sWinging It – Week 15

sWinging It

Learnin’ to Lindy where everyone’s friendly

 

Week 15 (Lesson Week 12 – last in the cycle!)

Before I jump into the last week of my first cycle (OK I started week 10 of the one before but I don’t think they count), a quick aside on the Christmas Party.

I had a great time! Pretty much everyone was dressed up (myself included) and up for a good time. Dancing to a live band for the first time was fun and challenging. I need to work on my fast Lindy. I did a lot of Charleston and was very pleased I’d learnt some 20’s Charleston at one of the MSDS* lessons. I was also very thankful for the few blues lessons I’d had on some of the tracks so I guess I could do with learning some slow Lindy too.

Other than dancing with loads of people and catching up with loads of people (and eating loads of cake!) my obvious highlight has to be coming runner up in the Lindy Hopper < 2 years category! I’m not sure if this was because of my dancing (really?) or my blog (they did say service to the community) so I’m going to pretend it’s both ;-). All of us got to start a snowball afterwards and snowballs are cool so that was fun!

(Editors note: Full results are over here!)

Congratulations to everyone who won or came runner up in all the categories and thanks to everyone who put my name down!

Week 12 was about musicality. Andy C and Sophie talked about a common structure for some songs. AABA – Each letter has 4 x 8 counts and different letters have a different feel and so call for a change in the dancing style. For example we did 4 lots of ‘normal lindy’ to each A and a set of 4 Charleston moves to the B. We also did some solo jazz at the end of a phrase (a set of 4). This was very enjoyable but I suspect will take some time to make work in the social – I’d need to start recognising a song as AABA in order to change the style and also find some way to communicate to my follow we were going to do something different at the end of the phrase (which also requires recognising and planning for the end of a phrase). Well at least I’m one step closer because I’m actively listening to the music again!

Solo Jazz was another great routine by Amy. I found this one tricky towards the end as I just can’t get the timing right going into the last break and I didn’t grab the name of the track to practice with (which really helps with knowing if you are out on the timing at that point). Facebook has fixed that (thanks Amy!) so I now know when I am nailing it and can practice comfortably at home. The only downside to Solo Jazz this week was my complete failure in bringing a spare top which meant I spent a good part of the start of the social dancing drying off in the window (eew).

I did a lot of dancing during the social and had great fun. Without going into details I’ve got a lot going on at the moment so I needed lots of dancing and the floor was happy to provide. 3 minutes of a song with nothing but the music and your partner to concentrate on is a wonderful antidote to life. Or as one person put it recently, ‘Lindy makes everything better. Science Fact.’ I 100% agree.

Afterwards a group of beginners went to the pub to celebrate the end of 12 weeks along with who I now think of as the regulars (myself included). It was a great way to celebrate the end of 12 weeks. I got a lemon beer in the Gas Lamp. It was amazing! My wallet didn’t appreciate it quite so much.

Next week is the last week before the Christmas break. No lessons just fun including a J&J ( Jack and Jill**). This is where leads and follows are randomly paired and perform a social dance (or more than one) in a competition. Not sure I’m ready to take part in this yet but will enjoy watching it!

Dan

*Manchester Swing Dance Society. I’ve mentioned them before – they are a great group of people (most of which tend to come to Manchester Lindy at least occasionally).

** Jack and Jill presumes gender in the roles of lead and follow so some people refer to it as J&J. Given I’m not a fan of gender stereotyping in any form I will go with J&J or any other gender neutral term.

If Dan was a lindy move which would he be?

Lindy Circle. Every time he thinks he is going somewhere he ends up back at the start! This is a reference to his dancing but could spookily be a metaphor for life. Anyway he is working up to a promenade (with pecks of course!)

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Swinging It – Week 12

sWinging It

Learnin’ to Lindy where everyone’s friendly

 

Week 12 (Lesson Week 9)

I’ve got to be a rug cutter, SWING OUT in the groove!

Wonder what this week’s lesson was all about?

