Heart-shaped balloon-adorned tables were scattered across Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center Ballroom on Tuesday night, but hardly any seats were occupied. The third annual Hustle Your Heart Out left little time for sitting and mingling.
The Center for Multicultural Affairs teamed up with the American Heart Association to bring a night of dancing to EMU’s campus. Kanea Brookes, graduate assistant for the CMA, helped pull the event together.
“It’s a way to get moving,” Brookes said. “One of the ways to prevent heart disease is by staying active and healthy, and dancing is a way to keep people active.”
The brainchild of former CMA graduate assistant Zara Northover, Hustle Your Heart Out began as a way to raise awareness and money for heart disease, particularly in women and in the African-American community. The CMA tries to hold the event during February, which is Black History Month, or March, Women’s History Month, as heart disease is the leading cause of death for both African-Americans and women. The event was free, but $5 donations were encouraged.
Dance instructors Sherry Hawkins of Dance With Elegance Health and Fitness Studio and Maurice Adams of Mr. Smooth and Company were invited to teach various line dances. After going step by step through each move, a live DJ played energetic, danceable songs, including selections by Pharrell and Drake, and the instructors led participants through the heart-pumping hustles.
“Cupid Shuffle” and the ever-popular Detroit Shuffle, performed to Stevie Wonder’s “My Eyes Don’t Cry,” also made an appearance.
Freshman social work major Raeonna Barabino enjoyed spending the evening on the dance floor.
“It’s nice to dance around and relieve some stress,” Barabino said.
Barabino’s friend, freshman journalism major Carlena Lawrence, admitted that some of the fancy footwork was tough to remember.
“[The instructor] teaches it now but when the music comes on, you forget everything,” Lawrence said. “Everyone just laughs.”
A table of food, including heart-healthy vegetable and fruit options, was set up as well, and students had the opportunity to learn more about keeping their blood-pumpers in tip-top shape.
Also offered was the chance to win a number of prizes, including two HP tablets, through a raffle.
Part of the purpose for the event was to raise awareness for the upcoming Washtenaw County Heart Walk, which will be held on May 10. Previously held on Washtenaw Community College’s campus, this year will be the first year the walk will be held on EMU’s campus.
Gretchen Ward, director of Service EMU, and Kay Woodiel, health education professor, are the EMU co-chairs for the Heart Walk. Both were in attendance at Hustle Your Heart Out.
Ward was pleased with the enthusiasm of the participants.
“Really what [the dancers] are doing is exercising, and having fun while doing it,” Ward said. “Going out and dancing for a night is exercise.”
Tara Tomcsik-Husak, corporate events director for the American Heart Association, also showed up to support the event. As the beat bumped on and students and staff alike got their groove on, she wanted to remind attendees of that tough little organ that spent the night in the spotlight.
“Hustle your what?” she asked. “Your heart!”