Swing Discussion Boards > Why do people critique and boss me in West Coast?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Me, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    quite true. compliments, support, graciousness all-around. one gentleman has given a couple on-the-spot lessons, which were a saving grace in getting me started...but only after he asked if i was interested. and he was patient and very well-organized in how he handled it.

    have been having the time of my life with the jersey WCS scene in recent weeks...
  2. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    i agree. i would take such a comment as a huge compliment. there is most definitely a unique look to west coasties who've been doing it for awhile. takes time to acquire...just as with any dance.
  3. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    I think a good way to tell us how it feels is to follow everything exactly as it is led, even if it differs from what we intend. :oops:

    Haven't seen you around for a few weeks. Nice to have you back! :)
  4. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Of course, it doesn't. Yet, reading this thread lends credence that it is a widely known problem. I like the dance, FTR.
  5. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Angel Hi,

    Do you think the pro and advanced dancers in ballroom avoid dancing with mortals just to avoid this perception of snobbishness?

    Outside of instructors generating business, it is really rare at any ballroom dances around me for any advanced dancers to be there. Not that the recreational ballroom dancer isn't having fun, but the general level of ballroom dances here skips the really good dancers. The WCS community has everyone all combined on the same floor from total beginner to pro.

    The country bar near me has a "no feet off the floor" rule. I guess they always end up with lots of problems where good swing couples come in with some cool lifts. Then, everyone starts trying to imitate the moves, but doesn't have any idea how to do them and people got hurt.

    If there is somebody near me that can do some sort of cool move, I always wonder if I could pull that off. Actually pulling off that move usually requires a lot of walk throughs in practice, but I think it is human nature to try it a few times on the floor first.
  6. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Seriously, I have been in this business most of my life (I mean literally...since age 13), and I believe that there isn't a more snobbish bunch of people than BR dancers (though if you throw pretentious arrogance into the mix, AT might run a good race).

    I do not believe that the probleme that the OP was/is having w/ WC dancers is one of snobbishness or the like. I believe that it is from a lack of esteem and/or value. Also, WCS has morphed into a very inprovised mix of dance styles. This allows for many persons to eno****er moves/styles that are varied from something they know. And, this allows for many persons dancing something different from what might have been known oe intended. Knowingthis should enact the pompous dancer to just dance on, rather than to school, on the dance floor, the unsuspecting partner as to what someone believes to be a gospel truth in an improvised situation.

    Now, if the argument is that persons do not know this, then they shouldn't be schooling anyone on anything, and the point still stands. It is unexceptable for someone to incessantly be scorned and schooled on the dance floor about either dance at either time. Save it for when you (not 'you', but the antagonist), gets a teaching degree, and holds a class.
  7. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Yea, I think it is easy to underestimate how difficult improvisation really is. One would think the improve part would be the easiest part, but it really takes a huge tool chest of moves and tricks to pull off. I think WCS puts emphasis on musicality a lot earlier in the learning curve than almost any other dance. So I can totally see how both men and women get lost without a big enough tool chest to actually be improvisational.

    Then, it takes a lot of time on the dance floor to actually figure out what "follow the follower" actually means. There really is an art to learning to predict where a slightly botched lead or turn will place the lady. In between, there are lots of places to get lost and it is always easier to decide it is the other partner's fault.

    I hardly ever see anyone in the ballroom world focusing on playing with the music until they are just really damn good - they just dance along happily going right past musical changes in a song. If you could bring something from the advanced ballroom training world over to the swing world, what would it be? The difference between a good Waltz and a great Waltz is still musicality. How do you teach it to avoid the pitfalls that some WCS dancers fall in?
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    If we tried really hard, I think we could come up with a fairly short list of what it takes to "improvise" in West Coast Swing.
    The technique required to be successful at it, including the ability to have MANY of the components available without any consicous thought, would be a much longer list.
    While WCS is rhythmically more complicated that, say, Two Step, the principles are the same.
    The lists would be different for men and women.

    And, there is no
    other than "make something out of it".
  9. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    This is kind of an interesting statement. I would say Two Step has nearly identical rhythmic challenges, but a larger percentage of the dance population never get to the point of playing with them. While the basic step is six count QQSS, there are tons of eight count patterns that use QQSQQS. Plus, there are all the special patterns where a leader can throw in any number of Qs and Ss. Good Two Step dancers can play with the music by throwing in the best fitting patterns they know just like WCS dancers do.

