Santos can be reached [email protected] or @IAm_NicoleS on Twitter.