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Story Highlights:

  • After adapting to San Luis Obispo’s line dancing styles, Jenna Korver carried her life-long passion for line dancing to Cal Poly.

  • Korver joined Cal Poly’s Country Line Dancing Club. She later became club secretary and, eventually, club president.

  • After retiring from officer positions, Korver began feeling out new types of dance and incorporating them into her line dancing style.

  • Korver, an English senior, hopes to continue pursuing her love for line dancing after graduation.

Making Adjustments

The first time Jenna Korver line danced at the Graduate, she hated it.

Korver, Cal Poly English senior and Country Line Dancing Club member, was no stranger to line dancing, she said. When she visited dance clubs near her hometown of Norco, she knew every step to every song--but on her first trip to San Luis Obispo’s line dancing venue, she was lost.

“I would get onto the floor and start doing a dance, and I’d get eight or 16 counts into the song before I realized, ‘no one’s doing the same thing as me,’” Korver said.

She swore never to return to the Graduate.

“I was so angry,” Korver said. “I was like, ‘This was not fun, I don’t know any of these dances and I’m never coming back here.’”

It wasn’t long before Korver broke her vow, she said. She swallowed her pride, returned to the Graduate, learned the unfamiliar dances and has since regularly frequented the club.

“I realized I just missed line dancing so much that I went back, and I figured them all out, and I just kept going back because I couldn’t stay away from it,” Korver said.

She knows now that each dance venue is unique, she said. Their differences have become a fun challenge for her instead of a frustration.

“Every venue is a little bit different,” Korver said. “Everyone has a different dance floor and a different disc jockey. Not all places play the same song. Not all places even do the same dances.”

A Line Dancer Since Birth

Korver’s passion for line dancing traces back to before she was born, she said. Her parents met two-stepping on a dance floor, and she grew up surrounded by line dancing.

“I was around line dancing and country-western dancing since I was little, because that’s what my dad does,” Korver said.

She began taking line dancing lessons her sophomore year of high school, Korver said. When she turned eighteen, she began line dancing at local clubs.

Korver soon became obsessed, she said.

“When I go dancing, I don’t have to think about anything else,” she said. “I don’t have to think about school, work, money or drama with friends. I’m just there to dance and to have fun.”

Korver looked forward to dancing because of the release it gives her, she said.

“I never ever have a bad time dancing wherever I’m at, because all that goes away, and it’s fun to get lost in the dance floor and get lost in the music,” Korver said.

The most difficult part of line dancing for her was learning freestyle partner dances, such as two-step, West Coast swing and East Coast swing, she said.

“If you dance with a different partner every time, they lead different, they feel different and they know different leads and different spins,” Korver said. “You have to be a good follow.”

She persisted through the tough parts of line dancing for the sake of learning, she said.

“Sometimes you have to go out on the dance floor and just look totally ridiculous, not knowing where you’re going, until you pick it up,” Korver said. “No one’s watching you. They’re too busy having fun doing the dance themselves. You just have to get over that.”

Korver stuck with her passion for line dancing until college because of the challenge of learning new dances, she said.

“It’s kind of addictive,” she said. “I want to learn new ones all the time.”

Country line dancing includes countless different dances to many different songs. The five most popular of these songs are:

  1. "Good Time" by Alan Jackson

  2. "Boot Scootin' Boogie" by Brooks and Dunn

  3. "Watermelon Crawl" by Tracy Byrd

  4. "Dizzy" by Scooter Lee

  5. "Get Into Reggae Cowboy" by the Bellamy Brothers

A Collegiate Passion

By the time Korver set foot at Cal Poly, her love for line dancing was in full swing, she said. She signed up for Cal Poly’s Country Line Dancing Club as soon as she heard about it.

“During WOW, I talked my WOW group’s ear off about line dancing,” she said.

Then, during the WOW Club Showcase, one of Korver’s fellow WOWies pointed out the club to her, she said.

“I freaked out and signed up right away,” Korver said. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? There’s a line dancing club? I’m so on this.’”

Despite line dancing’s vast popularity on the west coast, Korver did not expect to find such a strong line dancing community at Cal Poly, she said.

“I was surprised to see it was so popular here too,” she said. “I thought it would be weird that I liked line dancing, and that no one else would know about it.”

Now, Korver’s friend circle at college primarily consists of people she met line dancing, she said.

“Probably 90 percent of my friends are from line dancing,” Korver said. “We became friends because of line dancing, but we stayed friends because we actually connected on other levels and found other things in common.”

Korver became club secretary her sophomore year of college and club president during her junior year, she said. Holding officer positions taught her how to work with a team.

“It’s all beneficial,” Korver said. “Being a part of the club, and having to work with the officer team as a group--it helped learning how to be good at teamwork and how to communicate.”

Cal Poly environmental engineering junior and Country Line Dancing Club barn dance coordinator Colleen Taggart was inspired to become a club officer by Korver’s leadership skills, Taggart said.

“After watching the other officers, especially Jenna, I knew immediately that I wanted to be an officer in CLDC one day,” she said.

Taggart has now accomplished her goal and befriended Korver in the process, Taggart said.

“It’s great to be looked up to the same way I looked up to Jenna when I was a freshman,” she said. “She is truly an amazing dancer but a more amazing person.”

Korver relinquished her officer duties after junior year, she said.

“Since i was involved for two years, I felt like it was time to get the newbies involved,” she said. “To pass on the torch, and to let them run things.”

One of Korver’s club responsibilities is to help teach line dancing lessons before the club’s on-campus barn dances, she said. Learning to instruct a big group of people was a new challenge for her.

“Before the club, I would teach people on the fly, on the floor, back at home,” Korver said. “but learning to teach to a big crowd was totally different. There are so many people trying to listen to you and see you at the same time.”

A Taste of Something New

Korver’s involvement in the club also introduced her to new types of dance, she said. Cal Poly’s dance clubs all communicate and advertise to each other, so lots of dancers cross over to different genres.

Cal Poly is home to many dance clubs, including:

  • CP Salsa

  • CP Swing Club

  • Freeform Partner Dancing Club

  • Cal Poly Ballroom Team

“Because of line dancing, I got involved in West Coast swing and East Coast swing,” she said. “Then, because of CP Swing, I started blues dancing.”

Cal Poly biochemistry junior and Country Line Dancing Club treasurer Riley Santos dances with Korver two to three times per week. He notices her variety of dance experience in her dance style, he said.

“Not only does she know all of the dances that are played at the Graduate, but she seeks out new line dances she sees at other venues,” Santos said. “In addition, Jenna does other types of dancing and she is able to incorporate these skills into line dancing.”

College is one of the best places to learn various types of dance, Korver said.

“There are so many styles of dance, and it’s all in one place,” she said. “When I graduate, I’m not going to be able to find all these different styles of dance and venues that have them in one place.”

Looking to the Future

Korver plans on seeking employment at a publishing firm in the Bay Area after she graduates, she said. She hopes to continue dancing as much as possible.

“It’s not going to be like living back home, where I have so many different options,” she said. “But I think I’ll still be able to find a place to go line dancing.”

She probably couldn’t stop if she tried, she said.

“It’s addictive,” Korver said.

© 2013 Brenna Swanston | Club Cal Poly takes a closer look at the university's most popular student clubs