Country and Western > Differing Versions of Nite Club 2Step Has Me Frustrated - Thanks UCWDC!

Discussion in 'Country and Western' started by Generalist, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I LOVE this video, and have never seen it before.

    Anyhow, this is what I've seen in Portland, Vegas, and Long Beach CW places (except for the ballroomy horizontally extended arm). This is also what was taught at a non CW place called the Spare Room here in Portland years ago.

    How many different names do you have for this version? Sorry I can't figure it out myself.
    And, where is this country western saturated locale where you find yourself? (If you don't mind sharing)

    PS We do the step across thing, but usually with a pivot, and as a variation.
    PPS Some of what Buddy is doing may show up at Bushwhackers next week
    PPPS I kept thinking I should post again and say, note that what SOUNDS like the downbeat, is actually not the downbeat. Instead, I guess we would have to call it the backbeat. Guess some folks got that without it being pointed out.
  2. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    I have admitted elsewhere that I am extremely challenged musically, but I'm trying to work on it! Could you please explain what you just said about downbeat vs backbeat and perhaps give me an example? Thank you!
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I can TOTALLY relate to that!
    And I have my fingers crossed that I have it right!

    The convention in "European" music is that the first beat of a measure is the beat with the "loudest" or most forceful sound.

    When following this convention, the next beat is not as "loud" or forceful, and is referred to as an upbeat.

    Sometimes, however, the convention is not followed.
    If the second beat is louder than the first beat it is referred to as the backbeat. It's still in the same position (2nd) in a measure, but is given a different name because, it doesn't fit the usual definition.

    Rock n Roll from the fifties, and that song from "Risky Business" had a back beat. You can't lose it.

    Many people hear a definate, loud beat, and automatically call it the downbeat.

    If you click on the links above, and look at the sheet music for the Lady Antebellum song and listen to the music, you might see what I mean. Look at the first line of the lyrics, "Tin cans rattling pavement."
    The line starts with an 1/8 "note" long rest. Next there is 1/8 note for the word "Tin." That there covers the length of the "first beat" of the measure (which is usually 1/4 note long).
    When you listen the song, you should hear that there is a drum beat (I think - haven't listened for a long time) that corresponds with the word "cans." And there wasn't one earlier in the measure.
    Later in the song, there is the line "rice caughtup in her hair." Same deal, 1/8 rest, "rice," "CAUGHTup."

    Again, I'm hoping that all the reading I've been doing means I finally have this right!

    And, please, if I have this wrong, anyone! correct me!
  4. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    Thank you! My (non-American) dance instructor sometimes "tortures" me by purposefully playing music with a back beat and having me figure out how to count to it--he had never used that term before, however.

    I sometimes have to play a song many, many times to be able to sort out the beat and yes, I have used the sheet music before, too. I am gradually improving, but it is a lot of work.
  5. Bradamant

    Bradamant Member

    I would call that "the real nightclub two-step." CW peeps around here would call that "California nightclub two-step."

    On the social floors here I see both. At one studio, they play mostly 75-80bpm (almost always syncopated) songs and most people do the "real" nightclub version with rhythm technique. Although, strictly speaking, I could make an argument for it being a hybrid like bolero. But that's a whole other discussion. Some people will try to dance the smooth nightclub to those faster tempos and they look frazzled and exhausted by the end.

    At another studio, they'll play mostly 55-60bpm nightclub songs, and most will do the smooth technique. The ones doing the "real" nightclub/Buddy Schwimmer dance to such songs look sadly catatonic. And kind of hilarious. Not to mention, it feels really, really horrible when one is doing it oneself. Kind of like dancing American Rumba to bolero music. Oy!

    This is what it looks like in these here parts:

    (Complete with the "ballroom arms" you dislike so. :)

    Another thing about the character of smooth nightclub is the use of the floor - traveling in a diamond pattern with the lady shown on the "outside rail" is emphasized.

    As an aside, the step across thing in smooth nightclub happens as a result of pronounced sway going on between the two Qs.

    Hmm, in the Lady Antebellum song linked on the previous page, it seems to me there is a very pronounced downbeat, especially before the percussion comes in - both in how it sounds and in looking at the bass clef. Even when the percussion comes in, it doesn't truly sound like musical syncopation (very different, of course, to what we dancers think of as syncopation).

    *scratches head* To me the downbeat is the downbeat, in whatever song, and the upbeat is the upbeat - which might be accented in such a way that it would then be called the backbeat. Doesn't mean that the downbeat has moved in the bar.

