Swing Discussion Boards > How to lead hustle?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by bookish, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. bookish

    bookish Active Member

    Hi! I've been reading the forum for a while, have learned a lot already, and thought I'd pose my first question. There's a local (university club) social dance venue I go to regularly that plays a lot of hustles, so I'm trying to get better at the dance. Unfortunately, it makes less sense to me than pretty much any other dance, including the ones I don't know yet...

    My core question is, how do you actually lead hustle, of any variety? Although I'm still a beginner/improver overall, I feel I have a "reasonable" grasp of lead/follow in the other dances I do (variety of swing/latin/ballroom), but not hustle.

    Is there a body lead in hustle? Is it anything like the body lead in swing? It doesn't seem to be. In WCS (which I adore) I feel like I'm guiding the follower's momentum throughout (most of) the dance. In hustle it's more like we're walking around in ways that hopefully coordinate and I get some input into turns.

    Are the oppositional back breaks led, or does the follower "just do" them? And how do you create/guide momentum coming out of them? In a latin technique class recently I did learn about using a body lead to send the follower back before breaking back myself, but that takes an extra bit of time and most hustle (especially if it's &123) seems too fast to make it work.

    I'm interested in advice on rotational or slotted style or both. Around here, most followers seem to expect (by expect I might mean "backlead") rotational 4-count, so leading slotted is especially difficult as they will probably end up rotated over there --> swinging their arms and wondering what the heck I'm doing. But at an intermediate class before a social that I took recently, the instructor not only taught slotted 3-count but seemed to expect everyone to already be doing it. (Yet another thing I don't get about this dance -- when and why are people supposed to switch to 3-count when beginner classes teach 4-count? At least this guy's beginner class was slotted 4-count, so maybe slotted will catch on here).

  2. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    In hustle, you don't give the lady any momentum, it is all hers. At most you stop her and send her back in the other direction. The lady has about five step patterns she will use throughout the beginning and intermediate levels. The arms can change a lot, but the footwork is pretty consistent. All you are doing, pretty much, is giving her indications of which of those five step patterns you are hoping for her to do.
    Caveat lector. DW and I have only ever danced 3-count slotted hustle. I'm afraid the others just don't look right to us.

    I don't know where you are learning. Where we learned, in the SF bay area, there were pretty much three guys teaching all over. So there was a lot of consistency in the instruction. When we moved here, we first started seeing the 4-count hustle ("*** are they doing? :confused: "

    About the only instructional video I've watched, which is consistent with what I learned, is by Michele Kinkaid, but that is way old and probably out of print.
  3. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    I could be wrong, but I think 4 count hustle originated with a franchise as a way to teach absolute beginners. The &1 can be jarring for those who have never danced before.

    Try focusing on a good frame for the lead and always be poised forward. As demonstrated at the beginning of this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHzKab_Z7Ic You can lead the lady to back break comfortably whilst doing a second position/side break and rotating the frame.
  4. And if you learned in the Midwest, especially Detroit hustle with Barry Douglas :cool:, there is no jarring "&1"! That's at least in part because the follower moves forward on 1; the count is 12&3. Much much smoother, no pops and no hops tend to be developed with this count.
  5. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    My experience is that if you can lead any swing type dance, you can lead hustle. Proviso: we dance 4-count with newer dancers.
  6. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    In practice, I use the same principles leading hustle that I use when leading west coast swing. In particular, the stretch of hustle feels a lot to me like the stretch in wcs. My followers comment favorably on my lead. Disclaimer: Most of my followers are westies who cross over - I don't often dance with followers who specialize in hustle - and it might be that my westie/hustle hybrid lead feels more like what they expect.

    On the other hand, when I try to write down what I think I'm doing, to explain how it follows from first principles, I run into a bunch of contradictions. Which means that I don't know what I'm actually doing, don't understand the actual relationships of the movement, or I'm flat out doing something wrong.

    My answer would be to concentrate on learning a slotted style, but dancing socially allow rotation to occur organically. I was taught that a lot of the movements have a small amount of rotation built into them. But I was also taught that floorcraft trumps styling: If I can lead her to stay in the slot, I can lead her to go anywhere I want - specifically, someplace that doesn't have someone already standing in it.

