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Your first ever classes in lindy hop - would you change them?   







An open question to you guys:

With hindsight, if you could now pick exactly what was taught in an introductory course (for example 4 or 6 classes, once a week, an hour or a bit longer each), what would you want to learn?

Of course it’s something I’m looking to put into practice. So I will…

The very first lindy hop class that I ever went to was, overall, quite good - but I thought it’d be worth sharing some things that I really liked from that class as well as the few things that I wish I could change.

I really liked that the instructors had all of the students start out with just learning the rhythm. It might seem obvious, but too many instructors have either under-emphasized or left out the rhythm entirely (beyond explaining the basic count). In this class, they had us all count aloud in lindy time, clap in lindy time, march in lindy time, and even scat in lindy time! That exercise, which took a good fifteen minutes, really solidified one, two, three-and-four, five, six, sev’n-and-eight for me. Another thing that I hadn’t seen in other classes before (or since): at one point, after learning the rhythm and a few basic moves, the instructors had everyone partner up. They then had the follows close their eyes for an entire song. Dancing with blind follows benefited both parties: everyone had to learn the arts of non-verbal and non-visual communication, with the leads paying special attention to clear directions and the follows paying special attention to smooth responses. Though we only did really simple moves during that one dance, it helped so much with lead-follow dynamics.
As much as I really did enjoy those first classes, there were a few things that I felt really should have been different. My triple steps were quite bouncy (they’re still not perfect, aha) but no correction was made on that. It’s obviously vital to have the steps down pat, before you can focus on much else. But my overly boisterous triples weren’t tamed on that first day, and my dancing suffered for quite awhile - not only did I not know that anything was wrong, but I wouldn’t have even known how to fix it. In a class for beginners, it’s extremely important that proper execution of the steps is emphasized. Another thing: when they taught swingouts, they didn’t even mention the existence of swivels. Obviously, when you first learn the swingout, it can be a bit overwhelming, and throwing in swivels (and other stylistic touches) can just make that worse. But swivels are at the heart of lindy hop! I ended up having to teach them to myself, and I’m sure my form suffered for that. The instructors also didn’t explain that not everything you do in lindy hop will have that basic eight count with triples, which led to confusion once I was out on the social floor. Had that been explained to me from the get-go, I’d have been saved much anxiety. I think it would have also helped to have been taught a dip or two, as those can be frightening if you don’t know what’s happening. Beyond those few things (from which I’ve recovered), I wouldn’t change anything from my beginner courses!
Sorry that this response got so long, oops! I’m sure your class will turn out to be marvellous!

Noooo don’t be sorry, I want all the insight I can get!

It’s been some time since I was a beginner - and despite having taught beginners fairly recently I’m excited to see what can be done in a course-based structure rather than a drop-in one. We should therefore get more guaranteed time with the students (as we can assume they’ll come to most if not all of a specific course’s classes), and can spend a little while looking deeper into rhythm and good connection/lead/follow.

Also interesting - you see I don’t think swivels are the heart of lindy hop at all - sure, a lo-o-ot of follows do them, and they look nice, but it’s only one variation that fits into that 7&8, 1, 2 space between swingouts.

Finally dips! Yes, I’ve never really taught them much as I see them as a trick-type thing, but it makes total sense to teach them so that the follows are prepared. Nice!


I think I’d be really interested to see if Lindy can be taught more like Blues - basically teach them from the beginning that the dance is “really” made up of 2-count bits (rock steps & triple steps & substitutions) instead of giving them patterns right away. Might make it difficult to dance with beginners from other places though…

Yes. Nice. But yes tricky too!

We did do one pre-swingout class once, where they still got the standard 8-count pattern BUT we played with the directionality of the steps - the 1-2 could be a classic rockstep, or forwards, or a walk, or sideways, whatever. We did the same with the 5-6, but sneakily included a gentle rotation in there too. I think to save time and over-complication we introduced travelling about on a triple in their warm-up but didn’t drill it like 1-2 and 5-6.