    Like in the song used in my link to the above smooth nightclub dance- one might think the percussion alone should make that seem to be a syncopated song, but it feels to me like the accent remains on the downbeat due to the vocals and melody line.
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Nothing like men in cowboy hats putting their arms out like that.
    I probably shouldn't write what I think of the musicality there, but it's a great example of why I don't care for competition "country." What they are doing is way too busy for the music. And yes, that's just my opinion.
    It really does look like a different dance.
    Hmm, sometimes, if there is room, I'll move my NC2S around the floor, actually switching to the old style 2 step at times.
    I finally get your use of the terms rhythm and smooth.

    Reminds me of seeing a Billy Joel music dance thing choreographed by Twyla Tharp - Movin' Out. WAY too much movement for the music, and pretty mediocre swing/jiterbug/rock n roll dancing to boot.

    Serious question here.
    Do you think there are any of the better dancers in this group? Do you see ANYBODY that looks good to you moving slowly?
    Since I find it hard to even find people who can stay with the beat, maybe I would have to agree with you on this one. But, I think it's due to a lack of technique. As I wrote before, moving slowly but well is pretty challenging.

    You mentioned that way lies madness? Talking about syncopation in music is the black hole at the center of musical madness, far as I'm concerned.

    Amen to that.

    Anyhow, I dance the "accented beat," which is fairly obvious if its a good song for Nite Club. I don't much care if it's the first or second beat in the measure because I dance the music not a theory or convention for writing down music. (but it's nice to know, I guess if you have the inclination to learn)

    I've looked at another of my dance favorites, (but not for Nite Club)Copperhead Road, and that one starts with the 3rd beat being accented for quite some time. Then it goes to 1 and 3 getting an accent.

    Oh, and you being in Texas fits perfectly with something else I've noted.

    There was a book that was been written just before "Urban Cowboy" came out, based on what the author found in Gilley's and those parts.
    He noted a dance that the people in Texas called California Swing.
    I'm pretty sure that was West Coast Swing.

    When Dean Collins was first dancing in LA, and other people took up that style of dancing to swing music, they called it New Yorker.
  7. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    Somebody's best friend might be in that video, but I agree with you that overall it doesn't look very good.

    I first got a little bit of exposure to NC2S at a WCS event and when I mentioned to my ballroom teacher how much I had enjoyed it he nearly jumped over the desk he was sitting behind in excitement. Turns out that a woman had called the studio asking about learning NC2S and he had said, "let me get back to you on that." He spent time on the internet and taught himself the dance from the Buddy Schwimmer video and others like it (he happens to be exceptionally good at picking up the feeling of something from watching it). He called the woman back, explained to her what he was doing, and she said, "good enough for me." He enjoyed it enough that he tried to get the studio to include it in their repertoire, but the students tended to be competitive ballroom dancers and he couldn't sell it to the other teachers. He and I had a huge amount of fun with it. I love how it feels and it's great for my following skills. He told me that he once saw it included at a competition and all he had to say was, "you really would not like to have seen what they did to the dance," and that was without cowboy hats thrown in! He moved away, but I still get to do it occasionally and the other ballroom students and new-from-Europe teachers tend to do double takes. I wish it were more prevalent here.
  8. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    That's a good video. Buddy's nc2s is the way I learned it. Perhaps that's why I like it best! I prefer the rock step instead of that ugly crossover the country competitors do.
  9. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    This is just the kind of nc2s I was complaining about in the OT. Crossover stepping as a basic is a perversion of Buddy's original dance. If that's not bad enough the sight of cowboys dancing like ballet dancers is just plain weird.
  10. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    In the Phoenix area you cannot go to a dance event that doesn't have lots of nc2s. Even USADance includes it on their ballroom song list. It's our favorite dance for slow country ballads and can be done to a wide variety of other slow music that doesn't quite fit in with bolero or rumba. You would be surprised how much Motown is suitable for nc2s. In country bars and clubs nc2s is very popular.

    Come to Arizona and you will get your fill of nc2s!
  11. Bradamant

    Bradamant Member

    I will posit that there are probably a lot of issues swirling in, around, and under our various takes on this issue. Social vs. Competitive dance (a less than useful distinction, in my opinion, but a prevalent one, nonetheless), various degrees of "purism" vs. an inclination to the avant garde; how "we" learned it vs. how "they" do it, etc. Actually, all those would make for fascinating discussions in general (and across disciplines, actually.)

    I'll use a metaphor that works for me: the different modes, styles, versions, genres of partner dancing all sum to a living thing, which parts and pieces diverge and converge in more and less interesting ways, and do so more and less consciously from individual to individual much like the English language does for all of us and for me in particular.

