Aerials in Lindy Hop Competition

A recent email from Allen Hall (part-time Minnesota resident, and otherwise traveling lindy hopper along with his adorable wife Rudy) stated:

The recent competitive success of pairs who don’t do aerials, but otherwise, make the best of tightly crafted routines, based on solid dancing by both partners, using controlled body isolation; lots of understated but cute moves, fresh music at moderate tempos, while paying attention to one another, is, I believe, a big move in the right direction for Lindy Hop. It emphasizes an element of dance that the average social dancer can aspire to, and with hard work and some talent, can achieve. Well done unusual aerials are always an Ohhhh Ahhhh! factor in Lindy, but to depend on them for competitive success is doing Lindy Hop no favors, and acrobatics taken to an extreme by too many pairs, may result in judges who become sick of them.

I have to say, for me personally, I couldn’t agree more. I have gotten tired in recent years of watching couples who are flashy ranking ahead of couples with superior dancing skills but who don’t do as many aerials. I think the general rule of more aerials =  higher rankings will always hold true for the “non-professional” competitions out there. (That’s a bad word. I mean the ones that are judged by non-dancers.) But hopefully this trend of couples who don’t do aerials winning contests will continue!

Jive Junction!

As you probably know, we’ve moved out of the West Des Moines Community Center for the summer – they were planning to undergo some renovations and promised a better space for the fall. Unfortunately, I think they ran into some trouble getting things started over there, so no renovations or repairs took place.

Even more unfortunately, that week that we received untold quantities of rain, it all leaked in the unrepaired windows and through the unrepaired roof, and completely ruined the floor of the ballroom. We’re not quite sure what the future holds for the Community Center, but they suggested we find somewhere else for the next several months at least.

Living History Farms has been awesome for hosting us this summer, but our agreement with them was not long-term, and we’re not able to stay past August. We have a location for October (the new community center in Colby Park!), but are still looking for September.

So… stay tuned. I know it’s hard to keep us on your schedule when you don’t know where we’ll be, but we’re doing our best. Thanks!

When you know more than your partner

This is one scenario we see over and over in our classes. One partner already knows how to dance, the other partner is a rank beginner. It either goes really well, or it’s a disaster. Want your experience to go well, and not be a disaster?? Keep reading.

What makes this situation so hard is that it’s very tempting for the person who already knows how to dance to want to help their partner. This “help” often takes the form of giving LOTS of feedback, like “you’re supposed to…” If the experienced dancer is a follower, she often will just perform the steps she’s supposed to, without waiting for her partner to lead them (aka “backleading”).

It’s understandable to want to help – of course you want to help! But what’s challenging is that the help your partner most needs is for you to stand back a bit and wait for them to catch up. There’s no rushing the learning process with dancing – students need time for their muscles to remember what they’re supposed to be doing.

The main hindrance in learning to dance is the human brain – our brains just get in the way so often when we’re learning to dance – and having to process verbal directions – or criticism – or react to backleading actually slows the whole process down.

I LOVE it when folks who already know how to dance bring newcomers to our classes or dances. That’s what swing dancing is all about – bringing in new, unsuspecting victims! The hard part is toning down your own enthusiasm for spreading the swing dancing love while you let the new dancer learn at their own pace.

Hey! Your website looks a little out of date!

Yes. I know. See, our hard drive crashed a month or so ago, and we’ve really kind of been in denial about it. Honestly, we haven’t done anything to rectify the situation. Among the things on the hard drive was the most recent copy of our website.

Now, this isn’t a HUGE deal. I have a slightly outdated version stored safely on my other computer – the one that’s backed up offsite. It’s just a matter of updating it and republishing. But, well, it’s enough of a job that it just hasn’t gotten done. It will. In the meantime, our October classes are filling up, but there’s still room so COME ON DOWN! Tonight at the West Des Moines Community Center.