Is Swing Always Blues?

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Ed Jay

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Oct 12, 2006, 7:18:04 PM10/12/06
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The following essay, "Essence," by John Festa <http://swingislove.com>
speaks to the current state of WCS and its music. I found it at Swing Dancer
magazine <http://swing-dancer.com>. I'm posting it with John's permission.

I find John's essay to be very timely, as I and others I know have opted to
stay at home rather than subject ourselves to some of the music we're
hearing played in the guise of being Swing music. I'm talking about heavy
metal and Krumping music that's made its way into some of our local DJ's
music portfolios...and is being played to death.

Essence
by John Festa

essence:(noun)
the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially
something abstract, that determines its character

Every dance that has evolved has done so because of a specific
characteristic in music. Mambo for its clave, waltz for its ¾ time, hustle
for the driving beat, swing for the syncopated rhythm and so on. Their
movements are a response to something very particular and distinct in the
music. The omnipresent debate over whether the music we dance to swings or
not continues ad infinitum. We no longer dance exclusively to blues and
rhythm & blues with a syncopated back beat. We now dance to pop, hip hop,
ballads, latin, smooth jazz, not-so-smooth jazz, rock & roll, top 40,
alternative, new wave, urban r & b and on and on. The only musical
characteristic required is 4/4 time. We will dance to the sound of
windshield wipers. The pros and cons have been enumerated endlessly: The
dance has evolved. We are not swinging. A modern sound will bring the young
people in, etc. We sold our soul years ago. Where are the young people?

But this essay is not about the modern musical diversity in WCS. This essay
is about the physicality of today’s dance. What is its essence? One would be
hard pressed to name the one quality that ‘determines its character’. Ask
five WCS teachers to define our dance and you will get as many different
answers. In my mind, the one quality that makes swing swing is the center to
center connection and elasticity of tension and release between two moving
bodies. That a leader can anchor and a follower sit into that anchor while
both expressing rhythm, only to release all that stored energy, is one of
the most glorious of all kinetic actions. I portend this is lost. As I
travel around the country and dance with many different people I became more
and more aware of this. There are 2 or more generations of dancers that have
never experienced this. Few teachers teach this. It is the highest order to
do so. It is one of the most difficult feelings to teach. It is intangible.
Like trying to teach riding a bicycle. Words are useless until you feel it.
Then all the words make perfect sense. It is much easier to teach ‘put your
right foot here on 2, hand here on 3’. And there are teachers who have never
experienced this feeling/movement themselves. But I say this is the essence
of swing. And I say this is gone from our dance. West Coast Swing today has
no essence, no single indispensable characteristic that defines it and
delineates it from what is not WCS.

Perhaps today’s WCS lives in competition, but that’s another essay.

It is a distinct possibility that the divergent music has led to this end.
We used to dance to faster syncopated tempi. At these tempi, an astute
connection between partners was essential. The dance would not work without
it. The laws of physics are perfect. Dancing to 80 beats per week does not
require this connection. When we west coast swing dancers years back began
dancing to ‘other than’ music, we brought with us that connection that was
engrained. It was in our bodies. We were swinging to non-swing music. Even
at slow tempi. Because that’s how we danced. Now, a few generations later,
where students are taught by teachers, themselves from one generation prior,
who learned to dance to slow or ‘groove’ music, how will anyone learn this
swing connection? It is not essential at these tempi or to these sounds.
Physics does not require it. Nothing has replaced it. Our dance has become
amorphous.

My recent experiences lead me to believe that many dancers feel this loss. I
am one of them. Projection, perhaps. But as I play music around the country,
I hear plenty to support this theory. I in no way mean to point fingers or
position blame. It is just time to call a spade a spade. I enjoyed and
helped pioneer the diversity of sounds years back and loved dancing to
slower groovy and basically ‘other than’ music. But I feel our dance has, as
an art form, explored different options, traveled down a few roads and the
original plan was the best. That which can deliver the essence of swing.
Perhaps simply everything old is new again and this is the freshest sound. I
do not foresee us dancing to the tempi of the mid 90’s during the white hot
phase of WCS. But I think a more traditional sound will again garner respect
and be added to today’s mix of music. I, for one, couldn’t be happier. I
signed on for swing dancing. For it is the most glorious in feeling, in
sound, in purity and love.

John Festa

John has been involved in the swing dance scene for over 20 years,
serving as dancer, dj, competitor, judge and event promoter. Learning Lindy
Hop from his family, John then became a pivotal figure in West Coast Swing.
Visit John’s new website at www.swingislove.com where he will be hosting a
blog about dance.

Thanks, John. You have elegantly echoed the thoughts of many of us.
--
Ed Jay (remove 'M' to respond by email)

Icono Clast

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Oct 13, 2006, 6:55:25 AM10/13/06
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Ed Jay wrote:
> I and others I know have opted to stay at home rather than subject
> ourselves to some of the music we're hearing played in the guise
> of being Swing music.

That's a bigger step than I'm willing to take but I fully understand
those who take it.

> Thanks, John. You have elegantly echoed the thoughts of many of
> us.

Yes.

-- ________________________________________________________________
A dancing San Franciscan who sometimes just listens.
http://geocities.com/dancefest/ -<->- http://geocities.com/iconoc/
ICQ: http://wwp.mirabilis.com/19098103 -------> IClast at Gmail com

--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com

SwangoEm

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Oct 13, 2006, 11:01:18 AM10/13/06
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Ed Jay wrote:

> I find John's essay to be very timely

I heartily agree!!

Thanks so much, Ed, for bringing John's essay to this group....
Cutting back my attendance at WCS activities and conventions has left
me lonely for the "true" swing feel of our dance as I stick closer to
home. And thanks so much, John, for a truly enlightened treatise. I
am gratified to know there are some kindred souls still out there!

Emily Trites

SwangoEm

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Oct 13, 2006, 11:01:20 AM10/13/06
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dance...@earthlink.net

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Oct 13, 2006, 2:05:31 PM10/13/06
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Ed Jay wrote:
> The following essay, "Essence," by John Festa <http://swingislove.com>
> speaks to the current state of WCS and its music. I found it at Swing Dancer
> magazine <http://swing-dancer.com>. I'm posting it with John's permission.
>
> I find John's essay to be very timely, as I and others I know have opted to
> stay at home rather than subject ourselves to some of the music we're
> hearing played in the guise of being Swing music. I'm talking about heavy
> metal and Krumping music that's made its way into some of our local DJ's
> music portfolios...and is being played to death.
>
<snip>

>
> Thanks, John. You have elegantly echoed the thoughts of many of us.
> --
> Ed Jay (remove 'M' to respond by email)

Ed, did you miss John's point? His primary focus is the "feel" of the
dance, a kinetic thing, not the music. The elastic change of
compression and tension energies between partners that is the "essense"
of Swing. The music is only a vessel for this and while "traditional"
swung eighth blues music provides a vessel it is not essential. It is
the kinetic essense that provides for me a "great" dance, and seems to
be lacking in many dancers today.

Bravo John. Your short note about competition may be more to the mark
than anything. While competition his fostered some fantastic dancers
and wonderful routines, many of us lesser types have tried to mimic
what we see there and have lost the essense and end up basically
"Freestyling while holding hands". That is how i would describe a
complete lack of this "essence".

$0.02
Chris Brown
Camarillo, CA

Ed Jay

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Oct 13, 2006, 3:09:40 PM10/13/06
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dance...@earthlink.net scribed:

>
>Ed Jay wrote:
>> The following essay, "Essence," by John Festa <http://swingislove.com>
>> speaks to the current state of WCS and its music. I found it at Swing Dancer
>> magazine <http://swing-dancer.com>. I'm posting it with John's permission.
>>
>> I find John's essay to be very timely, as I and others I know have opted to
>> stay at home rather than subject ourselves to some of the music we're
>> hearing played in the guise of being Swing music. I'm talking about heavy
>> metal and Krumping music that's made its way into some of our local DJ's
>> music portfolios...and is being played to death.
>>
><snip>
>>
>> Thanks, John. You have elegantly echoed the thoughts of many of us.
>> --
>> Ed Jay (remove 'M' to respond by email)
>
>Ed, did you miss John's point? His primary focus is the "feel" of the
>dance, a kinetic thing, not the music. The elastic change of
>compression and tension energies between partners that is the "essense"
>of Swing. The music is only a vessel for this and while "traditional"
>swung eighth blues music provides a vessel it is not essential. It is
>the kinetic essense that provides for me a "great" dance, and seems to
>be lacking in many dancers today.

I think you're mistaken, Chris. But...I'll ask for clarification. News at
11.


>
>Bravo John. Your short note about competition may be more to the mark
>than anything. While competition his fostered some fantastic dancers
>and wonderful routines, many of us lesser types have tried to mimic
>what we see there and have lost the essense and end up basically
>"Freestyling while holding hands". That is how i would describe a
>complete lack of this "essence".

Mike Corbett

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Oct 13, 2006, 4:13:53 PM10/13/06
to
On Fri, 13 Oct 2006 12:09:40 -0700, Ed Jay <ed...@aes-intl.com> wrote:

>dance...@earthlink.net scribed:
>
>>
>>Ed Jay wrote:
>>> The following essay, "Essence," by John Festa <http://swingislove.com>
>>> speaks to the current state of WCS and its music. I found it at Swing Dancer
>>> magazine <http://swing-dancer.com>. I'm posting it with John's permission.
>>>
>>> I find John's essay to be very timely, as I and others I know have opted to
>>> stay at home rather than subject ourselves to some of the music we're
>>> hearing played in the guise of being Swing music. I'm talking about heavy
>>> metal and Krumping music that's made its way into some of our local DJ's
>>> music portfolios...and is being played to death.
>>>
>><snip>
>>>
>>> Thanks, John. You have elegantly echoed the thoughts of many of us.
>>> --
>>> Ed Jay (remove 'M' to respond by email)
>>
>>Ed, did you miss John's point? His primary focus is the "feel" of the
>>dance, a kinetic thing, not the music. The elastic change of
>>compression and tension energies between partners that is the "essense"
>>of Swing. The music is only a vessel for this and while "traditional"
>>swung eighth blues music provides a vessel it is not essential. It is
>>the kinetic essense that provides for me a "great" dance, and seems to
>>be lacking in many dancers today.
>
>I think you're mistaken, Chris. But...I'll ask for clarification. News at
>11.


