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 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 šŸ™‚ ).

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.

sWinging It – Week 13

sWinging It

Learnin’ to Lindy where everyone’s friendly

 

Week 13 (Lesson Week 10)

I feel like I’ve passed a milestone. I was asked how long I’ve been doing Lindy for and couldn’t remember how many weeks I’d been coming here so I said “a few months”. I can’t explain why but this feels good (probably just a tiny little beginner ego trip). I now measure my dance experience in months. I suppose I am a Lindy toddler?

Continuing the analogy, I am starting to feel like a toddler on the dance floor too. This is good and bad – I’m comfortable with my footwork on the moves I know so I’m starting to experiment a little bit (good), starting to explore a bit more (good). Like a toddler I have no idea what I am getting myself into (bad or just normal?) and thinking about other stuff sometimes messes up the basics again (bad)!

I tried a lot more 6 count and didn’t force it into sets of four (which brings you comfortably back to 8 count on the ‘1’). My brain does not like this and I’m aware that it isn’t working well most of the time but fortunately all the advanced follows are very understanding or way too polite. They are also very good at keeping rhythm and pulse which saved me a lot of times when it went wrong and I had to try to reboot without actually stopping everything. It’s frustrating but I haven’t had a tantrum or cried. Yet. I don’t know what a Lindy hopper tantrum looks like but it’s probably something that should be done in private. Certainly not on the dance floor.

We did swing outs again in the lesson this week but this time with different teachers (Andy C and I think Lisa). This meant an emphasis on different things so still lots to learn! We also covered swing out from open (score!) and had a variation thrown in (double score!) I have some questions on swing outs from open that I didn’t have time to grab someone about this week (I rushed off to change for Solo Jazz). They don’t feel right, or my expectations are wrong. They don’t seem to swing like the ones from closed do. I’m booking a slot on the clinic next week to cover that off I think. I got some more advice from Chris in the rotation so thanks again! If he had a pound for every thank you I owe him he would have enough for a good session down the pub.

Solo Jazz was awesome. Taina was teaching again and we covered the second part of the Tranky Doo so I was really pleased! It has an Eagle Slide. Eagle Slides are cool. It also has 8 counts of freestyle, the catch being you have to have your weight on the correct foot for count 7. Taina showed a few different ways to do this (and I’ll practice as many as I can remember) but I tried to actually decide when it came to that point i.e. actually freestyle. This didn’t work as well as I planned but I did discover that when my brain freezes that Tick-Tocks are my default jazz power. For some reason this makes me think of Sylar from Heroes.

I’ve decided to drill a set of moves that I can do during that freestyle so I have a box of tricks that my brain can just pick from and minimise the thinking time. In addition to this I want to spend some time on really trying to get better at moves (I’m looking at you Applejacks and Bracking), rather than routines. All this is eating into Solo Jazz time that is full of all the routines I’ve learnt over the last 12 weeks and counting. Something’s going to have to give but deciding what is hard!

Social dancing was fun but packed, so very much an exercise in Floorcraft. Floorcraft does not come naturally to toddlers but given it has been busy a few weeks now I am getting much better at things like looking over my shoulder before swinging out my follow. I heard it referred to as ‘Checking For Tigers’ a few weeks ago*. Not only is it an amazing term, it is also very memorable which has helped me to actually remember to do it! Even with my more cautious approach there were some scary moments and a lot of swing outs ‘pulled**’ short. Those tigers are damn sneaky.

I have tons to look forward to next week. Tuesday lessons, hopefully including a clinic session (I hope I get a slot!), the Manchester Lindy Christmas Party (WOW!) and, because I’ll be in Manchester that Thursday evening, hopefully some more swing dancing at Revolution de Cuba!

I’m all giddy with excitement.

Dan

*This was from someone who I have danced with before but, unsurprisingly and embarrassingly, I have not stored her name. Fortunately I have a pre-booked dance with her for next week as she couldn’t dance this week because she had been, in her words, “Destroyed in a workshop with Frida and Skye.” So until next week (and let’s face it, probably for a while after given my track record) she is the FridaSkyeTiger Lady.

**For people new to Floorcraft – don’t pull! Just tense your arm and don’t let it come out so far in front of you – the follow feels the compression and stops. They might also spot that something is wrong when you look at them with a bit of panic in your eyes – at least that’s what I am doing! Check out the Swungover video on Floorcraft for some more handy tips (and a better explanation).

 

Dan, would you like to dance?

Music to my ears, yes I’d love to! It’s been a while since I used this blog to beg for someone to dance with. I also like to chat. So if you spot the guy with impeccable style and taste on the side of the dance floor, look past him at the guy with the dodgy beard and ask him to dance or just go up and talk to him. Warning, if you chat for too long he will end up asking you to dance as well!