sWinging It – Week 19

sWinging It

Learnin’ to Lindy where everyone’s friendly

 

Weeks 18 & 19 (New Term)

Both these weeks have been very similar to me in terms of what I’ve done, (Manchester and Mersey each week, with some added social fun at Ruby Blues in Liverpool last Wednesday) and how I’m feeling about my Lindy at the moment.

Overwhelmed and frustrated!

This isn’t because the routines we have covered so far are too difficult. They are tricky (especially the Manchester ones recently) but I’ve found that by the end of the lesson I have it to a place where, if I could practice more, it would be ok. It’s just because now there is a lot more going on.

Take Mike and Kate’s routine from week 19. In that one session concepts that were new to me were:

1) Varying energy in the rock step to signal/get a ‘quicker’ cross over.

2) Leading your follow in a direction where you aren’t strictly speaking going yourself (right towards the end I felt like I’m kind of bringing the follow towards whilst moving out of the way at the same time and I’ll be honest I’ve still not figured that bit out).

3) Breaking the comfortable beginner pattern of ‘rock step, triple, step-step, triple’. I’ve come to the conclusion now that this basically doesn’t exist anymore. It’s the correct step on the correct counts to make sure you (and your weight) are in the correct place and you are moving nicely with the music.

4) Moving your connected hands in time with the music for certain steps (this was right at the end).

And that’s on top of actually learning the routine. Oh and there is most likely more stuff that was new that I’ve just forgotten about before typing this up.

There is SO much to learn. SO much to get better at. And I can’t learn it all.

This is where the feelings are coming from. Overwhelmed (and a little excited) by how much there is to learn and frustrated that I can’t do it. I’m a quick learner (I like to think) and when I don’t get something I will go at it again and again until it works. I can’t do that here.

It’s hard to practice these routines during social dancing when you are navigating the floor and you actually would like to fit what you are doing to the song (still working on that…). It’s impossible to practice completely at home unless you have a partner because knowing if you got something right relies so heavily on seeing your partner move and feeling the connection, especially when you are trying for compression and stretch.

I almost gave up Solo Jazz for a while to get a bit more social dancing action in the hopes of helping consolidate these things. Thankfully I realised that was crazy. Take the one thing I am getting good at and drop it to feel more frustrated about the other stuff I want to work on… Not my best plan.

I’m sticking with the Solo Jazz. In fact I’m pouring more energy into it at home again. I need to balance out the frustration. Fortunately, the Manchester p__p (censored) walk routine this week was a lot of fun and quite rejuvenating after a really tricky class. On the classes front I’ll just make sure I get a few things out of it to think about and work on. The reality is if I get one thing out of a class I’m making progress. I like to really learn everything and consolidate stuff so I feel like I know it (spot the internally competitive one…) but I need to realise this just ain’t happenin’.

So more Jazz and more patience.

Let’s see what the next few weeks bring.

Dan

sWinging It – Week 17

sWinging It

Learnin’ to Lindy where everyone’s friendly

 

Week 17 (New Term)

My week looked like this:

Monday: Blues (Basement Blues Manchester)

Tuesday: Lindy (Manchester Lindy of course!)

Wednesday: Lindy (Mersey Swing in Liverpool – I can see this being a new haunt)

Thursday: Lindy (Matt and Phreds – The Gelatos can swing!)

Friday: Pub with Lois, Kunnaya, Tom & Sam (This was a rest night, we didn’t even talk Lindy shop  which is a miracle)

Saturday: Lindy (Mersey Swing Winter Ball!!!)

Sunday: Learn the meaning of Swungover*

 

My body isn’t talking to me anymore. This was an exceptional week and I don’t think I can have another like it for a while!

Tuesday was a record for Manchester Lindy. There were countless beginners giving it a try. Apparently they were three or four (FOUR!) rows deep! I didn’t witness this because I was in the Improver class (I had M People – Movin’ on up stuck in my head which probably shows my age).

I won’t go into depth on what happened on Tuesday because I’m thinking of changing the format of the blog a bit. I’m going to just pull out things I’ve improved, discovered or thought about and how I’m feeling in general. This may mean fewer posts as progress slows down but I honestly don’t know. If this week is anything to go by I have a lot to talk about.

So onto things I’ve noticed:

Following is hard!

We did a bit of this in our lesson and I had done a tiny amount of following before (in a blues lesson) and so had a bit of an appreciation for how hard it is. It is very hard.

People I have spoken to talk about how stressful it is to lead because of the thinking ahead and having responsibility for the structure of the dance etc.

Follows just have a different kind of stress. As far as I can tell they are constantly on the back foot, expected to react quickly to a lead’s signals and can have little to no control over how the dance goes (depending on the lead). To me that is super stressful!

That said I’m not put off following. One of my goals (at some point in the distant future) is to get reasonable at following and be able to do switch dances** because they look like great fun.

Six count isn’t scary any more.