Perhaps this quote will provide some clarification.

>But this essay is not about the modern musical diversity in WCS. This essay
>is about the physicality of today's dance. What is its essence?

Mike Corbett

Ed Jay

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Oct 13, 2006, 4:46:36 PM10/13/06
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Mike Corbett scribed:

I haven't heard back from John regarding the message he wished to convey
with his essay, so I'll step into it a bit more. If, as I think, it's about
the music, the above merely couches his intent.

Yes, John speaks to the motion as the essence of Swing. But, in the second
half of the essay, which ends with the conclusion of the essay, John says
that we've lost the essence of Swing because of divergent music.

I stand by my original position that the essay is about the music we dance
to, and how the music's divergence has robbed Swing of its [original]
essence. That's what I believe John's point is. If it isn't, that's OK with
me, I still believe it, and that was my reason for posting John's essay.

memiki

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Oct 13, 2006, 8:59:49 PM10/13/06
to
Ed Jay wrote:
> The following essay, "Essence," by John Festa <http://swingislove.com>
> speaks to the current state of WCS and its music. I found it at Swing Dancer
> magazine <http://swing-dancer.com>. I'm posting it with John's permission.
>
> I find John's essay to be very timely, as I and others I know have opted to
> stay at home rather than subject ourselves to some of the music we're
> hearing played in the guise of being Swing music. I'm talking about heavy
> metal and Krumping music that's made its way into some of our local DJ's
> music portfolios...and is being played to death.


Hi Ed -- Seldom do I opt to stay home, but often I opt not to dance.
Methinks John Festa's "Essence" is right on. His new website is great,
too, is it not!

>
> Essence
> by John Festa

<snip>


>Ask five WCS teachers to define our dance and you will get as many different
> answers. In my mind, the one quality that makes swing swing is the center to
> center connection and elasticity of tension and release between two moving
> bodies. That a leader can anchor and a follower sit into that anchor while
> both expressing rhythm, only to release all that stored energy, is one of
> the most glorious of all kinetic actions. I portend this is lost.

Methinks the losses to which John refers often begins with how WCS is
taught or with a student who chooses to do his/her own thing and as
such moves up in the competitions.....we have teachers who are WCS
dancers, but not established teachers; who because they dance Advanced,
AllStar, Invitational, sometimes Champions, think they can teach. They
are "newcomers" compared to our established experienced teachers and
pros. I can think of one Lindy crossover who teaches WCS and still has
not got it right. Some (not all) of these "newcomers" invent their own
WCS and pass it on to their students through lessons or other media.

>As I travel around the country and dance with many different people
I became more
> and more aware of this. There are 2 or more generations of dancers that have
> never experienced this. Few teachers teach this. It is the highest order to
> do so. It is one of the most difficult feelings to teach. It is intangible.
> Like trying to teach riding a bicycle. Words are useless until you feel it.
> Then all the words make perfect sense. It is much easier to teach 'put your
> right foot here on 2, hand here on 3'. And there are teachers who have never
> experienced this feeling/movement themselves. But I say this is the essence
> of swing. And I say this is gone from our dance. West Coast Swing today has
> no essence, no single indispensable characteristic that defines it and
> delineates it from what is not WCS.

Beautifully said by John..........Methinks that in the not too distant
future WCS might become so diluted as to be an entirely different dance
and not recognizable as WCS.


>
> Perhaps today's WCS lives in competition, but that's another essay.

Indeed...... and that's a long essay...... :)

>
> When we west coast swing dancers years back began
> dancing to 'other than' music, we brought with us that connection that was
> engrained. It was in our bodies. We were swinging to non-swing music. Even
> at slow tempi. Because that's how we danced. Now, a few generations later,
> where students are taught by teachers, themselves from one generation prior,
> who learned to dance to slow or 'groove' music, how will anyone learn this
> swing connection? It is not essential at these tempi or to these sounds.
> Physics does not require it. Nothing has replaced it. Our dance has become
> amorphous.
>
> My recent experiences lead me to believe that many dancers feel this loss. I
> am one of them. Projection, perhaps. But as I play music around the country,
> I hear plenty to support this theory. I in no way mean to point fingers or
> position blame. It is just time to call a spade a spade. I enjoyed and
> helped pioneer the diversity of sounds years back and loved dancing to
> slower groovy and basically 'other than' music. But I feel our dance has, as
> an art form, explored different options, traveled down a few roads and the
> original plan was the best. That which can deliver the essence of swing.
> Perhaps simply everything old is new again and this is the freshest sound. I
> do not foresee us dancing to the tempi of the mid 90's during the white hot
> phase of WCS. But I think a more traditional sound will again garner respect
> and be added to today's mix of music. I, for one, couldn't be happier. I
> signed on for swing dancing. For it is the most glorious in feeling, in
> sound, in purity and love.
>

AMEN to all.


Miki

ruthe...@aol.com

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Oct 13, 2006, 10:22:02 PM10/13/06
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Hey, there, John,


We were overjoyed to read your post about whatever happened to West
Coast Swing? We left the WCS scene a few years ago because the music
no longer had a "swing" feel to it. That music, without "swing,"
eliminated the connection that you've described, one that came out of
the music. That connection got the dancer from one end of the slot to
the other and created the flow, the stretch, and the action/reaction
between partners.

Music has always dictated the dance: for example, cha cha was danced
to cha cha music; waltz was danced to waltz music, tango was danced to
tango music. When we learned to dance in a studio, the first thing we
did was to listen to the music and determine which dance to do to that
music. Thus, music determined the dance. And if the music did not
swing, it was not suitable for West Coast Swing dancing. The music of
TODAY does not support swing dancing. It supports a vertical, up-down
movement with little or no connection. And it does NOT swing.

A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to hook up with Randy Albers,
a swing dancer whose style was driven by the connection you describe,
and who danced with Sharlot Bott and Michelle French, and who also won
the U.S. Open. He's an old-time dancer who has the connection and the
feel for the music and who cannot enjoy a West Coast Swing dance if
those elements are missing. For him and for us, it all comes down to
the MUSIC. And the music of today simply does NOT swing.

Consider the current TV program. "Dancing with the Stars." A problem
exists with the music chosen for this program. The dancers do tango to
contemporary music that has neither the tango rhythm nor feel. The
dancers do rhumba to contemporary music that has neither the rhumba
rhythm nor feel. The dancers do waltz to contemporary music that has
neither the waltz rhythm nor feel. Thus, the dancers of today learn to
dance to contemporary music that is not specific to the style of dance
they are learning. They have no idea of the essence of the dance they
are doing, nor of the connection that comes from that essence.

To summarize, every dance was created to fit the specific rhythm and
feel of the music. Applying this to swing, if the MUSIC does not
swing, the dance cannot be considered West Coast Swing. So let's get
back to the West Coast Swing MUSIC so we can do our beloved West Coast
Swing dance!

Ron N.

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Oct 13, 2006, 10:25:27 PM10/13/06
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On Oct 13, 11:05 am, dancerch...@earthlink.net wrote:
> Bravo John. Your short note about competition may be more to the mark
> than anything. While competition his fostered some fantastic dancers
> and wonderful routines, many of us lesser types have tried to mimic
> what we see there and have lost the essense and end up basically
> "Freestyling while holding hands". That is how i would describe a
> complete lack of this "essence".

Over a decade ago, when I was first learning beginning ballroom
dance and didn't know what real WCS was, I heard a swing club
dancer describe WCS to me as: "freestyle in a slot with lead
and follow". So that's not a new style of definition.

I haven't danced WCS long enough to know if the feel has
changed. But competition of the kind done in WCS dance world
could lead to a lessening of dance feel. The competitions
are currently judged by people watching a dance, not doing it,
and the dancers are often dancing mainly for showmanship and
audience appeal. (Of course the same complaint can be leveled
at ballroom dancers as well, especially in ballroom Latin &
Rhythm.) And some strata of social dancers seems to want to
emulate whatever is the current winning style in competitions.
WCS could be evolving towards being more of a "Look at me"
dance (as if it didn't start out that way already), perhaps
losing another small portion of the aspect of it being a
"It feels good dancing together , even if no one is watching"
social dance to swinging music.

Could this have led to what John Festa is talking about?


IMHO. YMMV.
--
rhn A.T nicholson d.0.t C-o-M

Peter D

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Oct 13, 2006, 10:25:02 PM10/13/06
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"Ed Jay" <ed...@aes-intl.com> wrote in message
news:2etvi250esk8fov7v...@4ax.com...

I'm no expert in West Coast Swing -- or much else! :-) -- but tha'ts what I
got from the essay as well. I sometimes hear WCS dancers say "anything: when
I ask what you can dance WCS to, but what I'm asking is what is the _core_,
the _essential_, the most appropriate and expressive, music. It seems to me
that hte answer is "swing music". Again, not an expert, but do understand
(and hear) the difference between "swing music" and not.
(asbestos undies donned!)


dav...@aol.com

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Oct 14, 2006, 4:34:35 AM10/14/06
to
Generally, I'm in agreement with Festa. But that doesn't mean I agree
with those who claim WCS can only be properly done to music that
"swings". That would leave out some of the greatest WCS songs ever
recorded. "One Drop Of Love" by Ray Charles, for example, does not
"swing". Are you telling me you can't dance WCS, and a really
swingin' WCS, to that song?

