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New dance club at Eckerd College hosts sunset beach social for community

By Grey Curcio '24
Published March 28, 2024
Categories: Community Engagement, Student Life, Students

As the sun set over Boca Ciega Bay on March 8, dancers and friends gathered on Eckerd College’s South Beach to salsa and celebrate the end of another busy week with mingling, mocktails and music at a social dance like no other.

Members of the Partnership Dance Club and, by special invitation, the Women in STEM Club formed most of the crowd—creating new friendships and learning new dance steps.

And that’s exactly what Partnership Dance aims to foster in inclusive spaces like South Beach. The new club began meeting at the end of the 2023 fall semester after Georgia Cox saw a need for a dance club that accommodated people of all skill levels. Georgia—a junior animal studies and psychology student from Lancaster, Pennsylvania—has been dancing since she was little. But it wasn’t always something she enjoyed.

“I danced on and off growing up, and I hated it. I would fight my mother tooth and nail when she wanted to go, because I didn’t have a choice,” Georgia explains. “Now, I want to dance all the time and every day of my life.”

Georgia says that her newfound love of dance is due to her friends, especially her Partnership Dance vice president, Emma Rodriguez, a junior international relations and global affairs student from Hillsborough, New Jersey. Georgia and Emma decided to begin Partnership Dance after they attended social dances at Gulfport Casino and fell in love with the atmosphere and the connectedness they felt. “You meet such cool people and strengthen relationships … it’s super fun,” Georgia says. She and Emma wanted to share the magic of dance with fellow students on campus, so they asked instructors from Dynasty Dance, which runs the social dances at Gulfport Casino, to come teach at Eckerd twice a month.

Georgia and Emma have watched some incredible relationships spin off from the Partnership Dance Club, all because of the power of music, dance and human connection.

Student smiles as she dances

”Music is amazing, and moving your body is amazing,” Georgia says. “It’s healing for the body and the soul and the mind and all of those kinds of things. I just really love all of it.”

Even beginners have a wonderful time. Emma Binzer, a junior marketing and creative writing student from Connecticut, had never been to a Partnership Dance event before and was introduced there to salsa. “I’ve had a great time,” she said. “Georgia is a fantastic instructor.”

At the club’s first social dance on March 8, there was music in the air on Eckerd’s South Beach. Friends and found family twirled and shifted across the patio near the pier, filling the beach with laughter and love. Despite the occasional missed step or spilled mocktail, the spirit of simple human connection was conveyed through the joy of dance, even for those with two left (bare) feet.

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