    I enjoy having the ability to write scholarly articles in the jargon of the given subject, employ on-point colloquialism with those who relate to them, push further into patois on an educated whim, think it's pretty dope when Will.I.Am uses contemporary slang to paint his verbal pictures, and get a kick out of then being able to turn around and write the most excruciatingly cogent (slightly bombastic) business memos in concise, standard English - perhaps, on occasion utilizing opportunities to employ the subjunctive/conditional were I really wanting to make a certain point. And then going home and saying, "Ah, I'm tired; I think I'll go lay down now." My facility with American English in all its glorious forms gives me a leg up, I believe, to accomplish what I most want to accomplish: to communicate well with anybody, anytime, in the most appropriate manner.

    I know a really great guy, a good, experienced teacher, whose background is in rhythm and smooth. He has very strong opinions about oh so many things, eg. Salsa is a perversion of Mambo, Hustle must be danced at a tempo that the large community of Hustle dancers (active for 30 years) I knew back in California would laugh off as "too fast ballroom hustle." (Why, because at those tempos, the character of the dance as it has evolved is utterly lost, and not a few rotator cuffs have been sacrificed on the altar of fast "disco" music for hustle in these up-tempo ballroom venues.) Is LA style salsa a perversion of NY style Salsa? I know NY style hustle is a complete perversion of the original latin hustle - and all I can say is - thank goodness for that. I know some who still teach the ending coaster step in WCS, because to them the anchor step is a perversion. And well, Samba is a complete perversion - one I enjoy immensely, thanks. And, my goodness! What those pesky Italians have done to Standard!

    Getting back to the issue at hand:
    I linked the video I did because I thought a newcomer routine would best showcase the basics of the dance. I think the newcomers did themselves proud.

    The reviled "ballroom" arms:
    The aesthetics of the arms is very much secondary to the part they play in good body mechanics. I still remember a long lecture from Steve Vasquez back in the day about that very thing. Until then, I was befuddled by what to do with these two long things trailing off my shoulders when they were not actively attached to my partner. But then Steve Vasquez' talk and demo made me understand that the arms are primarily an extension of the core, a very much needed counter balance in certain circumstances, and my partnering skills and the speed of my, to use one example, New Yorkers were both vastly improved. It's just a happy secondary effect that strong, full lines (in the case of Nightclub) happen to be aesthetically pleasing for many people, but it is rightly primarily about good body mechanics and partnering.

    Specifically in regard to (smooth or country) Nightclub, it's my opinion that the country ballads with a tempo of about 55bpm are suited for one of two dances: the Seventh Grade Sway (in which case, true, one wouldn't have to worry about the arms at all as hers will be locked around his neck and his around her waist for 98 percent of the dance) or Nightclub. Being a dancer who likes to actually move instead of shuffle from foot to foot, I'm already inclined to appreciate Nightclub over the Seventh Grade Sway. As someone who happily danced up-tempo (rhythm or Schwimmer) Nightclub Two Step for over a decade before encountering the country version, I've got to say it's still my favorite dance to those kinds of (beloved) pop songs. I like that kind of music. I like that Schwimmer's moves and technique match that music. BUT, now that I am in places that play country love songs a good 2/3 the speed of those (my favored) songs, I felt compelled to learn a different - and in this situation - better suited way to enjoy this slower music for partner dancing.

    Steve asked above if I had ever noticed anyone ever looking good while doing Schwimmer's moves to Country (slow) ballads. Well, I dance more than I watch, to be sure, but on the occasions I have sat out and watched I can say . . . nope, never have. I both lead and follow, so more importantly, I have never myself experienced dancing the Schwimmer way to extremely slow music (lead or follow) that felt anything less that tediously awful.

    I asked the above referenced highly opinionated American style dancer/teacher what he would recommend dancing to a song that was only 55bpm and he answered, "Swaying in place." So, yeah. That's pretty much the gist of it for me as well. Except, I've branched out and explored other possibilities.

    I mean, really, some radical innovation like keeping knees over toes is a perversion of country dancing, looked at a certain way. In this way of thinking, shouldn't we have kept to the bow-legged, high-stepping hoe-downey way of twirling around the floor? So what that we can accomplish less, that it is injurious to bodies, that it makes partnering more complicated and some pretty popular steps near impossible to pull off without amassing impressive bruises?

    Preferences and strong opinions are all well and good. Boy do I have them myself, in abundance. But, personally, I try to keep a rein on my own tendency to be reactionary, because every time I succeed in doing so, I feel I've taken the opportunity to grow in my own dancing and add skills and tools (like facets of language) that I can pull out in different circumstances at need. But that's my approach and philosophy on the subject.

    Oh, and because I am currently working with a woman who was a very, very accomplished professional toe dancer for many years and who is now trying mighty hard to wrap her muscle memory around partner dancing, I can assure everyone that those delightfully brave and dedicated newcomers up there in my example video dance _nothin'_ like ballet dancers.

