Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by leee, Apr 11, 2013.
Bit remiss in updating, what with a severe time crunch, i.e. mundane personal life encroaching on dance, grrr, but also first time I'm learning something genuinely new: Charleston! Which is great and something I've been looking forward to, but at the same time, new enough that my lead is still inconsistent, plus an influx of newcomers (schools letting out), producing the paradoxical frustration of an intermediate dancer's impatience.
HOWEVER! In the past week, we learned some fancy foot styling for the Charleston basic that I'd previously known as shag styling (dunno about the variations in terminology, but it's just the heels coming in together on the beat and going away from each on between the beat), and I looked like the clumsy oaf I am in everyday life. But! I'm kind of astonished that I'm making progress with it simply by practicing it for a few minutes every day -- and I literally mean a few minutes. Makes me wonder what would happen if I really applied myself and put in just half the time that DFers dedicate to their practice! (No idea if that's going to happen with me any time soon though!)
This is about how I've been progressing with guitar, working on the walking whip in WCS, etc. Next up may be some of the Fred Astaire stuff in the Let's Dance clip, and the BoJangles routines. I can use that in my line dancing.
Meanwhile, a Charlston question. Somewhere recently I read that Lindy hop was the first dance with a step on every beat. That doesn't sound right to me, but might be right when talking about "ballroom" dances. (You step on each beat in waltz, too, but that's 3/4 not 4/4.)
Do you step (or kick?) on "every beat" in Charleston?
For the most part; yes.
I haven't "learned" charleston per se, but I've followed it and it was a lot of fun! I didn't get to do any dancing at all this week (except teaching, which doesn't count) because I was sick. Looking forward to Tuesday when I'll finally get out again.
Aww, hope you're better!
In my brief experience, I've rarely ever been able to lead any Charleston to someone who isn't already familiar with it (unless jig kicks are Charleston, in which case, never mind), so you should pat yourself on the back a little! I'm going to wager that your oodles of ballroom experience has helped with it, yes?
Between ballroom, AT, and WCS, I've learned to follow pretty well.
This brings a question to mind. I assumed you started with ballroom? If so, what other genre was harder/easier to pick up? In my experience, AT is forbiddingly challenging, partly because of its lead/follow philosophy, I guess you'd call it. The crowd that I've been exposed to has also been a little bit formidable. LH OTOH at least has familiarity to me via ECS, and the looser vibe of the dance seems to rub off on its practitioners in terms of them being generally more welcoming. Is that your experience as well?
Yes, I started in ballroom. That's a really hard question to answer, because not to brag, but I am an exceptionally fast learner, so none of them were particularly difficult for me. I learned a ton just by watching and following. I learned WCS as part of my ballroom training, but then when I started dating a WCS dancer, I had to learn how to do it "right." I had the styling and technique all wrong...but a few lessons and some immersion therapy did fix it. That was more a lack of training problem rather than a difficulty.
I "got" AT very quickly, I think partly because I had learned how to follow WCS correctly--waiting for the lead. Of course, I wasn't perfect, but I heard over and over again in my first few months how I didn't have the typical ballroom dancer problems and I was picking it up amazingly quickly. Sorry...this sounds like bragging again, but that's how it happened. I'm just able to watch, see how a dance should look and feel, and do it. Therefore, I can dance ballroom like a ballroom dancer, then head over to WCS and dance like a WCS dancer, then go to AT and dance like a tango dancer. Naturally, ballroomy things do pop up from time to time. I'm working on looking like a LH dancer.
I think balboa was the hardest for me to "get", but after about a month of classes, it clicked for me and now I follow all kinds of stuff I haven't been taught. I feel like an knat if I say bal was hard to get, because it still only took me a month. I told my teacher/buddy tonight that he needs to teach me shag next, and I suspect it will go similarly.
As for the crowd and being welcoming, I wasn't a complete stranger when I started any of the different genres, because I already knew people who had crossed over before I did. They introduced me around, and I made a point of being friendly and outgoing (which is a struggle for me but easier when I at least know a couple people already), and I feel our local AT scene is pretty friendly anyway. However, AT and WCS are still fairly cliquish. I find LH to be the friendliest, most welcoming crowd with more people who are willing to dance with beginners and people they don't know.
No need to apologize or worrying about looking like you're bragging, especially when I solicited your opinion! Anyway, kind of what I was getting at was that AT is generally pretty harsh on a newcomer, because in my brief exposure, it's almost like it's not worth dancing if you can't dance it well. Meanwhile, LH, as intimidating as any dance is when you jump in with practitioners who've been doing it for years, I think is a lot more accessible to newcomers. (A semi-rhetorical question that I don't really expect to be addressed since it's probably a huge and sticky issue, and argued over in some form a million times: is AT's highly codified nature, its inherent seriousness, what makes it hard to learn initially? And LH is a good-time dance, just get out there and move?)
I agree. Part of that is that AT dancers take themselves more seriously, plus you're stuck with the person in a fairly intimate embrace for 10 minutes at a time (You can end it early if it's bad, but still), so they're more particular about who they dance with. With LH, it's one song and you don't get that close so it's innately less pressure/serious.
or more, or at least it can sure feel like it!
