Saturday, April 28, 2007

Paternal Discrepancy

I'm not sure exactly why I find this story disturbing. I don't have kids, am not married, and have never dated someone I though about having kids with.

Almost 4% of men who don't suspect it are raising kids who they are not the genetic father of.

I just can't imagine the horror of finding something like this out, but the story poses the greater issue of whether the medical profession should be obligated to inform both legal parents if this is discovered.

Do you have a strong opinion on whether both legal parents should be informed if a doctor discovered this information about a family in the course of investigating something unrelated (and let me know your parental status and gender)?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Classes and George Gee

Last night I was able to have SS and my mother join me for introductory lessons in swing dance at the Atomic Ballroom. They offered three classes, one immediately after the other: Balboa, Lindy Hop, and East Coast Swing Variations. I'll have to work my memory on the choreography for each. I think both SS and my mother seemed to be having fun. It was interesting to me to see them going through that beginner phase of not being comfortable with basic steps, yet being pushed to do more and go farther. In retrospect, the only way to learn to do it is repetition. And I'm still learning.

Special Thursday night swing dance with George Gee and the Jump Jivin' Wailers, probably the top swing band in the US right now. This was their first west coast tour in over three years, so I was excited to see them, despite my general lack of knowledge of swing music and bands. They didn't disappoint, doing some high energy sets. It was really cool, though I had to leave early (11:40-ish) to crash out.


Balboa class:
Balboa Basic
Falling Onto The Log (Kick-step, cross, step)
Jig Kicks (Rock-Step, Kick-step, kick-step, kick-step)

Lindy Hop class:
East-Coast Basic
Bal Swing Out
Swing Out

East Coast Swing Variations class:
East-Coast Basic
Inside Turn
Tuck-Turn from open
Pop Turn

Moral Compromises

I don't like buying iTunes music. I've never done it. For the simple reason that if I'm going to spend money buying music, I want to be able to control the types of devices that I play that music on. For the vast majority of tracks offered on iTunes, you don't have that option.

But I've been trying to get some tracks into my music library which don't seem to be available any other way (and some which just don't seem to be available at all). It's probably fairly standard stuff in the swing dance subculture, but not in general culture:

Hock That Rock
Jamie Wood

Solid As A Rock
Ella Fitzgerald

Today's the Day I'm Glad I'm Not Dead
My Baby Just Cares For Me
Indigo Swing

Lavender Coffin
Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop
Lionel Hampton

At any rate, Apple recently negotiated with a major music label to offer high-quality no-restrictions versions of tracks for a $0.29 premium, apparently with upgrade-rights for people who've bought tracks in the past. At least, that's what's supposed to happen when the format actually becomes available.

So now I'm considering buying the tracks.

And I just noticed that Coinstar will swap my coins out for free if I take an iTunes gift card instead of cash. Hmmm... Those coins aren't doing anything for me just sitting there... I wonder if I'm anywhere near $50 in coins. Then I could go buy 50 songs for $45 at Costco. And my credit union has a free coin machine at a branch not too far away from a Costco...

My life is complicated.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Pop vs. Soda Page

The Pop vs. Soda Page

Oh man, why didn't someone tell me about this before?

I say "soda." Or sometimes "sodie pop."

Friday, April 20, 2007

It's A Better Value

All You Can Eat

It's horrifying. And in a previous incarnation, I'd have like to have tried a Nacho Dog. Wait, do you put the chips in the bun, or just the cheese?

I have a love/hate relationship with hot dogs. Mostly hate. But during weak moments, I want to buy one of these.

Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy #3

Primitive Radio Gods
Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand

I heard:

I've been on holiday,
I've been on holiday,
Ever since the day we met,
Ever since the day we met,

Actual lyrics:
I've been downhearted baby,
I've been downhearted baby,
Ever since the day we met,
Ever since the day we met,
Quite a difference between being on holiday and downhearted. Changes the whole attitude of the song, doesn't it?

What does this song have to do with it's title? The title's so long, I've never bothered to investigate it. Actually, I have no idea what the song's about, what the attitude or tone it has is. It's just mellow and has a catchy loop.

Is There An Oscar For Best Swearing?

There ought to be an award for best use of the F-bomb in a movie.

My favorite, perhaps of all time, is this scene from Glengarry Glen Ross.

I confess that I hated this movie the first time I saw it. Along with Reservoir Dogs. Hated them. And equated them in my mind.
It's the same movie, except that in one, a guy's ear gets cut off. And I don't even remember which one it was. -- John White circa 1994

I've since warmed to both.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Punch In the Gut

Cancer topic warning

I ... can't think of a good joke to go with this photo essay. Are there any good cancer jokes floating out there?

For some reason, I couldn't explain, I couldn't turn away, despite the tears in my eyes. Then I remembered my Tokyo Granny's death from cancer in 1985. Though the story of this family was touching, my tears were for my family's pain, not theirs. So strange that her passing and that of my paternal grandfather have affected me in such different ways. Well, our relationships were so different.

I mean, I still don't know what to feel about my grandfather, who died just over a month ago, and a I just shed tears over my Granny who died almost 12 22[1] years ago.

[1] EDIT 200706014 22, not 12 years. I might rule the Maths, but not the Arithmetics.


Short Shameful Confession:
Last night I watched Take the Lead. On purpose. My remote control was working and everything.

Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy #2

Starship's "We Built This City"

I heard:
My Tony plays the mamba, listen to the radio

Actual lyrics:
Marconi plays the mamba, listen to the radio
Hmmm... that doesn't make any sense either. And isn't a mamba a kind of snake? And Marconi?! Who the F is Marconi?

Oh, Wikipedia tells me that Guillermo Marconi was instrumental in the development of radio communication. Very ... interesting reference, but it's ruined by then immediately referencing the radio. Isn't it a rule that if you're trying to make a cool obscure reference, the quickest way to ruin it is to immediately explain it?

