Swing Discussion Boards > Are You Comfortable During a WCS?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Vince A, Sep 4, 2003.

  1. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Some people are nervous, some are worried about their lead, some are worried about their follow, some are worried about how they look . . . I could go on!

    Can you be actually be comfortable enough to dance a WCS . . . so comfortable, in fact, that you could actually just "listen to the music?"

    I know you hear the music, but do you really hear it? Can you just dance and listen to the song . . . versus doing everything thing in your dance repertoire in an attempt to stay really close to the beat???

    You might say "music is music" . . . but many of us will disagree, and
    d nice, the other Swing moderator, is certainly qualified to answer your specifics on the music if you have them.

    Not all swing music is in 4/4 time. There is also 2/2 time, 6/8 time, 12/8 time, etc. For most dancers, we could care less about this division of music, but for a bunch of us, knowing this will actually help your dancing. A lot of dancers even get into eights, sixteenths, and even triplets, but for the majority of dancers, it may not be necessary!

    You can do a soft swing, a hard swing, and so on. You have to accent specific steps in your footwork! Can you accent a "crash" cymbal? Can you be sharp? Is there a time to be staccato and a time to be real "sexy?"

    Listen to the music. Use that beat. Use that beat wherever it is! Step your foot on an accent beat. Ronde' around on long bass note, etc.

    Your dancing will come alive! LISTEN TO THE MUSIC! It will tell you what to do!
    ocean-daughter likes this.
  2. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    I'm not really really comfortable in WCS yet. Another instructor and I were practicing yesterday to a slow slinky sexy song. We learned how to make the dance look more smooth and graceful. It was fun! My WCS looks waaaaaaaaaay better now. I've also started to throw in triple steps and turns and whips etc to make it interesting.
  3. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Yes, yes and yes.

    I think part of the problem why so many people have problems with WCS is that there is SO much emphasis on correct technique... not enough on dancing for the joy of just dancing. Technique should not be your main concern when you are social dancing, that should be your partner having fun. That is not to say technique is not important... the dance doesn't work without technique, just keep it in perspective.

    The less you focus on technique issues on the social floor (after all that is what practicing and lessons are for) the more attention you have to spare for the music.
  4. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member


    I agree . . correct technique in who's eyes?

    Yes, and too bad the 'leader' calls all of the shots with regards to the beat and the interpretation of that music, and the follower must accept that, which should lead us into a topic of it very own . . .

    Is this the law? Can the follower do anything about a leader who is a little off interpreting the beat? Can the follower communicate timing to the leader through their connection? Let's hear everyone's thoughts on this . . .
  5. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    A follow can suggest... although I certainly know that I have not mastered how to do this although I think I may have done it a few times-- I'm careful not to "take" -- that is not my role in the dance-- that's not to say that I'm completely innocent of this.. but it's never my intention.
  6. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    "What" I'm hearing you say is . . . that there have been times while social dancing where you had to deal with a leader who was just not there or not there in his interpretation of the music, or even a little off in his timing.

    Your goal should be to do "your thing" and not be internally bothered by doing your thing, yet still allowing him do "his thing." Make sense?
  7. dancergal

    dancergal New Member

    Am I confortable with WCS? Yes, in most instances, with an exception of dancing with a Pro or a very advanced dancer. Can I "help" with a leader if his timing is off?? Not usually since the leaders call the shots. I've had leaders not let me anchor or pull me before I finished my anchor, do a whip with the wrong timing...their favorite, spin me when I'm on the wrong foot or before any type of prep was done. But on some occasions and mostly if I know the leader and his dancing level is below mine, I can get him back on track by insisting on my anchor and doing my footwork in the proper time and not let him pull me, hit a break or whatever. I repeat, I only do this if I know the leader, otherwise I just suffer along until the dance is done. :roll:
  8. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    All leaders, at one time or another can have a bad song, a bad moment, and anyone of them can pull you off and not let you anchor, or screw up a whip . . . goodness knows how many times I've done it!

    I think, even if you don't know the leader, you can and should be able to do this (what you said you do) and do it without feeling bad about it!

    Again, some of us leaders have bad moments, or somehow are "missing the song," or whatever. You can bring us out of that and you can have enjoyable dance if you play and do your thing while still respecting the lead and knowing what he wants you to do! You know what the moves are . . . you know what to do on a R side pass, a L side pass, a regular Whip, etc., and you can do whatever you want with them as long as you are following and readying yourself in case he makes a continuous Whip out of that regular Whip! And so on . . .

    YOU can make a difference in how any dance ends up!
  9. SwinginBoo

    SwinginBoo New Member

    This is exactly the reason I'm not a big fan of WCS. I'm all about having fun. I can appreciate the many dancers who can dance WCS and make it look incredibly sexy and smooth. However, there are so many other things, like choice of music for example. I have to really feel the music in order to dance and enjoy WCS. Sometimes people just look miserable because they're too serious. This is a bit of a ramble I guess. But I enjoy dancing WCS to the blues. Feel the music and dance! I guess that's what I'm trying to say here. :wink:
  10. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    This is why I do not like WCS. When I was trying to learn it a few years back it seemed like everything had to be precise down to the smallest detail. It made me feel as though I would be going out on the dance floor to be tested rather then to have fun. :roll:

    I never did, but one WCS instructor who did not work out of a studio suggested that I attend his classes after I got into a discussion with him about what I felt were the difficulties. He expressed the opinion that WCS was not an inherently difficult dance and the reason it is regarded as a hard dance is due to the fact that the people who taught it at the studios and WCS clubs had a way of making it hard. He didn't really elaborate what he meant by that. :?
  11. jon

    jon Member

    I'm confused by this, because one of the distinguishing characteristics of WCS is the huge amount of freedom it gives followers to syncopate, steal, delay, and otherwise influence the dance.

