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!

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sWinging It – Week 11

sWinging It

Learnin’ to Lindy where everyone’s friendly

 

Week 11 (Lesson Week 8)

The awesomeness this week started before Lindy. Having missed out on 3 Shim Sham routines (once on a Tuesday and twice when we were in Piccadilly train station last Wednesday) I decided that I would nail the routine. I thought it shouldn’t be too hard because Taina had already taught a good part of it earlier. The actual Shim Sham and the Cross Overs (If that’s what they are called) I already had down so I just had to learn the others. Turns out the break step is a £$”$^!

Fortunately Taina also found my online moaning about it and pointed me to another of her great videos (there’s one Facebook friend worth having, like some kind of Lindy superhero 🙂 ). Late Monday night I finally managed to do the routine without falling over and/or looking like I was having some kind of jumping fit. You could argue that I should have been sleeping but I maintain that I had my priorities right.

Beginners lesson was run on a much more sensible amount of pizza. This was good because it turned out to be Charleston. Charleston in a very hot and packed room. It turns out the pied piper of Lindy had summoned around twice as many advanced and beginner Lindy hoppers. I do feel sorry for the committee because they looked like they were at least one person down and dealing with twice as many people and a guest teacher (more on that later). I still really enjoyed my evening so I’m guessing between Taina and the Committee we have a Lindy Hop version of the Avengers.

The Charleston lesson mainly involved kicking and turning. I didn’t catch the names of the moves. In a room that busy there is a lot of background noise so even with the instructors (Amy and Andy W BTW) on microphones it was difficult to hear everything. I started the lesson finding it really tricky to get these down  (I normally get it at least vaguely right). Part way through I re-assessed what to focus on (balance!) and it started coming together.

This has led to me to thinking about a kind of Hierarchy of Needs for learning a move / dancing in general. This is how I’m currently thinking about it. Get ready for an aside where I try to trick Paula & Co. (and you) into dishing out some free thoughts/advice on dancing technique/philosophy 😉

Balance

Like I said earlier, I realised this during the lesson. Once I sorted out my own balance the rest became a lot easier. I also reckon that if you are sprawled out on the floor you aren’t dancing.

Footwork

If I can get my footwork down then I can at least dance in the same direction as my partner. I also learnt early on (week 3/4) that if I don’t have my footwork down my brain obsesses over it and ruins everything else!

Floorcraft

I snuck this in. OK you don’t need Floorcraft to learn a move but if you want to actually dance it without killing people then you do. I also reckon that if I can stay standing up and moving in the direction I want to then I am ready to be responsible for not hitting anyone else. Especially if doing Charleston. Nobody likes to be kicked…

Rhythm & Pulse

I’ve had moments where I’ve missed beats and had to get back in time and they can really disrupt things. I’ve also had one or two moments where my brain stopped working and I managed to be crazy out of time. I wasn’t dancing with my partner, the music or basically anything in the universe. These moments actually feel wrong. It’s horrible.

Also I know I’ve gotten somewhere with learning  a move when I do it and my triple steps are going in the right place and are nicely syncopated in line with the music i.e. they Shoop-De-Doo instead of Bang-Bang-Bang (sorry for the use of such technical terms…)

Frame

Given I only have a vague understanding of what this is I could have this completely wrong. During the Charleston lesson when leads and follows were kicking in the opposite direction then ‘pushing’ off each other’s hands I really noticed when the follow wasn’t offering much resistance/compression. Maybe I’m a dance gorilla (I hope not!) but there were a couple of times when I pushed my hand through theirs on the turn and struggled to spin around on time because I didn’t feel any compression, which threw me. I don’t know if this is to do with frame or something else (would you label it connection?).

Connection

Note this is a list of needs not importance – my favourite dances are when I felt like I had good connection with my partner (not many so far but I’m working on it!) Based on the few moves I am getting fairly comfortable with, I reckon I need to be able to stay up, move in the right way and offer the appropriate amount of compression/stretch before I can actually lead a move well. And that’s before I can read what the follow is trying to tell me through their movement. I hear some dancers can actually do that. I’ll believe it when I do it the first time!

