Sunday, March 11, 2007

Absolute Beginner

When I started my month-long swing-dance bootcamp, my stated goal was to make it from absolute beginner to something approaching intermediate. In OC Swing class terminology, that would mean moving to the Intermediate level classes. At the Atomic Ballroom, that would mean taking the Level 1 classes instead of Absolute Beginner classes. I'm now coming to the point where I'm wondering about making that move. I think this coming week will be one in which I explore the idea of moving up in the class level I take.

Thursday was my day with Shesha and OC Swing's 7:30pm class at Heritage Park Irvine. I got the very strong feeling this time around that I'm farther along in my swing education than my classmates. We focused on the Swing Out, Swing In, and the transition from Swing In to Charleston. Some of my partners were very unclear about the footwork during all phases. Ah well. I begin wondering about the Intermediate class vs. re-taking the beginner class. Or whether I should even be thinking about dropping OC Swing completely in favor of Atomic Ballroom's lessons. Ended with the 6-count series: basic, tuck-turn, and walk through. Tried to put it all together at the end:
Walk Through
Ease to Closed
Swing Out
Swing In
Charleston Basic
Charleston Pendulum
6-count Basic

Lots of fun! Phil, Patricia, and I stayed to chat about what level we're going to take next cycle. For me, it's a little bit about getting value from the lesson. Because it's a beginner class, there's a lot of review of the basic steps every week, while what I really need to work on is the transitions and being a good lead in transitions.

Friday lesson series at the Atomic Ballroom again made me wonder about the Absolute Beginner label. I know I'm a beginner, but the absolute label on the drop-in classes means that we're spending 60% of the time on the basic step and very little time on the things I feel I need to focus on. This was less an issue at the 6:15 class, which on Friday is dedicated to covering Balboa. We go over the basic again, which I haven't done for a week, but remember. When we're solid on that, we add-on a turn, which I hadn't done before. While the Balboa basic lead footwork is step-step-kick-step, (reversing directions) step-step-kick-step, the turn footwork adds a pause at the point where one does the first kick. Very interesting. I hope we build on that next week. At the end, I ask the instructor for her name, which is Aubrey. First time with her (another good instructor). She complemented me on my frame several times, and wanted me to focus on making a decisive momentum shift earlier in the basic transitions. I think she was saying I needed a stronger lead. Thats hard to do without cheating and signaling with hand pressure instead of frame pressure. I'll have to think about that. The exercise to do that was the shift in direction. If there's no lead to change directions, the follow isn't supposed to change. We could go back forever or forward forever. Again, more work needed.

7pm lesson is with Katie, and we cover the 6-count basic. Patricia from the Thursday OC Swing class shows up with her friend, Cindy (?) for this class. We cover the basic, the tuck-turn and the walk-through. One of the follows in the class, Hillary, is taking a dance class for the first time and has an incredibly difficult time with the footwork (not really ever getting it). I'm probably rude in the amount I watched her, but she couldn't take a single step without over-balancing. Probably needs private lessons. I tried to be a very gracious partner; I hope I succeeded.

7:45 lesson was with Aubrey again. We started with the 6-count basic, then covered the Swing Out. There were a large number of people in this class, which made it a little tough for Aubrey to be as effective. We only rotated through four partners the entire time, which was less then a third of the class.

The Lindy Exchange was in town, making the Friday dance a huge one. I got some dances in early with some ladies at the 7:45 dance (Patricia and Pat), got asked to dance by a very nice asian woman from LA (forgot her name, but quite good). Saw Shesha dancing upstairs; He's so good it's mesmerizing. I definitely have trouble with my steps to faster music, and noticed a problem with doing a swing out at speed. More stuff to work on.

March Swing Lesson Totals:
OC Swing: 3 Lessons, 3 Hours
AB: 12 Lessons, 9 Hours

Running Total:
SL: 2 Hours
OC Swing: 4 Hours
AB: 10.5 Hours


  1. glad to hear that you're getting "the swing of things" in your classes. :)