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10 reasons why I enjoyed my Latin dance class so much

I’ve been back to the Latin dance at my local gym a couple of times and I am still loving it, reasons below.

  1. The teacher loves to dance.  It’s a joy to watch them play with the routine each time they perform it. That joy is infectious.
  2. Warming up and cooling down. The older I get the more I appreciate taking the time to really warm up my body. The warm up gives me a chance to forget work/commute and means I have 5-10 minutes to settle before jumping into the class proper and needing to focus.  I also think of a warm up as a trust building exercise, especially with a new teacher.
  3. The repetition. I am a simple soul, I like repetition. I like repetition but with something new to focus on even more. For example, once the class had the basic movement the focus changed to improving that movement with advice about position of feet or timing or hand position.
  4. The feedback about posture. With a few notable exceptions [Cookie’s “tits out” springs to mind] most Lindy Hop teachers don’t give all that much feedback about how you look in a general class. Loved the simple 20 second demo of which looks better – rounded shoulders or standing up straight?
  5. The emphasis on quality and changing the feel of the movement within a routine. Soft and sensual v athletic. Teacher gave a lovely example of the difference between Zumba with everything done at 100% effort compared to dancing with highs and lows.
  6. The emphasis on tying breathing to movement.  For example at the end of the phrase, there was a step down, we needed to really step down and emphasise the down movement and then emphasise it more my breathing out at the same time.
  7. Hips. I am far too English/reserved to ever have Latin hips but I quite like trying.
  8. Trying to different things with my body.  I am enjoying dancing on the balls of my feet. Practising walking with straight almost locked legs.  Kicking with pointed feet.  It’s all new and I am enjoying exploring the differences.
  9. The rhythms. Challenge of challenges. I am hopeless at changing rhythms in Lindy and Bal and this is no different but some of these rhythms are completely new to me and I am liking the challenge.
  10. Being sexy. I am not someone who embraces my inner diva (Lindy Hop is an ideal dance for me) but I am having fun messing around and playing at being someone else.

Not really enjoying Lindy or Bal at the moment, it’s summer, venues are quiet, too many follows and the fun element has disappeared. I don’t know, sometimes it’s nice not to have to think about someone else when you dance and to be able to focus entirely on what you are doing.


Latin dance

Work and life have been getting in the way of dancing for the last few months but last night I took some time out. Wasn’t in the mood for Lindy Hop/partner dancing so hit the gym and did 45 mins of Latin dance, an hour of yoga and an hour of street dance and went home feeling and happy and  sweaty.

Latin dance, what can I say, I had an absolute blast! The hips, the music, the bosom shaking and the contrived hand positions are so not me but I loved it.  Some of the rhythms and patterns were a real challenge, who knew holding one and moving slowly through two could be so ridiculously difficult? If time allows I might go back and I might even take along a pair of heels.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Britannia

If you are a Londoner, watch this when it comes onto BBC4 again:

(Unfortunately there’s almost no dancing in this clip bar a brief flash 7 mins in)

60 years on and the dancing/dress code is still the same!

If you are a glass is half full type person it’s good to see that your average Londoner’s dancing is still true to its roots. If you’re a glass is half empty type person then you can moan about how the average Londoner’s dancing hasn’t improved at all in the last 60 years!

Should teachers teach footwork patterns for leaders at intermediate level?

Interesting post-dance pub  discussion the other day. Should teachers teach footwork patterns for leaders at intermediate level?

Some of the leaders were complaining that the teacher made things really difficult for them by not teaching  the footwork pattern and leaving it up the leaders to work out for themselves if their foot should go behind, in front or to the side.

I listened to the arguments being made and I thought yes, it is much harder if the teacher doesn’t tell you where to put your feet but you learn so much more about dancing if you have to work things like this out for yourself.

I think I understand what to teacher was trying to do, your feet end up where your feet end up – hopefully they are under your body.  Your feet should cross because you are keeping them under your body not because that’s what the pattern says you should do. If you are taught to cross your feet to do a certain move it might be easier and you can learn that move more quickly but the shortcut means that you don’t learn much about how the dance works and it’s harder to progress as a dancer.

As a follow I think you give up on attempting to do the ‘correct’ footwork pattern fairly early on in your dancing career. A few social dances in and you realise that the patterns don’t fit what most leaders are doing most of the time [perhaps they do where you dance?]. Learning how to respond to what the leader is actually doing is the really tricky bit of following and it’s not something that you learn from being taught footwork patterns.

As a follower, I definitely prefer classes where you learn skills rather than patterns.

When you partner dance please remember you have another person attached to your arm!

Small rant…

Partner dancing, partnership, togetherness, connection, cooperation… if you’re not interested in these things why not try solo dancing?

Let’s take a simple scenario. A teacher explains  very clearly that you must be able to do X, Y and Z competently to take this class and recommends going to another class, happening at the same time, where you can learn those moves if you can’t. During class certain people (leaders in this case but same applies to followers) clearly don’t know what X,Y and Z are let alone how to lead them. One leader cheerfully admits he’s only been dancing 4 weeks and has no idea what he’s doing!

WTF! If you jump into a class like this you end up making the class all about you. What is your partner supposed to do? Back lead the moves whilst attempting to talk you through? Do you both stand there like lemons? Do you shove your partner round the floor in some vague attempt to do the same as everyone else?

Partner dancing implies that you will be dancing with another person. In a dance class, that person has their own reasons for dancing and their own learning needs. It’s pretty unlikely they paid for a class so that they could act as your personal coach and walk you through the basics. Please think about the person attached to the end of your arm as well as yourself!

Feel better now…

Linked Jazz

NetworkVisualizationButtonThis is a really neat tool:

Old news, but new to me!

“Linked Jazz’s new visualization tool developed by Matt Miller visualizes the social connections between jazz musicians. Various modes allow the user to view the network in new ways. Fixed mode pins the individuals with the most connections to the outer perimeter. Free mode groups individuals together based on the number of connections they have. Similar mode arranges individuals based on their number of shared connections. Dynamic mode allows users to add individuals themselves and see their shared connections.”

(Via a presentation by Maura Marx, Secretariat Director, Digital Public Library of America, at the Discovery Summit 2013)





“Make sure you have clean shoes and your zip is up” style tips from Jerome Anderson

Style tips from Jerome Anderson, one of the biggest characters in the London swing scene:

I love that tie!


Graph Words: Jazz

Graph words is a thesaurus visualisation tool that uses Wordnet. Type in a word and it generates a map of associated nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. Makes jazz look really exciting!

‘Syncopation’ Lindy Hop Glass Floor Routine & Film needs another $2000 to make it happen

Selene States wants help to raise $5000 to build the largest plate glass dance floor so that Tim Sidell can film Moe Sakan and Remy Kouakou Kouame dancing in 1940’s swing and contemporary swing style.

More info and details about how to back the project can be found on Kickstarter.

Hobbs Aphrodite dress

It’s ridiculously expensive, I can’t afford it, the colour won’t suit me, the shape won’t flatter my figure,  it’s totally impractical for dancing in, it’s a bit too sparkly and I would never wear it but I am still lusting after this dress

“Look and feel like a Gatsby-goddess in this divine party dress. Inspired by an original 1920s dress, discovered in Paris by our Invitation designer, Aphrodite features specially sourced beads on luxurious silk, it is available in oyster and black”