Styling & Musicality

One day this might be something I actively think about in lessons or social dancing. Given I currently worry about everything else on the list this has to be the last ‘need’.

I’m really interested in anyone’s thoughts on this since as I said above I will happily steal any bits of info that make me either technically better or just nicer to dance with (or both!)

 

Sorry about the essay. Back to the lesson. I’d seen people doing these Charleston moves in the social dancing and was wondering if they would be covered at some point in the 12 week cycle so I was really pleased! I also love that when moves like this are getting introduced we are also being shown how to get in and out of basic at the same time so we can actually do them seamlessly (in theory!!!!)

Solo Jazz was run by a guest teacher from Athens! Josephine taught a Charleston routine known as the Blackbottom. Apparently it isn’t well known and hasn’t been passed down in the same way as some other routines like the Shim Sham, Tranky Doo, Big Apple etc. This might be because it’s ridiculously hard! The first 8 counts had a different move on every count and if you messed that up then good luck catching up later in the routine because it is SO FAST. I had lots of fun and Josephine was a very fun teacher. I was especially thankful I had my notebook because the routine was so complex I had to write it all down straight after the session. I’m still worried I missed a bit! This was a really challenging session and I enjoyed it because of that. Plus the routine is cool which always helps.

Social dancing was interesting. It was very busy and very hot because of that. At one point I wondered why the tables at the back of the room were the most popular place (dance floor aside) – they are near the window! This meant fewer dances this week and more time watching the floor. At the moment I still sit there mesmerised by how cool the better dancers look. I might start actually focusing on what they are doing to see if I can spot things to incorporate/think on. I still got some good dances in. A nice moment in the last dance of the night (with Alistair) was when I led a promenade and got pecked. “Sorry, I’m a pecker!” he said. Another one – awesome!

We are legion.

All the world shall be pecked.

Dan

Tell me something I don’t know about Dan?

When Dan was a teenager all the cool kids were dyeing their hair over the summer. He opted for blue but his friend messed it up, getting most of the dye on his scalp which made his hair look grey. He wasn’t pleased. Oh and he also played a Genie in an amateur dramatics club where he had to be painted green once a week, which basically meant he went to school with green eyebrows for half a term. This has led to a slight dye phobia which probably explains why he hasn’t tried to cover up his dodgy ginger and white beard. Ask him to dance (he’d love that) but don’t ask him for advice involving colour or dye!!

sWinging It – Week 7

sWinging It

Learnin’ to Lindy where everyone’s friendly

Week 7 (Lesson Week 4)

Lindy is bleeding into work and not necessarily in a good way. I caught myself looking at people’s backs the other day wondering where I would place my hand in closed position and where I would expect their arm to sit on mine. I hope nobody noticed or my contract could be very short. Also, a colleague asked if I was going swinging again this Tuesday. I cleared that one up pretty quickly.

In other news ‘Patient Lady’ has a name! It’s Katie (if I spelt it correctly). I have been lucky enough to dance with her pretty much every week since week 3 and can report she is still as patient as ever (which is saying something). One day I will be good enough to repay her with an awesome good satisfactory dance (I promise!)

Now I just need to collar ‘Man in shorts’ and get his name.

If you have been reading this every week you are probably wondering if I completed my mission. I danced with loads of the more advanced dancers (more on that later) and at least two of them I asked, so mission accomplished! Also, the dances I did have were really fun. If you are feeling intimidated by the more advanced dancers I would say that, across the other side of the dance floor they look scary, but up close in person they are all lovely – go for it!

Beginners was taught by Amy and Andy C. Last week was Andy W (I just called him Andy). I should have known there are two Andy’s because I have actually looked at the committee page on the website – doh!