    It makes me chuckle to think I'm "defending" a certain lively element of contemporary country dance since, yeah, I really still do not like the music nor the urban "cowboy" culture I grew up with. It's not my love nor my passion, but it is something I've come to respect. I think the UCWDC and ACDA have done some good things and raised the level of dancing for those who wish to pursue that particular avenue. For one, I think it is really a very sound idea to encourage a return to what amounts to learning closed "bronze" waltz before progressing to open steps - makes for a better understanding of dancing one's own body, lays the foundation for truly grasping the characteristic movement of waltz that makes it special, and demands better control and balance right from the start. One can make the argument that closed steps are in some ways "harder" and less easy to fudge, and the end result is a much more efficient and pleasant partnering experience. But, as always, that is my most humble opinion.

    One question, for those of you wedded to "the real" (Schwimmer) Nightclub Two-Step, do you really enjoy dancing it to a song that is played at 55bpm? If so, more power to you. I don't believe I ever would, especially now that I've experienced this different way of approaching that music.

    Thanks for the discussion.
    SciGuy likes this.
  12. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    No, I don't enjoy it. NC2S (aka Schwimmer) becomes very awkward at that speed. So, do you have an alternative?
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I'm wondering if you can throw out the names of a few 55 bpm country ballads that you hear played a lot. Bro Country seems to be the bread and butter of the (one particular dj of the) "Boys Round Here," so that's not a problem where I am.

    You might be surprised at what you find in books like "Dance Across Texas" by Texan Betty Casey. You can actually download Lloyd Shaw's "Cowboy Dances" (or is it Round Dances?) in pdf format, and there again you will see something quite different that the honky tonk country that was popularized by Urban Cowboy. Heck, Patsy Swayze wasn't exactly a honky tonk dancer herself, but check out how smooth Travolta was doing the two step. (The outtakes from the rehearsals show that he could also do the bow-legged, high-stepping hoe-downey thing.)

    No argment there. And that's why, I've written (many?) times, I use "sweetheart" and other "open" positions a lot. Most women who are out dancing socially are out dancing socially and aren't going to spend a lot of time and money to get "good."

    WCS coaster step is really an interesting subject, it turns out. The coaster step was actually used at the beginning of patterns so that students didn't have to start from a closed postition all the time. Somehow, (because the cue sheets were kept under lock and key?) the intent and how it was supposed to be done became what it is now. The walking forward was on the walk walk, not the triple step.

    Any defense of outstreched arms as technique flys in the face of scores of books written since the 1920s that are about social dance, rather than exhibition (or competition?).
    But, here ya go. Proof that cowboys have used this technique since the fifties.
    Google this and page down a bit.

    Diamond Lil & Ragtime Cowboy Joe in 1959 from James LeBrun

    And, maybe the arms out thing came from a dance done circa 1920 called the Airplane Waltz !
  14. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Isn't that why the CW version exists?
  15. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Steve, the goal of a CW bar is to sell beer. Really slow ballads are not good for bar sales. So all the CW bars in my area play more up tempo music. While being very dramatic, the sub-60 bpm music is just too slow for a bar. Still, a lot of CW music falls in that slow range.
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Last night at the Portland Dance Festival they were teaching a free beginner Nite Club class, and they taught the UCWDC version. Mostly I was thinking that if they ever show up at Bushwhackers, that's not what they are going to see and run into if they dance with the regulars there.
    Staring on the slow is something Buddy Schwimmer reacted to.
    "Ballroom teachers try to make it Side, Rock Step, instead of Rock Step,Side. That makes it more like Bolero.
    Seyer: So you don't recommend starting Two Step on the Slow.
    Schwimmer: It's total ludicrous.

    But if that's what they keep teaching... Going to have to watch at the next BW lesson to see if their teachers have switched over. Good teacher at the festival, I might add, very clear in his direction (even though he started on the slow. )
  17. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    Everybody in the Phoenix area starts on the slow. It's just easier and makes more sense for the country ballads and r&b soul music that we dance NC2s to.

    As a post mortem to my OP, I stopped fighting the UCWDC version of the slide step because that has completely taken over in Arizona. On rare occasions I'll find a lady that prefers the rock step so I change to accommodate her. I guess it's useful to know both versions even though the UCWDC version is very dominant here.

    Since the UCWDC manages most of the country competitions in the world what they say speaks very loudly.
  18. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Generalist, I had not been by Dance-Forums for a bit. Adapting to the dancers around you and to your partner seems like a great idea. I liked Bradmant's comments above as well.

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