Of Dancing the Blues

Say we were to meet while waiting in line at a coffee shop and we got to chatting, odds are we’d ask each other what we like to do. I don’t know what you enjoy. Maybe you’re a hiker, a baker, a contortionist, or a movie junkie; maybe you like to break into SeaWorld and go for joy rides on Shamu or sit around in your underwear watching America’s Next Top Model reruns; maybe you go horseback riding, sky diving, or train dogs (obviously I’d find out in conversation). My response would be simple: I dance. But if you wanted more detail I would probably start talking about my favorite, Blues, a style which if my memory is correct came about during the 90s (my favorite era for almost everything).

I haven’t been into Blues for all that long, about a year I’d guess, but I quickly fell in love when I watched my future teachers demonstrate it at a swing dance event. Blues is damn sexy. What’s challenging is explaining the style to people who have never seen or even heard of it. That’s about as easy a task as teaching a toddler advanced chemistry and expecting them to ace their midterm the next day.

It’s all about connection and feeling the music as well as communicating with another person. What’s beautiful about Blues is I can look out on the dance floor during the song below, for example, and everyone will be dancing different. Some dance fast, other’s slow, a few couples are two feet apart, or even nearly upside down, and there’s those have maybe an inch between them:

Sometimes the dance is about large movements, crazy dips, and footwork. Others its about subtle movements and it’s a much more intimate dance. I’m not a Blues teacher, I’m just an enthusiast so forgive me if you still have no idea what I’m talking about (if you want a visual, the first video is a demonstration of Blues). How I dance often is dependent on the leads personal style and the level of trust I have with him. Some leads incorporate a lot of swing or tango, and some I would allow to dip me about as willingly as I’d let them dump a bucket of bleach on my head (most likely these are new people). If the lead is my friend I probably trust him and I’ll let him do pretty much whatever, as long as it’s still a dance obviously. With leads I trust I’ll do lifts, or dips where I end up being caught only two inches from the ground.

When you walk into a Blues dance there’s an energy that’s shared by everyone there. It’s a community. Ladies, here’s the reality. In traditional roles (men lead, women follow) there’s always an abundance of follows. This means that often you’ll have to not dance even though the song is probably super awesome, this is both a blessing and a curse, the men rarely get to sit down – especially if they are good leads. But unlike with other social dance styles sitting on the sidelines doesn’t feel awkward (at least in my experience). There’s days or moments when I’d rather sit and watch people dance, it’s beautiful and captivating. And as I said earlier – damn sexy.

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