Those that yearn for the "old days" when "all the music swung" are
thinking about a dance that hasn't been done for at least 20 years. I
remember watching old BBtB tapes with some friends a few years ago-
from the early '90's. Far from "classic swing", the music was what
was then popular. I distinctly remember "The Heat Is On" by Glen Frey.
It reminds me of that saying, "The good old days ain't what they used
to be- and what's more, they never were".

Which doesn't mean I'm okay with a lot of the music played for WCS
these days. But WCS as a dance form is unique because it is a living
dance, evolving with the times. You're not going to force everyone to
go back to dancing wcs to fast blues and big band music, and if you
try, you'll just split the wcs comminity apart. Reintegrating good
swinging music as part of a balanced mix- now THAT's a worthy goal.

David Koppelman

Icono Clast

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Oct 14, 2006, 6:45:00 AM10/14/06
to
Ed Jay wrote:
> I stand by my original position that the essay is about the music
> we dance to, and how the music's divergence has robbed Swing of
> its [original] essence. That's what I believe John's point is.

So do I but I think the lowering of tempi is a significant part of
it. Some of the current tempi are so low that the physical forces
needed for the kind of dynamic expression of the past is lacking
[Egad, I hope I said that correctly.].


dav...@aol.com wrote:
> You're not going to force everyone to go back to dancing wcs to
> fast blues and big band music,

Damn (and other expletives)!

> and if you try, you'll just split the wcs comminity apart.
> Reintegrating good swinging music as part of a balanced mix- now
> THAT's a worthy goal.

It is indeed!

-- ________________________________________________________________
A San Franciscan who'll dance with anyone who'll dance with me!

SwinginInTheHood

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Oct 14, 2006, 7:06:30 AM10/14/06
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Ron N. wrote:
> On Oct 13, 11:05 am, dancerch...@earthlink.net wrote:
>
> I haven't danced WCS long enough to know if the feel has
> changed. But competition of the kind done in WCS dance world
> could lead to a lessening of dance feel. The competitions
> are currently judged by people watching a dance, not doing it,
> and the dancers are often dancing mainly for showmanship and
> audience appeal. (Of course the same complaint can be leveled
> at ballroom dancers as well, especially in ballroom Latin &
> Rhythm.)

And Salsa and Hustle.... I actually began dancing WCS before Lindy
Hop. I hated WCS, but loved Lindy. After a while I tried WCS again
(actually, because my favorite Salsa joint closed down), and began a
new love relationship. I discovered it wasn't the dance I disliked,
just some of the people.

I think it's a wonderful dance and I feel I can express myself in so
many different ways with it. Ways that don't exist in any other style
of dancing other than freestyle.

> And some strata of social dancers seems to want to
> emulate whatever is the current winning style in competitions.
> WCS could be evolving towards being more of a "Look at me"
> dance (as if it didn't start out that way already), perhaps
> losing another small portion of the aspect of it being a
> "It feels good dancing together , even if no one is watching"
> social dance to swinging music.
>

Because I still do the "original" swing to "original" swing music, as
well as study vintage clips and routines, I feel I have some clue about
this "swing" feeling that's been discussed. However, when I'm at the
WCS clubs, I don't see a lot of that "swing" essence, even when blues
and jazz music is being played. What I see a lot of, particularly in
the older guys, is a dedication to executing every pattern one has ever
learned. A lot of what I see, even if it looks good, has this sort of
mechanical and pre-recorded feel to it. I guess it's what you call
"Look at me" swing.

Don't get me wrong. As a performer myself, I've got nothing against
throwing out some moves for the audience... But even Whitey's Lindy
Hoppers, one of the greatest swing dance troupes in history, prided
themselves on being "social dancers" as well as performers. That is,
dancing for the sheer fun of it.

I have seen what I feel is "swing" essence though -- I've seen it in
the younger guys dancing their versions of WCS to hip-hop, rap and
whatever. There's a free-ness I feel from these guys, a joy, a light
element of non-rehearsed spontaneity that, to me, is the very essence
of everything I've learned and experienced in swing -- even it it
ain't to swing music.

Maybe they are free-styling while holding hands, but damnit, they sure
make it look more like fun and less like a job. Maybe that's why Lindy
Hoppers and EC Swingers are known for their easy smiles, and WC
Swingers the opposite.

I know, sounds ironic. But this discussion has mostly been about the
music and technical aspects of the dance. I'm talking about it's soul,
it's sprit. The "Look at me" comment above really got me to thinking
about what I think about the dance and those I see dancing it. I've
spent far more time lately watching (and studying) WCS dancers as I've
personally been focused on learning Ballroom.

I too have a hard time getting into a lot of the hip-hop and rap and
other contemporary music played, and will just sit out rather than try
and look cool dancing to music I can't feel or connect to. But the
young folks who can feel it seem quite uninhibited by the pretenses
that seem to rule a lot of the older generation. They just get out
there and swing. To a Krumpin' beat.

Just my opinion. What do I know?

-ron

Peter D

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Oct 14, 2006, 12:00:55 PM10/14/06
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<dav...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:1160814875.5...@m7g2000cwm.googlegroups.com...

> Generally, I'm in agreement with Festa. But that doesn't mean I agree
> with those who claim WCS can only be properly done to music that
> "swings". That would leave out some of the greatest WCS songs ever
> recorded. "One Drop Of Love" by Ray Charles, for example, does not
> "swing". Are you telling me you can't dance WCS, and a really
> swingin' WCS, to that song?

Thanks for that example, Dave. It helps me further define "music for WCS".
Yeah, I'd definitley WCS to it -- though it seems a little faster than
comfort level to to my ears. Does it "swing"? Well, it sure does "funk"!
Maybe I should refine my definition of WCS music and say it "swings and
funks". :-)

> Which doesn't mean I'm okay with a lot of the music played for WCS
> these days. But WCS as a dance form is unique because it is a living
> dance, evolving with the times.

Not only WCS is unique in this. Argentine Tango and Salsa come to mind. In
fact, just about any dance that isn't codified in a studio manual is
"evolving" --- some faster than others. It's the nature of such a human
expression that it not stand still. :-)

It occurs to me though that if something becomes an everything then it
becomes a nothing. Maybe WCS has become so all-inclusive muscially as to
lose (musical) touch with what makes it different, and in doing so has lost
contact with essential roots, roots that held it's uniqueness and gave it
what made it so special.

I say as I've said before that you cannot -- and should not -- WCS to
"everything". It is not that versatile -- and shouldn't be.


Swin...@webtv.net

unread,
Oct 14, 2006, 3:23:14 PM10/14/06
to
rutheeight:

< if the MUSIC does not swing, the dance cannot be considered West Coast
Swing. So let's get back to the West Coast Swing MUSIC so we can do our
beloved West Coast Swing dance!

Dear unsigned rutheeight:
1 Please define "MUSIC" that does not swing;
2. Please define what is West Coast Swing MUSIC;
3 And just for fun, define West Coast Swing dance.

I feel very confident that none of the above can be defined with any
certainty and any definition would be argued by others, probably
including me. That's always going to be a problem with any art.

What bothers me are dancers that abandon what they LOVE so much. That is
a cowardly way out...quitting. They would rather leave and bitch instead
of doing something about the situation. If you leave, don't
bitch...you've already turned tail and ran. If you stay, bitch all you
want...you CAN effect change.

There are only two ways of telling the complete truth - anonymously and
posthumously.
Thomas Sowell

Swin...@webtv.net

unread,
Oct 14, 2006, 3:44:45 PM10/14/06
to
Ron
<...I heard a swing club dancer describe WCS to me as: "freestyle in a

slot with lead and follow". So that's not a new style of definition.>

Lead and follow in a slot with some freestyle would be better.

Ron:


<But competition of the kind done in WCS dance world could lead to a
lessening of dance feel.>

First, WCS is not about competition. Secondly, how would you know how it
feels...you're not competing.

Ron:


<The competitions are currently judged by people watching a dance, not
doing it,>

Brilliant...

Ron:
<...and the dancers are often dancing mainly for showmanship and
audience appeal.>

Even more brilliant...need I comment on what a competition is about?

Ron:


<And some strata of social dancers seems to want to emulate whatever is
the current winning style in competitions.>

Pure genius....a first grader could have written this.

Ron:


<WCS could be evolving towards being more of a "Look at me" dance (as if
it didn't start out that way already), perhaps losing another small
portion of the aspect of it being a "It feels good dancing together ,
even if no one is watching" social dance to swinging music.>

It's always been a "look at me dance", the same as every other dance.

Got anything "new" Ron?

memiki

unread,
Oct 14, 2006, 4:53:51 PM10/14/06
to


David -- I dislike the "old" WCS music with a heavy beat typically used
in classes where students needed the obvious beat. -- OTOH I enjoy
dancing to John Festa's website theme "On Broadway",
http://www.swingislove.com/swingislove.htm -- Brian Culbertson's "Come
On Up" -- Grover Washington -- Sam Cooke -- Al Green -- Down to the
Bone -- Alva's Blues -- Diana Krall "From this Moment On" -- Renee
Olstead ........and any music that pulls me to the dance floor, makes
my feet syncopate and lifts me out of the real world and into the dance
world. I like slow, medium, fast and dreamy.

I am more definitive when it comes to naming what I don't like; but my
favorites are without limits to the point that I cannot name them all
-- but they need to sound like music to my ears and feel like music to
my feet.....and syncopate....syncopate.....

Am I a DJ's nightmare ? :)

Miki

Peter D

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Oct 14, 2006, 5:27:26 PM10/14/06
to
<Swin...@webtv.net> wrote in message
news:10812-45...@storefull-3252.bay.webtv.net...

> rutheeight:
> < if the MUSIC does not swing, the dance cannot be considered West Coast
> Swing.

I disagree. Though some music is better suited to WCS, it is not the _music_
as much as the _dance_ that defines the dance called WCS.

