The idea of dancing can be intimidating to many people, but it becomes much less scary when done surrounded by your friends and on your own campus. Add to this a “geeky” dress code and you have the perfect recipe for a fun-filled night of dancing with the members of URI Ballroom Dance at their Geek Gala.
Tomorrow at 7 p.m., URI Ballroom Dance will be hosting an event known as the Geek Gala in the Memorial Union Ballroom. Entry is $5 for all students, whether you attend the University of Rhode Island or another school, and $10 for community members. The club hosts two dances per semester, each with a different theme for participants to dress up for. Most recently, the New Orleans-themed “Mysteries of the Bayou” dance occurred this past October.
“[For] this one, we decided it is going to be all things [geeky]: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, all fantasy [and] science fiction like things,” Ryan Vigneau, president of URI Ballroom Dance, said. “In the past, we did a superheroes- and video games-themed dance, and that one was really successful. So we used that as kind of a springboard and then went from there.”
The Geek Gala will not be your typical school dance. Instead of bobbing in place or participating in grind lines, attendees of the Gala will have a chance to perform different styles of dance with real steps. There will be members of the club present to help and instruct anyone who wants to learn or improve, and one of the instructors will be performing at the event with his wife.
“We personally make the playlists,” Vigneau said. “It’s mainly catered towards ballroom dancing because that’s what our club does. Our music isn’t typical club music, but recently we’ve been getting more modern music into the mix because I know ballroom has had kind of old music involved in it. So with the more modern music, other dance styles can be introduced. If you don’t know how to ballroom dance, people will teach on the spot. I personally have taught so many people randomly how to do the dances.”
Vigneau has been a member of URI Ballroom Dance for almost three years. However, his rise to the presidency was not without thanks to practice and dedication.
“The most dancing I had done [previously] was when I was 3 in my living room,” Vigneau said. “So this was my first dance experience ever.”
The proceeds from the upcoming Geek Gala, and all of the events held by the club, are used to keep the organization up and running so that they may continue to have classes and hold events for all students.
“We use it to pay for our instructors,” Vigneau said. “Since we have two professional instructors that we pay to teach the classes that we have, so usually our funds go back into that. Or if we have any left over in our 900 account [fundraising account] we use it to make our events more exciting.”
These events are open to all students to come see what the club is about, and participate in the fun. Students are welcome to try out the different styles of dance for just one night or to decide to join based on their individual experiences.
“It’s just an inviting place to be,” Vigneau said. “One of the main things that I’ve personally been working on with the club is making it more of a comfortable, inviting atmosphere because I know people find dancing very intimidating. I feel if you create [a] judgement-free environment, then people will open up and feel comfortable expressing themselves.”