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Thread: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

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    Commercial Operator StokeBloke's Avatar
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    Wink Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    When I went to my first Utopia event I was very worried about 'fitting in' and not looking like a complete plum on the dance floor. No amount of 'everyone is friendly' or 'we all started somewhere' really stopped me from worrying. The fact of the matter is... it was all true - everyone is friendly and we all did start somewhere. But what I really wanted was some practical advice.

    Now I have a bit of a grasp about the blues, and as it is starting to become more popular I thought it would be timely to put a little advice here... please feel free to add to this all you super blues experts.

    My first port of call was to download and read through the FAQs that Gadget has taken time to write. These tips were invaluable and appear in his signature at the bottom of all his posts (like this one for example)

    My personal tips for leads making the transition from jive to blues would be these:
    1. Blues is a close dance, rather than in-and-out, think in-and-in. Use the apart moves as a contrast to the majority of your dancing.
    2. The Blues Basic position is your friend, use it often through the dance. Keep coming back to it to regroup your thoughts and stay connected to your partner.
    3. Blues is not 'slow Ceroc', but that doesn't mean you can't lift Ceroc moves and use them in your blues dancing. Just bear point 1 in mind. For example, you could do an Octopus, but keep it slow and stay within 12" of your partner as you do it. You can do a first move, but instead of turning the lady back out from your side... follow her round as you turn her (like a 1st move mambo walk around). If you find your follow behind you in a Catapult type position, Catapult her but keep a hold of her left hand, this will spin her to face you and leave her in a half nelson type position, now release her left hand and draw her back into a blues basic position.
    4. Watch other dancers. You'll be surprised what you can recognise.... then try those moves too.
    5. Don't be afraid to ask other leads to show you moves that they use if you can't work them out. I have found everyone to be willing to help and encourage new blues dancers.
    6. Blues is about connection. TRY to make eye contact. It does get easier with practice and confidence.
    7. Smile and have fun.
    These are only a couple of pointers... read Gadget's FAQs. Hopefully we'll see more useful pointers posted here by more accomplished dancers than me. Let's help encourage dancers to take their first steps out of the Boing-Boing room and into the 'scarey' Blues room.

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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    I am currently trying to help a friend out who really wants to dance blues. At the moment he is a slow (well not even that slow) ceroc move type.

    At Daventry I managed to get him to hold me close for a whole song. He loved it but was freaked out at the same time. I think he experienced that guilt feeling that you sometimes get when you enjoy the dance a little too much. Not that I know anything about that of course.

    So what would I add. I would add ..


    1. Listen to the music and allow the music to dictate the dance.

    2. Don't worry too much about moves.

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    Senior Member Minnie M's Avatar
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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by Twirlie Bird View Post

    1. Listen to the music and allow the music to dictate the dance.

    2. Don't worry too much about moves.




    --ooOoo--
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    Mickey Mouse's girlfriend, Minnie, made her film debut, along with Mickey, in "Steamboat Willie" on November 18, 1928.
    That date is recognized as her official birthday.

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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    For Utopia Evesham, I'd say to leaders "do slow Modern Jive", because that's the most common. Oh, and "do the lesson", which will probably also be a lesson in slow Modern Jive. Dancing slow, like dancing fast, takes a bit of practice, but there's nothing special going on. Followers need to follow, and practice asking "may I have a jive?" rather than "may I have a dance?" to avoid any weird Coast-based dancing being thrown at them.

    Weekenders are more of a challenge. Advice:

    1. Take beginner "blues" classes/workshops/whatever at MJ events. Don't take the intermediate class - it's a trap! Because MJ-based "blues" is slow Modern Jive with stuff tacked on, the intermediate classes are advanced slow Modern Jive. They'll teach you dips and such, sure, but you can learn those much more effectively by doing a dips workshop. So skip that and keep going to the beginner classes.
    The important things you'll learn from these classes are:
    a) The "Blues Basic". This is exactly the same as the Slow Penguin Turn, but we give it another name to pretend we're not dancing slow Modern Jive.
    b) How do nothing whilst your partner shows off. This is harder than it sounds, but not much.

    2. You'll see a lot of good dancers grinding with total strangers. Don't copy this - it's a trap! They can grind because they're good dancers and good dancers can get away with anything. As a newer dancer try to leave space for Baby Jesus when dancing with strangers. With folks you know, on the other hand, you can grind to your mutual hearts' content.
    (NB: wallet, keys, phone, etc, go in back pockets for Blues)
    Some dancers talk a lot about how "musical" chillout dancing is. This is because they are bad dancers, unable to dance musically to regular music, and believe that everyone else is equally limited. Ignore them, and dance as musically as you feel like.

