Swing Discussion Boards > Why so many regional swing dances?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by pygmalion, Aug 7, 2004.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    You know one of the things that, in my mind, separates swing from all the other dance genres? The fact that, in swing, pretty much wherever you go in the US or in the world, there's a unique regional variation of swing. In the DC area, you have hand dance. In Chicago, it's steppin. In Florida, it's beach bop (which is different from the bop we did in Philly.) In the Carolinas, it's shag. In Cali, it's West Coast. In France, it's Ceroc. And so on. So what gives? What is it about swing that makes everybody make up their own, rather than just get with the program and learn Lindy hop? (That's a deliberate over-simplification. :wink: :lol: )

    But the question stands. Why so many regional variations? Is swing dance really unique in that way? Why or why not?
  2. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    You should ask why there are so many styles of salsa too. I think it's just for the same reasons as that. Each place has its own identity and brain-trusts that they'll want to do things "their way" to make them unique to that area. Kinda like Memphis blues/jazz vs. New Orleans. Or Texas vs. NC barbecue. Usually given an environment, people will adapt: grinding would be different in Miami than it would be in ... say... Nunavut. ;)
  3. Doug

    Doug New Member

    Indeed. I don't know the salsa scene, but for years there has been a street swing scene that was divorced from the studios. I think that helped maintain the separate identities, and I think that in part this is what continues to drive seperate styles.

    I also think of most of the various swing dances as very different dances that are danced to very different music - they just happen have common roots and hence share the word swing.
  4. blue

    blue New Member

    Well, the lindy hop was almost extinct for some time. During this time remnants of it were used to form new dances. I think that is a part explanation of why it looks like it looks. If the lindy hop had not been revived, probably we would have been more likely to look at jive, ceroc, bugg etc. as separate dances rather than variants of swing - and then we would not have asked this question.
  5. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    I think that etchuck has it right.
  6. HepcatBob

    HepcatBob New Member

    Even within N.C. we've got 2 distinctly different styles of BBQ.
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    When I posed this question, I was thinking along the lines of a couple things.

    One, the lack on dance studio formalization probably allowed swing dances freedom to evolve along natural lines, unlike, say, ballroom, which has been pretty tightly regulated for at least the last fifty years. If left alone, I suspect most dance and music forms would evolve into something different. That's normal. A lack of evolution is the weird thing, in my eyes.

    Two, "swing" dances don't necessarily have a lot in common -- the music style and tempo can be noticeably different from dance to dance. The style, the basic steps are different. What do the dances really have in common? Music that is "swung" -- and even that not always, depending on whom you ask. :? Swing as it's used these days is really a catch-all phrase for a lot of people (with all due respect, not Lindy hoppers. For them, swing has a very specific meaning. 8) )
  8. Doug

    Doug New Member

    So pygmalion - yes "swing dance" is a catch all, but as a Lindy lead I find that I can successfully lead - with some minor accomodation - any follow who knows any of the other swing dances as long as she is able to cope with whatever the music tempo is - i.e. she is willing and able to MOVE IT. So the common roots do shine through

    OTOH, although I am a good Balboa lead, I can lead NO swing follows in Balboa or Bal-swing, irrespective of their specific swing dance of choice, unless they have taken at least some lessons. But I can lead some follows who have a ballroom background in pure balboa. Leading uninitiated follows in Bal-swing remains too hard for me.

    Thus, although I think of Balboa as a "swing dance", it remains a mystery to me why it is primarily a dance of the Lindy scene. Love of uptempo swing/jazz?? Willingness to work outside of studios? What would it be??
  9. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    Well, ballroom is much more formalized than swing or salsa to me. The dances there have been around "longer" and there have been set syllabi for quite a while. Competitions are all run with these syllabi in mind, and it is just about universally accepted that these figures are necessary before one goes into Novice/Pre-Champ/Open dancing (and thus that form of dancing can evolve). No one really social-dances ballroom to the extent that they do any of the club dances.

