About a month ago, I was walking down the sunny harbor of Lausanne, thinking about ideas for my next blog post…
I had initially planned to write about something related to coming back to school, but then got distracted as I heard faint clapping in the distance. Curious, I headed after the noise and was surprised to find that a country dancing event was taking place accompanied by a live band. Seeing all the Swiss people dressed in boots and cowboy hats, I almost thought myself back in the States. Tens of people were up on stage dancing synchronously to songs they all apparently seemed to know. What astonished me the most was that although most of them had just recently met, they were still able to Line Dance together to every new song that played. No matter which song the band chose to play, the dancers quickly found the steps and moved as one.
Walking past the benches of people watching the event, I spotted different vendors selling sombreros, lariats (lassoes), hats, boots, and other various items. I asked one of the vendors what was going on and he replied that the country dancing clubs of Switzerland had come together in Lausanne for the first time to dance together. “C’est magnifique, non?” Magnificent was exactly the word I would use to describe what I was witnessing. Although we like to celebrate in Switzerland, this manifestation was something completely different. The atmosphere was so warm and passionate. I honestly felt as though I had left the country for a while. I immediately called my family to come join me, and sat on one of the benches.
Now of course I knew that country dancing existed outside the United States; that much was no surprise. What really took me, though, was the way an activity of foreign culture could unite crowds of people halfway across the world. Everywhere I looked, I could see families wearing cowboy hats and drinking the night away to beautiful southern tunes. I looked into the eyes of the dancers, and could see the deep passion they had for the dance form.
As the songs continued playing, some of the dancers stepped aside to grab a drink and refresh from the hot sun. My family had joined me by then, and had likewise become captivated by the performance. My grandmother, who used to love listening to country music whenever she visited America, looked so happy that it truly warmed my heart.
While most dancers took their breaks, the more experienced ones remained on stage. One of the dancers, a young lady, had “Country Girl” tattooed on the back of her neck.
I wondered whether the lady was from the States or simply just big fan of country-style. My aunt encouraged me to go up to her and ask a few questions. After a while of hesitating, I struck up the courage and walked up to her. I asked where she came from and when she had begun dancing. To my surprise, she came from Fribourg (the German part of Switzerland). She explained that her mother was also a country dancer and had taught her to dance when she was eleven years old. The lady was now the only one in her family who danced, and it was a hobby very close to her heart. She had never visited the States, but hoped that one day she would be able to dance in the real South. I asked her about the tattoo and she replied that they were the two words that best described her.
My family and I continued watching the dancing late into the night. Eventually, the music died down and the dancers left the stage to find their families. I glanced around as people embraced and celebrated the successful evening. All I could think of was how I wanted to be able to pull on some cowboy boots and join the group.
Unfortunately, I have still to find a country dancing club at Rutgers. The closest I have come to finding one is the Swing Dancing Club which incorporates line dancing in its routines. During my freshman year, I had taken ballroom dancing classes on Sundays and completely adored it. This year, I plan to join the Tango Club that recently formed. Dancing is an activity that is able to unite people no matter where they come from. Who knew that country dancing would be so famous all the way in Switzerland?!?
On a final note, I want to encourage all new coming and continuing students to go out and find a club or activity that truly makes you happy! Try out something new, even if it is something you have never heard of before. Finding something you are passionate about will make your college experience that much more meaningful.