Masked students dance the night away

Clad in sequined masks and ballroom shoes, nattily dressed students danced the night away in the Undergrounds Coffeehouse Thursday night.

Jonathan Heisler/Photo Editor

The Masquerade Ball started with some informal twirling as couples took to the floor to dance to remixes of Katy Perry and Coldplay with waltzy rhythms and merengue beats. Gradually, more people trickled in and joined.

Ballroom Dance Club Director Kristina Madrazo stopped the music periodically to teach some dance moves to over two dozen couples whirling around the Undergrounds dance floor. Students in attendance learned some basic salsa moves, the triple step found in swing dancing, the “hammerlock” and a terrifying dip called “the death drop” that led to loss of many masquerade masks and a few unfortunate girls being literally swept off their feet.

“I learned salsa and a spin and a dip, I think it’s definitely something I can replicate again,” said Joshua Schaeffer, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering, though he added that he wasn’t so sure about using them Downtown this weekend.

The dance, hosted by the Ballroom Dance Association, doubled as both a fundraiser and an end-of-semester party.

“Every semester we put on an end of the semester event for our club members that normally come every single week on Thursdays and learn new dances and support our association and so we like to give back to them,” said Jessica Spanier, program coordinator and marketing director for the Ballroom Dance Association and a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law. “We like to just have a good time, de-stress a little.”

Students appreciated the opportunity to unwind and destress while cutting a rug with the ballroom dancers.

“I’m gonna get up and learn a few dances, just for fun,” said Alyssa Costanzo, a junior majoring in psychology. “Especially during a stressful finals week, it’s fun to get your mind off it and come out and dance.”

Binghamton’s Ballroom Dance Team has performed with Orchesis at a variety of multicultural events on campus, as well as attending competitions this semester in Ithaca, New York City, and at the National Collegiate Ballroom Dance Championships in Columbus, Ohio, where they placed sixth overall.

“We managed to actually get sixth, which was actually a really big surprise that we could place,” said Michael Jennings, a member of the competition team and a freshman majoring in physics.

Jennings’ surprise may be due to the fact that Binghamton’s student-run dance team is at a disadvantage compared to other teams they compete against.

“We don’t have a coach like the other teams, but we still place really high in all the competitions we go to, so we’re really proud of that,” Madrazo said. “ We teach ourselves, and we go to workshops with some of the professionals, but most teams have a coach and we still do really well.”

Gilead Gamliel and Rachel Ginzburg, his dance partner of two years, who made it to the semi-finals in All Latin Dance in Ohio, danced in one of the many performances by dance team members that punctuated the event throughout the night. Gamliel and Ginzburg, both Jewish, ironically chose to perform their routine to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas,” which they will also be performing at Frost Fest.

According to Gamliel, people have a lot of misconceptions about ballroom dance.

“It’s not just straight up waltz, tango kind of stuff,” said Gamliel, a junior majoring in English. “It’s all of the fun, sexy kind of upbeat stuff that people don’t think it is.”

Ryan Delgado, who performed with Tiffany Villaluna, his dance partner of four years, agreed that a lot people have a limited understanding about ballroom dance.

“It’s a lot easier than people make it out to be, but my honest opinion is that everyone is capable of dancing as long as you’re willing to try and be open to new things,” said Delgado, a senior majoring in biochemistry.