This lesson was Charleston – Woo! Amy and Andy went through a lot of material, covering the basic step and no less than 5 cool variations (with pecks* and kicking the dog**)! On top of that they emphasised feeling the pulse*** of the music. My Charleston felt very jerky before this lesson and now seems much smoother – Result!

Taina taught the Solo Jazz again (as well as back in week 3). The stars must have aligned because I saw a video of Al Minns showing some Shim-Sham variations (among other stuff) on the Manchester Lindy Facebook page. This took me to (through the power of internet searching) a video of Frankie Manning & Erin Stevens doing the Shim-Sham. I had planned on using this video to learn myself and I watched it a couple of times on Tuesday night but had to go out to – Manchester Lindy. Lo and behold that night I was taught the Shim-Sham by Taina. Fate wanted me to learn the Shim-Sham. I don’t argue with fate.

We also spent a lot of the session doing a Jam (Battle or just a Jam? – I can’t remember the proper name). Taina had taught two routines. One side of the room came in to the middle (with a cool entrance, of course) and did some moves. They then exited (again in a cool way). As team 1 exits, team 2 enters (in their cool way), does their routine and exits. Repeat until the song ends and you all want another song. The only downside is my bum hurts from  doing ‘Spank the baby’. If I will choose that move to exit on then I will pay the price…

And finally on to the Social Dancing which is how I danced with countless more advanced dancers (awesome). Among various Lindy traditions is a Birthday Jam, where the Birthday lead/follow (or more if there are more birthdays) gets to dance to a whole song. Their partners swap in and out during the song so they get to have fun dancing with loads of people. This Jam was different in that they asked everyone who had anything to celebrate up. This means some more people on the dance floor which lowers the pressure for nervous people.

Week 1 of this blog went live this week, which Paula announced as something worth celebration (I was too shy to mention it but secretly pleased). This meant I got to be in the Jam! My first ever!

If you are worried about feeling on show then I can confidently say that the setup minimised this and that, once the music was on, any nervousness disappeared. The benefits of taking part far outweigh any fear of participation. You feel special and it’s like being asked to dance loads of times in the space of 5 minutes! Every time I am asked to dance I get a little warm fuzzy feeling so having a Jam was very cool. Thanks to everybody that danced with me during the Jam – that one dance is worth way more than any time and effort I have put into writing this blog!!!

As I mentioned earlier I asked a couple of advanced dancers I hadn’t danced with before. I also danced with lots of people I had danced with before. Lots of dancing, lots of attempts at a decent swing-out. One day (soon hopefully!) I will be able to actually do one and reliably follow it up with something, rather than have my mind just say “Swing out done. Time to shuuuut doooowwwn.” But I’m having fun trying!

If I had to sum the evening up it would be.

A.MA.ZING!

Dan

*You peck your head a couple of times – like a chicken

** You kick three times in this move (six including your partner). I feel sorry for the dog…

*** I can’t explain this very well. I don’t exactly associate pulse with the timing of the music (although the pulse definitely has a rhythm). The way my strange brain thinks about it is, if I put some swing music on and just step softly on the balls of my feet in time to the music, I will naturally bob up and down as well – that’s the pulse (to me). I could have this completely wrong in which case call me out as a liar. If you call me out as a liar you have to say why so I learn more! More delicious learning!

Who is Dan?

Dan is a contractor working in Manchester. As long as he is here he plans to squeeze as much enjoyment out of learning and socialising at Manchester Lindy as he can! Like making a big glass of juice, but with fun instead of oranges. Help Dan get more fun by finding the balding guy with the ginger beard asking him to dance. He doesn’t actually squeeze people. Promise.

Manchester Lindy on BBC Breakfast with Scottie!

Manchester Lindy were pleased to join Scott Cupit on BBC Breakfast. Scott talked Swing dance, Lindy Hop and Frankie Manning while we had a little dance outside on the Quays.

We’ve gained lots of new members and met many new friends, so thank so much for asking us, Scottie!