And leaving someone in the middle of a tanda (group of songs for those who don't know) is considered to be bad form/sort of insulting tec.
Because of this, the old school rules of respecting potential partners enough that you won't even show up at a dance unless you know your stuff still applies. (This is repeated in just about every one of the dozens of older dance texts I've reviewed over the past years.)
Famous swing dancer Dean Collins is on record for having been turned down twenty times when he asked women to dance when he first arrived in Los Angeles. I don't remember Frankie Manning writing that he would routinely dance with new comers to the Savoy. In fact he and his buddies stayed out of the Corner where the best dancers danced, when they first started going there.
So maybe its something characteristic about the contemporary Lindy Hop scene?
Hah, actually I've never gone to a full-on milonga, just practicas for me. Anyway!
Last week was its own peak/volley; the heel styling I was so impressed with? Completely vanished when we were supposed to implement it, and a large fraction of the class was devoted to that and moves that incorporated it. I must've been emitting bad vibes because during one rotation, my partner was trying to talk me off the ledge (telling me I'm a good dancer etc.)! I was frustrated, but not THAT bad off -- I do seem to give off this vibe, though, because the same happens a bit with my ballroom teacher, too. But we got to jig kicks (I forget the name they used though), so that was fun!
The other notable thing was that a Latin dancer showed up at the party. It was, let's call it, eye-catching seeing his elaborate arm styling and solid, upright frame in the middle of a bunch of swing dancers!
Yes, it's pretty funny when latin dancers show up and don't know how to adjust their styling.
OK, so this week the heel styling came back to me. Obviously I still have a lot of kinks to work out, but I was able to do it at speed with a partner for a little bit. Baby steps! We also covered some fun Charleston variations, where -- get this -- THE GUYS TURN! OMG! IT'S A NEW DANCE WORLD (for me)!
I also made a concerted effort to revisit the Lindy basic and swing out during the party, because now that I've finished all of the level 1 classes, I'm graduating myself to level 2. (Yay me!) Not only that, I swallowed a bit of pride -- well, no, that's a poor way of wording it even if it's fundamentally accurate, perhaps a better way to say it would be that I overcame some self-consciousness and asked a few more intermediate/advanced follows this time, which helped clarify a few general things that I'll want to work on at the intermediate level. Like, for instance, the swing out. That's pretty general, right?
Actually, I think I need to back-weight myself more by poking my butt back when I send the follow out to get a real sense of momentum/connection. And speaking of connection, my ballroom death grip needs to go, too.
Latin guy didn't show up this last week, though.
Would you describe "the Lindy basic," please? I would like to compare what people are being taught today with what I'm seeing in two books that are dated 1942.
The term swing out does not seem to have been in use, then. Rather, they wrote about the break away or throw out. I think I know what people mean when they say "swing-out," which I can't find in print until the 1943 Time article.
Steve, what I call the "Lindy basic" -- rock step, triple, step, step, triple -- may not be what the class I'm taking calls that pattern (I tend not to keep track of the actual terminology used in classes), so sorry if I'm of little use here!
Edited for grammar!
No, close enough. Hosteler and Murray described Single Lindy and Double Lindy.
Anyone else have a Lindy basic that they learned?
Oh, and interestingly, one of the teachers at Bushwhackers is going to teach "East Coast Swing," and she teached triples, which would match your description!
The very idea of a singular basic step is a studio/ballroom concept and probably would not have applied to a dance such as Lindy hop until ballroom studios got their paws on it. The written record of the time also may not represent the viewpoint of the mostly African-American original dancers. I don't have copies of Frankie Manning & Norma Miller's books to check things in... need to go get them sometime.
These days I think a lot of people treat the swingout as the "basic," but in recognition of the swingout being relatively complex (vs. basic salsa or a box step or something), beginner classes start with various other things, e.g. an 8-count rhythm forward and back in side by side position, or maybe something in closed.
Yep, I've heard the swing-out referred to as one of the most complicated "basic" of any dance.
What I was taught were basically two basic basics. A 6 count one and an 8 count one.
6 count: Rock step, triple step, triple step
8 count: Rock step, triple step, step step, triple step
Sometimes the rock steps are taught as just step step instead. The 6 count basic is the same as I imagine is taught for east coast swing, although sometimes there the rock step is moved to the end I think.
Steve, one thing that complicates things is that there is no unified terminology for lindy dance moves. Different communities will call things slightly different terms sometimes. A throw out is sometimes called a swing out from closed and a lindy turn is sometimes called a swing out from open. Also the dance evolves, new moves are figured out, new words are made up to describe things people are already doing. It's a gradient of an evolving dance that's still rooted in history, there is no one way of doing lindy correctly or even a single definition of what lindy hop is.
Anyway to get back on topic, not my lindy diary but I was taught an awesome footwork variation at a workshop the other week and I really enjoyed it and have been able to put it into my social dancing in a smooth and nice way without disturbing my connection with my lead or interrupting timing or anything. So a total yay! move to add to my toolbox
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