SONH (Friday)

Friday began — grudgingly. After a long night up and dancing, our first class was with Steven & Virginie in the dining hall (probably the best floor available). I particularly enjoy their classes not because they show bad-ass moves or are rockstar competitors but because they push you so that you get the most out of your own dancing. They act as mentors, not just instructors. They inspire you to become not just a better lindy hopper, but a better dancer by growing as an individual.

While some people have said that what they do isn’t lindy hop (a loaded statement regardless), I think it is ever more important that they do what they do. It is all too easy for trends in a small community to take over, squashing individual taste with whatever style is winning at competitions. They push you to find your own style, to expand your expertise as a dancer, and bring the joyful spirit of the dance to others.

It was then time for the second day of Steven’s wonderful jazz class. A dedication to James Brown, with a variety of dances stemming from that time period: the funky chicken, Temptation Walk, reebok?, ride the pony, and more. If you ever get a chance to work with Steven in his jazz classes, take the opportunity and work as hard as you can. There is so much subtlety to get out of his movement that you are never done finding things to work on; but on the other hand, take it even if you think you won’t do it well. That is even more reason to take it; the only way you get better at something is by doing it (even if it feels like you aren’t getting it).

Lunch. That is one thing that I think SONH could benefit from: more time alloted to do nothing but socialize. It definitely felt that when something was done you were up and off to something else, or if you decided to sit and hang out for a minute you were missing something. Lunch could/should be two or three hours long for everyone. You meet more people outside of your track that way; build a stronger community when there are times when people can sit and have coffee or dessert without having to rush off to their next class.

Afternoon brought two more classes; if I can remember correctly, Skye and Frida first and then Bill and Laura. Skye and Frida are an amazing pair of dancers; together they burst forth with joy and energy. Even in the most common movements they exude it. We worked rhythm in that class; varying the manner in which we pulse/bounce from chunky and loose to smooth and sharp using a small set of “moves” they showed us. Definitely come to Montreal for Smackdown in December and check them out. Bill and Laura finished off the day with a connection class that focused mostly on the less often used compression (without jumping to leverage instantly).

Dinner. Practice for the cabaret (every day). Goofing around in our cabin. Then Peter Davis and Lindy Hop Heaven started up the night. I did not end up dancing very much Friday night. While I believe the musicians in Lindy Hop Heaven are quite talented, they definitely feel a bit hokey until they’ve warmed up into a solid groove. Although George Reed is by far a character unlike any who if you get the chance to talk to, do so. He has stories that wind back on all sorts of subjects.

The one section I do remember specifically from the dancing I did do that night was a sort of New Orleans style march we had around the ballroom with a partner; which then got a bit peppy and I wanted to continue strutting and walking. However, the floor stopped moving the second the band picked up from that slow funereal march. It seems historically the case that lindy hoppers did not just lindy hop. They danced a variety of dances; however in our revival community, those other dances are much less commonly danced the minute a swing-like song starts up. The peabody, foxtrot, swingwalk, etc. are all potential dances to move around the floor with. Three of us (couples that is) fought our way through the general melee of lindy hop and continued our traveling dances. Which I am proud to say, was very fun.

Overall that evening I socialized. Most of the time I was on the back porch, in a chair, talking with Corinne. Rambling a bit too much perhaps, but still conversing about a variety of things. The manner in which the dance changes us, helps us grow; few people would recognize me from when I started all of this six years ago. It was nice to give some of the knowledge I had acquired over the years to someone who was just starting; to help them down this road. I’d never consider myself a mentor now, but someday, that is a road I’d like to take.

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Published in: on September 7, 2007 at 6:21 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love SONH and was heart broken to miss it for the second year in a row. Your posts just make me madder (grr) about my poor luck.

  2. I hadn’t been since 2003, I understand your luck.


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