Oops, neglected to Google the topic first.


Worst song ever

Sad that Starship is the renaming of Jefferson Starship, which was created from the collapse of Jefferson Airplane. Well, mostly it's sad for Grace Slick. Hmmm... I think I'm going to listen to "White Rabbit" right now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Dance The Weekend Away

AB Swing Dance Team Practice
We get through all the choreography from start to finish today. None of us first timers has it down, but we muscle through it. Mark comes to his first practice, and I don't envy his experience. Like drinking water from the fire hose. He seems to have a lot more experience than I, so it might just be a matter of remembering choreography and less about learning new steps.

Had a fall during practice. My foot slipped out from under me during a kick. Took most of it on my hand and shoulder. More stinger than anything else, but I was gun-shy the rest of the practice.

Got lunch after with Scott, Gerald, Steven, and Liz. People leave at various times, but Scott and I leave between 1430 and 1500. Guess we could have invited the Swing 1 and 2 teams as well. Scott asks for most embarassing dance moment, and I coin the phrase, "and then my pants fell off." Scott has a good "I sent her right into a metal I-Beam" story, and I tell my "Shesha demos me as a follow in the middle of OC Swing Class" story.

And then my pants fell off.

4/15/2007 (Sunday)

OC Swing Classes
Charleston Kicks for Lindy Hop
This class focuses on "front" Charleston. We work on a more 20's step pattern (tap, step, tap, step), briefly cover 20's heel styling, and move on the main content. We learn the transition from side by side to front to front, work on lead and follow in this position, and then get the transition back to side-to-side.

Intermediate Lindy Hop
We're doing a routine. Shesha says he'll post it at some point.

Swing 1: Swing Technique
We build on Friday's "Flying Lindy" class by doing more up-hold footwork, this time, adding more six count moves. Same series of swing out, circle, tuck turn, then we add two "changing places," which is an inside turn from open to open, led with a rock-step. Again, we're doing up-holds instead of triple-steps on these. During the second changing places, we kick back on the up-hold (with the right foot), and do a foot-switch on 8.

Again, Jerry and Jenny focus on my Tuck Turn technique. Jenny observes that my technique (which I don't mention I just had reinforced at OC Swing) of rotating my torso to completely face my right side, is overkill for high level dancers. They have me extend my arms fully, but keep my torso square. Jerry refines and justifies this by pointing out that that much rotation sends the follow slightly away from the lead instead of back to closed on 3 & 4. Followed by opening up the palm and giving a strong "stopper" feeling during 3 & 4, already at turn height. Again, I'm not getting this kind of instructional attention elsewhere.

The whole class requires a ton of energy and Danie is the only follow taking the class, though instructor Jenny is filling in as a follow. With myself, Gerald, and Mark as leads, we can technically get some rest while the follows are on the go the whole time. I tend to not sit out when I don't have a partner, trying to lock down my footwork if nothing else. I do this for the genuinely interesting content (I definitely sat out some rounds during Mikey's Monday classes), not validation, but I do think Jerry appreciates it. It might be a little awkward if one has an audience, but the goal is to get better, not please an audience during instruction time.

Between classes, I ask Maleka, of the constantly bored look, if the AB series is good for her. Surprise, she's bored. She knows the East Coast, Charleston, and Lindy basics, so I convince her to join the Swing 1 series instead of the AB one. Or at least talk to Jerry about it.

Swing 1: Social Patterns
Maleka, joins us for the class, and Jerry's comment is, "Good luck!" We do a normal swing out, a swing out with outside free spin (why don't I do that socially?!), and a 6 count left-side walk-through from open. This is interesting as we actually turn to our left to initiate the move. Seems like we could add lots of stuff here. Turns?

Swing 2: Bal/Shag Routine
I'm still tilting my torso on come-arounds instead of getting the swing out twisting torso feel. Work on that.

Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy

Latest misheard lyrics debunked:

Bullet With Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins

I always heard:
Despite all my raindrops, still just a rat in a cage

Actual lyrics

Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Atomic Friday 20070413


Chat with Mark earlier in the day about swing dance. He's joining Atomic's Absolute Beginner team, and I try to reassure him about the process and point him towards video of the choreography on YouTube.

Friday evening at Atomic Ballroom: I'm going to start describing the social, non-technical dance parts of the night first, so that those who don't care about the lessons don't have to read them.

Social Dance:
See/greet Nicole again, and introduce myself to the guy she was with last night (at Lindy Groove), Henry. They're both friendly, and like Nicole, Henry is a good dancer. I dance with Maleka (sp?), the pretty young thing with the perpetual bored look on her face. My instinct tells me she's frustrated by not dancing that much, but it's a downward spiral, as guys can feel the negative psychic energy. Or just see the blank face and interpret it as disinterest. She must be younger than I first thought (High school? Possibly?) as she's come to the dance with an older friend.

John: Is that your friend?
Maleka: What? No, that's my mom.
John: Oh!
[John makes a big production of keeping 18 inches away while dancing. Hilarity ensues.]

My new conversational opening (which I run into the ground) is ask the follow if she's a regular. It works ok, though I find myself explaining my 6 weeks of dance lessons story over and over. Several times, I tell a youngish looking follow about Tuesday nights, only to have her tell me, "Oh yeah, but that's a school night." Yikes.

The mini-class Jerry and Katie teach is on the Charleston basic, but they do go over the Switchy-Switchy variation Jerry likes, where after the kick on 3, we switch right and left legs back and forth until we (leads) land on our right foot on 7. Yet another variation to make my dancing not-boring. I do this with the pendulum and kick-throughs as my Charleston variations.

I duck out around 12:30am, and good thing. For the second night in a row, I make it home fine, but then fall asleep in the car in my parking space. Yikes again.

Lessons Earlier on:

Swing 1: Balboa Basics
I don't remember this class at all.

Swing 2: Dance Amalgamations
Jerry admits this is just another way for him to say Social Patterns. Ha!