    Of course if the leader is unwilling to "listen", or hasn't yet learned how, then this doesn't work. But that's how it's supposed to work on the social dance floor.

    Some folks use different terminology, in part to encourage followers to be aware of and exploit these possibilities. For example, Kyle Redd and Sarah van Drake refer to the "director" rather than the "leader".
  12. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    And I agree with you. To me that is the characteristics of the dance, especially the way it is danced today!

    However, basic WCS teachers say the leader dictates where the beat is, and the follower must accept this. Not every leader has a good sense of rhythm and timing that is as good as most of us, or for that matter what the music is dictating. In a WCS dance, the follower should accept the leader's perception of what the beat is. In essence, a deaf partner can dance well if the communication of timing is done through the connection.

    Sometmes, a leader can get off beat - because he wasn't paying attention, showing off and missed a step, bumped into someone, etc., and the follow should follow, as lead, until he can get back on beat.

    Even syncopating, stealing (hi-jack), and delays should be performed on the beat layed down by the leader.

    That's whay I was asking "Is this the law?" I do not totally agree with it, but that is what is being taught. Maybe the new style of WCS, with the syncopations, steals, delays, step-outs, slides, etc, coming about - things will change???

    I'm certainly no expert, just reiterating things that I've been taught and things that I've read . . . I also could certainly argue the points!
  13. jon

    jon Member

    "Law" is too strong. "Good advice for beginners" is more the label I'd suggest. Just because the beginning follower thinks a leader is off-beat doesn't mean it's true :) - as much so in the ballroom dances as in WCS.

    Hopefully followers, as they learn more, realize that such advice is conditional and that if they can figure out how, they can encourage their leaders to get back on the beat. Figuring out how is the hard part.
  14. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I still do not 100 % agree, but know where you are going.

    The leader dictates the rhythm, the timing, and the location of where both the beat. He also dictates where the follower should be in relation to the move, pattern, etc., whatever is being led, maybe???

    If the leader is very experienced, like you, what if he is puposely shading the music in oprder to play or set up a syncopation, hi-jack, or delay??? If the follower is not following this, what ever the leader has lead is now amiss. Yes???

    If the leader is inexperienced, a good follower can help him stay on beat if he is concentrating on a particular move, etc., or just plain drifting away from that beat.

    In the same token, a good follower should be able to incoporate her own intrepretation of the music and meld with the leader's timing. She can syncopate, delays steal, etc., all she wants, as long as she stays with the leaders intent or interpretation of the timing/beat, etc.

    To me, WCS is a rhythm dance, and timing is everything in WCS. In oreder to be "playful,' the rhythm must be learned and used. Yet this is only half of what must be used. Counting, another issue here, should also be learned. This is not saying it must be used.

    Do you still count???
  15. jon

    jon Member

    You can be very detailed and finegrained in leading, but for WCS it's generally better to think in terms of actively leading only to initiate or change movements. E.g. if I'm leading a side pass, I actively initiate the follower's movement down the slot, then leave things be until the follower reaches the other end of the slot. Along the way perhaps some syncopations or extensions will happen, depending on the follower's mood and skill level, and the music. Thus there are times when the follower needs to be paying attention to the lead, and times when the leader can give the follower freedom to add to the conversation.

    I could only wish to be "very experienced", I've only been doing this for about 14 years and consider myself a reasonably competent intermediate social dancer. I definitely don't want to come off as some sort of authority, these are just my opinions.

    There are always exceptions. Hijacks are (more or less by definition) not led moves. Syncopations can be led but more often they are done independently - possibly in response to a syncopation done by the other partner. WCS is more about leaving opportunities to do such things, rather than forcing them. And about achieving a balance - a follower who constantly seizes the intiative away and doesn't listen to the leader is very frustrating to dance with, just as a leader who never allows the follower initiative is very frustrating to dance with.

    Not often in WCS, more in other dances, particularly Salsa where the rhythm is more complex and lies on different instruments than I'm used to listening for. Counting is mostly a way of knowing where you are relative to boundaries in the music, and once sufficiently familiar with a musical genre, you can generally track that without thinking "1 2 3&4" etc.

    Again, this is all a matter of degree. There are dance subcultures where there is, or has been, a greater emphasis on actively led stuff - country for example, which favored multiple spins, wraps, tunnels, and such. There are types of music that leave less room for innovation. And what's favored by the dancers changes over time. The rule is there are no hard rules.
  16. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I agree with what you say, and I think some of the stuff is the same.

    I'm certainly no authority either, and hope I don't come off sounding that way.

    By the way, do you do UCWDC events? Seems to me, I was talking with someone at an event this year, and he also mentioned 14 years experience! Seems to recall he also said he was from the Bay Area.
    I'm just curious.
  17. jon

    jon Member

    Other than the social dancing at South Bay, no. Just a coincidence.
  18. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    OK, you were not who I thought you may be!!!

    Thanks . . . keep writing, you write and explain very well!

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