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Thread: learning the blues

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    learning the blues

    Simple question: How, where, when?

    Had an hour on beginner's Blues dancing at the weekend, saw a lot of experienced dancers in the Blues room that made me realise there's no way in hell I'm even trying that until I've had rather more tuition.

    So how/where can people learn this? It's clearly a good thing

    More interesting question, when should I look to learn it? Is this something a beginner can pick up, or should I get a good grounding in modern jive first?

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    Re: learning the blues

    Quote Originally Posted by cederic View Post
    Simple question: How, where, when?

    Had an hour on beginner's Blues dancing at the weekend, saw a lot of experienced dancers in the Blues room that made me realise there's no way in hell I'm even trying that until I've had rather more tuition.

    So how/where can people learn this? It's clearly a good thing

    More interesting question, when should I look to learn it? Is this something a beginner can pick up, or should I get a good grounding in modern jive first?
    Stoke Bloke runs blues things regularly, but I'm not sure if they have lessons (?) I know of dedicates, regular blues classes in Edinburgh and Aberdeen... not very helpful for your neck of the woods I'm afraid.

    As to learning, just keep your eyes & ears open; there are normally one or two classes at weekenders; but I think that most folk just kind of get the bug and go on a journey of self-discovery
    Just jump in with both feet, relax and let the music move you - forget the no way in hell I'm even trying that until I've had rather more tuition and just go for it. Blues is about the 'internal' connection rather than the external look; forget about how it looks or what anyone else is doing. (This is why blues is normally done in dark, dingy corners - no-one can see what you're up to )

    {As a further resource, check the link on my syg. to 'blues and moves'}
    Last edited by Gadget; 24th-May-2010 at 09:22 PM. Reason: no syg...

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    Re: learning the blues

    Quote Originally Posted by cederic View Post
    Simple question: How, where, when?

    Had an hour on beginner's Blues dancing at the weekend, saw a lot of experienced dancers in the Blues room that made me realise there's no way in hell I'm even trying that until I've had rather more tuition.
    I think I need to add what? to your list. There's a lot of different styles going on in the SP blues room at any given time and without knowing what was inspiring you it's hard to give any advice.

    My dancing in that room falls into three styles: WCS, open jive and closed hold bump 'n' grind. I suspect it's the latter style you'd identify as Blues. To be honest I don't ever recall having any formal tuition in this style (though I do recall struggling with the slower tempo on my first weekender venture into a blues room) I actually think that kind of dancing is much less reliant on what you are doing than how you are doing it. My repertoire is pretty much side to side swaying interspersed with the occasional rise and fall (no pun intended ) and a few pivot turns of varying speeds. Because this is technically very simple I am surprised that it is not perfomed more competently by more leads (and I only base that comment on the fact that I receive favourable words when I dance like this in a way that I consider much easier than the other styles I mentioned). I think the ability to hear and react to the rhythm of the track is critical because that is what gives a small repertoire an increased range and variety. I know this is not answering your question directly but that's because I don't think I can just recommend a DVD or class that will give you what you are looking for (though Val and Dave do a lot in this area to try to make this style of dancing accessible to those with less experience).
    The tips I would give are
    1 - Listen to the type of music you'll hear in that setting outside of dancing nights so you become accustomed to the tempo and structure
    2 - Listen to the body language of your partners, you'll soon pick up who is comfortable and who is not comfortable with this style
    3 - Don't substitute a lunatic stare into your partner's eyes for proper physical connection
    4 - Dance with Lemoncake

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    Re: learning the blues

    Quote Originally Posted by Gadget View Post
    Stoke Bloke runs blues things regularly, but I'm not sure if they have lessons (?)
    Yes they do have a weekly blues class (see Stokies web-site for details).

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    Re: learning the blues

    Quote Originally Posted by robd View Post
    There's a lot of different styles going on in the SP blues room at any given time...... I do recall struggling with the slower tempo....
    Lot of good advice there from Southport legend Robd. I've just highlighted a couple of key points. Firstly there is no single style of blues room dancing. If you look around the SP blues room you will see couples dancing in often quite different ways to the same track. None of these ways is the "right" way to dance in a blues room. Secondly Rob is quite right about the tempo issue. That is probably the biggest hurdle to get over initially because the music is mostly significantly slower and often has a less obvious or consistent beat than that played at an average Ceroc class night.
    Last edited by Lost Leader; 24th-May-2010 at 09:49 PM. Reason: elevated Rob to god like status

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    Re: learning the blues

    Hello Cedric
    well some of the above but just something from a followers perspective, listen to the music and be led by what you hear, take a minute before you start to dance to get the connection with your partner and take in some of the music, embrace your partner and protect her on the floor, an embrace is a hug, dance with all your body, that way the lead will flow through between the two of you, be playful and give your partner time to play and shine.