Swing 2: Flying Lindy
Up-holds (scoot step) in place of a triple step during a swing out. Then the same variation during a Tuck Turn. Jerry and Jenny put a lot of time into my Tuck Turn technique. We work on this for what seems like 4 or 5 minutes. This level of attention isn't available to me anywhere else, and represents the best part of my experiences at Atomic Ballroom classes. I joke that my summary for the swing 2 class is "swing out and a tuck turn."

Breakfast of the Gods

Curse you MetaFilter CraigH!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Crippling Cost of House Brands

My employer saves time and effort by buying office supplies from Staples. They deliver next day on absurdly low minimum orders, and we can get their house brand of most products at substantial savings.

But there's a huge down-side when I go to supply room looking to re-load my stapler.

Wait for it...

First Trip To Lindy Groove

Was originally planning to attend Atomic Ballroom's Club Dance classes (combining ballroom, latin, and swing moves with contemporary music), but made a late decision to head to Pasadena's Lindy Groove instead. Made it in time for the Intermediate lesson by Dave Graybill. He starts us off doing standard swing outs, then apache swing outs. The first move was an apache swing out with a catch of the follow's upper right-arm on 7, and moving into what I think of as the cabbage-patch reverse swing out. After that, we did the beginning of a standard swing out, but on the four count, the leads step under their own left arm, switching the right foot out for the left, then spinning the follow outside into side by side Charleston position. Pretty cool stuff, but I'll have to work on it.

Saw Jeremy and Laura, whom I know peripherally as Atomic regulars and team members. I'm probably barely on their radar, six weeks into my swing education.

I get in a bunch of dances in a row to start off the evening. There are lots of follows willing to dance, which makes for a really enjoyable time. SL, who originally inspired me to get into swing dance, is a regular at LG, shows up, and I get to show my zero to "solid in the basics" progress. I ask her for honest feedback, and after some searching, she points out that I still bring my left arm/hand up while dancing, but complements me in general. She hints that I might be a bit swing out heavy, which is probably tougher on follows. She's funny in her subtlety, though. "Do you know the Sugar Push? Maybe you could throw that in to take a break..." I remember thinking about how good a dancer she was back at ABC, but after learning more about the structure of swing, I'm even more amazed. She has an amazingly "solid" feel as a follow, which makes me reflect on how most beginning follows at Atomic don't follow-through with their momentum during the middle section of swing outs.

I get the "point out" tour of the best regulars at Lindy Groove, and it's an intimidating bunch. Quite a few people who perform, teach, and tour/teach dance at LG regularly. If the high-end dancers at Top Cats Monday are mostly advanced (with a sprinkling of master level dancers), then the high end at LG is mostly master level dancers. Even the people who aren't at that level have amazing musicality in their dance. It's a humbling experience to be faced with exactly how far I have to go. There are all kinds of stylings that get added on to the end of swing outs for two or four counts, body rolls, lead spins, etc. So much to learn!

Last dance was to Jamiroquai's Virtual Insanity, and the people there (the true hard-core at that point), really went to town. I danced with SL, and was lost for a bit, but went to a blues rhythm and got on track. Managed to work in a couple swing outs as well, once in the groove. Tried to really get into the musicality with some body rolls and hitting the musical breaks. Nice. More for me than her. I couldn't stop thinking "charity dance."

Saw Nicole (Atomic regular and OC Swing Sunday class) after the wrap-up and significant other(?)[1] in the parking lot on the way out. Apparently she makes the trip every week. We didn't dance that night, but she says to "save a couple dances for me" at Atomic. For sure.

[1] Update 20071102
It was Henri. And I have no idea whether they're dating, but I kind of doubt it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Whole New Month (of dance) Part 2

4/6/2007 AB Swing Team (Katie)

After a couple weeks of pure technique classes, we work on the choreography to Jeep Jockey Jump, and get through most of it. Odd that I pick it up this time, when I was so lost previously. Perhaps just a few weeks time, experience, and previous exposure subliminally working it's way into my mind?

Here's a performance of the routine from late February:

At about the 55 second mark, the group splits in two, with the first group doing one set of choreography, and the second doing another (at about 1:05). During practice, I was in the second group, so learned that choreography better. Unfortunately, the groups switch at 1:40, and I was a bit slow at picking things up, relying on the experienced follows to back-lead quite a bit. Sucks to be a beginner. You can see a clearer shot of the second group's choreography when the middle couple does it at 1:50.

So for those who've never been able to visualize the various moves, here's a description. When the music first starts, and the people rock back and forth, that's called the "jockey" or "ramp up" in the context of social dancing. It's used to get the dancers on the same page. The first active move (0:18) is a "swing out from closed position" (closed position is the position they're starting in. Open is ending position as the ladies arms are pointing out towards the audience). The footwork is a slight variation (that upward-skipping motion) of the basic. The next move (0:20) is a swing out starting in open position and ending there. Another swing out (0:23), then an 8-count circle, which is a swing out which starts in open position and ends in closed (0:25).

OC Swing Series
Beginner class is a snap now. I'm adjusting a bit better to the rock-step lead in the swing out starting from open. In Charleston Kicks, we spent most of the time doing swing outs with Charleston footwork. Pretty cool move, reminiscent of the shag swing out class I took at Atomic last week. Intermediate class is a blur, though I do remember we went over the Apache swing out (that's coming up a lot, lately).

I see Mark at both OC Swing and Atomic classes, so we chat about the differences between the styles we see at both. I talk about some of the stuff Alan had described to me a couple weeks ago, and my add-on opinions. I get his email to send him some of the YouTube links I've been watching.

OC Swing Intermediate Drop-In (Mikey and Nikki)
This class covered Lindy, but I didn't find it that useful (again), except for the leader free-spin which is demoed on the DVD that I got from Phil (OC Swing Thursday), but I hadn't tried yet. I think that's the last time I'm showing up to pay for that lesson.

