Inside the Central Campus Recreation Building late on a Monday night, the familiar lyrics to British ‘80s pop duo Eurythmics’ hit song “Sweet Dreams” permeate the halls. The source of the sound is the University’s Ballroom Dance Team, a permanent Monday, Thursday and Saturday night fixture in the facility’s Mirror Room.

LSA junior Brianna Mayer, the team’s public relations chair, leads a group of 60 new team members through a lesson on the perfect promenade form alongside her partner, LSA senior Terrence Tigney. Mayer and Tigney demonstrate a foxtrot step to the onlooking students encircling them — boys on one side and girls on the other.

“One, two, three, four,” Mayer calls out, moving in time with her partner.

After two more demonstrations, the two halves of the room combine to form 30 couples. Mayer walks to the edge of the room, where her phone is plugged into a speaker, and restarts the familiar foxtrot remix.

Couples clad in everything from jeans to activewear, Latin dance shoes to socks, imitate Mayer and her partner as best they can. A mix of inexperience and space constraints result in some couples bumping and running into each other.

Rackham student Jon Hershaff, team president, said the club has had their biggest group of incoming members ever this year, with close to 150 new students entering the collegiate ballroom dance world.

The team, which consists of 250 members, anticipates outgrowing the University’s available practice space as soon as next year.

“We’re almost too big for a student group,” Hershaff said. “It can be very difficult to be able to coordinate classes and practices when you just have a team of our size.”

Hershaff said he attributes the growth in interest to active recruitment during Welcome Week, during which the team hosted free lessons in various ballroom styles. They followed up those events with dinners and social activities to allow potential members to learn about the club’s offerings.

Unlike many dance groups at the University, the Ballroom Dance Team does not have an audition process to become a member, nor does it require members to attend every practice session.

“You get out of it what you put into it,” Hershaff said. “If there’s some people who just want to get their feet wet, they could put in a couple of hours per week. For people who want to go deeper, the cap is usually 15 hours a week.”

The team allows interested students to enter the group at the newcomer level for the first semester. Members can then audition for higher-level teams within the group in every subsequent semester.

There are five competition groups within the club. Tryouts for these sub-teams last a few hours in a mock competition environment, where couples are required to come dressed in full competition attire as the team’s coaches — Steve and Susan McFerran — judge and sort couples into respective groups.

A partner is not needed when first joining the team, but one is required to audition for a higher-level. The team currently has more women than men, causing five women to enter their first competition on Oct. 25 at Purdue University partner-less.

Three blocks down from where the newcomers are perfecting their foxtrot, experienced team members practice in the Dance Theatre Studio above Moe Sport Shops on North University Avenue. DTS offers the Ballroom Team discounted prices for practice and lesson space four days week in exchange for services, such as cleaning their studio.

DTS is much less crowded than the CCRB, with only a handful of couples turning up for practice. LSA junior Whitney Raska, a member of the C-team, said she enjoys the quieter practices after competitions, because most people are still recovering from an exhausting weekend of travel and dance.

Raska and her partner, Engineering junior Jake Snyder, started dancing together in the winter of 2013 and Raska said due to the disproportionate ratio of male and female members, she felt rushed about finding someone to dance with for competitions.

“There’s always a shortage of guys to girls,” Raska said. “And it really stinks if you don’t (have a partner) because you have to dance by yourself, so I started looking out for people who I enjoyed dancing with and then I just asked (Snyder) one night to be my partner.”

Because other boys on the team initially advised him not to rush into selecting a partner, Snyder said, he didn’t accept Raska’s offer right away.

“(This was) just to be sure that we had the conversation with our partner about whether we had the same goals, the same commitment level,” he said. “Whether we had the same kind of dreams from ballroom before we said yes to a partner. So she will tell you that I denied her at first, but I’m going to call it deferring.”

Hershaff said he sees picking partners as being similar to dating.

“There’s some people who just want to jump right into a partnership, but what we try and recommend is to ask someone to practice first,” he said. “That’s like going out to coffee together. If you enjoy practicing together, you ask them to go to a competition. That’d be like going out to a dinner date.

“And if you enjoy that and you want to stay together, you can ask them to be your partner.”

Partners on teams higher than the newcomer level are locked in for a semester, but members are free to switch with a new semester if some couples do not compete or get along well.

“Ideally you want to dance with the same partner for multiple semesters, because then you get to dance better together,” Snyder said. “But if partnerships don’t work out, you’re not locked in for life. It’s not like you’re marrying somebody.”

But newcomer-level partners LSA junior John Cooper and LSA freshman Ariel Odlum said they have enjoyed their first competition together in Purdue this weekend and hope to remain partners for both semesters of the year.

“(Ballroom) is a good way to have an entry-level way to get training, to get good at something that I can be proud of,” Cooper said. “That’s probably the biggest (goal), to get good at dancing together and to compete and win if we can.”

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