Oberlin Blogs

Happy Feet

December 31, 2021

Megan McLaughlin ’22

In an effort to make my last year of college as fun and fulfilling as possible, I decided to take the Beginning Tap Dancing ExCo this semester. In my opinion, the Experimental College is one of the coolest things about Oberlin; it’s an academic department that offers one- or two-credit classes on subjects outside of regular departments, usually taught by students or community members. This could range anywhere from a dance class, like the one I’m taking, to a class on Dungeons and Dragons, Rock Climbing, or Lord of the Rings. A big regret of mine is that I haven’t taken as many ExCos as I could have in my time here, but all of the ones I have taken, I’ve enjoyed. My sophomore year I took the Tumbling ExCo, and last spring I took the Juggling ExCo and the Ukulele ExCo. All of the ExCos I’ve taken have been student-taught, and they’ve all involved learning a new skill, which is something I always enjoy. 

The Tap ExCo has probably been my favorite ExCo I’ve taken. Sundays from 2pm to 4pm is the time of the week where I get to show up, watch tap dancing videos, and have a great time learning something new. I dabbled in tap dancing in middle school, and I feel like revisiting that short period of my life in my senior year of college is a full-circle moment for me. 

I would go to my tap class every day if I could, because I truly love everything about it. I like the instructor and my peers who I’m tapping with, I like learning how to make sounds with my feet in different ways, and I like allocating time in my week to stay active and have fun while doing it. There’s a certain element of joy in tap dancing that I feel like I don’t get in many other places. When I tap dance in my ExCo, it’s all about having fun. Completely, purely about fun. I’m trying to learn new steps and do them correctly, but if I mess up or forget what step comes next, I still have a great time. I feel completely in the moment when I’m tapping; nothing else can distract me from the unadulterated joy I feel when I’m dancing.

The culminating experience for my Tap ExCo was performing in the Student Dance Showcase— the first one I’ve attended in my time at Oberlin. Throughout the semester, everyone in my ExCo learned a standard tap dance routine called the Shim Sham, which we got to perform at the Student Dance Showcase alongside other dance ExCos and dance troupes. I had a really great time dancing in front of a crowd and seeing so many other talented student groups perform, and I’m happy my friends could come see me do the thing I’ve spent all semester talking about. I’m glad that even in my fifth year I’m still getting opportunities to try new things, and I hope I can continue tap dancing in some way or another next semester!


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