I stay for a couple hours of the jam session after, and am floored by the level of dancers there. If these dancers are advanced, then not many at Atomic are much beyond intermediate. Jason (OCS Sunday) is there, and we chat. Megan (a beginner I met at Atomic a couple weeks ago), stays too and the three of us work on her swing out for a while. Andrea helps me with the Balboa transition from their class.

Before class, I talk to a guy, Dan, who's trying to get back into dancing after an 18 year hiatus. He gives his entire back-story, which I always like to hear. He's plans on observing the first class and possibly taking others.

Swing 1 (Jerry)
Sometimes Jerry asks for ideas for the class, so I was ready to ask about "footwork variations." We went about replacing the various parts of the swing out footwork with non-standard stuff. The key was to replace a step-step pattern with something which would end up on the opposite foot from the starting and/or replace a triple-step with something which would end on the same foot as one started from. The things that stick out in my mind were a down hold instead of either triple-step and a kick-cross-step in place of the last triple-step. Oh, kick-ball-change instead of either triple-step. Nice. I resolve to work on some of that during the dance the same night.

Between classes, Dan tells me to loosen up and feel the rhythm. He thinks I'm out there counting too much. I laugh and thank him. He doesn't end up taking any classes, but does stay for the dance.

Swing 2 Balboa Variations (Jerry)
I don't remember anything from this class. :-)

Swing 2 14 Count Moves (Jerry)
Had to lean on Mark to remember the moves. First we did a Bal-Swingout, which starts as a regular swing out from open with an outside free-spin. We catch the follow's left hand with our left, and kick out with our right foot on 7. Then we lead an inside spin, catch the follow, and finish the swing out.

Next was the no-name move. Regular swing out with outside turn, giving another turn winding the hand around the neck in side-by-side position, then leading a double (well, 1 and a half) inside turn to end in open. This one was very troublesome. :-(

Dan was watching and shook his head after the class. He's not sure anyone here can dance.

The dance was another great time. I hardly took any time off. Saw and danced with Amantha and Jenny from OCC (and OC Swing Sunday), as well as a group of women from Chapman U. First dance was with a gal I belatedly recognized as one of the best who shows up to Atomic dances (and her partner is by far the best guy there). I fumble a bit, but muscle through and work the smile. Which is totally effective! But I forget to get her name and introduce myself.

Dan expresses his shock at how good my dancing is when I see him during the dance. I try to explain that the advanced classes are awkward moves that we don't know. But thinking about it now, I wonder if perhaps it was just that the classes weren't that well planned out. Jerry was working on the moves in the middle of class instead of having them mapped out ahead of time. This worked ok for the footwork variations class, but not so well for the second 14 count move.

Dan was talking with Michelle, who I end up dancing with several times during the night. We seem to share the same taste in music, as she seeks me out during a couple of my favorite songs, including Ruby Mae. She promises to burn me a CD with Ruby Mae for Friday. Score!

Danced a couple times with Nicole (great follow from OCS Sunday), who is trying to re-create the swing out with Charleston footwork from Sunday's class. I try to do it, but am having trouble ending in open. Later, I point Jason in her direction, and I think he goes through it with her.

I dance with a gal named Amy, who is just amazing. Perhaps without some of the flash displayed by my first dance partner of the night, but so smooth. She follow my cabbage patch reverse swing out with ease (the first time that's happened!), and leaves me buzzing. I smile again (and add a laugh this time), which I get echoed back to me. Yes, she even follows my smile and laugh! Later, I tell Mark about her, then push him to ask her for a dance when she walks by. He comes back and gushes that he only needed the lightest touches to lead her. Like driving a Ferrari? I hope that's a good analogy and not an insulting one.

My pattern with the Cabbage Patch reverse swing out is to do it immediately followed by a regular swing out, and a Lindy Circle to get back to closed position. Then I immediately do another Cabbage Patch swing out, but vary the regular swing out. Well that's my plan from now on. I think I was doing the exact same pattern two times in a row in reality.

Note to self: Remember to ask Jerry about leading that inside turn as an entry into the swing out. I think it isn't a familiar move, so the follows think they're going into an underarm turn. Either I'm not putting my hand on their backs soon enough, and they pass me, or I put it there and they immediately reverse directions, thinking I'm leading a reverse of the turn. I need a debug of my technique.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Whole New Month (of dance) Part 1

Tuesday, April 3rd

Swing 1 Jerry
We start the class by helping the follows work on swivel step technique for swing outs. We tweak the swing out so that on "& 4" the lead is using the tension to slightly sling the follow away before reversing direction for the send out portion of the swing out on "5." I can't get the timing until Jerry makes a really interesting observation on my stance: I have a bent-knee, athletic stance which absorbs some of the tension in the partner connection. One effect is to make my swing outs more circular than the linear, springy style we're working on. Taking out the knee bend completely changes my timing and feel during the swing out. It's ... awesome.

Lindy Variations class is kind of a blur, but the Shag Swing Out class was lots of fun. In a nutshell, we did shag footwork during a swing out, which was a pretty neat variation (though I'm not sure how much shag I'll be doing. Ever).

I have a minor breakthrough during the dance this night. I finally feel confident enough in (still) small number of variations I have to dance more. The most dancing I ever did before was with other people I met in the beginners classes before the dance. This night, I'm asking the women from the Atomic teams, women from the Sunday OC Swing class, and of course women who took the beginner classes right before the dance. I dance a -ton-, which makes the entire evening more enjoyable. So for posterity, that was around 50 hours of lessons into my dance career.

My standard 6 count pattern is a tuck-turn followed by changing places (an open to open inside turn led with a rock step), then ease-to-closed. I'm trying to vary this by replacing the turn part of the tuck-turn with a free spin. A minor change, but still different enough to make the second time through the pattern not exactly the same as the first time. I also experiment with the changing places as a "she goes, he goes" move where I execute a turn after the follow is almost done with hers. Again, this makes the pattern repeat not quite the same, so hopefully less boring.