Something I started to notice in social dances this week is that somewhere along the way, my brain has become much better at picking up where we are dancing in the music. To the extent that a lot of the time when things have gotten ‘out of sync’ with starting on the 1; either through excessive six count or just fluffing something up, six count has saved me.

I can take an ‘uh-oh where am I in this song?’ panic situation and lead a bit of six count back to ending on the 8. The really exciting thing about this is that I’m not even consciously thinking about how many or what kind of six count moves I need to do. My dance brain just knows. This must be why all the more advanced dancers just look so effortless. Their dance brains must be bulging with stuff they just don’t need to think about anymore (editors note: no matter how long you’ve been dancing, you still get blank moments! However, we have tricks to help with this stuff, and now you are in Level 2 we’ll soon be sharing the secrets of 2,4, and 10 count moves – aka – ways to effortlessly get back to the 1).

This also gives me hope around things like recognising phrases and leading appropriately to the music for a whole song. At some point, if I keep bludgeoning it with social dancing, my dance brain will pick these up as well!

Solo Jazz is going to be HOT for the next few weeks.

The class was packed 5 rows deep and jammed from end to end. A note to whoever is planning Solo Jazz routines – if this carries on there will be no travelling moves possible! The Solo Jazz routine this week was great! I loved the kick ball change and jump into tick tocks! Oh and the Shimmys!

I cannot do a spin to save my life.

The techniques class in Mersey Swing covered this and I just can’t do it and keep balance (something new to practice at home methinks). I did discover I can do lock turns (thank you Solo Jazz!)

The Winter Ball is amazing.

So many lovely people, so many lovely dances, so much lovely cake!

I’m off to sleep for a week now and grow some new feet.

Dan

*A term coined by Bobby White? A hangover type feeling induced by excessive swing dancing, usually at weekenders etc.

** Dancing where both partners can lead and follow and will switch roles mid way through.

sWinging It – Week 16

sWinging It

Learnin’ to Lindy where everyone’s friendly

 

Week 16 (Magic Week)

Since the last week of the cycle had already been, this week was a bonus week. A sort of Christmas celebration plus extras. There was a beginners lesson on social dancing which was fun and I think especially useful for people who may have joined late and/or hadn’t had much social dancing experience. It was also lower pressure since it was a beginners class only social dance (although I did notice some level 2/3 people had snuck in 🙂 ).

Solo Jazz was not on this week which meant even more social dancing. Because a lot of people had already gone home or had other plans, the dance floor was not as pressured. Whilst this meant we didn’t get as much practice on the floorcraft front, I was secretly pleased because it does make dancing much easier.

I really enjoyed this evening! Watching the J&J was great fun and very inspiring. I was asked to represent the beginners as a judge but bottled it (I couldn’t bring myself to judge people given how little experience I have). This was a bonus because I really got to watch the dancers and clap along (on the afterbeat – I’m learning!). I had loads of fun looking at how they were picking up on different pieces in the music and watching how well some of the dances flowed. There was also a game of Lindy Musical statues (again good fun) and some Snowballs.

(Editors note: Scroll to the bottom of this post for the results of the J&J!)

So there were a lot of fun things going on and a fairly relaxed dance floor due to the increased space. All ingredients to make a great evening.

But the evening was even better than that. I would say the evening was definitely the best one I’d had in all my 16 weeks so far.

It wasn’t the activities. It wasn’t the dance floor. It was the people.

Most of the people there were regulars. I’d either been through the 12 week cycle with them, been taught by them, danced with them or been to the pub after/before with them. Considering how short a time I have been here there are now a surprising amount of people I would be happy to call a friend. I don’t know the ins and outs of all their lives but would definitely sit and listen sympathetically and gladly give them a hug afterwards. I’ve already been on the receiving end of their good nature and support.

When I turned up 4 months ago I expected to find a fun activity to see me through my first contract. I’ve ended up with a community I really feel a strong part of. I’ve ended up meeting people I really want to spend more time getting to know. I want to stay in Manchester. Lindy has changed my life.

Chances are pretty good I’m talking about you, the people reading this blog.

All the people that work hard to provide a great place to learn and grow.

The person with the amazing tattoos who was great about me blogging here in the first place and continues to be hugely supportive.

The person that danced with a rubbish beginner again and again (still does) and also happens to have awesome taste in music (and long, not short hair, it turns out).

The person that always seems to be the first to post about my blogs and is incredibly encouraging and funny.

The person that travels a really long way to teach or help every week and still stays out late after to chat (he’s also really nice).

The person who champions pre lindy pizza and always seems pleased to see you (when he isn’t insulting you on FaceBook).

The person who first invited me out to the pub afterwards and is always great fun when she comes along.

The person who always has some advice for me in rotation and happens to give an amazing hug dance.

The person who seems to insult everyone but is really a teddy bear underneath (he probably won’t like that description).

And so many more of you.

I was discussing with some other people what made this night so good and came up with the phrase ‘magic people’.

You are the magic people.

Thank you.

Dan

It’s been 16 weeks now. To know anything more about Dan I think you just need to go talk to him. He would be more than happy to see you.