Once partnered, what we ended up with was people spontaneously doing what we’d call he-goes and she-goes moves, some did a very loose but exciting (for me and my co-teacher!) proto-lindy-circle, basically they were all messing around within 8 counts and it was glorious…

Oops, when I said swivels are at the heart of lindy, I chose my words poorly. My bad! What I meant to communicate (and what I should have said) is that they’re a signature move of the dance, very recognizable, and that leaving them out entirely seemed to omit a fun facet of the dance’s character. When the beginner leads from that class started dancing with more advanced follows during the social, they were entirely thrown by seeing swivels. They would stop dead in their tracks! (They were also caught off guard by kick steps. The follows were also confused by more advanced lead stylings.) While swivels are not technically necessary, I think they’re important to at least be aware of. In a drop-in class I took from different instructors, swivels and kick steps were taught. The dancers in that class ended up being much more comfortable with adding their own style to their dancing, even if it was their first time ever. A few leads even ended up doing swivels during their swingouts, which was actually super cool to see!

And dips definitely fit more in the category of tricks but so many people do them on the social floor that, were I teaching a class, I’d include at least a basic one. Unfortunately, I’ve been dropped by a guy who was fairly new and didn’t know how to properly execute dips. That’d be enough reason for me to include them in my class, haha.

All that was super interesting to read - and I really like the breakdown for the pre-swingout class.  I’d love to see that done (and then try it).  

But as someone who actually self-taught lindy on the social floor (Thank you leads at Glen Echo), I’d say the most important things to teach are the rhythm and actually the stylings that happen.  I actually started swiveling before I learned lindy (funny story here), which led me to experience 8 count and swingouts.  

Although it took me a bit to figure out the 8 count bit, I was never intimidated by stylings (or maybe that’s just my personality).  I saw them, for awhile at least, a natural part of the steps.  It made social dancing, which for most beginners is the real goal, loads easier.  One of the most helpful classes/workshops I’ve been to was focusing on listening to and dancing with the story of the music.  

When I brought an instructor in to teach basic lindy for my club this year I was able to see the in-class learning curve, and experience that lead freeze when I finally started swiveling in my swingout.  

Beginner. Dancers. Are. The. Cutest.

Most of them have never had to think so hard about their feet since learning to walk in the first place. They stare at you wide eyed waiting for the count, they freeze when they see something new, they do the ‘OooooOOO’ thing when you demonstrate what they’re going to learn in that class. SO CUTE.

I think the warm-up for a class is the ideal time to throw in stylings, jazz steps, kick steps, triples etc. - people are remarkably good at just letting go and copying, then it makes teaching it within a structure so much easier - so I think you’re onto something about learning stylings early!

The only thing that I would change about my very first Lindy class  (it was a three hour ‘boot camp’ crash course) is that I felt like not enough emphasis was placed on connection. I didn’t know that specifically then, when they were running us through the basic footwork over and over, but after then taking extensive classes with my current instructors, I realize that it’s actually the glue holding it all together. The footwork is almost secondary because if I know the basic rhythm and keep my steps small, my feet are (mostly) going to go where they belong when my connection is very good… which is why I can often follow things I have never learned in a class.

So yes… I would have greatly loved to have some exercises included that showed us what the stretch and release is supposed to feel like, how not to engage our biceps to pull ourselves in, and to KEEP GOING till the lead ‘catches’ us and puts us on a spot (aka 3, 4, 5 in a basic).

I should mention that the teachers of the aforementioned class are fantastic and I am not making judgement on them. I realize part of this is about ‘selling’ the dance to newbies because we want them to keep coming back! And a lot of newbies want moves as opposed to connection. 

If for some reason you’ve noticed that I’ve stopped following your blog (aka unfriended you) please let me know.

I’m trying to figure it out, but I lost a bunch of blogs on my list and I’m not sure how or who’s missing exactly.

So. Good.

blacksmokeistheanswer: My flipping budgie

literally the conversation that just happened:

Him: did you eat dinner? Weren't you going to order sushi... four hours ago?
Me: ... but... dancing...
Him: What about food?
Me: ... dancing?
Him: Food, yes?
Me: .......... dancing!

I was supposed to making dinner two hours ago… but fangirling is so much more important. 

Can we talk about how cute Frida is? Her haircut just keeps getting more adorable - I can’t stand it. Also: her kick aways are perfect and I have much envy.

I’m going to think of this video the next time I take dancing too seriously.

A New Challenger Appears!


finished tiny whale

finished tiny whale

tiny whale

tiny whale

Naturally dyed eggs

Naturally dyed eggs

4 April 2014 / 2 notes / #photo  #eggs  #spring 
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