Blog Updates for West Coast Swing and Hustle
Anna and I were invited to be the guest artists at the Ballroom Dinner Dance at the Portuguese Cultural Center in Danbury, CT on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Hosted by Jerry and Deborah, this dance featured 108 dancers from all over the Connecticut area and had enough space to hold them all. We were invited to demonstrate West Coast Swing and Hustle and also teach a mini West Coast Swing lesson.
Even though summer officially started almost a month ago, the temperature has only reached over 90 degrees in the last few days. For many dance studios, the major challenge is to keep the studio temperature low so that dancers can be comfortable during classes as well during the parties. But at Dance Dimensions in Norwalk, CT, our Hustle and West Coast Swing dancers are able to stay cool.
The first 2 weeks of July have been especially good for West Coast Swing in Norwalk CT. The beginner class for both weeks was attended by about 30 dancers and each night had a total in excess of 40 dancers. These large classes allow for a lot of social interaction between newcomers and regulars.
The West Coast Swing class in Connecticut just completed a month (four 1-hour classes) studying musicality. As I explained to the class on week 1, everything that I was teaching would be compressed information. This meant that every class I taught ideally would have been experienced in double the time: 1 hour of musical theory, and 1 hour of dance application. Because this weekly class is only 1 hour long, dancing took precedent.
Last week our West Coast Swing dancers attended their second class on musicality. This class started with a brief review of some of the main points that were discussed on week 1, such as what is a beat, a measure, and a lyrical phrase. We also reviewed the idea of Common Time and the rhythmic structure and notation of West Coast Swing. We proceeded to review our pulsed timing as an basic expression of on and off beats.
Our Week 1 West Coast Swing classes in Connecticut are off to a good start. We had more new people this week. One of the newcomers even baked a cake for my birthday - it was quite incredible.
These new dancers are the incremental "life-blood" of our dance community. Combined with last month's new attendees, we have seen a 30% increase in our regular attendance. Even better, in 2015 we have exposed about 50 Connecticut residents to West Coast Swing. Some of those people have become regular dancers in our community. It feels good to watch them go on their West Coast Swing journey.
Last week was one of the best we’ve had in many months! There were new dancers in our Hustle class and both of our West Coast Swing classes.
Our week started on Tuesday, May 5 with "Hustle De Mayo”. This jump-started our Hustle series for the month of May. Hustle had been collateral damage to all the snow storms that consistently occurred on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the early months of 2015. It was especially nice to have 2 new couples joining our Hustle classes for the first time.
Wednesday, May 6 began the West Coast Swing beginner series in Harrison, NY. We had a class full of new faces and many of those people were entirely new to West Coast Swing. By the conclusion of both classes, they were already dancing the Sugar Push, Right Pass, Left Pass, and Whip. I can’t wait to continue their journey this week.
Even Thursday’s regular West Coast Swing class grew in size by 25%. New leaders, new followers, and a full house of regulars. This is how to build a community!!
We had a great time at Swingin' Into Spring 2015! Event director, Ken Mercik, did an excellent job at creating a great learning environment for the local West Coast Swing community. We had a good group of dancers from our Norwalk, CT West Coast Swing classes. We had a mix of regulars who had attended this event before and new dancers who made this their first event. I try to encourage our students to attend this event because of its beginner-friendly staff, its leveled workshops, and its close proximity. As I've said before, you'd have to be crazy not to attend this event.
I have the pleasure and honor of having been accepted to Fairfield University's program in American Studies. I am excited about all the new possibilities that attaining a Master's degree will create. This degree will help me augment my knowledge of and fascination with the dances (West Coast Swing and Hustle) and music I love and the history behind them.
Last week, I taught West Coast Swing to some students at New Canaan Country School in Connecticut. I was originally contacted a month ago from our Meetup.com web page. I was flattered and honored to be contacted as an expert in West Coast Swing and local instructor.
Exposing young adults to West Coast Swing is very important. Even though West Coast Swing is an American dance, children of this country are hardly exposed to this dance (and many other partner dances) as part of their cultural upbringing. What makes West Coast Swing special is that not only is it culturally relevant from a historical perspective danced to swing and blues music of the past, but it is also relevant today since it can be danced to many of the contemporary pop and R&B songs that can be heard on the radio.
Our Week 1 classes of West Coast Swing in Norwalk, CT were very successful on Thursday, April 2, 2015. We had 6 total newcomers and about 30 regular dancers. It was great to have a full room of familiar and new faces. I love when newcomers arrive and are greeted by the friendly faces of our dance community. I also enjoy seeing regulars who are returning from either their winter hiatus or injuries which have sidelined them. Also, teaching full classes is exciting.