If you weren’t up early enough, you can catch up up with what you missed on YouTube, following the links below.

Manchester Lindy’s dancing on the BBC breakfast show has also snuck onto Swing Nation in their Scott Cupit interview. You’ll see the brief clip around 19:40.

Thanks to Mark for spotting us!

(and who is that starring in the I Charleston Jersey clip? Why, only Daniel, one of the founding Manchester Lindy Committee Members! Glad you are still dancing!)

You can watch many more Swing Nation episodes by following this link to the Yehoodi Swings Youtube Channel:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzjqX9NieCmo2_YpwnKPpMQ

Hasse and Marie visit MANCHESTER!

Once again we at Manchester Lindy are getting our giddy knickers in a bunch – super-duper-Swedish Swing dancers Hasse Mattsson and Marie Nahnfeldt Mattsson are coming to town!

Limited Saturday places available!

(Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/320090408162683/?ref=ts&fref=ts)

Each session will include FOUR HOURS of teaching for the bargain price of £45. This includes entry to the Saturday night social.

As usual the Sunday will be slightly more advanced than the Saturday; if you are not sure which to book for come and speak to Andy C or Sid on a Tuesday or enquire on your booking email.


To book your place email your NAME, your MOBILE NUMBER, WHICH DAY / LEVEL YOU ARE BOOKING FOR to hasseandmarieinmanchester@hotmail.com

Andy C will email you back with confirmation of a place and payment details.

Places are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment.

A bit about Hasse and Marie

(from www.hasseandmarie.com):

“Hasse and Marie are internationally recognized for their high energy and spirit as Lindy Hop dancers and instructors. Their classes emphasize the use of musicality, technique and partner connection. Energy and focus on fun are constant elements to every class.

This couple have a lot of teaching experience, from beginners to competition couples, and they appear on the teaching line up for many established camps around the globe, including Herräng (Sweden), Camp Hollywood (USA) and Rock That Swing Festival (Germany) just to mention a few”.

Hasse and Marie dancing (first couple up, teachers Jam LSSF 2013):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bny2ZZNFAi4

(this video also features some of our previous guest teachers Isobella, Thomas and Alice!)

Hasse and Marie Interview for SwingTV (talking about Boogie Woogie, Bugg and Lindy Hop and why they are such encouraging, positive teachers):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wrMl5261hc

Traveling? Workshops will end by 5pm, leaving plenty of time to get home.

Manchester Lindy will be also be hosting a Saturday night social dance from approx 19:30-MIDNIGHT.

VENUE DETAILS:
Saturday workshop and social dance will be held at Manchester Masonic Hall, 36 Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 3BT
http://www.freemasons-hall.co.uk/

Sunday workshop will be held at St Kentigerns Social Club, Fallowfield, M14 7DW
http://www.stkents.co.uk/

The workshops will start 11am on Saturday and Sunday and will finish by 5pm.

Social Dance
(Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/794841167241828/?fref=ts)
Come and dance with us at the beautiful Masonic Hall with great dance floor, as part of our Hasse and Marie weekend.

£5 on the door. Free to those attending the workshop.

Isabella and Pontus Workshop Weekend and Social – Booking

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We at Manchester Lindy are beside ourselves because the wonderful Isabella & Pontus are coming to teach and inspire on SATURDAY 10th and SUNDAY 11th MAY!

We will be following our previously used format of Improver/Intermediate on the Saturday, and Intermediate/Advanced on the Sunday. As there is some crossover, we are happy to help you to find the correct level for you.

We cannot confirm start and finish times as yet, but there will be four hours of teaching each day plus breaks, so plan to spend  5-6 hours at the venue.

See Isabella and Pontus in action here: http://youtu.be/mUOP5jG24Sc

The price for this event is £45 per day, inclusive of entry to the Saturday night social dance.

To book, please contact Manchester Lindy committee member Hayley via Facebook, link below. There are limited places available for couples and solo advanced Leads. Follows booking alone are currently being placed in a waiting list.

