Monthly Archives: October 2009

There’s a heaven right here on Earth…

"ULHS is dead! Long live ULHS!" – Jerry

ULHS October 8th – 12th, 2009

Damn. I’m pretty much speechless. Except for this long and obnoxious review below.

The Dancing

The dancing was alright. I think there was a bit of an imbalance in the lead : follow ratio so it was very hard to find some one to dance with unless A) they were your friend B) DSC_0066you attacked your victim as soon as the song was over. This was not so much fun for the followers but I’m sure the leaders had the time of their lives. I had some pretty good dances though, so I’m not complaining. I met an amazing tap dancer named Ronnie who just happened to be in NOLA that weekend.  Even though he did not know anything about Lindy Hop, he ended up buying a weekend pass! He’s amazing.

The Venues

The venues were all amazing. By far though, my favorite was the wax museum on the first night because the floor was awesome, the space was nice and intimate without being crowded, and they kept the museum open for us so you could walk around it when you were not dancing. Other venues were the WWII Museum, which was all right, the acoustics were not so great and it didn’t feel as intimate, the House of Blues, the floor was horribly dirty my shoes had like half a centimeter of dirt caked on the bottom, and I didn’t even wear them on the street! Firtzels was the late night venue which is a small jazz club on Bourbon St. It was very crowded even on the 2nd floor, so much that I didn’t really want to dance there at all and I usually look forward to late night because I get room to dance. One of the events took place outside in the french market where they put up an awesome floor where they had half the showdown contest. This was awesome until it started to rain. But I think that will be taken care of next year with some sort of canopy over the floor. Over all I really liked how all the venues were different each night. The organizers really kept the city of New Orleans in mind and even if you didn’t specifically go sight seeing you got to experience the city and the couture and history just by being at the scheduled events. This I’m guessing was a difficult task, and I say to the organizers job well done!

The Competitions

Were alright. Even though there were tons of people there, not a lot of "rockstars" showed up which to me was surprising. All I needed was some more of that Frida and Mikey sauce from ILHC. Yes please. But I have to say I’m extremely pleased with the results. I’m so glad the people that won, won. My favorites were the showdown final battle where Joanna and Chance won over Annie and Dax, Ramona winning the solo jazz, and of course Dax taking it all the way and showing people how dancing is supposed to be done in the solo blues.

Dang.

The Music

Holly crap, I cannot say enough about the music. It was mind-blowing, and amazing, and awesome, and fantastic, and glorious, and wonderful. It is amazing how these musicians can play anything, catch things in mid-sentence, and play with anybody and with any instruments. It blows my mind how talented and flexible they are. I can write a whole other post about it, and I might just have to do that.

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The City

Which was a major part of the event. And I have to say that if it   was held in any other city this event would have been terrible. But because the organizers really thought about how to show people the city just by going to the places they were supposed to be it really paid off big time. The DSC_0013city has so much culture and history you can feel it pulsing through you. You can’t help yourself but connect with the history of the music we love so much and our dance, which sprang of of this music. And don’t even get me started on the food…

BTW. If you want to see some more pictures click here and here (these are significantly better).

Future Plans

October 8th-11th, 2009 – ULHS
October 23rd-25th, 2009 – LA Blues (This weekend!)
October 30th-November 1st, 2009 – EBC 
November 5th-8th, 2009 – Pheonix Lindy Exchange (Perhaps if I volunteer…)
November 26th-29th, 2009 – US Open 
December 4th-6th, 2009 – Killer Diller Weekend
December 27th-23rd, 2009 – Lindy Focus (need to buy plane tickets!)
January 10th-17th, 2010 – Sea Swing Sensation Cruise! (With my mom!) I really wish I could go here though…

Just a reminder, If you’re reading this on facebook you’re missing half the fun! Click on ‘View Original Post’ below!

Spanish Rose.

I’ve been working on solo jazz for a while, although not as intensely as I’d like to. I’ve also started to explore other dances a bit more. If you know me at all, I’m not really all about learning salsa to improve your Lindy Hop because frankly they are completely different dances in movement and attitude. I dance Lindy Hop because I like it and if I would have liked salsa I would have started dancing salsa. But that is a different rant for another time. However I think learning other "cultural dances" can really open up your horizons. Dances with their own culture and scene, like the Lindy Hop scene are most appropriate.

I’ve been taking flamenco lessons for a few weeks now at my college and I really enjoy it! It’s kind of like tap dance with more restrictions and rules and pain. I have taken "jazz" class at my college last year, but it was terrible. At one point the teacher said that she was choreographing a "combination" but she hadn’t picked out the music yet. Whaaa?! That is another rant all it’s own. It did not feel like dancing. Flamenco feels like dancing because it comes from a naturally evolved dance not from something that was packaged for the entertainment of the rich and famous. Our teacher taught us a step (much like the mambo step that’s in the middle of the Tranky Doo) and then he asked us if we knew where the step came from. Everybody was  like "Spain?" The true answer was Cuba. Much like Lindy Hop, Flamenco also evolved from different countries and other styles influence flamenco. I love that kind of organic progression of a dance. That evolution is why we have Lindy Hop and Balboa, and Hip Hop.