    But ballroom becomes the catch phrase for all of these varieties of dancing, just as "Swing" encompasses lindy/bal/shag (and even with much resistance west coast). You're right, the types of music that one does balboa to is much different than slower foxtrot-tempo ECS... but it's not impossible to do it (whereas you can't dance waltz to rumba music). Lindy begets WCS, so as I learn more lindy I see how much I can incorporate my WC patterns back to lindy. Yeah, that makes a few of the hardcore dancers a bit weirded out at me, but I just say, "I'm just doing swing", smile and move on.
  10. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    There is a set of jazz/big band music for which the tempo is really too fast to do triple-time dancing for lindy. In ballroom you can go from dancing foxtrot to quickstep if you knew what you were doing. But there is a limit to how much you can lindy when the speed is that fast.

    Also, there is historical reasons: as it has been told to me, back in the old days :) , there were local statutes prohibiting people from swing dancing (maybe because people were doing aerials with reckless abandon?), so balboa was "created" to circumvent that.

    For more info: history of balboa.
  11. Doug

    Doug New Member

    OTOH, I am surprised that more WCS dancers don't learn Bal. It would sure open up the range of tempos that they could dance to!
  12. rails

    rails New Member

    The way Steve Garrett (http://www.balboaswing.com/) tells it, many ballrooms in Southern California in the '30's had signs around that said "No Breakaways." That pretty much ruled out Lindy Hop. Pure Bal gave the kids a way to dance to the same music and not get kicked out of the dance. It also gave the guys a way to have 3-minute hugs with the girls while staying within the rules.

    That particular paradox has always amused me. Short of grinding I don't know of another dance that involves bodies pressed that tightly together for most (Bal-Swing) or all (pure Bal) of a song. At the same time the dance has this happy, wholesome feel.
  13. swinginstyle

    swinginstyle New Member

    I need an outsider to come to KC and tell me what our style is. Personally, I don't think we've developed our style of lindy yet. It's a mish mash of stuff. We do have 2-steppin' to call our own. This is not to be confused with what they do in Chicago.
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    See what I mean? :roll: :lol:
  15. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    Well, I'm going to try to learn balboa to see what the deal is. I probably can't help put slip into quickstep if that's the case... quickstep basics in really close position...

    I'm also going to need to buy some really good cushioned insoles.

    To really answer the question, I don't know... some might around here. The difference may be the age demographic. What would you think if an old person and a young person were dancing balboa if either person were new to dancing?

    Personally I like my dance space that I learned from ballroom. I would reserve the few dances in which I get that up close and personal with a dancer with someone I really know well. Balboa in my perception is just a swing version of lambada... except the music isn't sexy at all and thus... it's no fun for me. 8)
  16. setsuna713

    setsuna713 New Member

    I spent the last weekend at this dance workshop/competition called "Swing Fling". There was west coast, lindy, hand dance (it was in DC afterall) and hustle. I found that as long as I concentrated on following and not doing my steps like a machine, I could pretty much get along with all the leads (now this might not be fair since I do ballroom, lindy, and west coast so the only new stuff was hand dance and hustle, but that's how my weekend went).
  17. Doug

    Doug New Member

    Balboa is not really a sexy dance. The close position is required from a lead follow standpoint - the lead consists of moving the follow and at high tempo the choices are 1. close position and 2. frame of steel. The latter is not fun!!. BTW - I know that QS "standard" tempo is 200 BPM. What about 260 or 280 BPM?? Oh, and age differences are also totally irrelevant among Balboa dancers - 15 YO & 55 YO dance together is not an issue. Finally, Balswing is a relatively open dance although not nearly as open as Lindy.
  18. swinginstyle

    swinginstyle New Member

    For some reason, some of our westies really like balboa. Some westie/lindy crossovers hope that balboa will get more westies to cross over. I like the idea.
  19. suek

    suek New Member

    Balboa's connection is mainly chest/belly. Not hips/groin. Not grind-y.

    The lead/follow magic that happens in medium and fast tempos is amazing. Expands my definition of "sexy."

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