Oberlin Blogs

Where to Dance the Night Away in Oberlin, Ohio

March 31, 2024

Daniela Sueiro '27

Dancing is at once a deeply vulnerable and empowering experience. It’s a chance to let loose, let go, rage with your body; and it’s also an opportunity to feel deeply, be with yourself in the present moment, and connect with others in a special and intimate way. 

Up until going to Oberlin, I wasn’t much of a dancer, at least not publicly. I loved the way music could make me feel, that human feeling of a magnetic connection with rhythm, but I didn’t like scrutiny. I thought dancing, especially as someone in a femme body, came with judgment. So, I mostly avoided it. There were happy times, dancing when I had the house alone and could blast music loudly, but they were also bittersweet, because I was so certain I could only do it alone. 

If this at all resonates with you, I think you’ll be interested to know that, with the help of some really special places at Oberlin, dancing is now one of my main sources of fun and exercise. (Don’t ask how much I exercise. Question is off-limits and wholly irrelevant.) In all seriousness, though, I truly love it. Dancing keeps me sane here. 

So. Where to dance at Oberlin? Strap in, pal, we have options aplenty. (Important note: I am FAR from a dance major or dance person on campus-- this is geared towards people who simply wanna shake a little on the weekend!)

The first place I felt free to dance at Oberlin was the ‘Sco (which Ariel has a great blog on-- check it out!), and it still holds a very special place in my heart. It’s usually best when featuring live music from a visiting or campus band, it can be jazzy, rocky, indie, poppy, etc. Very fun, you can definitely get a workout in on  Saturday night if need be. Warning: it can get very loud and sometimes a bit too crowded, but they have water available always, and earplugs upon request. They have so many fun community events, too, like Coverband (a showcase of student, well, coverbands). A great place to go to let loose!

There’s also the Cat in the Cream Coffeehouse (usually called the Cat). Home to more chill, laid back, jazzy concerts, you might encounter a more closed-eyes-swaying vibe here. There’s also plenty of seats and sofas, so it’s totally up to do whatever you feel like. Be warned, though, there’s no guarantee that dancing will happen at all Cat concerts-- it’s not like the ‘Sco, whose main purpose is to serve as a dancing-to-music-venue. Still, if you want a more relaxing, emotional, or soulful dancing experience, I’d say the Cat is your go-to.

You also have, of course, your classic house parties. I wouldn’t say Oberlin is much of a party school at all, but if you’re seeking out a party on Friday or Saturday night, you should be able to find one! For house parties, the range of music goes all over-- personally, I find it a 50/50 chance that I even like the selection. You’re more likely to get to dance to music you know, though, if you keep up with either current pop/house music or 2000s or 2010s hits (more my taste). There’s also a 50/50 chance that you get either a DJ who really doesn’t care, or one who is super invested and may even be a TIMARA major at the conservatory (electronic music student). Depending on the party, you may have to be careful about your comfort levels around volume and drinking. Parties are a good place to dance if you want an even more casual space, and are usually pretty crowded, so you definitely don’t have to worry about scrutiny. There’s definitely a mosh pit or two, if you’re into that!

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s more themed dances that are special in their own right, too. Namely, I like to go to the swing dance and contra dancing events at Oberlin. These are definitely more structured, but very open and welcoming spaces that usually host beginners lessons before each dance! I took Beginner Swing Dance ExCo last semester, and it’s been a joy to put some of those skills to use in the swing dance events since. Also, don’t underestimate the intensity of these-- you can definitely work up a sweat. 

Last but not least, although I am sure I’m missing many important Oberlin dance institutions, you always have your dorm room. Preferably when your roommate is in the shower. If you need the space and privacy, it’s very fair! Take your first step when you feel like it. Or, hey, maybe you just want to have some alone time and this seems like a good way to do it. So, what are you waiting for? Blast your song obsession of the week, and wiggle…


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