Archive for June 2012
I got no controversy today. No blathering. But here’s the highlights video from All-Balboa Weekend 2012. And I wish I’d a gone. That’s all. See you tomorrow!
So these discussions keep popping up all over the lindy blogosphere: girls are complaining that guys won’t dance with them unless they look like models. What the hell?
I decided to do some field research. I tracked down one of the youngest, hippest, cutest, awesomest rock-star leads in our scene, who chose to remain nameless, and subjected him to a battery of questions.
“Okay,” I said. “If you have the choice between dancing with a cute girl and one who’s just ordinary, which one would you rather dance with?”
He took a long moment, trying to figure out a nice way to say it. But there was no way. “The cute one,” he said sadly. We looked at each other for awhile as the enormity of that statement sank in.
Then I thought of something. “Well,” I said, “Say the cute girl is a total beginner and the ordinary girl is a really good dancer? What then?”
And then he said something that blew me away. “Sometimes,” he said, “it’s more fun to dance with a beginner follow than a good one.”
Whoa. Hold the phone. What’s THAT all about?
He explained. According to my source, sometimes, for a lead, it’s fun to try and lead things in such a way that a girl who has no idea what she’s doing can follow them. It makes a nice challenge, and it’s fun to try and make her feel successful. But it can actually be boring to dance with someone who just perfectly, predictably, robotically follows everything he leads, perfectly perfectly.
“I don’t go dancing just so I can do my same old moves over and over and show off,” he says. “It’s nice to be surprised once in a while. But perfect follows just do the same thing all the time. They just follow.”
Okay, well that actually made sense to me. “So what if,” I said, “the girl doesn’t just follow, but screws around and throws in her own stuff? Is that okay?”
“That’s way better,” he said.
“All right,” I said, bracing myself to hear the wrong answer as I formulated my last question. “Given a choice between a gorgeous beginner follow who looks like a model, and a so-so-looking but experienced follow who plays around and throws in her own surprises, which one do you pick?”
This time, he didn’t hesitate. “”That one,” he said. “The second one. Definitely.”
There you have it, ladies. According to my expert witness, gorgeous leads with mad skills prefer to dance with accomplished follows, no matter what they look like, rather than cute beginners, but only as long as the accomplished follow is creative and surprising with her dancing.
Does that make you feel better? Or does it just create a new problem?
Through New Vintage Lady’s blog I was made aware of this awesome post on another of my favorite swing dancing blogs. It’s more than a year old, so I feel totally out of the loop, but she’s talking about the awesomeness of solo jazz dancing, and she says it better than I ever could, so just read her post and let me know what you think
We post-feminists and latter-day Jazz Babies owe a lot to the New Women of the 1920s. To that intrepid brand of vintage female we owe the right to cut our hair, to show some skin, to wear makeup, and to do anything we damn well please with whomever we like without fear of social ostracism. And most indispensably, the flappers taught us to Charleston.
They achieved momentous things for us, and we should be grateful.
But not every habit bequeathed to us from the Jazz Age generation was beneficial. For example, smoking. The flappers made folks accustomed to seeing women smoking cigarettes in public. Thank you, but no. They also had a disturbing tendency toward giving themselves alcohol poisoning.
Nearly as harmful was what the flapper did to our spines.
Here is what fashionable posture looked like a generation before the flappers:
Here, in contrast, is fashionable flapper posture:
And here is what fashionable posture looks like today:
The visual record is clear. As dancers in a culture that places little value on the spine, we need to be flappers with our attitude, but Victorians with our posture.
Also, don’t smoke.
Here’s another way to think about footwork variations:
The basic lindy footwork (rock-step, triple step, step step, triple step) consists of eight beats divided into four sets of two beats.
On the first two beats, there is no axis change. What that means is that if you’re on your left foot when you do a rock step, you’ll still be on your left foot when you’re done. No axis change means you end up on the same foot you started with.
On the second two beats, there IS an axis change. If you’re on your left foot, after you do that triple you’ll end up on your right foot. Axis change means you change feet.
On the third two beats, no axis change. On the fourth, axis change.
So the whole lindy footwork pattern is two beats with no axis change, two beats with, then two more without and two more with. Got it?
Now what you can do is draw up a chart for yourself like this: Make two columns, and mark the first “no change” and the second “change.”
In the first column, list everything you can think of to do for two beats, and end up on the same foot. The first thing on the list should be, of course, rock step. What else? Try kick ball change, kick hold, double kick, hangman, swivel swivel, tap tap, leg sweep, and whatever else your brain comes up with once you get the idea.
In the second column, put triple step, and then anything else that takes two beats to get you onto the other foot. How about kick step, step hold, tap replace, sweep replace, kick ball change and, etc., etc.?
Then when you’ve got your chart finished, hang it up where you do your dance practice. Stick on your music, then without thinking about it too much, just pick one thing from column one and one thing from column two, and dance them together in a pattern. So your pattern might be kick hold, tap replace, kick hold, tap replace. Work it out, and when you’ve conquered it, pick another two and keep going.
If you really want to get crazy, use one set of moves for the first half of the pattern, and then pick another two moves for the second half. That might look something like kick hold, tap replace, rock step, step hold. Pretty awesome.
You don’t need to memorize these combinations. Just keep your chart where you can see it, and keep coming up with new combinations. Add more moves to the chart as you think of them. Once your body gets the idea, it will sort of take over, until you won’t have to think about combinations at all, you’ll just be able to screw around with steps and somehow end up on the right foot.
And guess what? That’s called improvisation!
Gotta crazy day today! Thank heavens this came across my desk – you all just watch this awesome clip, and I’ll be back tomorrow. See ya!