Having fun with simple moves

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by huey, Jun 2, 2004.

  1. huey

    huey New Member

    Dear all,

    I live and work in London, and have been dancing Lindy Hop for 10 months (haven't danced before).

    I really enjoy dancing to slow-medium tempo numbers like 'Lindy Hop Heaven' that I love with a partner I 'connect' with. I find there is also a lot of music played that I don't feel inspired to dance to, and in general, I think I worry too much about moves to have fun. So I probably spend more time NOT having fun at dances than having fun.

    I've been thinking about this, and watching other people (particularly male leaders like me). I've observed a few men in London who usually have fun when dancing. They are not the best dancers, and don't use the most impressive moves.

    What I've worked out is that these men seem to do fairly simple moves - I think it's mainly 8-count, with a lot of kicks and skips and relatively few triple-steps, lindy turns and charlestons. And they are never short of women to dance with.

    I want to work out some simple moves of my own (in fact I might ask some of these guys to teach me some of theirs').

    Does anyone have any advice on simple 8-count moves or where to find them?
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hi huey! Welcome. :D I'm sure that help is on the way. 8)
  3. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Eight count side passes, barrel rolls, arm-drags, and wraps, and basket whips.

    Personally I would never underestimate the power of a well timed lindy turn. I figure I do more lindy turns than any other step when I am doing lindy hop, and probably about an eigth of all my moves in a dance are some version of swing-out, lindy-turn/whip, or lindy circle.

    Concentrate more on your partner and more on the music and less about moves. Remember the dance is about movement, not moves.
  4. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Welcome to df huey and it really is true. There are those who enjoy those out of the world moves, and those who don't. There are more who enjoy the simpler moves and dancing, not stepping, executing complex patterns. Glad to see that you want to join the latter category.
  5. huey

    huey New Member

    Thanks for this. I recognise some of these names, but would like to familiarise myself more. Do you have any further information about these (or useful internet links?)


    I still have a problem with confidence, and I find knowing moves is a useful tool.
  6. huey

    huey New Member

    Another thought

    I've realised that I find it easier to have fun in general 'disco' type dances which aren't specifically Swing events. I mean dancing to general dance music - anything from hip-hop to funk to pop. And I can still dance with a partner in the sense of doing step patterns side by side, or opposite, with some hand-holds and close-holds.

    I think I find it easier to have fun because the pressure is off. I'm less concerned about working about moves for me and my partner. I just move to the music and get my partner to follow. Does that make sense?
  7. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Hi huey!

    Sure that makes sense. Dancing Lindy is made up of many components, rhytm, moves, frame, musicality and improvisation. All people are not the same, for example improvisation has never been my strong side. But it's something I'm getting better at all the time. But I had to dance for more than a couple of years and become really confident with my moves and leading technique before I did much improvisation at all.

    You seem to have improvisation and musicality in your blood, but feel a bit held back by the standard moves? My advice to you is to try to relax and play with what you're good at. At the same time be ware of what you can be better at. Be patient, and as you gain more experience and confidence you will be better at seeing the whole structure of the dance, and with time improvisation within or without the standard moves will be second nature to you :)

    Don't be bound by the standard syllabus. If you can make up stuff on the spot, and play with it and make it fun for your partner too, that's not only OK to do. That's great!
  8. jdavidb

    jdavidb New Member

    You said something along the lines of knowing more moves is helpful for boosting confidence. I believe it is. I agree with and practice the idea that movement and leading/following is more important than the size of the repertiore, but I feel that learning more stuff does help with execution of all of it... all the way back to the roots of the very first things I ever learned.

    You said you wanted simple 8-count things... Take her around in her usual swingout path except don't connect in closed position for 3&4. You stay in the middle, facing the same way, stepping out the 8-count pattern. Keep her going on around behind ya with the arms going over you. While she makes the trip behind you, duck under while triple stepping on 3&4, stepping on 5, or however long it takes. Getting the hands untwisted as she travels around your back is only a little bit tricky. She most likely won't make it all the way around, so don't let that bother ya if she ends up covering only about 80% of the circle. It's cool because you're likely to get a chance for a quick partial spin to get back to facing her. You'll know it and catch it when it happens. There's all kinds of adjustment that you can do with your own position in the middle and end of this.

    It seems like they always chuckle as they're going across in front of me, once they realize what move it is due to my right arm just hanging there doing nothing. Something about that move is funny. Maybe it's because I yell "yee haw!" while I'm doing it.

    From open 2-hand position, do an 8-count stepping pattern traveling around her. Or, you could just do 8 single steps all the way around. You put her right arm / your left over her head to get her in cuddle (straight jacket) position. When leading this, only bring her fwd a tiny bit on 1. That way, she'll absorb into her arms as you're traveling around behind her. It's a pretty hasty trip for the leader. That's one where you might not make it all the way around in time. But, that's ok. Just let go of her left hand and reassemble the usual open 1-hand position.
  9. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

  10. huey

    huey New Member

    Hi jdavidb,

    Thanks for this. I recognise this as "Spanish Arms", and I think it's also called 'The Basket". I've recently been taught it, and the way I've been shown, it ends up with her right hand in my right hand.