> So let's get back to the West Coast Swing MUSIC so we can do our
> beloved West Coast Swing dance!
>
> Dear unsigned rutheeight:
> 1 Please define "MUSIC" that does not swing;

I would say it's music that doesn't "swing". If it ain't got that swing...
:-)

> 2. Please define what is West Coast Swing MUSIC;

Ah, there's the rub.

> 3 And just for fun, define West Coast Swing dance.
>
> I feel very confident that none of the above can be defined with any
> certainty and any definition would be argued by others, probably
> including me. That's always going to be a problem with any art.

It's interesting that you included the dance in the above "cannot be
defined" because in the next message you define it as "Lead and follow in a
slot with some freestyle" (accurate imho). The dance can be defined. I mean
the people who dance it, promote it, teach it, learn it, organize it, and
champion it seem to know (and almost totally) agree on what it is.


Mike Corbett

unread,
Oct 14, 2006, 5:50:57 PM10/14/06
to

It depends on the purpose for which the definition is intended. Poopy
referred to one description being more accurate than another. He said
nothing about a definition.

Try defining WCS in such a way that multiple judges can reliably
conclude whether or not a routine contains 80% swing and you have a
kettle of fish nobody has boiled well yet.

Mike Corbett

dav...@aol.com

unread,
Oct 15, 2006, 3:44:03 AM10/15/06
to

No- in fact you're fairly typical of the folks dancing west coast swing
in that you like a variety of different kinds of music to dance to.
Not everyone wants the same variety, of course, but the existence of a
variety itself is part of the allure of the dance.

Of the songs you named, some "swing" (Alva, most Sam Cooke), some don't
(Culbertson, Down To The Bone). But you can definitely "swing", as in
west coast swing, to them. And therein lies the danger of trying to
horseshoe WCS back into a box that's marked "only done to music that
swings". And that's why it ain't gonna happen, and why a better
goal is simply a more balanced mix. That, btw, is the mix that Festa
played at BBtB- not every song "swung", but every song was capable of
DANCING swing. Which is the mix I aim for too.

David Koppelman

David Koppelman

memiki

unread,
Oct 15, 2006, 4:02:42 AM10/15/06
to

Thanks, David, for your reply. BTW I enjoy dancing to every track on
Brian Culbertson's "Come on Up" :)

I regret I was not in the ballroom when John Festa was DJing.....I was
probably catching up on some sleep so that I could dance yet another
night until 5:15 AM :).

Here's to keeping what John described as "the one quality that makes


swing swing is the center to center connection and elasticity of
tension and release between two moving
bodies. That a leader can anchor and a follower sit into that anchor
while
both expressing rhythm, only to release all that stored energy, is one
of

the most glorious of all kinetic actions." ......

Miki

Icono Clast

unread,
Oct 15, 2006, 7:41:31 AM10/15/06
to
Peter D wrote:

> "Ed Jay" wrote:
>> I stand by my original position that the essay is about the
>> music we dance to
>
> I sometimes hear WCS dancers say "anything: when I ask what you
> can dance WCS to, but what I'm asking is what is the _core_, the
> _essential_, the most appropriate and expressive, music.

Not all music that swings is Swing Music, i.e.,
http://geocities.com/dancefest/Articles/VignsDan.html#LA , and not
all Swing Music is Swing DANCE Music. I think most Swing dancers
would agree that "Kansas City", when played as intended, is an
excellent illustration of "what is the _core_, the _essential_, the


most appropriate and expressive, music."

I think a few other illustrative numbers are "Old Time Rock 'n'
Roll", "Mustang Sally", and "Tanqueray".

Here's the introduction on the "Sweat" page:
http://geocities.com/dancefest//Articles/Sweat.html

Many consider "Sweat" to be the best-ever Swing dance number.
If you, as I, have trouble understanding words when sung, here they
are: . . ."

-- ________________________________________________________________
A dancing San Franciscan who sometimes just listens.

dav...@aol.com

unread,
Oct 15, 2006, 11:55:09 AM10/15/06
to

Icono Clast wrote:

> I think a few other illustrative numbers are "Old Time Rock 'n'
> Roll", "Mustang Sally", and "Tanqueray".


Of these, only "Tanqueray" is in swung rhythm. See what I mean?:-)

David Koppelman

dance...@earthlink.net

unread,
Oct 15, 2006, 12:28:22 PM10/15/06
to
> >>>Ed Jay wrote:

>
> Yes, John speaks to the motion as the essence of Swing. But, in the second
> half of the essay, which ends with the conclusion of the essay, John says
> that we've lost the essence of Swing because of divergent music.
>
> I stand by my original position that the essay is about the music we dance
> to, and how the music's divergence has robbed Swing of its [original]
> essence. That's what I believe John's point is. If it isn't, that's OK with
> me, I still believe it, and that was my reason for posting John's essay.
> --
> Ed Jay (remove 'M' to respond by email)

John wrote: "In my mind, the one quality that makes swing swing is the


center to center connection and elasticity of tension and release
between two moving
bodies. That a leader can anchor and a follower sit into that anchor
while
both expressing rhythm, only to release all that stored energy, is one
of
the most glorious of all kinetic actions."

Yes he talks about the music as a catalist but the essense is this
elastic conection with kinetic exchange between partners. Some people
call it "pulse". If you don't have it, transmit it, it is difficult to
describe/teach it to others. When you do have it going with both (it
takes two) then it is as John says "glorious".

Chris Brown
Camarillo, CA

Ed Jay

unread,
Oct 15, 2006, 1:15:17 PM10/15/06
to
dance...@earthlink.net scribed:

>> >>>Ed Jay wrote:
>
>>
>> Yes, John speaks to the motion as the essence of Swing. But, in the second
>> half of the essay, which ends with the conclusion of the essay, John says
>> that we've lost the essence of Swing because of divergent music.
>>
>> I stand by my original position that the essay is about the music we dance
>> to, and how the music's divergence has robbed Swing of its [original]
>> essence. That's what I believe John's point is. If it isn't, that's OK with
>> me, I still believe it, and that was my reason for posting John's essay.
>

>John wrote: "In my mind, the one quality that makes swing swing is the
>center to center connection and elasticity of tension and release
>between two moving
>bodies. That a leader can anchor and a follower sit into that anchor
>while both expressing rhythm, only to release all that stored energy, is one
>of the most glorious of all kinetic actions."
>
>Yes he talks about the music as a catalist but the essense is this
>elastic conection with kinetic exchange between partners. Some people
>call it "pulse". If you don't have it, transmit it, it is difficult to
>describe/teach it to others. When you do have it going with both (it
>takes two) then it is as John says "glorious".
>

Owing to netiquette, I can't post John's email. But, let me post a couple of
his thoughts:

I sent John your first post with the question, "Who is correct?" John
responds: "Actually you are both right. Though I take great issue with
Chris' statement that music is merely a vessel for movement. Music is first
and foremost the motivating factor in rhythmic movement."

"The essay is a commentary on the physicality and kineticism of West Coast
Swing, citing the lack of stretch and release that I say is the essence of
swing. But I do, in fact, think the catalyst for that loss is the breadth
of musical genres that we now dance to."

Mike Corbett

unread,
Oct 15, 2006, 1:24:26 PM10/15/06
to

John later suggests physicality and kineticism that comes from stretch
and release is not being taught enough. Perhaps (for some
instructors) this is because they have chosen to teach steps and
interpretation before technique. Divergent music may serve as a
catalyst for such a demand from customers.

It's a precarious line we walk between teaching people to dance and
selling dance lessons. It's often far easier to provide the product
people think they need than the products we know they actually need.

Mike Corbett

Ed Jay

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Oct 15, 2006, 1:44:40 PM10/15/06
to
dav...@aol.com scribed:

David, with all due respect, and while I agree with your comments re 'the
mix,' I think your post misses the mark.

>Generally, I'm in agreement with Festa. But that doesn't mean I agree
>with those who claim WCS can only be properly done to music that
>"swings". That would leave out some of the greatest WCS songs ever
>recorded. "One Drop Of Love" by Ray Charles, for example, does not
>"swing". Are you telling me you can't dance WCS, and a really
>swingin' WCS, to that song?

Nobody has argued that we can't dance WCS to non-swung music. We do.
Nobody is arguing that some non-swung songs provide the vehicle for a good
swing dance. They do, as you've illustrated. The argument is more general
than you're allowing it to be. The argument is that the essence of WCS has
been lost due to the divergence of the music played.

>
>Those that yearn for the "old days" when "all the music swung" are
>thinking about a dance that hasn't been done for at least 20 years. I
>remember watching old BBtB tapes with some friends a few years ago-
>from the early '90's. Far from "classic swing", the music was what
>was then popular. I distinctly remember "The Heat Is On" by Glen Frey.
> It reminds me of that saying, "The good old days ain't what they used
>to be- and what's more, they never were".

Nobody is arguing that we get back to the old days and play music from that
era. Lord knows there's plenty of new 'blues' tunes available.

>
>Which doesn't mean I'm okay with a lot of the music played for WCS
>these days. But WCS as a dance form is unique because it is a living
>dance, evolving with the times. You're not going to force everyone to
>go back to dancing wcs to fast blues and big band music, and if you
>try, you'll just split the wcs comminity apart. Reintegrating good
>swinging music as part of a balanced mix- now THAT's a worthy goal.
>

I'm getting a bit tired of hearing how WCS is an always-evolving dance. To
my thinking, that's a mere copout. It serves only as an excuse to play any
genre music the DJ feels like playing, as long as it's in 4/4 time. I would
argue that today's WCS is not the same as yesterday's WCS. It doesn't have
the feel, the look...the essence of what WCS was and still should be. The
reason for the loss of the dance is that dancers are forced to dance to what
is played and adopt new techniques and methods to cope with the
characteristics of the music, most of which are not characteristic of WCS.
It's not an evolution of WCS. It's not because WCS is a living dance. That's
a bunch of crap. It's because we are forced to accommodate the dance to
accommodate the music.

