It takes Two to Tango

A look into UW-Eau Claire’s social ballroom dancing club

Bridget Kelley

More stories from Bridget Kelley


Photo by Gabbie Henn

On Saturday, Dec. 1, Two to Tango presented their annual Swing Fling Dance where jazz music and a band followed along with the dancing. Pictured are Sean Hupfauf and Leah Motzko.

It all started back in 1993, when a group of students were meeting weekly in the basement of Katherine Thomas Hall and taking lessons from UW-Eau Claire alumni and local business owners Dave and Karen Goggin.

“The Goggins had the idea that they would teach students enough dance to the point that students could teach each other, and so it’s an entirely student-led organization where all the instructors are students themselves,” Jack Marchiafava said.

Marchiafava is a fourth-year mathematics education student and the president of Two to Tango.

“We take lessons every Thursday night with the Goggins — they’re still in the area and still helping us out — and then we come here on Sundays after receiving the lessons to share with people,” he said.

In order to become an instructor, one must have intermediate skills in several types of dances including the slow waltz, east coast swing and salsa as well as being able to teach the skills.

“You also have to be a team player, be able to answer some questions and be able to work with other people,” said Sean Hupfauf, a third-year computer science student. Hupfauf became an instructor last year.

Two to Tango prides itself in being a social dance club instead of a competitive dance club. All the lessons are taught by students. The club invites students, faculty and community members to join the lessons. Couples are paired up and then are taught their respective parts —  “leads” and “follows.”

“When it comes to partner dances, and especially how we teach in a social setting, there is no plan ahead of time,” Marchiafava said. “We’ll turn a song on, a lead will ask a follow to dance and they’ll go out and hit the dance floor and start dancing. They’ll usually start with a basic, but then the dance will progress to the level they’re comfortable with — all of this without saying what they’re planning.”

Getting to that point, however, is difficult for many students. Sam Hudachek, a third-year criminal justice student, said his biggest takeaway from the club was gaining confidence and being able to apply that to his day-to-day life.

“It really showed to me that everybody’s focused on themselves — they’re not focused on you,” Hudachek said. “You can mess up as much as you want, and nobody’s going to care.”

Messing up is a huge fear factor for many people, Hupfauf said. People will mess up and not want to come back, or they’ll feel like they ruined the experience for others.

“Even instructors have to deal with that when we first start,” Hupfauf said. “It’s just gaining that confidence and telling the little voice in the back of your head to shut up and continue learning and trying.”

Persistence does pay off, however, Marchiafava said. The best feeling, he said, is when one keeps up with a move and it eventually clicks and feels natural.

“You can be out there on the floor with somebody and just, without having to think about it or having to think that hard, it flows,” he said. “I love the communicative aspect of dance and that you’re speaking to your partner without saying a single word. I think that’s a really unique thing — a unique way to go about a conversation on a dance floor. I just really love that experience of a shared understanding of an objective without saying a single word.”

Two to Tango teaches weekly lessons on Sunday nights in the McPhee dance studio. The first two lessons are free, and after that it costs $10 a semester or $15 a year. Although it does take two to tango, students can come solo.

Kelley can be reached at [email protected]