    I'll have a look at the other move you suggested as well.
  11. huey

    huey New Member

    Oops, that's wrong - I meant to say it ends up with her LEFT hand in my right hand!
  12. jdavidb

    jdavidb New Member

    Yeah you can let go of either one. It's just whichever move you want to do next. The way I described it ends in regular fan position, but it's cool if you've got a your right / her left move to go along after this.
  13. jdavidb

    jdavidb New Member

    ...and keeping a hold of her left with your right means she would have to roll out of it since her left is wrapped around her in front and your right is around her back.
  14. BettyB

    BettyB New Member

    As a follow on the same scene as the OP i feel qualified to comment, even tho i havent been dancing very long ;)
    For me, the guys that are the most fun to dance with are the ones that
    a) smile
    b) dont mind if something goes wrong
    c)are attentive on the dance floor (keeping an eye out so avoiding collisions and making lots of EYE CONTACT!)

    I rate musicality and play far higher than a large list of moves and frankly, most social lindy leads have their own "set" of moves that they do over and over, just varying the order they come in (in fact, this set of stock moves is so noticeable that after one dance i can often tell which organsation they learned with!)

    dont worry about learning lots and lots of complicated moves, just have fun on the floor :)
  15. huey

    huey New Member

    Yesterday, I had an 'accidental' private lesson when no-one else turned up, and I was able to learn 3 more simple 8-count moves (that I had previously seen others doing).

    1. Kicks forward, followed by slides back. The inclusion of the slides back means I can repeat and vary this whole cycle

    2. 'Open Charleston'. Back-step, then kick-and, then 'kick-and-kick-down' with alternate feet, turning on the other foot on the 'and'.

    3. 'Skips' forward and back. Side by side position, with me to her right. Her left in my left, her right in my right behind my back. Pattern of 'skips' forward and back. Back-step on the right, then skips forward (both partners on same foot). Lead turn by turning away from partner, keeping hand contact, then skip back the other way.

    These three patterns all have kicks rather than triple-steps.They can all easily be varied by changing the number of steps or kicks in a particular direction.

    This is the sort of thing I was looking for, and I am looking forward to trying these out in dances soon. :)
  16. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    I've been holding back so far, because every response I started kept sounding too much like a lecture/lesson. I've only been learning Lindy for a year and a half, but only seriously started open dancing six months ago, and still consider myself to be a beginner.

    BettyB, you are raising a fundamental question for this thread: what do women want in a dance? What can we guys do to make the dance enjoyable for our partner? More specifically, Huey was asking what he can do as a beginner to build up to that point of making the dance enjoyable. While I ask myself the same question, my main fear out there in the wild is that I'm boring the poor girl. I think that fear is part of what leads to the temptation to throw in cool moves long before we're ready to pull them off. Even though, as you say, BettyB, that is not what it takes.

    Out of several collections of tips that I've read and heard over the months, a few points kept being raised. You just raised three of them yourself, BettyB. The other main one is:

    d) Get your basics down really solid. Be able to keep time in your basic moves and be able to lead them clearly and smoothly.

    My understanding is that she doesn't want to have to guess what you are trying to signal her to do and she does want to have to dance around you being off time. So when you do try something fancy, even if you screw up you can bring her back to your really good basics where both of you can recover and then move on from there.

    BTW, a good basic swingout feels good for both partners. First, I am very dependent on the girl's ability to do her part of the swingout, much more so than I believe I should be. I usually have problems transitioning into leading it right in open dancing, so a partner with a good swingout just jumps right in and does her part mostly in spite of my lead. And with most beginners I'm just trying to help her make it through the motions and avoid getting a handful of speed bumps as she's coming in. But last week practicing before class with a high-beginner/low-intermediate partner something different happened. The song had a moderate tempo and everything was just clicking exactly right. It felt great! Never underestimate a really good basic move.