    My guess: when they are ready to dance a ball-change instead of a rock-step; because the follower can respond to direction changes more quickly, and with more snap, if she's not over committing her weight to that foot.
  7. bookish

    bookish Active Member

    Thanks. That's what I needed to hear. Although it leaves me at something of a loss as to what to do if the momentum (particularly forward), isn't all "there".

    I do my best to keep my weight forward and keep my arms elastic. That video was a good reminder to only ball-change.

    To bring slotted moves into rotational style, do you imagine there is a slot and the slot itself is rotating? I hadn't thought straight slotted moves would survive a bunch of rotation being added, but I might be starting to get it.

    I'll think more about hustle being led like swing. Although as I said I'm not particularly advanced in anything, I think WCS is one of my "best" dances and hustle my worst, so I'm struggling with the idea of them being similar. It seems that the way to work with momentum is different, the posture is different, and the footwork and timing are different, so what's left? :) Some compression and side passes?
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Welcome, bookish!
  9. rbazsz

    rbazsz New Member

    It's unfortunate that most Hustle is taught with &123 because it leads to a very jerky style of dance. That count style also uses a ball change which makes it even jerkier.

    The more modern style which some people call "Nouveau" or "Los Angeles" is smoother and more natural because it uses 12&3 with a coaster step. I think a lot of the reason the Hustle has decline in popularity is the dominance of the NY style.

    In both styles the lead is very similar to East and West Coast Swing.

    Hustle is an awesome dance style but it's very difficult for people to learn the 3 count. Learning the footwork is almost a rite of initiation. I must admit it's sort of an ego trip to attend my group classes and see so many people struggle with it. Yeah, I suffered for months but I can do it now.

    For newbies my best advice is to stay away from NY Hustle. It's even more difficult to learn and it's jerky. Even worse it tends to encourage sloppy footwork.
  10. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Why would 12&3 be smoother than &123? The latter reigns in NJ, IME, where there is a good hustle community...I don't think I've experienced the former.

    Can't speak to leading hustle, but as a follower I finds it helpful to feel resistance and direction as I'm coming out of the & into 1, and then a clear "catch & redirect" on the other side.

    I'm no expert, just the wee bit that I commonly find helpful. In between...it's like flying if I'm in the groove with the count.

    WCS & hustle are great combos. Am very familiar with the "swustle" blend...and if there are some salsa elements thrown in..."spicy swustle" :)
  11. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Count out loud. Everybody laughs at you until they figure out they aren't learning as quickly as you are.

    In terms of timing and musical fit, nothing - you are dancing the same patterns with the same weight changes as before. However, the way you think about the dance will affect your movement....[1]

    In this case, my guess would be that the critical part is not that the students are taught "&3" instead of "&1", but rather that the students are taught "2&3" rather than "&1" - that the ball/press step is not the beginning of a movement, but a transition between movements.

    Also, turning the movement into a coaster is going to shorten the travel, a little bit. The student, instead of reaching forward or back, is placing underneath during the change in direction. You might get better initial control that way. The movement would also shorten the stretch? which might make it easier for the student to control.

    "2&3" also means you are thinking about rhythm units that cross the measure - universal unit system advocates will tell you that's a no-no; of course, these are the same folks who count the dance in 2's....

    I would expect that treating &1/&3 as an independent element makes it easier to express the music when that step falls on the downbeat of the measure.

    [1] Best demonstration I ever saw of this was watching a student couple dance hustle while the instructor counted out loud. Counting in 3, you could see the couple waltz, counting in 2, the waltzing vanished, even though the footwork was unchanged.
  12. rbazsz

    rbazsz New Member

    I agree. Everything is the same except the footwork. It sure feels differently however.

    The coaster step looks smoother than a ball change. Having said that I have seen very good NY style dancers look smooth. It could be that less skilled dancers don't know how to make ball change look natural.

    If you ask me the Hustle is difficult enough without worrying about making the ball change look natural instead of spastic.

    My instructor often puts a country waltz on and tells us to do the Hustle. The first time he did that I asked him if he put on the wrong music or if he wanted us to waltz. I thought he was insane and told him that doing this dance to a waltz was silly. He insisted I try it and found out it's far easier to do the Hustle to that music than to the Hustle.
  13. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I have danced plenty of hustle with &123 and 12&3...neither is more jerky or hoppy than the other. After you get going, they feel pretty much the same. Jerky-ness or hoppy-ness is a product of poor technique, from what i've seen.