Friend request Hayley here: https://www.facebook.com/hayley.h.gosling
Join the Manchester Lindy Group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/manchesterlindy/ (you must join the group in order to ‘attend’ on the event listing – sorry about that!)
Click attending on the main event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1383764718559950/

We would like to draw your attention to our new venue, so you don’t all automatically flock to a familiar one, like homing pigeons.

Our new venue for this weekend’s workshops and social dance is St Mathews Church Hall, next to St Mathews Church in Stretford, (near the incredibly strange Stretford Mall – inspiration for the Morrissey lyric, “Slap me on the patio”) this will be the first time Manchester Lindy have used the venue and we’re hoping the floor will be just right for us picky dancer types. Stretford is close to Chorlton and is well served with buses and trams.

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Welcome to The Lindy Circular!

Welcome to The Lindy Circular!

A blog by Leanne Frank

If you, intrepid dancer, have found your way to this brand-spanking new Manchester Lindy blog series, prepare to have your MIND BLOWN. Well, maybe not blown, but definitely jiggled purposefully. This blog series will be a veritable cornucopia of knowledge on the ins and outs of Lindy Hop, both in Manchester and beyond. There will be links to national and international dancing, inspiring dance videos and all manner of information to help you, dear reader, get the most out of this wonderful dance.

Hopefully, you have been enjoying the musical delights of our regular Tuesday session and have become accustomed to the warm, fuzzy feeling that radiates through your innards when you have a good dance. One of the loveliest things about Lindy Hop is knowing that after only forty-five minutes of teaching, you are dance floor-ready and can spread happiness across a room full of relative strangers then toddle home, charged full of positive energy for the week ahead.

To help you on your quest for Lindy glory, the committee are always on hand to help with any questions you may have about particular moves, dance floor etiquette or ways to improve as a dancer on the whole. They are all incredibly friendly and expect you to go up to them and ask questions; never feel as though you are a burden!

You may have been dancing for some time now and the Swing bug has taken a sizeable bite out of some/all of your extremities. You want to take it further, to Improve and impress. What to do you do? Well reader, the next bold step on your Lindy ascension should be to book on to your first dance camp!

Dance camp? That sounds a bit serious, doesn’t it?

Actually, it’s the complete opposite. Dance camps are designed to be totally oriented to improve your lead and follow skills and create a lively and engaging environment for you to try them out. The atmosphere is completely social and you will be inundated with dancers coming from similar (dance) backgrounds to you, from all over the world. You will make friends; you will laugh, learn and most importantly, dance!

There are no words that describes the social floor at a camp as well as ‘inspirational’. Here you’ll find dancers from all over the world coming together and trying out their best moves  to a live band providing the  soundtrack. Just observing will immerse you in the true spirit of Lindy Hop.

If booking onto a camp is a bold step that you aren’t quite ready for or don’t have the budget for, that’s OK, it just so happens that there’s a solution for this – the fabulous workshops that take place in Manchester! The focus can range from swing-outs to solo jazz and they are always tailored to suit your needs and build your confidence. As well as our own occasional workshops, taught by national and international dancers, Manchester Lindy happily recommends the Would You Dance? workshops, taught by Taina K. Honestly, you really do want to take advantage of these additional classes as they are there to help you become a better social dancer. If you want any more information, just speak to the committee (manchesterlindy@gmail.com) or Taina (mail@tainak.com).

With workshops and inspiration in mind, here are a few clips of a couple in action that will be teaching at Manchester Lindy’s very own upcoming workshop… Pontus Persson and Isabella Gregorio! Booking is not yet open for this May 2014 workshop, so keep an eye on our Facebook Group and blog for announcements.

In the meantime, enjoy these videos of Pontus and Isabella in action:

Pontus- Solo Jazz at Paris Jazz Roots

Pontus and Isabella Pro Classic division ILHC 2012

Until next time!

Leanne Frank