I recently joined a group of East Coast Swing dancers. Growing up I remember Mom and Dad always loved to go out dancing. I remember how happy it made them. They loved jitterbug and so many other dances I cannot remember. But I do remember Glen Miller big band music playing.
Since my recent move, I decided to look around for a nearby dance group to join. I was lucky to find Rebekah and Brian who are teaching East Coast Swing at Pub-on-Park in Cranston RI.
Our experiences have so much to teach us if we can see and find the lessons learned. This past year has been one filled with lessons that I probably would not have learned if the year had gone as I originally planned. To my surprise, some of the best lessons I have learned came from swing dancing.
What is East Coast Swing?
East Coast Swing is a partner dance. Swing music can be fast, including rock and roll and boogie-woogie. Arthur Murray describes The East Coast Swing as “an energetic dance. In fact, it’s two main attributes showcase that energy: Rotation and Bounce. With a continuous, flexing of the knees, the dance highlights the 2 & 4 beats of the music.”
I love to watch Max and Pamela, Harlem Vilnius Lithuania. Do music and dance bring us together internationally or what?
Some Say “It ain’t about how fast you go or how many fancy moves you may have. It all comes down to attitude. And this couple is loaded with it.”
Lessons Learned From Swing Dance
On the dance floor, there’s one leader and one follower. As the leader in business sets the vision of the company and the direction and gives the followers clues on what direction to go. The leader is responsible for the way the dance goes. Sets the tone. Together they stay in synch with the beat. The leader gives clues to the follower the next move to make. The leader in business gives direction but allows the followers to dance with their own creativity. The follower has free reign to be creative within the main steps.
In swing, how does the leader give cues? For example, if the leader holds his left hand up and pushes against the followers right hand. This means, twirl to your right.
1. The Components of swing
The East Coast style of Swing is made up of two triple steps and one rock step.
2. The Style
The East Coast Swing dancing is circular. The dance has a mix of turns and wraps, but it set on a circular rotation left or right.
3. The Music for swing
The East Coast Swing is historically associated with big band jazz music. As a dance, Swing benefitted from the music revolutions in American culture: from Jazz, to Rock N’ Roll, Disco, and Pop. Today, East Coast Swing, or any other variation of the dance, can be done to any of these genres of music.
4. The Technique
The East Coast Swing is an energetic dance. In fact, it’s two main attributes showcase that energy: Rotation and Bounce. With a continuous, flexing of the knees the dance highlights the 2 & 4 beats of the music. For more advanced dancers, the EC Swing is done with a single hip action on the triple steps, and double hip action (like Merengue), on the rock step.
Keep your head up. I hear from the instructor. If the leader is doing their job you won’t have to look at his or your feet in order to know what steps to perform next. It’s about a body connection. For example, the leader sends her signals by placing his right hand along the mid-back of the follower. The follower feels the push and pull by placing her left hand on his right shoulder so her elbow rests along his elbow.
The difference between leader and follower in steps such as the rock step. The leader leads off with his left foot, while the follower rock steps starting with her right foot.
It’s the careful syncopation of music, dance, and rhythm. Feel the rhythm. Is the rhythm in the drums?
Swing music and the dance is a natural high. An instantaneous mood lifter. As you look around the people on the floor you see many smiles. It’s easy to smile when on the dance floor. I hear so many people say how happy it makes them to be out dancing.
Swing Dancing is a social gathering
There’s one thing about swing… it’s fun and gets people interacting. The men ask the ladies to dance. The ladies ask the men to dance.
How do you learn all the dance steps?
A dance rouine can have many steps. How can you possibly learn them all? We break them down into sections and within those sections, you learn each of the steps. Much like in business you have the main goal in mind. You break it down into phases. As dance each section has a sequence of steps. In business, a project might be broken down into phases.
Why do dancers begin counting on beat 5?
Dancers need to start dancing at the count of “1” so that they sync with the music. When you synchronize, you need to coordinate timing. So you need to prepare for the “1”. As the musician counts 1234, the dancer counts 5678. The dancer has four beats to prepare for starting together on 1.
Ever notice when you’re running a race, you say “READY, SET, GO!” Why don’t you just say “GO!”?? The importance of saying “Ready” and “Set” is the same analogy for counting 5, 6, 7, 8.
Finally, the Best Lessons I learned from Swing Dance
Some of the best lessons I have learned came from swing dancing. Sure it’s about the components, the style, the technique, the music. Some of the best lessons I learned is through the social connections. The wonderful and creative people I’ve met. The many friends I’ve made. Every individual’s personality comes shining through. The laughs, the smiles, the camaraderie that I have formed. As a follower [on the dance floor that is], I find it exciting that you don’t know what the leader has in store for the dance. The trick is to stay open minded, listen to the music, feel the body cues, and you’re bound to have fun.
Helping one another learn along the way makes it more fun. Meeting terrific people. That makes life that much happier. Beats the loneliness of sitting home.
Take action today. Get out and join a swing dance group near you! You’ll be glad you did. Some say it’s better than any anti-depressants. And better than any psychiatrist.