Swing Discussion Boards > What was your first open-dance like?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Stradivarius, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. Stradivarius

    Stradivarius New Member

    So just after one lesson of learning pretty much how to count at Dance Manhattan, I worked up the courage to go see what an open swing practice session was all about. After all, lessons don't mean anything without practice, practice, practice. Wow, I didn't think there were going to be so many advanced dancers. I was expecting a bunch of us beginners. It was a bit unsettling at first but as soon as my partners found out that I was brand spanking new, they were nice enough to take it at my pace, and more importantly, encouraged for me to keep going back because, as one of the ladies put it, "We've all been there". Elena Iannucci, an instructor there, was especially good to me.

    Mickey Fortanasce and his partner really blew me away with a featured dance that they performed for us...wow, wow, wow...

    So what was your first open dance like? Were they just being polite to me, or do they really not mind that they're dancing with a newbie?
  2. It's Wonderful

    It's Wonderful New Member

    Oooh, I remember that. I had taken two ECS classes, and I went to a live big band performance. They play all sorts of dances - rumba, waltz, foxtrot, swing, tango, anything - and I thought I would never learn them all, let alone look good doing them! But the dancers were so welcoming, and I had so much fun, it was wonderful. Ah, nostalgia...
  3. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    There are a lot of "hardcore" swing dancers in NYC. They like to practice a lot and work on nuances. The practice session at DM gives them a chance to do that (and yes, Mickey is fantastic!).

    I go to a lot of the WCS practices (Dance Manhattan and Stepping Out offer them) for the express purpose of learning to dance with new dancers. My reasoning is that when I go social dancing, there will be advanced dancers, but there will be new people to. It's not fair to the new people, or really that fun, if I dance with the same top dancers over and over all night. I want to make it fun and welcoming for the new people, so I have to be able to dance with you well.

    The other reason I go to practice sessions is because I like to work on my basics a lot as well as weight placement and small nuances in my dance. When I'm working on something new or just want to slow it all down to work them out, it becomes very difficult to have an intermediate or advanced dancer putting me through funky, wild advanced moves. I need new dancers who are going to dance slower and lead more basic patterns. My being a body to dance with in the practice session also gives them something to work with...it's a win win situation.

    As for your question, I started lessons in WCS at Empire Dance. They had no practice sessions, but the instructor would allow me to stick around after the beginner class and watch the intermediate class. After three lessons there was a studio dance that was split with Hustle. The dance turned out to be primarily hustle, so I spent much of my time watching. But when there was WCS music, the intermediate leads from class would ask me to dance as well as some of the pros (even the hustle pros) would lead me through the basics. Everyone was very friendly. There are a few photos from back then with me looking like a deer in the headlights. A lot of the people I met back then have disappeared from the swing community and the dance shut down when the instructor left the studio (he's started it up again at 412 with more WCS leanings). Some of the hustle pros actually come out to our weekly WCS night and I've become good friends with some of them.
  4. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member

    Our experience in the ballroom world is the same. I remember it like it was six months ago.... Oh, it was just six months ago! Experienced dancers at our studio's practice dance were quite willing to do basic step with us when we were brand new. For you swing and salsa dancers who go to clubs, I wouldn't be surprised if the culture is a little different. But I'm of the understanding that at studio dances, it's rare to find someone who is unfriendly or unwilling to dance with a beginner.
  5. chandra

    chandra New Member

    Ayuh... I learned originally at our scenes only swing social-lesson night... The two dancers there who knew anything took me in and taught me... and dacned with me... Months later, I took my first class...
    My scene never intimidated me, because its a very small, and generally not overly advanced scene... Like I said, we have two good dancers, everyone else was beginners like me....
  6. It's Wonderful

    It's Wonderful New Member

    Yeah, my scene is fairly beginner-level too.
  7. Swingless

    Swingless New Member

    My first open dance was Upstairs at Jack's, now long gone. I'd had a couple of advanced basic classes at Dance-Manhattan and I'd never seen an eight-count move before and I was floored by the dancing! Many of the dancers on the crowded floor were dressed in 30's - 50's style clothes and I felt like I'd been whisked back in time. I knew I was pretty clueless but I asked someone to dance anyway, and she was very gracious about it. I left soon after my one & only dance that evening with 'Darktown Strutter's Ball' running through my head and I promised myself I'd learn how to swing.
  8. MAJ28

