RSDS Grand Opening Meet!

The first meeting of RSDS will be Monday, Jan. 30 at 7:00 PM in the RMC Grand Hall. There will be a 30 min two-step lesson followed by a 30 min Swing lesson. In between we’ll have free practice and awesome demos. Come and dance and have fun and meet new friends! There will be snacks!



A new season of dance!

A new year is upon us and we have all (hopefully) settled nicely back into campus. Now it is time to get out and DANCE! The first meeting for RSDS will be this Thursday, September 1 at 7:00 PM  in the RMC Grand Hall. Come and join us for a free introductory lesson & meet and greet. There will be FOOD!!!

Dances that we cover this year include:

  • Tango
  • Waltz
  • Salsa
  • Cha-cha-cha
  • Samba
  • Foxtrot
  • Two-Step
  • and much more

For more information please email Anya or Cameron (RSDS Presidents): rsds(at)

Everyone is welcome, so please come and bring a friend! We look forward to seeing all of you!

DWO 2009 a smashing success!

Dances With Owls was a smashing success. Teams from all across Texas – including UT, SMU, A&M, and UofH – joined us for a night and a day of excellent dancing, fellowship, and competition.

Some of the comments I’ve heard so far are:

“Thanks again for everything. We had so much fun on Saturday!!!! (There is not an amount of exclamation points that could express this fully :D ) Is your club looking at going to any other comps soon?”

“I was very excited to hear other schools, specifically A&M & UT , say what a great comp this was and that they so much fun – and they would definately come back next year.”

“You an RSDS did a great job hosting the event and getting other campuses to come see what Rice is about!  Great job and fabulous event!”

“This was literally the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.”

Event Co-Chairs Emilia Stepinski and Autumn Allen deserve rounds of applause for juggling all the details and preparations for this event. Our deepest appreciation also goes to Super-Awesome Team Mom Pam Shefman, Scrutineer Drew Shefman and Emcee Pat Walsh. (Without their experience and wisdom, we’d all be in way over our heads.) And lastly, thanks to all the folks who volunteered throughout the weekend. DWO is an entirely volunteer-run comp, and without our dedicated members and friends, the event simply couldn’t happen. So thanks to everybody. I’m really proud of this event, and I hope you are, too!

p.s. Thanks to all the dancers who joined us from the Houston community and other collegiate communities state-wide. We hope to see you next year!

Swing Sampler class, February 5th

Starting this Thursday, the Swing Sampler class will sample a four-week Balboa course taught by Terry and Van. Balboa (or just “bal”) is great for fast songs and is quite different than the other types of swing dance we offer, so check it out.

IMPORTANT: For these four weeks, the Sampler class will start at 7:00. This means the open dance time will begin before either class starts. However, if you can’t come that early but wanted to go over something before the Jitterbug class, you can still come 30 minutes before Jitterbug starts — Hank and I will both be at Bal and can easily step to the side with you to work on something. We’ll revert to schedule-as-usual after Spring Break.

6:30-7:00 Open Dance time (bring music or requests if you got ‘em!)
7:00-8:00 Swing Sampler: Balboa with Terry and Van
8:00-9:15 Beginners Swing: Jitterbug


Terry and Van are alums with three Rice degrees and many years of social dance experience between them. They are active contributors to the local swing dance community. They organize dance events, teach classes for non-profit dance studios, and have performed in shows as part of the Houston Swing Dance Society’s Hep Cats dance team. They are looking foward to their fourth year of teaching Balboa at their alma mater.

What is Balboa?

From Wikipedia:

“Balboa is a form of swing dance that started as early as 1915 and gained in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. It is danced primarily in close embrace, and is led with a full body connection. The art of Balboa is the subtle communication between the lead and follow, like weight shifts, that most viewers cannot see. As a result, Balboa is considered more of a ‘dancer’s dance’ than a ‘spectator’s dance’.

Balboa is danced to a wide variety of tempos. Because the basic step takes up such a small space, Balboa can be danced to fast music (over 300 beats per minute). Balboa is also danced to slow music (under 100 beats per minute), which allows more time for intricate footwork and variations.”

Examples of Couples Dancing Balboa:

All Balboa Weekend 2008 – Jack & Jill Competition

All Balboa Weekend 2004 – Randy and Kara

Seattle Balboa Swing Championships 2008 – Group Dance

What We’ll Teach at Rice:

We can’t promise that you’ll look just like those dancers in the videos but we can promise that you’ll have fun. During our four one-hour sessions we will focus on the core Balboa steps that emphasize clear weight shifts, groundedness, and body leads. You can think of this class as teaching you the basics of a popular jazz-era dance while at the same time you are practicing fundamental dance principles that you can take back to your jitterbug, Lindy Hop, west coast swing, blues, Charleston, etc.