So if you’d ever want to take other dance classed I’d suggest tap, first and foremost because so much of it is in Lindy, African dance, flamenco, or basically any other cultural dance.  You’ll feel very at home.

But ultimately if it’s not fun, don’t do it anymore no matter how many people have told you that it will help your dancing.

Just a reminder, If you’re reading this on facebook you’re missing half the fun! Click on ‘View Original Post’ below!

Musicality is not Monotony.

Musicality to me is simply: Music + Brain = Movement. You hear music, your brain process it, and you move to the music. So deceivingly simple. But when you have two people dancing together this complicates it quite a bit. No one hears a sound exactly the same way, just like no one sees exactly the same colors. And even if we all did here exactly the same sound who’s to say were going to move to it exactly the same way. Now imagine 2 people dancing together trying to process the same piece of music with hundreds of sounds which each hears differently and move to it while still trying to be connected. Ladies and gentlemen, you have Lindy Hop!

Musicality is not something one person can hear and the other doesn’t, it’s not magic. Musicality is different from person to person, one person may be listening to the higher notes in the music and the other the low notes. Like wise, the follower could be listening to the drums/base (lower sounds) while the leader to the horns (higher sounds) as in this clip (pay attention around 0:11).

Nina Gilkenson and Mike Faltesek demo to Ochi Chornya by Wingy Manone in Quebec for the no-longer-existing QSRV.

The leader hears something completely different in the music than the follower and wants to accent the horns while the follower thinks it would be much more interesting to accent the drum thud at the end of the intro. Even though they here different things, they do different things they still are dancing together and to the same song. MAGIC!

You cannot “lead” musicality. Yeah, you can lead a certain move that will accent a certain count which the break hits but the follow could always choose to do some insane footwork that accentuates something else in the song. Maybe the leader will lead a plain, good, old, yummy swing out, well the follower can change the whole rhythm of it to fit the song as she hears it as demonstrated beautifully here at around 0:17. Or a plain old sugar push; 0:53. Or just a pass through; 1:09 . Or transition into or out of tandem Charleston (s-turn?) 1:29 and 1:37.

Frida Segerdahl and Mikey Pedroza compete at ILHC in the Invitational J&J to Darktown Strutters Ball.

Notice how even though the leader leads a certain pattern the follower can still add her own musicality to it very easily. Notice how the follow ads a little somthin’ somthin’ at :39 , 1:01, 1:22, and starts a little breezy knees action at 1:12 which the leader catches on to. (I like my knees breezy, please and thank you!)

That little “visual lead” is an integral part of Lindy Hop, at least in my crazy little head. It’s what makes Lindy Hop, Lindy Hop and not ballroom. That is what is meant when you hear people talking about lead and follow as a conversation. One person does something cool, a footwork variation, a styling, a jazz step, and the other catches on. It’s like an exchange of steps or styling, or like a mini competition, where you are trying to out do each other, or game of Simon Says, or just a fun conversation. Frankie describes it the best. You create some thing together, not the leader tells you what to do, but you truly create something together, something you could have never created on your own without a partner because of that conversation with them and the music. Those are the best dances you’ll ever have and you’ll remember them forever. Try to find the visual leads in this here clip all by your lonesome self.

Nina Gilkenson and Mike Faltesek demo at Lindy Focus

Here are my favorites: Apple Jacks at 0:26 and Boogie Forwards at 0:48.  Also, something you might have noticed, starting at 0:19 you can also see how Mike is listening to the horns while Nina listens to the piano. Very cool.

The most important thing is to remember that just because the leader is called the leader and the follower is called the follower doesn’t mean the leader can’t play off and visually follow a cool step the follow did. Leaders, try it next time you go dancing! Lead a bunch of swing outs and see what kind of variation the follow comes up with on the 7 and 8, 1 and 2. Then on the next 8 count try to copy what she did. Don’t worry if you didn’t get it exactly right, it’s called social dancing for a reason. Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with your own variation. Believe me followers love swing outs, they could do them all night on repeat, so don’t worry about trying to shove in other “moves”. Next try to do your own variation and see if she catches on to it on the next 8 count. Caution: this may cause you to experience the best dance of your life.

In conclusion, the leader doesn’t always have to be dictating every single movement to the follower and the follower can have her own thoughts and impact on the dance you both are creating, and not just blindly following the leader. You can do completely different footwork or styling and still be dancing together. It’s not a dictatorship it’s kind of an anarchy. Rules in Lindy Hop? Pffft.

Now go and dance!