    Now, for reducing risk of boring the poor girl, I try to vary my basics and not just the order. There's more than one way to get out of a move (or even into some of them). For example, you lead her into a swingout the same way, but you have several ways to complete it -- regular plain-vanilla, inside/walk-through, outside (with free spin or with the hand for a single or double spin), Apache, etc. Or instead of pulling her in for a swingout, do switches (she swivels as you mark time with your own footwork which could be as simple as a series of small rock steps). A simple walk-through could turn into spins, or you could "put her behind you" by not turning yourself, followed by a round rockstep followed a variety of moves. Or you could place the back of your right hand on her back as she's going by, rolling it into position as she turns at the end and have her in closed position again. A round rockstep with opposite hands can turn into a "rock and roll" (as she passes you turning, your right hand is on her back and sends her into the end of a swingout or of a "swing-in" circle -- smoothly maintaining some kind of contact throughout the catch; my main concern here is that I don't jar her with sudden contact and that I don't give her back an Indian burn). Or it could turn into you passing by her after which you catch her hand to lead into the next move, eg a swing out from open. A cradle could end by sending her back out the way she came in, or by releasing her left hand as she's coming in and bringing her into closed position, or by releasing her right hand in the "wound up" position and unwinding her to the side. One night my partner showed me her "Cajun" variation in which after wrapping her into a cradle on my right side, I unwrap her and immediately wrap her up to my left side (I still need to practice that one). Do a tuck turn, but then turn it into an 8-count in which you catch her arm above the elbow and bring her back in to a closed position -- again smoothly maintaining contact between her back and your right hand throughout the catch.

    There are many variations that you can learn and use and mix in to keep from being too predictable. You don't want it to be a chess match in which she's got your next eight moves all figured out. I tend to use a dirty trick in which I've done the same move twice or else have done it earlier in that dance and then when I start to do it again but end it differently; she thinks she knows what's going to happen next but then it becomes something different.

    Surprise her, but be nice about it; lead it so that she can follow the new move.


    Hey, I'm just trying to figure it out too! BettyB, am I even getting close?
  17. huey

    huey New Member

    Hi DWise,

    I agree that fear is a big part of the equation.

    When I am doing repeated 6-count, I almost bore myself, and also become afraid that I am boring my partner. Then if I think about doing something more interesting, I have another fear that I will get it all wrong and look stupid - and possibly make my partner look stupid as well! So I sometimes get stuck.

    One thing I have learned is to try out new things with women I know and trust, and preferably to slower tempo music. Once I have mastered something new with someone I know, then I can take it out into the wider world.

    I'll try and remember BettyB's wise words.
  18. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Yes, there are variations in your footwork that you can use to vary your moves.

    You can use kick-step or a kick-ball-change can replace basic steps (I have to stop and think of exactly what they replace). A single step can replace a triple-step (eg, à la single-step ECS or doing a down-hold to acknowledge a break in the music as in "Tuxedo Junction" right after the intro). For the cutting her off by getting in front of her in closed (as in a swingout from closed), we've also learned a low left kick that kind of bounces and carries us around to facing her and which replaces the first triple step. In that same routine, we opened up and used a right-kick-step to replace the rock step.

    I am continually amazed at how richly varied Lindy and ECS can be. I'm going to feel like a beginner for the next ten years. And loving it!
  19. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Those kick-ball-changes are really fun, and very popular in the C&W joints I frequent. :roll: :lol:
  20. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    There are a few basic steps that my WCS instructor calls "thinking steps", such as the "under arm turn" (AKA "walk through") and the sugar push (much more common and popular in WCS than in ECS). Those are the ones that you know so well that you don't need to think about them, so they buy you time to think of what your next move will be.

    I agree that the women you already know are the ones to try out something new with, especially if they're fellow students (every place I go to dance Lindy is also frequented by many of the people in my classes). Perhaps even better than trying it in the middle of an actual dance would be to ask her on the side if she could help you work out a new step. That way, you will be less likely to detract from her dancing (especially if she was sitting out a song), and you can also find out what she thinks about that new move and she could offer some ideas about improving it or the lead for it.

    Now here's a thought I've been kicking around in my head for over a year but haven't discussed yet. Way way back when I was in Karate, a Green Belt explained a basic approach to competitive sparring: develop a few special sequences of blocks, kicks, and punches and practice them until you can do them very fast and without thinking. Then when you're sparring and you see an opening for one of those sequences, use it. The idea was that your opponent wouldn't be able to react quickly enough to defend against your blindingly fast attack. And I would see these Green Belts and Brown Belts all the time practicing their special sequences in front of the mirror.

    I've been thinking that we could do something similar. Now of course, we're not trying to compete against our partner nor overwhelm her (at least none of us in the same sense as in Karate, and I'm not in any sense); dancing is instead highly cooperative and interactive. But rather what I'm thinking about is that for the more complex moves we should work out ahead of time how to get into those moves and how to exit as well. And then practice that so that when you're dancing you don't have to think as much, especially when you're getting ready to exit the move. I don't know about you guys, but I'm terrible when it comes to thinking on my feet.

    A variation of this approach would be to come up with and practice a variety of next-moves. For example, right after you do an Apache, then what? Think of a few things that you could do next. Somebody brought it up after class last week, that what he found really hard are the transitions between moves. So we shouldn't just be learning the moves, but also how to transition from one move to the next. And so in our planning out and practicing these things ahead of time, we also need to work out the transitions. To draw from an analogy with pool (AKA "pocket billiards"), every time we take a shot, we also need to be setting up for the next shot.

    I guess those thoughts started to get random, but does any of that make any sense? Like I said, this is the first time I've tried to express them.

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