    I'd agree with another poster who said it feels alot like WCS. There is a lot of crossover in terms of how it feels (and even the music). I feel the same stretching away.

    To me, hustle feels like I'm providing all of the momentum, and the leader is responsible for directing and redirecting it. Done well, it feels incredibly smooth and very natural and it feels like I have no option to go where he wants me to...because he has used the body angles and whatnot as preps and counter-preps to direct my steps and my momentum. It.is.awesome.

    I have heard (but can't attest to this, because I don't lead at all) that the lead for hustle has to happen on the "ah" before the actual beat. YMMV. But I can say that it is EXTREMELY noticeable if the lead is the slightest bit late, and it becomes very uncomfortable.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Since Danceelf brought it up (and I'm preparing to attend my second "universal unit folks" intensive)

    HUSTLE -
    (1) The Line Dance that started it all in the movie "Saturday Night Fever.” The Hustle Line Dance was danced to the music “The Hustle”. (2) The various forms of "Couple Hustle" that evolved in the 1970's included the Latin Hustle, New York Hustle, L.A. Hustle, Street Hustle, Same Foot Hustle and finally, the "3-Count" Hustle. (3) The "3-Count" Hustle was probably born out of the fact that there were several pieces of Hustle Music that were written in 3/4-time in the late 1970s.
    Teaching Note:
    (A) The majority of Hustle Music was (and still is) written in 4/4-time.
    The educated pulse and count is danced in “2-Beat” Rhythms. The 1980s Hustle was taught as a "3-count" dance, but was still danced to 4/4-time Music. (B) The musical COUNT for the Hustle does not change the pattern structure, but DOES change the Rhythm Pattern and the Pulse of the dance.
    (C) A great "experiment" for Hustle Dancers is to do the "3-Count" Hustle to a medium fast WALTZ. You will find that the pulsing of 3/4-time music FITS the Dance. The musical count for the Hustle is attracting favorable attention because of its strong connection to the music, which makes the dancer FEEL the rhythm and excitement of the music. The RHYTHM PATTERN is “Double - Syncopated Triple - Rolling Triple.” Each basic pattern is six beats of music.
    AUTHOR'S NOTE: Counting Hustle in “2-Beat” rhythms achieved wide popularity through the early efforts of Jamie and Gail Arias, and Tom Mattox.
  15. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Hmm, need to go hunt for examples.

    Wide popularity? I suspect that deserves a chuckle.
  16. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    Because &123 and 12&3 are EXACTLY THE SAME. But if people feel better blaming crappy dancing on math instead of crappy technique, whatever.
  17. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    Excellent! I'll use math as an excuse from now on. :p;)
  18. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    makes sense to me.

    i love the synchronicity of shooting out on the 1 every three measures... there's a certain harmony to that -- three steps, on the 1 every 3 bars. 12&3 might mathematically be the same, but if you dance 12&3, it syncs up differently with the musical phrasing.

    i find hustle challenging enough to get my bearings at times...trying to figure out where in the music to pick up the beat i've lost sounds like it would be trickier with 12&3. with &123, it's an instant correction at the beginning of a phrase, which my lead can get right away, and off we go! :)
  19. rbazsz

    rbazsz New Member

    No, it's not exactly the same. As I said, the &123 uses a ball change while the 12&3 uses a coaster step. It's actually quite different and it's difficult for dancers to go from one to the other.
  20. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    I'm not sure that distinction counts - you aren't compelled to dance a coaster step simply because you are counting &3.

    Although I agree if I wanted students to use a coaster, it would be beyond brain damaged to teach them to think &1.

    wooh, you are right that a rose is a rose, and whether we name the steps 12&3, &123, slow slow quick quick, or purple monkey dishwasher, the desired outcome is the same. Nonetheless, how we teach students to think shows up in their dancing in ways that matter. (Key clue: where are all of the 1&23 dancers? This count should be just as EXACTLY THE SAME as the other two.)

    I'm pretty sure that's an illusion. It is trickier with whichever count it is that you can do without thinking, so to speak. Whether its easier to start from the breaking movement or the non breaking movement is primarily a question about familiarity, and less I think about where you are in the pattern. (Disclaimer: thats a position very loosely held.)

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