So… what do you think of Jive? I don’t really know what to think about it, at this point. Most of the swing dancing I have done has been with East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing and Hustle. Now that it seems that we’ve switched gears at the Land of the Loft and are doing everything in International Latin instead of American Rhythm, we have started to touch upon Jive. Right now, it seems like nothing more than dancing East Coast Swing at a much faster tempo, with some slight variations of technique. Some reading I did told me that all three dances (East Coast, West Coast and Jive) are evolutionary descendants of the Lindy Hop, so I would assume that they should all feel kind of similar if you look at them holistically. I just don’t see enough of a difference between East Coast Swing and Jive at this point for me to feel like they are really two different styles. Look at the differences between East Coast Swing and West Coast Swing – if written history hadn’t told me differently, I would have believed that they were birthed from two totally different animals. Are the subtle differences that Jive has more apparent the more you learn of it, and the more you practice it? Or is it always going to seem like nothing more than fast East Coast Swing? I guess that’s something I’ll have to find out.
I’m done being philosophical now.
The contest this week in our International Waltz class on Friday was a bit different than last week. Last time we each paired off to see who could cover the most floor space with one set of diagonal rotations. This week Lord Fabulous turned things around on the girls and had them switch places with the gentlemen. He wanted to see who could best lead a guy through the same set of rotations. Some of the girls really struggled with having to switch the order they moved their feet in. The first time that I paired off with someone when we were doing the practice runs I went with Sparkledancer, and I essentially lead the steps myself so that she wouldn’t have to. Once things got serious, I expected she and I would pair off again and do the same thing, thereby winning the points for this week to go with the points we got last week. She decided to pair off with someone else though, and let a different pair of people win. When she explained it to me later, she told me that she wanted to make it so that at the end of the month everyone had the same amount of points. Lord Fabulous told us that the ones who won the month-long contest would get crowns made by those who lost the contest, so she thought that if everyone tied that Lord Fabulous would make everyone crowns that we could all wear. It seems like a good goal, so I’m all for throwing the game to make it happen. Hopefully we stick with eight people in the class for the whole month; the numbers will not work out to give everyone the same amount of points by the time the month is over if people who didn’t start the month with us jump in. I’m going to have to make a rule that anyone new that comes in is going to have to be banished to the other group class that happens at the same time on Friday nights on the other side of the room, whether they want to be there or not.
In Thursday classes this month with Hot Tottie, we’ve been going through some intermediate Rumba. Last week we didn’t get terribly far, because he spent most of the time working on proper turning technique with the ladies in class. Back when they offered a separate dance technique class on Saturdays, every four or five months Sir Steven would teach a class on spins and turns. Those of us who have been members of the Dance Kingdom for a while have taken that class at least once or twice, and there is a noticeable difference watching the new students whom had never taken that class and comparing them to the ones who had been through that class with me in the way they approached turning. In that class, there were several important things that Sir Steven burned into my mind about turning: always keep your weight forward over your toes when spinning; make sure to line up your three blocks of weight (head, upper body and lower body) over the foot you’re spinning with to prevent you from being off balance; always turn your whole body at the same time (i.e. don’t turn your upper body and hope your lower body catches up later); and make sure to step and turn separately, especially in Latin dances like the Rumba. Hot Tottie really only touched on two of those points before having the girls work on turning. This week in class we went through the same sort of turning exercise, but he let the guys practice turning as well this time instead of focusing just on the girls. We mostly went through this exercise to do the promenade swivel step and a couple of random spot turns tacked on at the end of some of the other figures, because in the two weeks of class so far we haven’t done anything else that requires much turning. To me, it seemed like a lot of focus on that technique for so little application, but it’s been nice to go through as a review. This week all the songs Hot Tottie put on for us to practice with were slow enough that I could work on the crazy hip motions I really need to practice for International Rumba, so that’s what I’ve personally been focusing on working during this class session. This isn’t really new material for me, I just happen to be a convenient male body for the ladies to dance with.
There are a couple of fun things coming up soon! It looks like the Princess is going to be spending the Saturday after next at our cozy little piece of the Dance Kingdom. With the rollout of the changes she made to the fitness classes offered at all the studios, she appears to be making the rounds to sit in on the first few weeks of those classes at each of the locations, and that Saturday is when she will be sitting in on Lady Q’s class. I’ve already gotten the guilt trip from Lady Q about being there, and she emphasized to everyone that she wanted us all to show up at least five minutes before the class starts when the Princess is here so that everything can start on time. Lord Fabulous also mentioned something about the Princess taking over the group class that he usually teaches right after the morning fitness class, which could be interesting. I have never sat in on a class with her before, so I don’t really know what to expect. The scariest thing though is that Lord Fabulous said she was interested in being there the rest of the day as well, to offer coaching advice and watch the other lessons that normally go on. Sparkledancer and I have a coaching session set up with Lord Fabulous that day, at our normal standing Saturday time, so I’m guessing she will be there for that. Not normally one to be squeamish about being watched, I have to admit that knowing that the royalty is there and is actively watching what I would be doing, I’m kind of nervous. Will she be impressed? Will she think I’m horrible and banish me from the kingdom? Will I mess something up and make myself, or worse, make Sparkledancer look bad? I wonder if our competitive dance friendship could withstand me screwing something up in front of the Princess…
That same night as the Princess will be visiting with us is the 1920s-themed swing party being hosted at the Great Dance Hall by the Lake. This will be the first time I will be back at that location since… well, since last year about this time, for the last 1920s-themed swing party they had there. It’s kind of exciting to be going back. What I remember from the party last year is that the venue is not huge, and with the style of dancing that we will be focusing on (swing), I will probably end up hot and sweaty by the time the night is over. I did get suspenders to wear to the party, so I think I’m all set as far as costume is concerned. I can’t remember what I wore last year, but this year I’m going to keep things simple. I will probably wear a hat too, which will allow me to make bets as to whether or not I will keep it on for the entire night or if it will fall off somewhere along the line. All this month at each of the three Dance Kingdom locations in the area they are teaching special classes on Lindy Hop to prepare everyone for the party. Unfortunately I am not able to get there early enough on Friday’s to attend that class, so I’ll have to stick with the little Lindy Hop I remember from the classes they taught on it last year before the previous swing party. Although, as I said earlier it appears as though Jive, East Coast Swing and West Coast Swing are all descended from Lindy Hop, so maybe I am already thoroughly prepared to go to this party (assuming I spend some time practicing my Jive technique between now and then, of course).
The Great Dance Hall by the Lake is also the home base of Lord Scarry, so we get to see him again. Maybe we’ll actually try and make him paranoid this time when we see him. No one remembered to try it out last time we saw him…
And only a few short weeks after the swing party is the showcase. I’m not participating in it this year, but I’ll be going to hang out with all the other people from the Land of the Loft who are participating. Man, when I think about all the dance-related things on my calendar, it exhausts me. I should probably start resting up now to be prepared for everything.