Parties make up a major part of the “typical” college life, and the 5Cs are no exception. But for every party, there is also an awesome substance free (sub-free) event on the very same night. More low-key events, however, tend not to be as well advertised. As a result, people can miss out on some of the most interesting and entertaining parties on campus.
One common reason people skip out on these large party “alternatives” may have to do with a question about what the events actually entail. So, this semester, I’ll be writing about my personal experience with sub-free gatherings. This week will focus on dance: salsa, swing, and annual events such as Masquerade and Black and White Ball. Though I can’t offer insight into underground blues at this time, I’ve heard positive reviews on it thus far and hope to cover the scene sometime in the future.
At every dance, student instructors teach one-hour beginner and intermediate lessons. No worries if you don’t have a dance partner! You can show up on your own, as partners rotate throughout the lesson. This gives people a chance to meet new faces as well as get a feel for different dancing styles. In the case that someone tries too complicated a twist or turn, it’s fine to remind your partner you’re a beginner and would like to stick to the basics. 
Many people, including myself, tend to ask: Should I lead or follow? Is the lead’s part more difficult? I’ve asked more experienced dancers this question, and usually get the same answer: The lead’s role is not necessarily more difficult; it just depends on the move. In some cases, the follow will employ a more complicated technique. Other times, the opposite is true. Regardless of whether you choose to dance the part of a lead or follow, I encourage you to approach someone with a friendly smile and ask for a dance.
1) Swing Dance
Attire: casual
Crowd: 20+ people  
Vibe: laid-back, more mellow
Swing dancing is my personal favorite, especially when it comes to West Coast Swing. The other two types of swing offered at the 5Cs include the Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing. After the lesson, the floor opens up for free dancing, and all styles of swing music are played. 
Thoughts to consider: Sometimes people don’t show up and it can be awkward to dance with everyone over and over again. But it’s generally not a big deal for most people. Also, the location changes frequently, but this is inevitable, given that other groups want to book the same spots. Showing up to dance can seem intimidating at first, but if you go with a good attitude and some humility, it will be fun. Check out this group on Facebook: Claremont Colleges Swing. 
2) Salsa Dance
Attire: fancier than swing, but still casual  
Crowd: varies, 40+ people   
Vibe: energetic, louder
Salsa seems to be especially popular, from what I’ve seen. Of course, the number of people who show up depends on the specific weekend. For example, Halloween night can be pretty empty, since many students choose to go to Harwood instead. In general, however, the crowd tends to be larger than the one at swing. This can be great for those who want to meet more people at a time, and contrarily, less appropriate for those who prefer a smaller and more intimate setting. Just like swing, salsa provides two free lessons. The dance itself tends to be faster-paced, although the steps themselves do not particularly pose a more complicated challenge. Some dances may be rated at a higher difficulty level, but the individual may have to find out whether or not this is true for their own person. 
Note: Salsa comes off as somewhat intimidating at times, and the environment is not exactly what I would call approachable. While still varying, the location changes less frequently than swing does. The event usually takes place at Platt, which is across from Mudd’s dining hall and in the same row of buildings as Jay’s Place/the Mudd Hole. Most dances take place on Friday nights, from 8 P.M.- midnight. Check out the Facebook group: Salsa Addicts at the Claremont Colleges. 
3) Special Events
Attire: usually semi-formal 
Crowd: 200 
Vibe: elegant, high volume
At first glance, special events appear similar to American high school dances such as homecoming or prom. But they’re actually ten times better: you don’t have to worry about paying for a pricey ticket or renting a limo for the night. Nevertheless, it’s a great excuse (as if you needed one) to dress up for the night, whether you choose something from your closet or borrow from a friend. For those who prefer more casual attire, the Disney-themed party this March may be perfect for your taste! While further details have yet to be released, I, for one, will be dressing up in costume and looking forward to a Disney soundtrack. This event is set to take place at Edmunds Ballroom, across from the SCC mailroom, on the Pomona College campus. It only shows up once a year, so be sure not to miss out! Although dressing up is not required, most people choose to do so since the theme adds to the overall fun. But whatever you wear, people will be courteous and welcoming. On another note, big annual parties incorporate all types of dance, including those not usually offered during the weekly practices. By my record, these have been the waltz, bachata, and tango so far. I absolutely loved learning how to tango, but I will admit it may be harder for a beginner like myself to keep up when one hasn’t had a chance to practice throughout the semester. If you’re shy or apprehensive, drop by after the lesson when other dances show up in the DJ’s playlist. You can stay up to date on the latest party by joining the Facebook event Disney Dance Party.