This was originally a guest blog at atomicballroom.com.
The other night, on a pleasant summer evening in Southern California, I was out social dancing at a Swing event. There was a wealth of lovely, willing leads. The band was exuberantly playing some loungey swing classics, like “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Mack the Knife,” and “Something’s Gotta Give”—then, suddenly, like an unexpected but welcome cool rain, there was a Waltz.
A male Swing lead, a long-time acquaintance of mine, looked at me and said, “What the heck is that?”
“That, kind sir, is a Waltz,” I replied with no little amount of enthusiasm. I waited expectantly, but he just looked discouraged, tinged with a trace of disgust, and he walked away. It was like when my grandmother used to shake her head in exasperation at what the world was coming to when Madonna pranced around in her steel-studded underwear.
Later in the evening, when a Cha Cha came on, that same lead was even more uncomfortable, and finally, when there was a Rumba, he was completely demoralized and left. Quite a few others followed him. Fortunately for me, my escort for the evening was a lead who can dance when a Waltz, a Cha Cha, or a Rumba is played. Except for the fact that probably 20 people bailed like vegetarians from a steak house just like my friend, it was a very satisfying night out. And, despite the sin of playing a variety of music, this Swing band did its job; the musicians played very well and created a fun atmosphere—and who wouldn’t appreciate that?
It is an unfortunate fact that many dancers cling desperately to their comfort zones like a sloth to a tree branch. They will only dance one kind of dance to one kind of music. As a bona fide Lindy Hopper who has been active in the Swing scene for going on 15 years, I am going to point my finger squarely at many of my fellow Swing dancers. (Remember the—ultimately—non-issue of Hollywood versus Savoy?) From what I have observed, West Coasters, Salsa enthusiasts, and Argentine Tango dancers may be just as guilty. Although they also have their issues, I would venture to say that ballroom dancers are a tiny bit more open minded, and here’s why.
Continue reading “The Multi-Tasking Dancer by Lisa Montagne”