    Easy innit!! most of all have fun and smile, good luck and happy dancing
    if you love the life you live then you'll get a lot more done

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    Re: learning the blues

    Quote Originally Posted by robd View Post
    I think I need to add what? to your list. There's a lot of different styles going on in the SP blues room at any given time and without knowing what was inspiring you it's hard to give any advice.

    My dancing in that room falls ....... loads of stuff
    And sing along to EVERY tune and (if possible) act out the lyrics

    Robd is a topclass blues dancer even if he did look a little like a lifeguard this weekend.

    Thanks Robd for the dances xxx

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    Re: learning the blues

    I had to read that again as I thought you had said he was a topless blues dancer

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    Re: learning the blues

    Val and Dave usually run some Blues workshop classes, check out their Newbury website. Often it falls on the same day as a Utopia or Freestyle that evening as well.

    Of course there's Brean sands weekender, which hosts the Blues champs in Oct.

    And Lux in August, which Val and Dave run.

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    Re: learning the blues

    Thank you everyone for the suggestions and comments, plenty there for me to peruse and consider.

    Quote Originally Posted by robd View Post
    There's a lot of different styles going on in the SP blues room at any given time and without knowing what was inspiring you it's hard to give any advice.
    I suspect it's the one best described as the close hold. I'll hold off the bump'n'grind unless I'm dancing with a certain young lady

    My appetite for this was whetted by the "Blues for Beginners" class on Saturday. Leading the dance merely by shifting weight from one foot to the other, and feeling your partner follow (due to the closeness of the hold) was a fantastic experience, so I want to get through entire songs with such a connection.

    At the same time, I'm not the sort of chap that can stroll up to a strange woman and lead her into that sort of a dance (even with a sufficiently decent air-gap) without being a little more certain about my technique and style. Hence hoping for further tuition before daring to go anywhere near

    I do know a number of 'regular' partners that would enjoy such a dance, but again, without being sure of my lead I don't know whether they'd be able to follow. And (at least initially) I suspect they'd still be more open to the whole style of the dance if I did more than just the basic moves from the "Blues for Beginners" class.

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    Re: learning the blues

    Quote Originally Posted by cederic View Post

    I do know a number of 'regular' partners that would enjoy such a dance, but again, without being sure of my lead I don't know whether they'd be able to follow. And (at least initially) I suspect they'd still be more open to the whole style of the dance if I did more than just the basic moves from the "Blues for Beginners" class.
    If you do them well, most partners will be more than happy

    Quality, not quantity!!

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    Re: learning the blues

    Quote Originally Posted by cederic View Post
    My appetite for this was whetted by the "Blues for Beginners" class on Saturday. Leading the dance merely by shifting weight from one foot to the other, and feeling your partner follow (due to the closeness of the hold) was a fantastic experience, so I want to get through entire songs with such a connection.
    Tango.

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    Re: learning the blues

    Here is my 2ps worth.
    1) Try to find some classic blues songs (there was a thread on this forum that had lots of suggestions) in the slower speed range and listen to them and then just try swaying to them (on your own obviously) because as other have said it is quite hard to adapt to being slow after a normal MJ upbringing.
    2) Forget about moves – think about movement or how you move. With a decent follower then if you make a movement with your body then it will happen in her body. Do not worry about getting your partner out into open hold and doing flashy things as extremely intense dance can be had in close hold for the whole track (sometimes referred to as micro blues).
    3) There are many parts running through any piece of music and you can dance to any one of them and change which part or instrument that you are dancing to at any time. It is great fun and your partner will enjoy the journey as long as you don’t hop back and forth through the music so your partner cannot follow. You, your partner and the music are on this journey together.
    4) If you are dancing to the music in rhythm or even mood then you are rarely going to be wrong. Be smooth when the music is smooth, abrupt when the music is abrupt (don’t over use this or it will tick your partner off) – again – get the idea of moves out of your head. Your dancing is there to create a mood between you, your partner and the music.
    5) Dance with LemonCake.
    6) Remember your lead starts in the centre of your body and then travels to your hands to the point which is closest to your followers centre. The hand that is doing the leading is the hand that is closest to the followers centre. Very important in close hold.
    7) Just find places to dance the blues and dive in. Women will always welcome another man that wants to dance with them. They will love you even more if you pay attention and try to dance well. Effort will be respected almost as much as achievement.
    8) Classes that you attend should be looked at as something that is building a framework for experimentation rather than something that should be slavishly followed and not deviated from. A good deal of your experimentation will not be successful - don’t beat yourself up- it is the normal path that everyone follows-so just learn from it and move on.