When the DJ plays a heavy metal or Krumping song, do you feel the same dance
feel you do when dancing to Alva's Baby's Blues? James Cotton? Hell no!
Stand back and watch the dancers [trying] to dance to the stuff that's being
played. I watched a well-known local instructor dance to the 'new' music. He
was forced to 'dance to the eighths,' with a sequence of four-count patterns
with no anchoring, because the music didn't allow for it. Is that still WCS?
I don't think so. The feel and the basic pattern are missing.

John Festa is absolutely correct. The divergence of music has bastardized
WCS and robbed it of its essence.

Peter D

unread,
Oct 15, 2006, 2:43:55 PM10/15/06
to
<dav...@aol.com> wrote

David, please help me out here. Why is "Mustang Sally" such a "definitive"
West Coast Swing? Even before I knew anything about the WCS it was always
referenced as a THE West Coast Swing song. My perosnal favourite is the
version by The Commitments (followed by Los Lobos' version). I cannot think
of anyother dance to dance to Mustang Sally than West Coast.


Ron N.

unread,
Oct 15, 2006, 4:30:37 PM10/15/06
to
Ed Jay wrote:
> dav...@aol.com scribed:

> When the DJ plays a heavy metal or Krumping song, do you feel the same dance
> feel you do when dancing to Alva's Baby's Blues? James Cotton? Hell no!
> Stand back and watch the dancers [trying] to dance to the stuff that's being
> played. I watched a well-known local instructor dance to the 'new' music. He
> was forced to 'dance to the eighths,' with a sequence of four-count patterns
> with no anchoring, because the music didn't allow for it. Is that still WCS?
> I don't think so. The feel and the basic pattern are missing.

I seem to recall a Skippy seminar several years ago where she
wanted to play with some theory and experiment on the participants.
She made up a set of basic 8-count push and pass patterns which
she said something about fitting contemporary (maybe Rap?) music
much better than standard WCS basics. I can't remenber if she also
changed the technique much for this "new dance".

> John Festa is absolutely correct. The divergence of music has bastardized
> WCS and robbed it of its essence.

Perhaps the name WCS is being used for a dance that has evolved
too much to keep the same name. We already divide up swing into
Lindy, Shag, Bal, ECS, Jive, Rock&Roll, WCS, etc.

Can those key features which make 1950 and 1980 WCS feel different
from the bulk of todays WCS be clearly documented, and should those
past dance forms or todays WCS be given a different name?

Ron N.

unread,
Oct 15, 2006, 4:53:15 PM10/15/06
to
Swin...@webtv.net wrote:
> Ron:
> <WCS could be evolving towards being more of a "Look at me" dance (as if
> it didn't start out that way already), perhaps losing another small
> portion of the aspect of it being a "It feels good dancing together ,
> even if no one is watching" social dance to swinging music.>
>
> It's always been a "look at me dance", the same as every other dance.

It's not the same in every other dance. Some dance forms put more
emphasis on shows and competitions than others. The frequency
of "look at me" NC2S dancing is significantly lower, perhaps due
the sparcity of NC2S competition compared to WCS and Standard
ballroom.

German Rock&Roll swing looks to be in the opposite direction, where
I think one needs something like a permit in order to attempt some
of its gymnastic basics which look completely unsuitable for social
dancing. Whereas WCS hasn't gone as far (yet?) as requiring lifts in
intermediate J&J's.

In Argentine Tango, the split between pseudo-theatrical and
non-theatrical "hug in time to the music" dancing has given rise
to internal feuds over dance form naming, and whether the other
forms are even "True Tango"(tm), or just marketing gimmicks.

memiki

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Oct 15, 2006, 5:41:15 PM10/15/06
to


Chris -- thank you for the "glorious" dance at BBB :)

Miki

Ron N.

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Oct 15, 2006, 6:01:29 PM10/15/06
to
On Oct 15, 10:24 am, Mike Corbett <x...@corbettweb.com> wrote:
> John later suggests physicality and kineticism that comes from stretch
> and release is not being taught enough.

I do recall one or two WCS workshops with primary theme
being an "elastic connection". Is this concept related? If
so, what might it be with music that doesn't have a swing
rhythm that would cause this technique to be used less?

Mike Corbett

unread,
Oct 15, 2006, 8:39:50 PM10/15/06
to

IMO, nothing. However, some instructors may be more motivated to
teach musical interpretation than connection.

In other words, MY answer is contained in the portion of my post you
snipped. Please read again for context.

Mike Corbett

Icono Clast

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 6:53:19 AM10/16/06
to
Ed Jay wrote:
> The reason for the loss of the dance is that dancers are forced to
> dance to what is played and adopt new techniques and methods to
> cope with the characteristics of the music, most of which are not
> characteristic of WCS. It's not an evolution of WCS. It's not
> because WCS is a living dance. That's a bunch of crap. It's
> because we are forced to accommodate the dance to accommodate the
> music.

Well said! It is not infrequent that I find numbers undanceable,
averaging perhaps five percent of what's played these days. When it
does, the line of a former girlfriend spears m'memry: "What's the
matter; the music too young for you?"

> John Festa is absolutely correct. The divergence of music has
> bastardized WCS and robbed it of its essence.


Ron N. wrote:
> Can those key features which make 1950 and 1980 WCS feel different
> from the bulk of todays WCS be clearly documented,

Tough question. I knew how the dance felt in the '50s . . . in the
fifties! Do I remember how it felt? Hell, I dunno. I don't know if I
would if I could.

I think the greatest dif'rence in my dancing is in the Whip. How we
learned it then and how it's taught now differ. Also, then, we
weren't taught technique 'cause there wasn't some. Thanks to Skippy
and others who approached the dance from a technical perspective, we
know vastly much more about how we move, how to Lead the movements of
others, balance and more than was taught to us.

> and should those past dance forms or todays WCS be given a
> different name?

Western Swing?

-- ________________________________________________________________
A San Franciscan who'll dance with anyone who'll dance with me!

Dancer526

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 9:43:16 AM10/16/06
to

I couldn't disagree with you more, Ed. I do not accommodate my dancing
according to the music that I'm dancing to. I really do not believe it
is the musics fault the dance is changing. I have stated to many and
still say it follows this order:
1. The judges reward bad dancing in competition (flash and trash).
2. The new(er) dancers try to emulate that dancing (without proper
lessons).
3. The teachers are trying to make a living so teach what their
clients want. They try to explain but the clients don't want to hear
it. They want flash and trash.
4. ...and so the cycle continues.

You can give me any song and I will still keep my basics including
elasticity and anchoring at any speed. I would love to see some of
these newer dancers dance in a "JAM" like Kenny use to do.

When I was in Phoenix (it had been a while since I was out and about),
I noticed that a l;ot of the girls doing some weird thing with their
feet during their anchor and 1 - 2. It just doesn't flow. I asked a
top competitor/teacher/choreographer why this was happening. They
simply stated it was because of the "new shoes" the girls were wearing.
They have to bend their toes to grip the floor and they hadn't learned
how to do that so it was easier to dance the way they were dancing,
continuing their bad habits.

So maybe it's not the music, it's the shoes.. :-)

Once again, just my two cents.

Sue Canada
Woodland Hills, CA

Ed Jay

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 11:31:52 AM10/16/06
to
Dancer526 scribed:

Yes, you do. Come out tomorrow night and I'll prove it to you.

I took a workshop from Mario a few months ago. One of the things he covered
was how to change one's dancing to accommodate the music. If one is dancing
to a swung-eighths song, one will count 1 2 3&4 5&6. If the music goes to
straight-eighths, especially really funky music, change the count to
1 2 &34 5&6. It makes all the difference in the world to the feel of the
dance versus the music. It's called adapting the dance to accommodate the
music.

>I really do not believe it


>is the musics fault the dance is changing. I have stated to many and
>still say it follows this order:
>1. The judges reward bad dancing in competition (flash and trash).
>2. The new(er) dancers try to emulate that dancing (without proper
>lessons).
>3. The teachers are trying to make a living so teach what their
>clients want. They try to explain but the clients don't want to hear
>it. They want flash and trash.
>4. ...and so the cycle continues.
>

Possibly a reasonable argument for those new dancers who attend dance
competitions, but the noobies, who are learning to dance to contemporary
music, don't go to competitions, so your premise is wrong. Most of them
don't even know the comps are happening. By the time they start attending
conventions they've gotten far enough into WCS that most already have
established their own style set. The music they learned to has molded their
dancing.

Therein lies the real reason. The music they learned to dance to. Mike
Corbett alluded to it in an earlier post. Teachers want to sell dance
lessons. To do so, they make the student feel comfortable. Teaching to
'today's' music is one approach, but, as the cited Mario workshop topic
illustrates, the teacher has to modify the dance to fit the music.

>You can give me any song and I will still keep my basics including
>elasticity and anchoring at any speed.

Are you willing to make a small wager? (Tom?) ;-)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I watched a highly acclaimed local dance
instructor trying to dance WCS to a Krumping song. He was forced to reduce
his dancing to four-count patterns without an anchor while he and his
follower dashed from one end of their slot to the other*. There was no
other way he could dance to this 4/4 song, except to abandon the fundamental
WCS technique, the WCS count, and certainly what John Festa calls the
'essence' of WCS. The music robbed WCS of most of its character.

*(Our mutual friend watched the dance with me. Ask him. Why were we
watching? Because we couldn't dance to the song.)

>I would love to see some of
>these newer dancers dance in a "JAM" like Kenny use to do.

I'd love to see Kenny's crowd try to jam to some of the contemporary 'stuff'
that's been played recently.

>
>When I was in Phoenix (it had been a while since I was out and about),

And, it's also been a while since you went dancing at the clubs. You haven't
a clue about some of the music that's being played these days. If you did,
you wouldn't be so quick to proclaim your proficiency at dancing to 'any
song.'