I’ve been waiting a while for this lesson. My swing outs from open and closed were based on stuff I  remembered (badly) from lessons during my first few weeks, some internet searching (because once I saw them being done I had to learn them) and lots of practice. I’ve been feeling over the last few weeks that my swing outs were getting better and better.

My old swing outs were lame. My new swing outs are awesome*. I will probably be repeating those statements several times for the rest of my life.

I could go on about the details of the lesson but there is so much covered (it took a whole session) that I couldn’t explain it properly. Which is a nice segue into the first of the two most important things I learnt this week.

1) Youtube + practice is useful for learning but is a very poor substitute for having a solid teacher right there. Having someone stop you and your partner part way through the swing out and tell you what you should be feeling worked wonders for me. These bits are crucial to getting the physics of the move right and when I felt the move working, my academic geek** and my dance geek exploded at the same time!

2) You can think you have something down when you really don’t and that’s okay. This point was not based on the swing outs as I knew they weren’t really right. I did, however, think my lindy circle was pretty solid. Thankfully I had Chris as a follow in rotation early on and he showed me how I’d been stepping wrong. They now flow much better (thank you!). I expect to be making improvements to every move I have or will encounter for a long time. Swing outs even more so.

So now I’m dead excited about the next lesson, because I so want it to include swing outs from open.

I skipped Solo Jazz this week. They were covering the Shim Sham. If I hadn’t already learnt it for last week then I would definitely have gone along as it seems to be the most played social dance jazz routine. Plus it’s cool. That said, me and the break step decided to take some time away from each other after last Tuesday so I gave the lesson a miss. I still joined in (with everyone else) when it came on during the social though. I mean it is the Shim Sham.

This meant more time for social dancing. This was nice because knowing you have an extra 45 mins seems to calm things down a bit. It was nice to sit and chat to people. I met a nice phd student (they are everywhere!) who’s subject I can remember but name I can’t. I also caught up with a few other people. Don’t tell anyone but we talked about stuff that wasn’t dance related.

The dances during the social were also great fun! Obviously I practiced my swing outs. They are so much swingier (it’s a word now) when you get that tension in the arms! I enjoyed every dance and I keep trying to look up from the floor. At the moment this feels like it’s going to be a lifelong struggle!

One thing I did notice is that three times I got caught out when a song ended before I thought it would, which often meant I just finished a song in closed and did a quick Jazz Hands to cover it up. That’s what they are for right, kind of like pouring loads of icing sugar over a cake you just burnt? This is the complete opposite to last week where I was getting caught out thinking the song had finished when there were at least eight more counts. Clearly I need to work on recognising this, as per Paula’s great advice last week. Ending the song appropriately is clearly part of the demon that is musicality.

Also worth noting is I took a Blues dancing lesson this week on Monday. Already my posture is a bit better (I would hope so as that was the point of the lesson!). Also, given how slow the music seems compared to what we generally dance to on a Tuesday, I’m learning to be more relaxed, more flowy (also a word now) and to actually fill out the counts rather than rush them. I’m sure this will bleed through into better Lindy too.

I’m off to watch Strictly. I hear they are doing a different kind of dance for the pro routine this week. It’s an awesome dance form and I am in no way biased 🙂

Dan

*Relatively speaking. Plus we haven’t covered swing out from open yet and I am super excited because now my swing out from closed is much better my ones from open feel very limp.

** It’s been over 10 years since I got my degree. Any mention of physics now excites me disproportionately.

What does Dan do when he is allowed out of his ‘Quiet time box’?

Other than dancing and working, Dan loves to play board games with his friends. There is a whole world out there beyond monopoly where you can work together to fight global diseases, build your own space empire, or act like proper Romans by making gladiators fight and stabbing your friends in the back. My current favourite is Dead of Winter. A game where you can fight zombies as a ninja (or an accountant!), hoard medicine whilst your friends look at you suspiciously and face the moral dilemma of whether or not to kill a horse for food. Don’t ask what’s in the stew…