Swing Mystery Solved

Easter Sunday Revelation!
Every once in a while we are blessed with a revelation that lights our way out of the cave of confusion. It happened to me on this past Easter Sunday, April 20th when I attended Joshua Castleman's FREE Swing Venue on the Third Street Promenade Mall in Santa Monica, Ca..The Promenade runs from Wilshire Blvd. along Third Street for three long blocks into the Pacific Ocean. And this is an exceptionally active area on weekends, with Venues of Swing dancing on one end of the block and Argentine Tango dancing on the other; break dancing on one end of the next block and a one man band on the other, and on the last block Exhibition Tango by Pablo Rojas and Makela Brizuela, and ending with a Disney type Little lady 4ft. 2", a colorful caricature of a Mother Hubbard dressed in a patriotic red white and blue costume, and with miniature chairs for the children she entertains with stories and games.
So I found myself tasting all the public varied segments of attraction along the Promenade with child-like curiosity and delight.
After reaching the Pacific Ocean I took a return walk for a second helping of free entertainment. The Tango Exhibition Dancers were so entertaining, I was compelled to donate to them my last five dollar bill, leaving me taxi fare. But when I reached the last Venue near Wiltshire Blvd., I experienced something very mystifying. I saw dancers moving in very creative configurations to Mambo music. I marveled at the great variety of Interpretive dancing before my eyes. Could this be the Salsa that I have been avoiding since my first exposure to Salsa at Jimmy Myron's Grand Ballroom a few years back?
As I continued to marvel at the various dancers, I began to recognize the performers as Swing dancers. For a few moments I was in the limbo of a mish mash of Ballroom dances; some seemed to be doing Swing, some seemed to be doing Cha Cha, while others were simply doing very creative Interpretive dancing. Then suddenly I saw Joshua and Michele doing their unique jazz moves that were rhythmic and exotic, but definitely not Swing. Then suddenly the veil of mystery lifted like a disappearing seaside morning mist with the sun breaking through and a Revelation finally solved this confusion that has been enveloping the Swing scene these past four years since my return to dancing after my 40 year hiatus from the world of dance.
What some Swing dancers have been calling 'An Evolution of Swing' is only a breaking away from the Swing Dance structure and just going into free style interpretive dancing, a completely different Dance Form from Swing. Occasionally the dancers would fall back into Swing and stay on the traditional Swing rhythm and mode. The Mambo dancers were looking like Swing dancers because Swing and Mambo moves are so similar, but they were dancing to the Mambo rhythm, not the Swing rhythm. Had I not had my varied background in all the Ballroom dances and had known only Swing, I too would have concluded that Swing was evolving.
To give you further evidence, of the confusion that some dance teachers are perpetuating to explain to variety of dance forms as 'Evolution' because they are unable to glean the grain from the chaff, allow a crystal clear example of the differences of innovative Swing dancing and Interpretive dancing that took place at Suzy Q that caught my attention only this past Friday night. Nick Williams, our regular Suzy Q dance Instructor, after class was teaching Kyle Smith, the DJ a very intricate but colorful Swing movement with the lady being gently pushed into a separating turn while the man spins and kicks, but returning to his partner without missing a basic Swing 6 count quarter beat in the intricate move; still staying within the integrity of the traditional 'triple triple 1-2' rhythm. While Kyle kept on trying the move under Nick's supervision, Just beyond these Swing dancers, I was attracted to Joshua and Michele dancing their modern Jazz free style moves. Joshua was not in the Swing mode at all, but his creative jazz moves somehow were transferred to Michele in subtle leads and I knew from Joshua's past performances these past years that he is a model of interpretive dancing mixed in with his Swing dancing that many of the other dancers are beginning to imitate; this trend of mixing two or three different dances in the same three minute song is not new; Balboa and Swing are often mixed together with Shag. But now Joshua is setting a new trend here in Southern California that merits attention to those who like variety and who can now enjoy expressing themselves with a complete freedom of dancing movements.
I'm certain that the integrity of Swing will always be with us, and mixing it up with other dance forms is NOT AN EVOLUTION as some would be Swing pundits would have you believe; It is just a mixing of different dances.
Thanks to that walk along the Santa Monica Promenade, I was able to receive this Revelation on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2003, which just happened to be the same day as my 80th Birthday.

Black Sheep www.lindybylanza.com

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