>I noticed that a l;ot of the girls doing some weird thing with their
>feet during their anchor and 1 - 2. It just doesn't flow. I asked a
>top competitor/teacher/choreographer why this was happening. They
>simply stated it was because of the "new shoes" the girls were wearing.
> They have to bend their toes to grip the floor and they hadn't learned
>how to do that so it was easier to dance the way they were dancing,
>continuing their bad habits.
>
>So maybe it's not the music, it's the shoes.. :-)

Silly. Then again, if that many ladies were dancing some weird thing and
blamed the shoes, maybe a new career in dance shoe sales is where I'll find
the pot at the end of the rainbow. I don't think so.

Mike Corbett

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 12:13:50 PM10/16/06
to

With all due respect to Mario, the above suggestion is only one. I
don't do it. It isn't necessary and more importantly, it doesn't have
any affect on elasticity or kinetics.

>
>>I really do not believe it
>>is the musics fault the dance is changing. I have stated to many and
>>still say it follows this order:
>>1. The judges reward bad dancing in competition (flash and trash).
>>2. The new(er) dancers try to emulate that dancing (without proper
>>lessons).
>>3. The teachers are trying to make a living so teach what their
>>clients want. They try to explain but the clients don't want to hear
>>it. They want flash and trash.
>>4. ...and so the cycle continues.
>>
>Possibly a reasonable argument for those new dancers who attend dance
>competitions, but the noobies, who are learning to dance to contemporary
>music, don't go to competitions, so your premise is wrong. Most of them
>don't even know the comps are happening. By the time they start attending
>conventions they've gotten far enough into WCS that most already have
>established their own style set. The music they learned to has molded their
>dancing.

Technique is taught (or not) by instructors and learned by students at
all levels, in all locations and regardless of convention attendance.

>
>Therein lies the real reason. The music they learned to dance to. Mike
>Corbett alluded to it in an earlier post. Teachers want to sell dance
>lessons. To do so, they make the student feel comfortable. Teaching to
>'today's' music is one approach, but, as the cited Mario workshop topic
>illustrates, the teacher has to modify the dance to fit the music.

The teacher does not have to modify elacticity and connection to adapt
to straight eighths music or any but the most radical departures from
generally accepted WCS appropriate music. I alluded to the instructor
doing exactly as Sue suggests. That is to put the priority on making
the student happy instead of teaching them the appropriate technique.

As John says, music can be a catalyst for these choices but not they
are still choices. The cause is not the music. It is the lack of
integrity in the instructor, in the face of the music, IMO.

>
>>You can give me any song and I will still keep my basics including
>>elasticity and anchoring at any speed.
>
>Are you willing to make a small wager? (Tom?) ;-)

I'm betting with Sue. :-)

>
>As I mentioned in an earlier post, I watched a highly acclaimed local dance
>instructor trying to dance WCS to a Krumping song. He was forced to reduce
>his dancing to four-count patterns without an anchor while he and his
>follower dashed from one end of their slot to the other*. There was no
>other way he could dance to this 4/4 song, except to abandon the fundamental
>WCS technique, the WCS count, and certainly what John Festa calls the
>'essence' of WCS. The music robbed WCS of most of its character.

The dancers made a choice but not necessarily the only choice. You
may well be using as an example, a song completely inappropriate for
WCS, or without direct explanation from the dancers, I take it as your
assumption that their choice was the only one the leader considered
viable or simply a preference of the moment.

>
>*(Our mutual friend watched the dance with me. Ask him. Why were we
>watching? Because we couldn't dance to the song.)

What you and your friend "can" dance to is not necessarily an
appropriate standard for such a discussion. We all have our
limitations.

Mike Corbett

dance...@earthlink.net

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 12:42:35 PM10/16/06
to

memiki wrote:
>
> Chris -- thank you for the "glorious" dance at BBB :)
>
> Miki

My Pleasure :)

dance...@earthlink.net

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 12:50:08 PM10/16/06
to

Hmmm, I believe John misunderstood my comment about "vessel". I don't
believe I said "merely". A vessel can be very inspiring indeed. I was
very "uninspired" at BBtB and so was not dancing so much. But that is
a matter of taste.

Chris Brown
Camarillo, CA

Ed Jay

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 1:00:01 PM10/16/06
to
Mike Corbett scribed:

The elasticity and kinetics are driven by the feel of the music. Sure, we
can dance with elasticity and WCS kinetic action to anything, including no
music whatever. But, we're talking about dancing _to_ the music, not what we
can do in general. And, that's all Sue is talking about...she can dance with
all the character of WCS regardless of what song that's played. That doesn't
mean that she's dancing to or with the music. That's the rub. I've danced
WCS to a waltz and CW Two-step. It had all the swing content I could ask
for...so does a metronome. I was dancing to the constant beat/tempo...not to
or with the music.


>
>>>I really do not believe it
>>>is the musics fault the dance is changing. I have stated to many and
>>>still say it follows this order:
>>>1. The judges reward bad dancing in competition (flash and trash).
>>>2. The new(er) dancers try to emulate that dancing (without proper
>>>lessons).
>>>3. The teachers are trying to make a living so teach what their
>>>clients want. They try to explain but the clients don't want to hear
>>>it. They want flash and trash.
>>>4. ...and so the cycle continues.
>>>
>>Possibly a reasonable argument for those new dancers who attend dance
>>competitions, but the noobies, who are learning to dance to contemporary
>>music, don't go to competitions, so your premise is wrong. Most of them
>>don't even know the comps are happening. By the time they start attending
>>conventions they've gotten far enough into WCS that most already have
>>established their own style set. The music they learned to has molded their
>>dancing.
>
>Technique is taught (or not) by instructors and learned by students at
>all levels, in all locations and regardless of convention attendance.
>

I specifically wrote 'new dancers.'

>>
>>Therein lies the real reason. The music they learned to dance to. Mike
>>Corbett alluded to it in an earlier post. Teachers want to sell dance
>>lessons. To do so, they make the student feel comfortable. Teaching to
>>'today's' music is one approach, but, as the cited Mario workshop topic
>>illustrates, the teacher has to modify the dance to fit the music.
>
>The teacher does not have to modify elacticity and connection to adapt
>to straight eighths music or any but the most radical departures from
>generally accepted WCS appropriate music.

It depends on the music's genre.

> I alluded to the instructor
>doing exactly as Sue suggests. That is to put the priority on making
>the student happy instead of teaching them the appropriate technique.
>
>As John says, music can be a catalyst for these choices but not they
>are still choices. The cause is not the music. It is the lack of
>integrity in the instructor, in the face of the music, IMO.
>
>>
>>>You can give me any song and I will still keep my basics including
>>>elasticity and anchoring at any speed.
>>
>>Are you willing to make a small wager? (Tom?) ;-)
>
>I'm betting with Sue. :-)
>>
>>As I mentioned in an earlier post, I watched a highly acclaimed local dance
>>instructor trying to dance WCS to a Krumping song. He was forced to reduce
>>his dancing to four-count patterns without an anchor while he and his
>>follower dashed from one end of their slot to the other*. There was no
>>other way he could dance to this 4/4 song, except to abandon the fundamental
>>WCS technique, the WCS count, and certainly what John Festa calls the
>>'essence' of WCS. The music robbed WCS of most of its character.
>
>The dancers made a choice but not necessarily the only choice.

Possible.

>You
>may well be using as an example, a song completely inappropriate for
>WCS, or without direct explanation from the dancers,

Bingo! You got it! A song in 4/4 that was completely inappropriate for WCS.
That's what we're beginning to hear from multiple DJ's. This is the reason
why I initiated this thread. Some DJ's are playing music that is thoroughly
out of the ball park for WCS.

>I take it as your
>assumption that their choice was the only one the leader considered
>viable or simply a preference of the moment.
>

I made no assumptions about his choice of dance style. I observed that the
dancers were not doing WCS...because it wasn't possible to do WCS to the
song that was playing. My only assumption was that it was the music that
forced the leader to make the choice to abandon the basics of the dance.


>>
>>*(Our mutual friend watched the dance with me. Ask him. Why were we
>>watching? Because we couldn't dance to the song.)
>
>What you and your friend "can" dance to is not necessarily an
>appropriate standard for such a discussion.

You missed or ignored the point that was made...the leader we were watching
was not dancing WCS. We weren't dancing, nor were most in the Club, because
nobody could figure out how to dance to it.

>We all have our limitations.
>

Of course. Try dancing WCS to Kiss.

Bob Wheatley

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 1:35:18 PM10/16/06
to
"Mike Corbett" <xm...@corbettweb.com> wrote in message
news:rdb7j2pnif2ugteg1...@4ax.com...

> On Mon, 16 Oct 2006 08:31:52 -0700, Ed Jay <ed...@aes-intl.com> wrote:
>>I took a workshop from Mario a few months ago. One of the things he
>>covered
>>was how to change one's dancing to accommodate the music. If one is
>>dancing
>>to a swung-eighths song, one will count 1 2 3&4 5&6. If the music goes to
>>straight-eighths, especially really funky music, change the count to
>>1 2 &34 5&6. It makes all the difference in the world to the feel of the
>>dance versus the music. It's called adapting the dance to accommodate the
>>music.
>
> With all due respect to Mario, the above suggestion is only one. I
> don't do it. It isn't necessary and more importantly, it doesn't have
> any affect on elasticity or kinetics.
>

(Speaking of Mario, keep him and his family in your prayers)
While there's been some discussion here about music and it's impact on the
purported "essence" of WCS, I have not read yet why there's a belief that
swung eighths lends itself in any superior way to a leveraged connection.
AFAIC, I hate "basketball blues". It makes me want to ECS more than WCS.
So I don't "get it". Why the swung eighths and/or Blues concern?
Nostalgia?
Not that there's not some great blues music for WCS like "Let Your Light
Shine by Keb' Mo'. But if it's got that ridiculous basketball blues rhythm
like "Got Me Where You Want Me" by W.C. Clark I'd just as soon sit. Whether
it "swings" doesn't seem relevant to the connection to me, so can someone
explain why that makes a difference?
My personal favorite WCS songs are slower and have a lot of interpretive
possibilities on the melody or vocal lines. Songs like "For The Love Of You"
by Hil St Soul and "Ain't No Sunshine" by Lighthouse family are much
friendlier to a leveraged connection and the possibilities therein than
running back and forth down a slot to keep up with a fast blues song. If
pulsing to a swung eighth note is the "essence" then I understand. But if
the connection is the "essence" then please elaborate how the two correspond
with each other.