Taking the bend out of my knees during swing outs has made them so much better.


I take the series of "Club Dance" classes on Thursday. This incorporates swing, ballroom, and latin dance footwork to contemporary music. Interesting, and a good way to mix things up. Thursday is the night for Lindy Groove in Pasadena, though, and I'd definitely like to check that scene out and work on the groovy variant they dance there.

Swing 1: Balboa Basics (Jerry)

We switch to a slightly different transition step than the one Jenny taught us, which has me lost for a long time, though the rest of the routine is the same as last week. The left kick on 3 is accompanied by a slight push away of the follow, followed by crossing the left foot over the right for the step on 4, then the rock-step, down-hold.

Swing 2: Lindy Turns (Jerry)

The thing that sticks out in this class is leading an inside turn on the entry into the swing out. For me, this leads to an explosion of variations, as one can lead an inside turn on the way in, then a regular swing out on the exit, or an inside turn in and inside turn out, or inside turn in and outside turn out. All based on a single variation on the 1-2 count of the entry.

We also cover the Apache swing out (or Texas Tommy), which is a behind-the-back pass of the follows right hand from the lead's right to left hands during the 5-6 of the swing out. We catch the follow's hand in loose circular grip around the wrist, allowing the follow to rotate in the grip. Also remember to switch hands back to lead's left unless specifically doing a right-to-right led move.

Swing 2: Cool Moves (Jerry)
Repeat of the material we did in an earlier class but I didn't blog. I think I'm classifying this class as complex stuff I won't be able to use in social dancing for a while.

The Friday night dance is another good one for me, with tons of dancing, including quite a bit of dancing with follows who are better than me. I dance with Sydney, one of the Atomic staff for the first time (yet another really good dancer on staff). The night is a blur, but I make it a point to dance with people I haven't danced with that often instead of returning to the same partners time after time.

Again focus on taking the bend out of my knees during swing outs, which really energizes them. When catching views of myself in the mirror, I'm amazed at the difference in how it looks.

Perhaps a small thing, but I also make it a point to smile as I dance, which has a very interesting effect during dancing. The follows smile back. And I think it's helping me leave a good impression with the better follows I dance with: I'm enjoying myself, and if they smile, they enjoy themselves more. I think it's too easy to fall into a grimace or look of concerned concentration when dancing (or blank boredom), which gives off the wrong vibe.

At Jenny's suggestion, I ask about the music so I can add the tracks I like to my collection. My favorite is the amazingly bluesy "Ruby Mae" by Indigo Swing (Jerry tells me to get all their albums), but close behind is "Lonely Teardrops" by Jackie Wilson (to be fair, identified for me by CB's wife Angela a couple days earlier). Also very cool is "The Girl From Ipanema" covered by Lou Rawls.
I said oh yes, yes, I would give my heart to that girl so gladly,
But each and every day, as she walks to the sea,
You know she looks straight ahead, she won't look back at me,
Now tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walkin',
And when she passes I smile, but the girl just won't look back at me,
To see if I am looking back to see,
If she is looking back to see,
If I am looking back to see,
If she is looking back to see,
If I am looking back at her,
As she walks down to the sea,
Oh she looks so good to me
And everybody else because she's wearing
One of them real cute bikini bathing suits,
And sure does look good to me,
I said it really really really looks so good to me,
Oh I was looking back to see,
If she was looking back to see,
If I was looking back to see,
If she was looking back at me,
But she wouldn't look back at me,
As she walked down to the sea,
She wouldn't look at me.
Amazing that the right singer can do with a song which has been ruined by Muzak.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Art is Context and Stunt Journalism

Joshua Bell can earn $1000 a minute playing a violin which cost him $3.5 million.

And in a D.C. metro station, playing for passers by?

I'm not a fan of classical violin music, and I was brought to tears. I wonder how it would have touched me in this context, and whether I would have been moved to give money.

Pearls Before Breakfast (Washington Post)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Swing Boot Camp Summary

March was my designated Swing Dance Boot Camp month. I bought an unlimited class pass at the Atomic Ballroom, finished out an OC Swing series and picked up a series of three more.

Atomic Ballrooom: 43 lessons: 32.25 hours
OC Swing: 13 lessons: 13 hours

Did I state a goal before I started out?
My goal for the month is to jump from the "Absolute Beginner" group to the "Level 1" group
Well, ok. I think I can solidly hold my own in Atomic's Level 1 classes. Of course, through the quirk of joining the team, I'm taking the level 2 classes.

Here are some other things I should have listed as goals, but didn't think or know enough to do so.

