Jam Circles – Getting the Lay of the Land

birthday-jam-circleIn a Tom Clancy book I read, a spy chief was training two new special operatives. They were doing field work in various cities and he was giving them various tips on blending in since each city is unique. Study what locals wear, notice if they cross the street before the walk signal comes on, et cetera. Similar advice on studying the lay of the land could be given when participating in birthday/out-of-towner jam circles.
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Teacher Triage

gene-wilderIn the classroom, us teachers are paying attention to what is happening and figuring out what people need most. We look at what’s happening around the room and we triage it, evaluating what is the most important thing to address. This goes for when we’re asked questions or even pulled over to watch one couple. We look for the root cause. Once that is fixed or mending, we can address the other issues.

Spiderman Philosophy

uncle-benI recently had a more experienced student get visibly frustrated with a newer student that wasn’t doing what they wanted, namely connecting as well as they would have liked. The solution I suggested? Taking responsibility for creating the connection that you want.

Knowledge = Power. With great power comes great responsibility. QED – With great(er) knowledge comes great(er) responsibility. See what I did there?

If you’re a beginner+ or higher student rejoining our beginner classes, use your knowledge for good. You were once a beginner, so please be kind. If you’re frustrated, try to use your words and be collaborative rather than damaging. If you don’t want to use your words, then try to figure out on your own how to get what you want on your own. Pushing, pulling, or yanking on your partner can also be hurtful and confusing. If you’re having trouble thinking what you should be doing, ask the teacher. Just please be responsible.



Inspiration & Next Generation

1000-new-ideasBefore there was YouTube, there were dancers uploading dance videos in various formats. There was poy.no, Yehoodi, James Glader and various forums that led to more dance videos. These were my lindy hop resources. This was one of the first videos I ever saw of lindy hop danced overseas:

At the same event, you can catch Max Pitruzella, an international teacher, as a student learning and performing a routine that Skye Humphries and Sarah Spence taught:

Not only did these routines stick in my head, but the music did too. The songs were respectively “Loose Wig” by Lionel Hampton and “Gangbusters” by The Cats and The Fiddle. They have contrasting tempos and styles, but they’re both so energetic. Continue reading

5 Seconds

You have 5 seconds to make an impression. That’s pressure. That goes for our classes, dances, performances, and class recaps. That goes for the teachers, door greeters, performers, and DJs. We have to be personable, well-groomed, knowledgeable, confident, welcoming and genuine. Someone should be able to walk in the door and know what we’re about in 5 seconds.


Taxi Dancing at 40s Ball

Back in the day, you could visit a taxi-dance hall and pay one thin dime for a taxi dance ticket. A single ticket would allow a male patron the opportunity to dance once with a taxi dancer.

Taxi Dancers
Taxi Dancers

Taxi dance halls no longer exist to my knowledge, but the idea, though modified, still exists. Nowadays, some swing dance venues have designated taxi dancers or dance ambassadors to dance with attendees. If you were shy to ask, afraid of being turned down, or wanted to dance “NOW TO YOUR FAVORITE SONG!,” you could find a dance partner among the taxi dancers.

Swingin’ Denver will be offering taxi dancing for tips at the 1940s WWII Era Ball June 18, 2016. Their dancers are, of course, well-versed in all sorts of swing dancing, but also foxtrot, waltz, rumba and others.

We are here to help make your 1940s Ball experience even more memorable. Please ask us to dance. We’d love to dance with you. Look for the Swingin’ Denver vertical banner near the stage to find our taxi dancers.

Deliberate Practice

This is me attempting a stride to pre(cision) challenge with a left footed takeoff. My strong side is with a right footed takeoff. I’ve always been better reaching and picking up my left leg. Sometimes my right leg is slow to snap (weak adominals, psoas?), so I favor a side.

This isn’t great for real life situations or for efficient movement. I want to be equally strong, so I set up a deliberate practice. I backed up, I marked off my steps and envisioned what I needed to do and then I executed. The first attempts weren’t great. The video version is ok, but I need to work on jumping further away.

Why do I bring this up? Learning to dance is a different skill for most of us. It helps to set up a deliberate practice by yourself or with a partner. What might that look like? Continue reading