    I would say though that making the step from just dancing along happy as a clams out drinking a beer to actually dancing Two Step to accent a song has many of the same pitfalls folks are talking about for WCS. Suddenly, the dancers have to spend a lot of time thinking through what they are trying to lead and why it isn't quite working.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I watch the people who don't stick to QQS S and they seem to always have no idea what the music is doing. But you are talking about "Good Two Steppers".
    My philosophy, which serves both me and my partners well is that if you stick to QQS S all the time, you can do any number of turns reverses, "windows"... whatever, and it works out because, no matter what you are on the "same foot" both when you start and when you finish.
    Now, I have no doubt that people are teaching stuff that uses other combinations of Qs and Ss. Remember that I am truck stop training, and I don't think I've ever had anyone try to teach that Two Step has more than one rhythm. The problem with variations in the step pattern is that you have to put it back together somewhere if it comes apart. Not hard to do? I just find it annoying.

    In West Coast Swing we have the Anchor Step and the Walk Walk. And frankly, if someone did triples in place of the Walk Walk, my only thought would be "wonder where she learned this?"; a student of Dean Collins or Joe Lanza?
    In WCS I'm often not concerned with the woman's "footwork", although I DO want to know where she is going (momentum / location of "center" / like that).

    I'm thinking in terms of "basics" such as: knowing how to pivot/spin in time to the music and in control of your axis, keeping an active connection with your partner throughout most of the dance, keeping the "thighs" together, responsiveness to a lead, being aware of and respecting the "slot", (etc ?).
  11. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I think Two Step is just like any other dance. Once partners have the rules of the dance figured out, they can spend a lifetime breaking the rules to take their dancing to new levels.
  12. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    I ... don't... get... two-step, lol. Just don't. It's the one dance I just don't get. Whenever, on rare occasion, I decide to dance it, I cannot follow it. It just seems so monotonous to me, I cannot hear anything in the music. There is, seemingly, no phrasing in it so I have a hard time knowing when to do quicks and when to do slows unless I just repeat SSQQ silently in my head the whole time.

    Playing and improvising in WCS is easy for me, always has been, but the two-step is sooo damned hard!:)
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    If this is the case, then the people picking the music must not be playing contemporary country western, because I often make some of my partners crazy (some crazy bad, some crazy good) by picking up on the variations in the music. NOT with the qq s s, but with "simple things" like intensity and length of steps, stringing together multiple spins and reverses of direction when the quicker (say 1/8 or 1/16 notes) sections come along, hitting breaks in the music, etc.

    Being that you are in Maryland (same place as that Laure' Haile DanceBook showed up from), wonder how active a CW scene there is. If you find it boring...

    Take a look at this page on CW Two Step in wikipedia, which is heavily referenced.
  14. interesting

    Wow, never even thought that appearance really mattered when you social dance. Then again, i've always noticed that i avoid the really decked out pretty ones... =^^=
  15. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    It depends. Regarding professionals (who dance all day): suppose you were a professional CPA, who spent your days auditing books. Would you then want to go out the evening in your spare time...to audit more books?
  16. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    welcome to DF, dancedesigner
    speaking as a ballroom dancer, have to say this just seems like a logical starting point... wear the right shoes for the dance. i wouldn't wear my court shoes for latin or my latins for WCS. and if i did, i can imagine it would be like wearing a giant scarlet "N" for "Newb" from ballroom set.

    glad you found a secret that made the difference for you, though, so you could merge and be accepted by the group.
  17. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    thank you
  18. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I think you may actually be on to something.

    However, I'm not sure the effect is entirely in the others, though that is probably a big part of it. But what you wear can likely affect yourself as well. I'll tell you for a fact that I dance better in a tailsuit.
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Hello, dancedesigner, and Welcome.

    Does this mean you took lessons from Skippy in Downey? She had other sudios, too, I
    If so, I'd be interested in hearing more!
    In particular, do you remember what kind of music she used for WCS lessons in the early 70s, and what people danced it to in general. I found written records from New York listing one song for "Western Swing" as it was known before becoming WCS, and I've got a list of songs that Laure' Haile used.
    Skippy doesn't mention any music in her books.
  20. GJB

    GJB Well-Known Member

    The analogy seems a little off to me. Auditing is auditing. Teaching dance is not the same as dancing for enjoyment. In a lesson, there is plenty of talking and explaining, dancing a single figure or short combination. Often you don't even dance to the music because you have to share the music with everyone in the studio. But, maybe if I were a teacher I'd think differently. I don't know. That said I program all day long. And, the first thing I do when I get home is turn on the computer. And, sometimes I do program at home on my own time. And, I often read books and articles about programming to learn new things.

    Edit: What I could understand is being to tired to go social dancing.

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