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    Re: learning the blues

    We had a blues workshop a few weeks ago and some of our newer leads are starting to try to put what they have learned into practice. I was dancing with one last night who was worried as he couldn't remember the moves... but he was doing nice simple basic blues hold, in time with the music - so of course I was quite happy. (Since the workshop I've made sure I've got at least one of the guys from the workshop up for a bluesy dance every night - I'm determined to have more local leads I can dance blues with!)

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    Re: learning the blues

    Hi Cederic, i know this is a bit far from you; but I went to a Sara White's class @ Buckden last Sunday. As my first class,and even attempt at Blues, loved it ; and she teaches you how to dance.. not just moves.

    she has a workshop from 2 till 6 in Norwich as well on 3rd july...dont know if any spaces goin tho

    google jivenites if interested

    cheers

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    Re: learning the blues

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    Hi Cederic, i know this is a bit far from you; but I went to a Sara White's class @ Buckden last Sunday. As my first class,and even attempt at Blues, loved it ; and she teaches you how to dance.. not just moves.

    she has a workshop from 2 till 6 in Norwich as well on 3rd july...dont know if any spaces goin tho

    google jivenites if interested

    cheers

    sunday at buckden is a regular blues night now
    sara ( snow white on here) has changed buckden to sara whites blues nights if you head to any of her classes or freestyles you will find loads of people who will be willing to play with you
    we regularly make the 1 and a bit hour trip to her venue or even her tours as its always worth while you will often find stokie and essie there too

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    Re: learning the blues

    Thanks again for all the responses, including the ones via PM.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    Tango.
    Innovative suggestion, and I see where you're coming from. Unfortunately I have bad knees, and the one time a lady wrapped her leg behind my kneecap in a Tangoesque move preservation instincts kicked in and I had to let go and step away. That's obviously unfair on my partner (quite apart from the personal physical distress) so I'm keen to avoid a repeat.

    A number of people have suggested Buckden, so I'll see if I can get down there some time - it's always nice to visit new venues and learn from different teachers, especially highly recommended ones.

    More immediately, someone pointed out that there's a workshop just 8 miles from my home in a week's time, so I'm booked onto that.

    Quote Originally Posted by cederic View Post
    I'll hold off the bump'n'grind unless I'm dancing with a certain young lady
    She's booked on too.

    Dance with Lemoncake
    I'm sensing a theme here..

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    Re: learning the blues

    Quote Originally Posted by rtwwpad View Post
    Val and Dave usually run some Blues workshop classes, check out their Newbury website. Often it falls on the same day as a Utopia or Freestyle that evening as well.

    Of course there's Brean sands weekender, which hosts the Blues champs in Oct.

    And Lux in August, which Val and Dave run.
    It's taken me the best part of a week (and a glass of vodka, tia maria and baileys - don't ask how I happened on that mix) to realise that Val & Dave are the ones that did the beginners' Blues class that cause this entire discussion, and indeed that Dave posts on this forum.

    So a simple and honest thank you to them both. The class was excellent, and you can see the impact it's had

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    Re: learning the blues

    Quote Originally Posted by cederic View Post

    Dance with LemonCake.
    I'm sensing a theme here..

    And I have no idea why! I have never had any blues lessons, I learned by osmosis from a range of excellent dancers at various weekenders (RobD, Chef, Tessalicious, Rhythm King to name but a few). They lead, I follow - them's the rules - so it can't be anything to do with me

    LC xx

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    Re: learning the blues

    Quote Originally Posted by cederic View Post
    Innovative suggestion, and I see where you're coming from. Unfortunately I have bad knees, and the one time a lady wrapped her leg behind my kneecap in a Tangoesque move preservation instincts kicked in and I had to let go and step away.
    So, umm, don't lead them to do the painful-knee move....?

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