  • Create community connections.
    Make new acquaintances and friends.
    Know people well enough to be able to ask questions, start conversations, and make introductions.
    I think I've done a good job of this. I'm on a first-name, casual basis with all the staff at Atomic, as well as having created a small network within the AB team (which I hope we can expand). There's guys who are more in the OC Swing circuit than the Atomic circuit who I routinely chat with like Alan and Bob.
  • Break the personal space barrier
    When first learning dance, it's natural to be less than comfortable to have someone in one's personal space. It takes a while to get over it, but I think I'm there. What's interesting is when I come across beginning students who aren't over it. It's a subtle thing that might not be obvious to anyone that isn't in closed position with the person in question.
  • Break the eroticism link
    Dancing certainly can be about eroticism or public affection, but doesn't have to be. Dancing with a gal doesn't mean I want to sleep with her. It doesn't mean we're going to a dark corner to make out. It doesn't have to mean anything beyond the communication, enjoyment, and friendship of the dance itself.
    I do remember that the third time in a class that I danced with a male instructor, I thought to myself "I should be more weirded out about this than I am. And why did it take me until now to think about it?" Because dancing doesn't have to be about eroticism. Even then, some male instructors are able to make the situation more comfortable than others. That tells me that some leads in general are better at communicating fun instead of creepiness. I'd need someone else to comment about my ability to communicate that intent as a dance partner. In my own head, though, I can safely say that I'm concerned with planning move sequences and not screwing things up, not my partner's hot bod. Maybe a more skilled dancer would be able to focus on being creepy.
    Eroticism was definitely more of an issue for me when I went Blues dancing, though that was my first night of social dancing and I had a seriously cute parter.
  • Be more social
    I'm out of the house dancing three nights a week. That's a quirk of my ability to take all the lessons that I've taken, but I welcome the buildup of television on my Tivo that I know I'm not going to get around to watching.
  • Dance with the one that brought me
    This time last year, I had a hazy idea about taking some ballroom or salsa classes, but didn't act on it. In February, I was invited to join a group to go Blues dancing, and took advantage of an offered dance lesson in order to not feel like a total beginner. And since I've started lessons, I've completely failed to reconnect with the gal who set me on this swing dance path, though it's just been a generally busy month. Hopefully we can fix that.
  • Be an effective social dancer
    This is a bit hazy in meaning as well as accomplishment. I think it really had to do with my first intimidating wallflower experience at Atomic. Clearly I had to get competent and become more familiar figure in order to have the guts to ask women to dance in this style. I think I've succeeded in not being a pure mercy dance, but I'm only just getting to the point where I can pretend to improvise on the dance floor. I think I need to be more assertive about asking women to dance, despite my mood, tiredness, or how well I do or don't know them.
It was a good month. I'm glad I did it, and glad to have found a new skill to work on and a new community. There's still a long path to walk, in terms of skill development, but isn't there always?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Final Stretch Part 4: Sunday Swing Sillliness

Sunday was full of swing. SS chatted with me last night about how to get lessons at Atomic Ballroom. I told her about the 5:30 lessons, but she needs to get basic proficiency for Sunday evening to accompany a friend to a black-tie swing event, Cicada Club. I volunteer to teach her a lesson, but warn her that I'm only in my first month myself. She has nice wooden floors so I journey to her house to teach the lesson just after 11. Meet the hubby and his crew as they head off to play Dungeons and Dragons. Wow. I really enjoyed doing that at one point in my life, and as I've told CH, if I had infinite time, I might do it again. As it is now, I'd rather spend my day dancing with women. Then again, I'm not married.

I go over ECS Basic, then Charleston Basic, and Lindy Hop with SS. That's a lot to learn. A lot. I'd spent the last evening really thinking about follow footwork, so I was pretty prepared (though I couldn't teach swivels or any other variations). Then went back and taught transition from ECS Basic to Charleston. Then the Pendulum. Then the Tuck Turn (used that ballroom hold for this). And Changing Places. Went back to Lindy and showed her how the outside and inside turns worked. Probably too much too fast. But we did do an entire song with ECS Basic and Charleston. Did some ECS mixed with Lindy. Again, it's probably too much too soon, but she needs to do some basic stuff to get through tonight.

I leave SS's place and drive to Avant Garde Ballroom in Irvine for the OC Swing classes. I take the absolute beginner series at 2, the Charleston Kicks for Lindy Hop at 3 and Intermediate Lindy at 4.

The beginner class is nothing new, going over a swing out from closed then a lindy circle (or swing in, or eight count circle). After that, Shesha goes over a standard swing out. Interesting teaching technique. The swing out from closed is a good transition from ECS. The eight-count circle just builds a bit on the 6 count version that was taught previously. The standard swingout takes the end of the swing out from closed and the beginning of the 8 count circle. I'm having a bit of trouble with my 8-count circle, as my partners are stumbling in their footwork. What am I doing wrong? Strongest follows are Melissa and Jennifer. At least one other follow tells me my frame and lead are great.

Shesha mentions that he teaches the opening step of a swing out differently than it's taught at Atomic, leading with a rock-step instead of a step-step (forward for the follow). Interesting, as Alan had mentioned something like this on Friday night. However, I don't actually see the difference past the beginner classes. Jerry teaches the follows to hold back on 1-2 and snap forward on 3 in the advanced classes. Shesha seems to be doing the same thing, but the follows don't know to help create the tension in the connection, which makes it really tough to snap together.

In Charleston Kicks, we go over inside-out kicks again, then learn outside-in kicks. We start with a sideways rock-step (left foot), then kick the left inside, and step. The right foot then kicks out sideways to the right, then kicks inside to the left, then step. The step is a little begin where we cross-kicked, I think. For the routine, we add a free spin to the right (both partners), then switch to inside out kicks. Shesha's scatting cracks me up every time (bump-a-bump-a-diddlee-dee-a-bump-a-diddlee-dee).

Nothing stands out about the Intermediate class, which is odd as it should be all new material. Oh, I did dance with a follow I recognized from last Friday, Verna, who has a habit I find it difficult to deal with. Since I'm essentially an advanced beginner, I like the structure of the steps we do, as I know and can understand it. Every once in a while, Verna would stop and do some improvisational solo stuff at the end of a swing out. Even after I told her I have no idea what she's doing or what I should be doing. If she wanted to do switches, that would be one thing, as I would be doing skill development. This was just random.

At the Atomic:
Swing 1: Technique
Jerry's private lesson (a couple doing their wedding dance to Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel) is running long, so Jenny starts us off by just doing some swing outs with basic turns. Interesting point right away: Changing Places and the Walk-Through are very similar moves, but they're actually distinct in Atomic's vocabulary. They're both inside turns from open to open, but Changing Places is led with a rock-step while the Walk-Through is led as forward steps for the follow.

Just when I thought I was solid on the basics, Trish points out to me that on my Sugar Push, my blocking hand gives ground instead of being solid. I need to keep it solid and push from the frame, not a rebounding arm.