Swing Sampler class begins this Thursday

Thanks once more to everyone who came out last Thursday for our dance! Swing lessons are starting up proper this Thursday in Willy’s Pub:

  • 6:30-7:30 Swing Sampler
  • 7:30-8:00 Free Dance
  • 8:00-9:15 Beginners Jitterbug

Every few weeks our Sampler class will bring in a new instructor, who will teach what they are most passionate about in dance, what they feel is most important to learn, their favorite moves, or more — anything is fair game. The first instructor of the semester will be Aramis Martinez, who many will recognize from late-night Ballroom and for his unique blend of styles. In his class we will be exploring unusual leads and different methods of finding connections with your partner. In his words:

One of the best metaphors for social dance is conversation — conversation whose tools are body and soul in addition to sound and word. Since there are as many ways of communicating as there are dances and dancers, learning more ways to communicate allows our conversations to become more playful, more intriguing. Melding different modes of communication also makes one a better dancer, which ultimately leads to more and more fun:

Tango displays passion through an upper torso connection and subtle technique. Whether open or closed position, blues relies on pulse and musicality and moves stolen from anywhere and everywhere to pour out one’s soul. Lindy hop relies on tension links to bounce energy and momentum between partners, while ballroom styles can rely so much on compression you could incorrectly guess that tension isn’t fun in ballroom. Salsa and cha cha can look as if tension does all the talking, yet just as often they utilize soft, highly visual leads as an invitation to play. With improv styles the limit is set only by your imagination.

During these classes we will talk about what we are saying in our conversations with our partners and how we say it: connection, frame, musicality, technique. We’ll play games, we’ll build a open and supporting environment, we’ll work on the advanced technique of listening to each other and responding as we dance. We experiment with different ways of talking to each other and explore the common threads that underly all of them. Any point of contact, or even no point of contact, is fair game if the conversation engrosses your partner.

Aramis Martinez is an alumnus of Rice’s Physics and Astronomy department and is a former co-president of RSDS. He began taking lessons during the era of “Can you lindy to this?” and considers RSDS his home scene. Upon his first visit to the Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club, his funky, distinctive style attracted notice, and he was promptly integrated into Houston’s unique intersection of blues/lindy/westie/tango dancers. He now cross-trains in multiple dances, travels for exchanges and workshops, and has most recently been learning Texas two-step and West Coast swing. When a blues moon is out, beware.

Argentine Tango starts Jan. 14

Welcome back everyone!

Ballroom, Argentine Tango, and Swing lessons all start next week (see the Class Schedule for more info). Tango is doing things a bit differently this semester… here’s the details:

  • Tango will be held off campus this semester. Don’t worry; it’s not far. The Rice Graduate Apartments (1515 Bissonnet) are ten minutes walking north of campus, or the shuttlebus that says “Graduate Apts” will take you straight there. There is limited parking in front of the building, or you can park on some of the surrounding residential streets. This means:
    • We have more space!
    • We get to use the new surround system audio there.
    • No parking fees!
  • We have an intermediate class. This is especially for all those who took Indre’s class last semester. We’ll continue where we left off (with some review, of course!)
  • Classes will run in cycles of five weeks each.
    • Whew, less weeks to commit to!
    • We’ll learn new things in each cycle, so feel free to take both.
    • Hey, if you like the first cycle, bring all your friends to the second. =)

See you next week!

NEW class starting October 30

RSDS is adding a half-semester class to the Fall 2008 repertoire: Beginners’ Lindy Hop will begin on OCTOBER 30th directly after the current swing class.

Lindy Hop is the original swing dance from the first part of the 20th century, and is the grandfather to Jitterbug, West Coast, Carolina Shag and all those other swing variants out there. Lindy Hop is an 8-count dance, so it’s a little different than the 6-count Jitterbug we teach in the first class. This will be a beginner class so anyone can join, but you will have a huge headstart if you’ve been in the swing class so far. It’s not too late to join either class (or any RSDS class) but it might be a good idea to contact the instructors so they can give you a little one-on-one time before the lesson: and

WHAT: Lindy Hop swing class
WHEN: Thursdays, 8:00 – 9:15 (*Begins Oct. 30!)
WHERE: Willy’s Pub
WHO: Anyone and everyone. Spread the word.