    MAJ28 New Member

    My scene was about 20% virgins, 40% begginers, and the rest experienced or really good. My first few weeks I chose my dances very carefully, trying not to get anyone really good that would be bored with my fundamental moves - which luckily for me there are/were new people all the time. Practice is extremely important, I wish I knew where I could go to just practice new things with people, no one really wants to at my local social - and there's really no 'new moves' or 'practice' time.

    With ECS (East Coast Swing), from one amatuer to another, it's a pretty tolerant dance, you can 'get away with' a certain level of bad form and still not look like a total fool. Whereas, I just tried Lindy and Blues for the first time and you have to be pretty good at the basic form or the dance just doesn't look right.

  9. randomMysh

    randomMysh New Member

    I don't know anything about Lindy or ECS scenes, but the WCS is definitely very welcoming to beginners and new faces in general, and that includes clubs. Being a New Yorker, you should really check out the Saloon (on York at 83rd), it's John Festa's weekly Wednesday night dance. They always have a beginner lesson beforehand, and everyone's very friendly.
  10. Bri

    Bri New Member

    I don't know yet. I've been dancing for 8 years and I just took my first real "lesson" last week. It was in WCS at Dance Manhattan. I knew the basic skeleton of the dance - how it should look and how it should feel - but I as sloppy. My instructor really cleaned me up. I stuck around for about 10 minutes of the practice session and i was floored at the calibur of dancers there. I don't feel confident going there just yet. I'm not trained in ECS any way other than a crash course in college and just dancing at clubs and I've never danced Lindy. After some more lessons (in WCS, ECS, and Lindy) I hope to get up the courage to walk in there and dance.

  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hi Bri. Welcome to the forums. :D
  12. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member


    WCS dancers in NYC are pretty friendly, and a number of the people who take classes at Dance Manhattan come out to dancing regularly. If you're not comfortable coming out to the Wednesday big nights, try the studio parties to start, Dance Manhattan's is on Frirday, March 3rd. A lot of dancers will be out of town at a convention down in DC though. At their party last month a large number of their new students came out to the dance and had a great time practicing.

    I'll assume you're taking classes with Autumn Bear. She's a fantastic instructor, you'll learn a lot from her. (Roberty Royston, the regular instructor is often on the road and she subs in for him, he's amazing!)

    There's also a dance the following Friday at SteppingOut studios the following week. You'll get asked ot dance plenty and the majority of us will be back in town.

    Hope I get a chance to meet you soon! Stick with it, it's a lot of fun.
  13. Stradivarius

    Stradivarius New Member

    I was at the Dance Manhattan open swing last night. It was so much more fun now that I have 3 lessons under my belt. It helped that two other people from our class decided to go too. And we got to meet some other newbies too.

    It was a member's birthday yesterday so she treated us all to some Viniero's dessert cake. Wow that was good. I love how down-to-earth everyone (students and instructors) in the studio is. I'm definitely hooked.
  14. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    When I did my first WCS open dance I had the feeling then and there that this would evolve into a fave. Sure enough did. :)
  15. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Wonderful :)
  16. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    I learned a few things during my first private. Then I took a group lesson, which scared the heck out of me. Then I took a dance party class that was a blast. The cool thing is that I met my instructor on the night we had our group lesson, and we clicked well even though he told me that I wasn't being sexy lol. But I realized that I had a pro and I knew that what you saw is what you got with him and I love that because I know when I am being sexy and am doing good things with him. There is no second-guessing with him in other words. And since then everything has been a blast. It doesn't matter how tired I am like tonight, because I will still go dancing. I just make sure to tell people that I'm tired so they know not to try a whole lot of fancy moves on me so I don't injure anyone lol.

    I have to edit to note that my first solos will be ECS and the Cha Cha!!!;)

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