We worked on an interesting variation which flows from the Sugar Push. I've learned the Sugar Push as the leading a step-step (forward), tap, step, triple-step. On the variation, we block then catch with the right hand, release the left hand on the forward step, then lead a body-rotating rock step instead of the triple, ending with a free-spin to open on the other side. Very cool.

Technique-wise, Jerry shares what he calls the "gun" grip. Leads present the middle and ring fingers for the follow to grip. The little finger isn't gripped, the forefinger is pointed forward along the arm, and the thumb is up (making the hand look like a gun). Great pointer!

Swing 1: Social Patterns

Changing Places
Sugar Push
Sugar Push to Free Spin (that we learned in the last class)
8-Count Circle

Interesting addition was the "Cabbage Patch" swing out from closed. Jerry is a self-admitted abuser of the oppositional rock-step, which this is based on. Lead does an oppositional rock-step sendout, but doesn't let go with the right-hand connection, staying in closed position for the triple-step, then using a similar movement for 5-6, sending out follow to the left while doing what feels like an oppositional rock-step with the right foot in the opposite direction of the send out while the shoulders are going with the follow. The overall effect of the lead's shoulders look similar to the "cabbage patch" dance from the 1980's (the horizontal stirring motion). I'm totally adding this to my social dance patterns. It's a counter-clockwise 8-count move, while most Lindy is done clockwise, which makes it quirky, but not stupidly difficult to do (or lead). In fact, the oppositional rock-step is awesome for exactly that reason! Note to self: do an oppositional rock-step at least once in each social dance, twice if you can do the cabbage patch swingout!

Also, I mentioned the problem I was having with the 8-count circle (at the OC Swing class, but I didn't mention that). Jerry wants me hold the follow at arm's length and work on leading the turn with the right shoulder, which totally works. Trish thinks I might be missing a step at times. Interesting.

Swing 2: Bal-Shag Routine
Balboa Basic
Transitional Step
Come Around
Basic with Break on 7
Come Around with down hold on 7 (facing left of starting position)
Come Around with Spike Out
Falling off the log stating left
rock-step-down-hold, rock-step down-hold
Come Around
Jig kicks (hook left around right on 8)
slide backs hop-slide on 5

Different transitional step than Jenny taught. 1-2-kick-hook(left over right) step-rock-step-down. After the kick, the hook and step is on one count.

Falling off the log is kicking out to the side, step, cross-step, step, then repeat in the other direction. Helped to be behind Jenny's lead, as I noticed she's a lot more aggressive on coming around on 3. I was facing forward looking at her while rotating around, and she was already facing me. She hooks her right foot around and is really pushes the rotation. I remember that I need to focus some more on my right-shoulder lead during this rotation.

Final Stretch Part 3

Friday 3/30
Swing 1: Balboa Routine
Jenny runs the class.
Balboa Basic
Transitional Step
Come Around
Basic with Break on 7
Come Around with down hold on 7 (facing left of starting position)
Come Around with Spike Out

The Spike Out is a release of the right-hand connection, and a kick with the right foot while remaining connected with the left hand. Then, use that connection to spin the follow, and catch up with her at a 180 degree rotation from the beginning position and finish the rotation around to 360 and pick up the Balboa Basic. That's a lot of running around, and I don't think I really got it.

Swing 2: Hijacks
Amazing class! Not quite a hijack of the lead in the first move we did, but a giving up of the lead. This means the leads switched to follows and the follows switched to leads. Routine for some of the staff, but a huge adjustment for most of us.

The actual move was during a standard swing out. Instead of releasing with the right had during 6, we released with both, but slid the right hand down the inside of the follow's left arm. They knew to grip with the lead grip and lead a swingout! We essentially had to stop the class and run an AB class with the follows learning lead footwork and hand placement and the leads learning follow footwork and hand placement. So strange. For example, in closed, I was on the right side instead of the left, and needed to put my hand on the lead's shoulder, as follows do, not around the waist, as I would as the lead was doing to me! We even did some ECS basic like this. And interestingly, it really emphasized to me what a good lead needs to provide to a follow. I wonder if it's worth taking the AB series over again as a follow. Probably uncomfortable for most guys, though it seems acceptable for male instructors to fill in as follows. Just a beginning guy thing. I definitely remember having that attitude when SL mentioned it to me when I first talked about swing dancing.

I talk to Gerald about the second hijack, and he tells me it was on a walk through where the follow pulls the lead into open Charleston position, but I don't remember it.

Swing 2: Weird Swingouts
Lots of fun, but the only one I remember is the "cuddle" swingout, where we start with a two-handed connection, provide a forward pull on 1, loop the right-left connection over the follow's body, and pull them straight back. I finally get this move. I think Shesha taught it at the first OC Swing Sunday class I took, but I never got it then.

Social Dance
Met up with Phil from the old Thursday OC Swing class. Glad to keep connected with him. He complemented me heavily for the progress I've made this month. I'm uncomfortable with complements in general, but try to be graceful and make it about having the time to take all the lessons I've taken. He bought a couple of DVDs for swing instruction which he's willing to share. He describes them as having a library of basic moves and variations which is exactly what I need to do some planning of my social dance patterns. Yes, I need to choreograph my social dancing. I'm a freakin' beginner. It's either that or be boring. And I'm not content to survive on East Coast Basic, Tuck Turn, Changing Places, Ease to Closed. That's boring.