Bob Wheatley

Ed Jay

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 2:03:20 PM10/16/06
to
Bob Wheatley scribed:

>"Mike Corbett" <xm...@corbettweb.com> wrote in message
>news:rdb7j2pnif2ugteg1...@4ax.com...
>> On Mon, 16 Oct 2006 08:31:52 -0700, Ed Jay <ed...@aes-intl.com> wrote:
>>>I took a workshop from Mario a few months ago. One of the things he
>>>covered
>>>was how to change one's dancing to accommodate the music. If one is
>>>dancing
>>>to a swung-eighths song, one will count 1 2 3&4 5&6. If the music goes to
>>>straight-eighths, especially really funky music, change the count to
>>>1 2 &34 5&6. It makes all the difference in the world to the feel of the
>>>dance versus the music. It's called adapting the dance to accommodate the
>>>music.
>>
>> With all due respect to Mario, the above suggestion is only one. I
>> don't do it. It isn't necessary and more importantly, it doesn't have
>> any affect on elasticity or kinetics.
>>
>(Speaking of Mario, keep him and his family in your prayers)

He is. Terrible situation.

>While there's been some discussion here about music and it's impact on the
>purported "essence" of WCS, I have not read yet why there's a belief that
>swung eighths lends itself in any superior way to a leveraged connection.
>AFAIC, I hate "basketball blues". It makes me want to ECS more than WCS.
>So I don't "get it". Why the swung eighths and/or Blues concern?
>Nostalgia?

Not nostalgia.

First, there's the swing feel from swung eighths music. That's not to say it
doesn't necessarily exist with _some_ straight eighths music, but in
general, it doesn't.

A 'shuffle' or rolling count (&a1 &a2...) can be accomplished with swung
eighths, but not [easily] with straight eighths. Swung eighths divides the
beat into three parts. The rolling count divides the beat into three parts.
Straight eighths divides the beat into four parts.

I've argued before that a three-part motion can't be mapped to four-part
beats. I was corrected by Skippy Blair who contended that the dancer is an
instrument and may be played to fit the music. While I understand what
Skippy's saying, I still opine that the dancer who must add their own rhythm
to a song is not dancing to the song.

>Not that there's not some great blues music for WCS like "Let Your Light
>Shine by Keb' Mo'. But if it's got that ridiculous basketball blues rhythm
>like "Got Me Where You Want Me" by W.C. Clark I'd just as soon sit. Whether
>it "swings" doesn't seem relevant to the connection to me, so can someone
>explain why that makes a difference?

>My personal favorite WCS songs are slower and have a lot of interpretive
>possibilities on the melody or vocal lines. Songs like "For The Love Of You"
>by Hil St Soul and "Ain't No Sunshine" by Lighthouse family are much
>friendlier to a leveraged connection and the possibilities therein than
>running back and forth down a slot to keep up with a fast blues song. If
>pulsing to a swung eighth note is the "essence" then I understand. But if
>the connection is the "essence" then please elaborate how the two correspond
>with each other.

Once again, we're talking about music in general, not whether a few songs
are outside the rule set.

dav...@aol.com

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 2:05:31 PM10/16/06
to

Ed Jay wrote:
> dav...@aol.com scribed:
>
> David, with all due respect, and while I agree with your comments re 'the
> mix,' I think your post misses the mark.
>
> >Generally, I'm in agreement with Festa. But that doesn't mean I agree
> >with those who claim WCS can only be properly done to music that
> >"swings". That would leave out some of the greatest WCS songs ever
> >recorded. "One Drop Of Love" by Ray Charles, for example, does not
> >"swing". Are you telling me you can't dance WCS, and a really
> >swingin' WCS, to that song?
>
> Nobody has argued that we can't dance WCS to non-swung music. We do.
> Nobody is arguing that some non-swung songs provide the vehicle for a good
> swing dance. They do, as you've illustrated. The argument is more general
> than you're allowing it to be. The argument is that the essence of WCS has
> been lost due to the divergence of the music played.

I understand that argument. Mine, in response, was simply that music
need not be "swung" in order to "swing". I think the issue here is
how "divergent" the music gets.


> >
> >Those that yearn for the "old days" when "all the music swung" are
> >thinking about a dance that hasn't been done for at least 20 years. I
> >remember watching old BBtB tapes with some friends a few years ago-
> >from the early '90's. Far from "classic swing", the music was what
> >was then popular. I distinctly remember "The Heat Is On" by Glen Frey.
> > It reminds me of that saying, "The good old days ain't what they used
> >to be- and what's more, they never were".
>
> Nobody is arguing that we get back to the old days and play music from that
> era. Lord knows there's plenty of new 'blues' tunes available.
> >

Yes and lots of contemporary music that does not "diverge" so much as
to not lend itself to being "swingable". Examples: "Multiply" by Jamie
Lidell; "The Same Love That Made Me Laugh" by Queen Latifah; "Save
Room" by John Legend.

> >Which doesn't mean I'm okay with a lot of the music played for WCS
> >these days. But WCS as a dance form is unique because it is a living
> >dance, evolving with the times. You're not going to force everyone to
> >go back to dancing wcs to fast blues and big band music, and if you
> >try, you'll just split the wcs comminity apart. Reintegrating good
> >swinging music as part of a balanced mix- now THAT's a worthy goal.
> >
> I'm getting a bit tired of hearing how WCS is an always-evolving dance. To
> my thinking, that's a mere copout. It serves only as an excuse to play any
> genre music the DJ feels like playing, as long as it's in 4/4 time. I would
> argue that today's WCS is not the same as yesterday's WCS. It doesn't have
> the feel, the look...the essence of what WCS was and still should be. The
> reason for the loss of the dance is that dancers are forced to dance to what
> is played and adopt new techniques and methods to cope with the
> characteristics of the music, most of which are not characteristic of WCS.
> It's not an evolution of WCS. It's not because WCS is a living dance. That's
> a bunch of crap. It's because we are forced to accommodate the dance to
> accommodate the music.
>
> When the DJ plays a heavy metal or Krumping song, do you feel the same dance
> feel you do when dancing to Alva's Baby's Blues? James Cotton? Hell no!
> Stand back and watch the dancers [trying] to dance to the stuff that's being
> played. I watched a well-known local instructor dance to the 'new' music. He
> was forced to 'dance to the eighths,' with a sequence of four-count patterns
> with no anchoring, because the music didn't allow for it. Is that still WCS?
> I don't think so. The feel and the basic pattern are missing.
>

Ah, but these are extreme examples, aren't they?. I can't think of the
last time I played a "Krumping" song for WCS, and the only "heavy
metal" I ever play, occasionally, is "Shook Me All Night Long" by
AC/DC. Most "contemporary" music played for wcs is more "pop" than
anything else (examples: "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley; "Buttons" by
Pussycat Dolls. Not my favorite kind of music, but one need not
diverge from wcs basics to dance to them). Maybe I'm not going out
dancing enough and have missed some recent trends. If "krumping"
music is in fact taking over at wcs venues, indeed, that is not a good
thing.

> John Festa is absolutely correct. The divergence of music has bastardized
> WCS and robbed it of its essence.
>

I agree with Festa- but not entirely:-)



> Ed Jay (remove 'M' to respond by email)

David Koppelman

Peter D

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 2:36:40 PM10/16/06
to
"Dancer526" <danc...@aol.com> wrote
<snip>

> I couldn't disagree with you more, Ed. I do not accommodate my dancing
> according to the music that I'm dancing to. I really do not believe it
> is the musics fault the dance is changing. I have stated to many and
> still say it follows this order:
> 1. The judges reward bad dancing in competition (flash and trash).
> 2. The new(er) dancers try to emulate that dancing (without proper
> lessons).
> 3. The teachers are trying to make a living so teach what their
> clients want. They try to explain but the clients don't want to hear
> it. They want flash and trash.
> 4. ...and so the cycle continues.

That's too simplistic and non-universal. Thus it fails the most basic test
of whether it explains the current state of things. It simply doens't do
justice to all those who don't act as you say. It may explain why _some_
arrived at this point -- but only then if you can demonstrate that they did
in fact follow your stated sequence.

> You can give me any song and I will still keep my basics including
> elasticity and anchoring at any speed. I would love to see some of
> these newer dancers dance in a "JAM" like Kenny use to do.

I don't believe you (oe anyoen else)can dance to "any" song. It's simply not
possible. Well, you might want to monkey around and pretend to be on the
beat and pretend that your WCS-ing, but you won't be.


Peter D

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 2:40:54 PM10/16/06
to
"Ed Jay" <ed...@aes-intl.com> wrote

> As I mentioned in an earlier post, I watched a highly acclaimed local
> dance
> instructor trying to dance WCS to a Krumping song. He was forced to reduce
> his dancing to four-count patterns without an anchor while he and his
> follower dashed from one end of their slot to the other*. There was no
> other way he could dance to this 4/4 song, except to abandon the
> fundamental
> WCS technique, the WCS count, and certainly what John Festa calls the
> 'essence' of WCS. The music robbed WCS of most of its character.
>
> *(Our mutual friend watched the dance with me. Ask him. Why were we
> watching? Because we couldn't dance to the song.)

I pity the West Coast Swing-er who tries to dance to a Krumpin' song. I
can't imagine it either pretty or pleasant. And why on earth would anyone
want to? And why on earth would anyone play one for WCS dancers anyway?


Ed Jay

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 2:44:04 PM10/16/06
to
Peter D scribed:

Likes the music.

