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 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 IĀ  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 šŸ™‚

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…