Valentine’s Country Dance Draws Crowds To ENMU Ballroom

Conor Clemmons leading ENMU students in a line dance. The Chase Photo: Owen Crowlie

Couples and singles alike filled the Campus Union Ballroom at Eastern New Mexico University on Valentine’s Day for a night of food, dancing and live music performed by Conor Clemmons and his band.

The Associated Student Activities Board aimed to provide students everything they would need for a fun date night—be it with a partner or with friends—as well as gauge interest in live musical performance. On both accounts, the ASAB found success when students adorned in flannel arrived to snack on grilled cheese sandwiches, take pictures together and listen to the music.

Initially, the dance floor was largely empty, with only a few couples slow dancing to sweet ballads. To overcome the student body’s shyness, Clemmons employed his sense of showmanship that he has been refining in the Nashville, Tenn. country scene.

“I don’t think I properly introduced myself,” Clemmons said between songs. “Hi, I’m Conor; what’s your name?” Students seated at the tables shouted back with their names. “What was that? I couldn’t hear you—maybe if you got closer, I could hear you.” Intrigued by the bit, people approached the dance floor to shout their names again. “Ah, that’s better. Hey, while you’re here, why don’t I teach you a line dance? What do you say?” he said.

The band performed a slow instrumental as Clemmons showed the steps, with students following along. After some quick practice, the band went into an original song and rows of dancers came alive. The line dance proved so popular that Clemmons led in teaching a second dance, before allowing the crowd to freestyle for the rest of the night.

Clemmons later commented that the dance lesson was totally improvised. “It was unexpected, because I had never done a show where I taught line dancing, but it worked and engaged everybody, so I think it was really great.”

After being drawn to the dance floor, students danced to a curated playlist well after the band finished their set at 9:30 p.m., some staying as late as midnight. Clemmons took pictures with new fans, and reflected positively on the night, saying “I had a blast, it was a really fun time.” Judging from the packed dance floor, it would be safe to say many students would agree.

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