Ed Jay

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 2:45:34 PM10/16/06
to
Peter D scribed:

Exactly! And, there are many who think they're on the beat, but in reality,
they're subconsciously pretending.

Bob Wheatley

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 4:04:48 PM10/16/06
to
"Ed Jay" <ed...@aes-intl.com> wrote in message
news:5oh7j25paeuukrte5...@4ax.com...


I would tend to agree with Skippy here. (I don't know her)
First, isn't the swung portion of the beat as you describe it where you
would prefer to make the weight change for the "&" for 3&4 and 5&6? Since
this is a weight change this seems more feet related and less hand related.
Second, since the connection is primarily the hands and most good coaches
will tell you to not allow the feet to affect the connection, how does this
reconcile? I think the rhythm and the connection can be mutually exclusive.
As to why I think this - Most 4/4 songs that are suitable for WCS (or any
other dance genre) have suitable musical accents along 4 seperate lines.
1. Rhythm line - actual beat structure
2. Vocal line - the inflections of the voice itself
3. Melody line - instruments and accents generally in the treble clef
4. Lyrical line - defining the actual words with movements

Now, if our only intent is to interpret along that one narrow rhythm line
_and_ exclusively with a rolling count of placing the "&" dance count on the
"a" music count, then I agree with using ONLY swung music. However, that
eliminates all three of the other interpretive possibilities because they
are almost never in exactly the same place in the music. But in any case, I
still don't understand how the swung eighth aids a connection in any way.


>>Not that there's not some great blues music for WCS like "Let Your Light
>>Shine by Keb' Mo'. But if it's got that ridiculous basketball blues rhythm
>>like "Got Me Where You Want Me" by W.C. Clark I'd just as soon sit.
>>Whether
>>it "swings" doesn't seem relevant to the connection to me, so can someone
>>explain why that makes a difference?
>
>>My personal favorite WCS songs are slower and have a lot of interpretive
>>possibilities on the melody or vocal lines. Songs like "For The Love Of
>>You"
>>by Hil St Soul and "Ain't No Sunshine" by Lighthouse family are much
>>friendlier to a leveraged connection and the possibilities therein than
>>running back and forth down a slot to keep up with a fast blues song. If
>>pulsing to a swung eighth note is the "essence" then I understand. But if
>>the connection is the "essence" then please elaborate how the two
>>correspond
>>with each other.
>
> Once again, we're talking about music in general, not whether a few songs
> are outside the rule set.
>


I listed them as examples of non-blues songs that I think are superior for a
connection based dance and a less "feet oriented" dance. Since the assertion
is that the "essence" of WCS is the connection. (I agree)
I was hoping for an exchange of titles that you or others thought were
superior (to you) for a connection based dance, and why.

Bob Wheatley


Larry Gantman

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 5:22:20 PM10/16/06
to

"Bob Wheatley" <xmaster...@directway.com> wrote in message
news:12j7pgg...@corp.supernews.com...

I've been counting a rolling count for many years. No matter whether a song
has swung eighths or not, I still count as often as I remember to do so, and
I still step on the 'a' count instead of the 'and' count whenever possible.
This of course becomes less definitive as tempo increases, since the timing
between hitting the 'and' count and 'a' count is less significant.

From a larger perspective, aren't there two primary issues affecting WCS
right now? First, doesn't good dance music seem hard to come by these days?
We've been very fortunate in past years to have top musical talent--singers
and musicians-- knocking our socks off. Now I feel for DJs who try to find
lyrical, motivational music at all. Having said that, DJs like Jumpin' Jack
and David Koppelman are continually bringing better and better musical
quality to the dance floor. Isn't this what gets people on their feet?

Second, doesn't the simple connection using leverage and compression seem to
be a mystery to many new WCS dancers? That's not due to the music is it? A
good connection can be maintained no matter what tempo is played. Probably
five years ago a top champion dancer said that, as he traveled the country,
he was running into more and more dancers who had no connection. In
particular, more and more women were found to be coming in on six instead of
one. Oh for the good old days when Beata Howe had partners in a group class
hold hands and lean away from one another, then continue holding hands while
leaning forward against one another, as a simple tool to let dancers know
what it feels like to dance WCS with good connection.

Larry Gantman

Mike Corbett

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 7:27:59 PM10/16/06
to
On Sun, 15 Oct 2006 10:44:40 -0700, Ed Jay <ed...@aes-intl.com> wrote:


>John Festa is absolutely correct. The divergence of music has bastardized
>WCS and robbed it of its essence.

You may agree with John AND you may also think the divergence of music
has bastardized WCS and robbed it of its essence but John didn't say
what you wrote. He indicated something more like the divergence in
music was a catalyst (a contributor) to a significant decrease in
observable "essence". You took his statement, not just a bridge too
far but perhaps a continent beyond John's meaning.

The dance still holds its essence when danced by those who have the
skill and desire to dance it well. Many of those dancers are capable
of maintaining the essence while dancing to widely divergent music.

Mike Corbett

Peter D

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Oct 16, 2006, 7:34:26 PM10/16/06
to
"Ed Jay" <ed...@aes-intl.com> wrote in message
news:tmk7j2hlgvk2v4dqh...@4ax.com...

Who likes the music? The DJ? Because from what I'm reading, the audience
doens't much care for it.

Years ago, I had a friend who really liked Salsa. He asked me how many
"great" (danceable, recognisable, easy to follow, clear, crisp, clean, yet
not dated and boring) Salsa tunes there was. I told him I cold probably put
my hands on 500 easily. His comment? Then why play anything else? And he was
right. That's between 24 and 36 hours of non-stop music. Come to think of
it, now I could problaby increase that number to a thousand, making it over
50 hours of non-stop music. If an evening of dancing was Salsa only (never
is) and went for 4-5 hours that's 10 nights of dancing.

From what I understnad WCS is much less limiting than Salsa, and many more
songs are ideally suited to WCS. I bet people could find over a thousand
"great" WCS songs. Why bother with the barely recognisable and ill-defined,
hard to dance to, faddish stuff that seems to cause all the grief.


Bob Wheatley

unread,
Oct 16, 2006, 8:41:08 PM10/16/06
to
"Larry Gantman" <pay...@verizon.net> wrote

> I've been counting a rolling count for many years. No matter whether a
> song has swung eighths or not, I still count as often as I remember to do
> so, and I still step on the 'a' count instead of the 'and' count whenever
> possible. This of course becomes less definitive as tempo increases, since
> the timing between hitting the 'and' count and 'a' count is less
> significant. >


Good to see you posting again Larry. I hope all is well or getting better.

I think my tendency is to do the same. Particularly if there's a strong
backbeat because the "a4" and "a6" create more movement and thus a greater
accent to that backbeat. Of course that backbeat exists whether the "&" or
"a" does at all.


>
> From a larger perspective, aren't there two primary issues affecting WCS
> right now? First, doesn't good dance music seem hard to come by these
> days? We've been very fortunate in past years to have top musical
> talent--singers and musicians-- knocking our socks off. Now I feel for
> DJs who try to find lyrical, motivational music at all. Having said that,
> DJs like Jumpin' Jack and David Koppelman are continually bringing better
> and better musical quality to the dance floor. Isn't this what gets
> people on their feet? >

Yes, music is always a problem. It's like looking for the proverbial needle
in a haystack.

>
> Second, doesn't the simple connection using leverage and compression seem
> to be a mystery to many new WCS dancers? That's not due to the music is
> it? A good connection can be maintained no matter what tempo is played.
> Probably five years ago a top champion dancer said that, as he traveled
> the country, he was running into more and more dancers who had no
> connection. In particular, more and more women were found to be coming in
> on six instead of one. Oh for the good old days when Beata Howe had
> partners in a group class hold hands and lean away from one another, then
> continue holding hands while leaning forward against one another, as a
> simple tool to let dancers know what it feels like to dance WCS with good
> connection. >


Yes again. I love dancing with Beata _because_ of her connection.
It has seemed like a fad recently with these ultra-light connections that
aren't enough to communicate much more than the fact that two people are
"touching". There has to be enough for there to be a connection of centers
and I agree that can vary, but touching isn't a connection.

Bob Wheatley


dav...@aol.com

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Oct 17, 2006, 12:42:03 AM10/17/06
to

Peter D wrote:
> "Ed Jay" <ed...@aes-intl.com> wrote in message
> news:tmk7j2hlgvk2v4dqh...@4ax.com...
> > Peter D scribed:
> >
> >>"Ed Jay" <ed...@aes-intl.com> wrote
> >>> As I mentioned in an earlier post, I watched a highly acclaimed local
> >>> dance
> >>> instructor trying to dance WCS to a Krumping song. He was forced to
> >>> reduce
> >>> his dancing to four-count patterns without an anchor while he and his
> >>> follower dashed from one end of their slot to the other*. There was no
> >>> other way he could dance to this 4/4 song, except to abandon the
> >>> fundamental
> >>> WCS technique, the WCS count, and certainly what John Festa calls the
> >>> 'essence' of WCS. The music robbed WCS of most of its character.
> >>>
> >>> *(Our mutual friend watched the dance with me. Ask him. Why were we
> >>> watching? Because we couldn't dance to the song.)
> >>
> >>I pity the West Coast Swing-er who tries to dance to a Krumpin' song. I
> >>can't imagine it either pretty or pleasant. And why on earth would anyone
> >>want to? And why on earth would anyone play one for WCS dancers anyway?
> >>
> > Likes the music.
>
> Who likes the music? The DJ? Because from what I'm reading, the audience
> doens't much care for it.
>
Please remember that you are "reading" from a very select audience.
Not that the folks that post here (myself included) don't have valuable
contributions to make, but remember that the audience preferring to
dance WCS to contemporary music (and believe me, such an audience
definitely exists) does not typically participate in a r.a.d. debate.

David Koppelman

Ed Jay

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Oct 17, 2006, 1:08:57 AM10/17/06