Swing Discussion Boards > West Coast Newbie

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Mawmaw, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    WCS is a real small scene where I live. There's only one weekly event - and I rarely attend it because of all the cliques. The normal way of trying to get a dance by standing on the edge of the dance floor hardly works, because all the clique people go way off the floor to hang at the bar, where they invite each other to dance. So by the time they walk back to the floor, they already have chosen their partners. And of course they won't let anyone new hang in their group.

    I saw some of these same people at another dance, a non-WCS event. Even there, the clique stuck together and didn't dance with anyone outside their group. I tried to converse with them, but they looked at me as if I had three heads!

    Luckily, there are two local studios that have California Mix dances so I can practice my WCS. One of them is the studio where I took lessons, so I see a lot of my fellow students and can dance with them. WCS is absolutely an awesome dance, so creative, I love it. Don't know why some people throw an attitude about it, though. :confused: It does seem different in certain places. DC, as I mentioned is very friendly.
  2. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    Speaking as a baffled Californian, what is a "California Mix"? :confused:
  3. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Hi Jennyisdancing, That cliquish feeling I think comes from how much more important connection is than in ECS for instance. In ECS, I can actually lead some pretty fun stuff with ladies who do not dance much. WCS has even cooler moves, but it does require the connection be there. If it isn't then it is hard to just dance basics. So Westies tend to migrate towards other known Westies.

    I like dancing with everyone. So I don't fall in the everything can be danced WCS crowd. I just pick what seems to fit the music.

    The entry time for a guy is a little steep to get in the accepted crowd. However, once I was in there are a lot of super nice people to dance with. I guess it is like that in so many activities.
  4. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    In this state the WCS crowds are generally friendly and even when there are snobs there are plenty of others who are happy to dance with you.

    I have been told that on the east coast that dance crowds in general tend to be quite snobbish, but never having been on the east coast I don't know how true this is.

    Which reminds me, I understand that WCS on the east coast is suppose to be different from that on the west coast, but don't know in what way.
  5. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Like how they don't say "French Fries" in France, right? :p

    To answer your question, West Coast Swing is not popular enough in my area to have an entire dance of nothing but WCS. So they they have "California Mix" which is about 50 percent WCS songs, and the rest is a variety of hustle, cha cha, East Coast Swing, country two-step and waltz. Don't know why they call it California mix though.

    And kayak -

    I firmly believe that you can have a great connection and do "fun stuff" with a dancer you just met. I have done that many times at WCS conventions, and so have my friends. I guess it depends what you mean by "cooler moves". If they are leadable moves, then you should be able to do them with anyone who has sufficient skill i.e. not a beginner, shouldn't you? Or are you saying that you don't feel comfortable enough to try improvisational moves with people you don't know?

    I guess I'm a little confused by your post. It sort of sounds like you're describing the clique as "the people who know how to dance WCS well" as opposed to beginners who just don't know the dance. That's not the situation I was describing in my local venue. In my case, the clique just doesn't dance outside their own group, even when the non-clique members are good WCS dancers. I can understand wanting to dance with your friends; we all do that. But to insist on spending the entire evening only dancing with your friends and refusing to mingle occasionally, I just don't agree.

    ETA: I just remembered..at another venue, I had a situation that might further illustrate. I was at a dance and saw a guy standing by himself for a moment, so I asked him to dance. He led basic moves pretty well, but then he tried to do some other oddball things that I had trouble following. He apologized to me at the end. I danced with other people and had no trouble. Then later I was sitting down, and saw that guy dance perfectly with a few other ladies; they were people that he clearly knew and they were familiar with each other's moves.

    There are some dancers like that; they don't want to deal with the unexpected, so they don't mingle. That is too bad because I think it's an essential skill in WCS to be able to connect and dance fairly well with anyone, familiar or not. That's the whole idea behind Jack & Jill competitions, isn't it?
  6. Mawmaw

    Mawmaw New Member

    Spitfire, you mentioned that WCS was different on the West Coast than on the East Coast.... I'm learning to I don't know for sure, but when I took lessons at the AM studio it was definitely different. I believe what Jennifer is teaching me would be the same as the West Coast version of WCS. So I think I am ok there because that is what I want to learn.... the West Coast version that is....
  7. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Oh yea, anything I know how to do, I can lead with someone who knows enough and have a absolutely awesome time. I always start with easier stuff and work my way up with new partners. If we are having fun messing around, that is when I experiment with any fun new moves I have picked up recently.

    I was just mentioning that WCS assumes the lady knows her part more than ECS. So the connection I was talking about is the compression, leverage, slot concepts. In ECS it is much easier to just kind of bounce through any missed leads or follows and still have a cool looking, fun dance.