    3. The secret to successful chillout dancing is moderation. Think of it this way: about 40% of any chillout dance is going to be the "Blues Basic", which is dull. Another 30% or so is going to be you holding the girl's hand while she pretends she's a succubus on heat, which is also dull. So only about 30% of the dance is going to vary, and in that you'll have a reduced repertoire because lots of cool moves don't work to hip-hop. So get in, dance a bit, and get out.
    (more experienced dancers solve this via sleep deprivation, which even makes "micro-blues" exciting)

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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by StokeBloke View Post
    read Gadget's FAQs. Hopefully we'll see more useful pointers posted here by more accomplished dancers than me. Let's help encourage dancers to take their first steps out of the Boing-Boing room and into the 'scarey' Blues room.
    Thank you... but the most relevant thread/posting of mine with regard to this is the following:

    Online Workshop: Blues and Moves

    Oh, and my tips for beginners learning to blues:
    • Dance like magnets attracting each other - ie don't step back - try just remaining in the same place if you can't get the hang of stepping forward.

    • Personal space is halved - but not for your hands, only your body.

    • Try to keep arms (& shoulders) as low and loose as you can - the higher and more tense you are, the more aquard it will feel and the less your partner will be able to mould into your dancing.

    • Try to keep everything small - if you do want to go big, then do it slowly and as big as you can, otherwise it can look messy and uncontrolled rather than cool and stylish.

    • don't worry about what anyone other than your partner thinks or how you look to anyone else - more than any other style of dancing (IMHO) blues is about the connection between you and your partner.
    Last edited by Gadget; 23rd-October-2007 at 01:54 PM.

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    Commercial Operator Rocky's Avatar
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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinHarper View Post
    b) How do nothing whilst your partner shows off. This is harder than it sounds, but not much.
    For a lead on the COZ scene this is probably the most important aspect. Of course everything else mentioned thus far is good too, but everything else involves you doing something. Allowing your partner to express herself gives you a free lunch and also helps to make you look good. Having said that there is an art to it as MH mentions - for example, some ladies are not confident when given space so it's important to pick up on this - that means that you have to be sensitive to your partner, a 'one rule fits all' strategy simply won't work.

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinHarper View Post
    As a newer dancer try to leave space for Baby Jesus when dancing with strangers...
    About 10 inches is good and then you should be safe no matter what your 'Baby Jesus' is getting up to in his swaddling clothes...

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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post


    About 10 inches is good and then you should be safe no matter what your 'Baby Jesus' is getting up to in his swaddling clothes...
    Typical bloke! Length doesn't matter you know, but letting your Lady perform does!


    Elaine

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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by ElaineB View Post
    Typical bloke! Length doesn't matter you know, but letting your Lady perform does!


    Elaine
    That's what I said too didn't I...


    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post
    Allowing your partner to express herself gives you a free lunch and also helps to make you look good...

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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by Gadget View Post
    • don't worry about what anyone other than your partner thinks or how you look to anyone else - more than any other style of dancing (IMHO) blues is about the connection between you and your partner.
    Bingo! there's my problem right there!. Can do the normal dance stuff, and have dabbled in blues but I find I'm shelf concious and 10 times more so when doing blues. perhaps I have an overdeveloped sense of embarrassment but I find blues with some people impossible to do.

    if I've danced blues with you in the past feel honoured as it means I'm very comfortable around you

    Don't get me wrong, I find it very difficult to do, but when I get the right track with the right person (and Mr Rocky's superb instruction in the comfort of my own home) it's great fun

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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post
    That's what I said too didn't I...
    I know, I know, I just wanted to check out the free lunch!


    Elaine

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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by Beowulf1970 View Post
    I find I'm shelf concious
    You'll just have to put up with it.

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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by robd View Post
    You'll just have to put up with it.
    Oops!

    sorry .. typo.. I meant to say bookcase! .. no sorry I mean SELF !

    but it pays to be self concious though.. saves you banging your head off them when you step back

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    Re: Blues Dancing (C.O.Z, Utopia) for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by Beowulf1970 View Post
    Oops!

    sorry .. typo.. I meant to say bookcase! .. no sorry I mean SELF !

    but it pays to be self concious though.. saves you banging your head off them when you step back
    Don't step back, step forward.

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