Once a year, the NYU Swing Dance Society invites surrounding colleges to partake in a day of workshops and an evening of social dancing and friendly competition through an event called the NYU Intercollegiate Swing Exchange (NISE) and we were ecstatic to be a part of the Fourth Annual NISE today! This year we taught the advanced track of workshops from 10:00am-5:00pm, judged the evening competitions, and scrutineered (fancy word for tallying the votes). Being part of the event was especially meaningful to us since Brian started the event during his junior year of undergraduate when he was president of the NYU Swing Dance Society.
NISE was actually the brain child of past NYU Swing Dance Society President, Allison Ahlgrim, who Brian served with as Vice President. At first, an event of this size seemed impossible to organize, but as time went on, it began to sound more and more realistic. However, for every ounce of ambition the swing officers had, there was a mile of red tape to navigate through and it became obvious that to put on an event of this magnitude in February, planning should have started in September. The following year, after Allison had graduated and Brian had been elected president, the new officers came back with a vengeance. From September until February, Brian’s life was devoted to everything NISE, and he spent countless long nights planning and preparing. But it was all worth it when the day of the event arrived and people actually showed up! What’s more, they actually enjoyed themselves! Naturally there were many unforeseen obstacles the day of, but these mistakes allowed Brian to make drastic improvements the next year such as: inviting even more colleges (29 different colleges attended!), adding an advanced track of classes, and including professional performances during the evening.
NISE also holds a special place in Samantha’s heart and she views it as her “swing birthday” since it is the event that made her decide to seriously pursue lindy hop and eventually choose social dancing as a career. In fact you can watch a video made about the second annual NISE below, where you can see both Brian and Samantha before they started dancing together professionally.
But of course Brian could not run the event forever. Upon his graduation he put together a binder full of step by step instructions, deadlines, and lessons learned, in the hopes that the new officers could pick up where the event left off and continue to improve it. It was a bittersweet moment as Brian passed off the binder to the new President, Roy Graham, but if you were at the event today, you saw that they have been doing an amazing job at keeping the event alive! You may have also seen that even though we graduated, we have have not stopped being involved as much as possible. The NYU Swing Dance Society is where we both started to learn lindy hop, and we are always excited by the chance to give back to that amazing club!