    So I think Westies tend to assume the outsider isn't going to know about the dance and tend not to ask outside of their known circles. It can make the group seem stand-offish by mistake.

    In the Colorado area, if someone even shows some WCS training, they are pretty well in and get asked to dance. Certainly, the friends circles dance more with each other than other WCSers. I have my circle of favorite dancers just like they do. Still, most are pretty willing to go dance with anybody.

    We do have a pretty large group of true Westies that dance WCS to anything that isn't a waltz and probably even some of those :D My personal preference is to vary the type of dance to the music; although I have been known to dance WCS in some salsa clubs. I'm sure that doesn't make me a pure blooded Westie :cool:
  8. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    certainly sounds like your group is way more friendly than in my area, kayak. But I guess I am still a little confused as to why there would be an assumption that outsiders don't know the dance. Are you talking about events which are mostly non-WCS events, such as a ballroom dance where they only play one or two WCS songs? That would make sense, if it's in that context.

    But in my area, I am referring to dances that are specifically WCS events, i.e. all the attendees are "Westies" to begin with and most of the songs are for WCS, yet there are still cliques within that. It is in that context that I disagree with a refusal to mingle.
  9. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I was talking about open dances or club dancing and not WCS specific events. At the WCS events, everyone knows some level of swing. Then, we get split by groups of friends and level of ability. The advanced and pros will dance with me a little, but obviously prefer their own level.

    As for me, I am always just excited at how many cool dance things I actually do know. So I dance with everyone :)
  10. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    <lol> Thanks for the explanation, jennyisdancing!
  11. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    YW. So now I just had to know where the term came from. A quick search found this guy, a New York dance DJ named Greg Parmerton. His site says he invented the term "California Mix" in 1995. The idea seems to be pretty widely in use for dances in the NYC, Philly & DC areas.
  12. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    Interesting! I think I shall start circulating the term "Philly Mix" over here. :)
  13. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Yay! :banana:
  14. Silveralsa

    Silveralsa New Member

    Lol, I know you feel. I started Ballroom/Latin in 1998 and did it for two years, and started Lindy Hop in 1999 at same time. I stuck with Lindy and dropped ballroom because of what I liked best. I'd tried a very tiny bit of WCS during ballroom, but always did Lindy since was my forte. Then, about 5 years ago I went to a WCS club here in So Cal, and just fell in love with it. I tried doing Lindy at same for a couple years, before I had to take a year break off. Then when I came back, I decided to only do WCS. I want to pick up Lindy again, but I wanted to focus on my WCS technique. I found that my heavy Lindy background was REALLY effecting my WCS, so I looked like I was doing a blend of both.

    In dance, you have to do what you love. You can always pick up others or return to it later, it's not like marriage ;)
  15. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    Ballroomer here. Was there something missing in ballroom that you found in swing? :)
  16. Silveralsa

    Silveralsa New Member

    Well, I like the more improv aspect of Swing, and just the style of it really fits my personality and natural body movement. I look like an idiot doing the latin dances, no matter how well I got the moves/footwork down. I can't do latin hips very well no matter how hard I try, cause they just move different. I'd like eventually to do some ballroom again, but that'd be way down the road. I did like American Smooth the best, specifically waltz. I miss that, but thankfully NightClub has kinda a similar feel, so it satisfies that for now :)
  17. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    I like the emphasis on improvisation in swing. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to really get into it and give ballroom, my one true love, the attention it needs. So I'm trying to bring the things I've learned about improvisation from swing into ballroom.
    Nightclub 2-step? Hmmm, I guess I've tended to feel it was closer to samba. On the other hand, everything I need to know about nightclub 2-step I learned on Youtube. :oops: ;)
  18. Silveralsa

    Silveralsa New Member

    Lol, well, the footwork is more like Samba with the cross-behind.. however, it has the smooth floating rise/fall feel of Waltz that I love :) I don't get to dance it too often. The place I go for WCS only does one song every hour practically. Then, it's a mad hunt to find the rare guy or two who dances it before they get snatched by someone else...
  19. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    Good point! I guess it does feel more like waltz. I don't dance NC2S with my hips bouncing...at least I don't think I do... ;)
    Awww, I'm sorry to hear that. I suppose you could go to a ballroom venue for more NC2S, but then you'd get less WCS (and likely bad WCS at that!).
    It probably works the other way around, too. Some guys are searching frantically to snatch you. ;)
  20. Silveralsa

    Silveralsa New Member

    Lol, yeaaaaahhhh..... ;)

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