I'm around and dancing for a couple hours, then start to think about heading home (team practice in the morning). Gerald takes off, and I start to really think about leaving. Then I start up a conversation with Alan, who isn't on a team, but I see around lots of the Atomic lessons and at the OC Swing Sunday series. His social dancing is where I'd like to be: solid basics, with interesting variations which he leads well. We talk about his path and background in dance for over an hour, and I find it really enlightening. His buddy got him into swing around January 2006, and he spent time on the Atomic Ballroom teams for a few months as well. He found his skill level increased, but doesn't think that all the Atomic level 2 classes are applicable to social dance situations, which is why he'll take level 1 classes instead sometimes. Alan mentions the double bug specifically, and I think of the transitional Lindy class I took a few days before (difficult, and can't imagine it being useful). I can immediately understand his viewpoint. Apparantly he and Chris (one of the staff) started around the same time. I idly wonder whether I can get to Chris's level in the space of a year. I discuss my quest to increase the variation of my social dance pattern, and he has lots of great suggestions like switching hands, free spins, block turns, and doing a free spin directly to closed position. He has some interesting comments on the contrast between the stylistic differences between what Jerry and Shesha are teaching. He describes Jerry's swing outs as very "Hollywood," in that they're linear and the lead holds ground, while Shesha teaches more of a "Savoy" styled swing out, with the lead and follow coming together then springing apart. Very interesting observation. The descriptions feel right, though I don't know anything about the terminology. He likes to know both styles. That's right, I see Alan at Shesha's Sunday series. He likes to learn from more than one teacher to keep it from getting stale. I like that.

I ask whether he's gone to Camp Hollywood. He hasn't, but is planning on it this year. I'd really like to go as well, and am waffling about the track to take. He's planning on intermediate, which was my thought for myself, especially since it's months away. Have to think about it for a bit.

After talking to Alan for more than an hour, I go home and crash out.

3/31 AB Team Practice
We work on swing outs again, building on the traveling we did before. This time, we're starting in a line and traveling into a "V" formation, so the couples on the ends of the line have to travel farther than the couples closer to the middle. Then we travel back to the line, then into an inverted-V formation, and back to the line. We're getting better as a team on spotting the other couples and lining up in the middle of the moves.

At the end, we move from the line to a circle while doing swing outs. From my position, that means doing an over-rotated three-wall swing out to line up, then another swing out to get to the proper position. The three-wall swing out finally "clicks" with me during this exercise. It's a normal swing out but instead of releasing the partner on 5, I bring her back "in" while doing a 180 degree pivot on 6 and release her the other way. During a normal swing out, the partners end up in the exact same starting positions at the end, while a three-wall will have them 180 degrees rotated (the rotation on 5-6-7). Hmmm... I could totally throw the three-wall into my social pattern. Note to self: do that.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Bachelor Rules #2

Rule #2: Ixnay the Oozebay

That's right, when you're a bachelor, no booze. Booze is something they drank in old timey times. In gangster-owned speakeasies in the 1940's. During the late 1950's after Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated and WWII broke out. When Lincoln said "Four score and pass the booze."

Maybe I'm not being clear, you can still drink the stuff, but the modern bachelor doesn't refer to it as "booze." We call it hard alcohol, or if we're in the company of men, the hard stuff (yes, that's vaguely homoerotic; That's how bachelors act in the company of men).


  • Ironic humor
    Mother: I'd like a margarita too.
    Son: Coming right up, boozie boozerson.
  • Time Travel
    (Self explanatory)

Final Stretch Part 2

Tuesday 3/27
Swing: 1 Social Patterns
This ends up being one of the more rewarding classes I've taken at the Atomic. Looking back, I wonder about the applicability of the Double Bug or most of the choreography (it tends to be complex enough that it's tough to lead).
Jerry just starts to string moves together to use as a default series that is well enough known by the lead that we can spend our time thinking about moves that we want to try out while we do the series. So we do the following:
ECS Basic
Tuck Turn
Changing Places
Sugar Push (x2)
Sugar Push with Block Turn

Focusing on the Tuck Turn is pretty helpful for me today. I notice that Jerry moves his hold from a swing hold (waist height) to a ballroom hold. When I ask him about that, he says this helps him get the twisting action of the tuck turn to occur at shoulder height, which makes a lot of sense to me. I'm going to try that out for a while. Especially while Jerry is watching. :-)

During the "changing places" move, we're leading a very rotational rock step that flows from the end of the tuck turn. I like the emphasis on making those two pieces of these moves flow together. These are the first two moves I learned after the basic, but I don't remember ever thinking about the rotation flow staying between them.

There's a momentum consideration in the transition from Changing Places to the Sugar Push: The end of changing places is straight-back momentum, while the Sugar Push is straight forward. In order to lead this, we have to re-establish connection really early during Changing Places, which helps us to communicate the up-coming change in momentum to the follow.

I'm bringing up my left hand on every Sugar Push, not just the block turn. Work on not doing that.

Swing 2: Transitional Lindy
From an extremely usefult to almost useless (to me right now) class. Jerry goes over some historical steps that were used before the rough edges on Lindy Hop were worn smooth. I can't really remember anything, and I think that might be on purpose. Perhaps when I'm already a black-belt in swing dance, this might be the kind of thing I'd search out.

Swing 2: 20's Charleston
This is the style of Charleston which is forward-step, kick, back-step kick. But the kicks are highly stylized. I really like the stylized kicks, and need to work on them some more. In fact, kick stylings for things like Balboa and Charleston are something I'd like very much to explore in the future. Not look like a total novice.

I think I met Crecia Krysia's boyfriend, this day, but it might have been the previous Sunday or Friday. He's a really nice guy, and I try not to take his mention the I'm on the team with "my girlfriend Crecia Krysia" at face value, and not as a warn-off. I think it's just the kind of subtle warn-off that I would have given. What am I saying, he's a really nice guy [who probably now reads my blog! Hey Scott, did you get this deep into it? - 20070702]. No, it had to have been earlier, as this is the day that I mention to Crecia Krysia that I met him and that he really seemed quite nice.

Social Dance
I danced a couple early dances and ended up staying less than an hour (Chris hassled me as I left). I just wasn't feeling it.

[EDIT 20070702]
What a load of crap I was telling myself. I was still intimidated by the dancing and extremely unsure about dancing with and asking more experienced follows for a dance.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Final Stretch Part 1

I blogged my first paid swing lesson, followed by bust and boom at the Atomic Ballroom, and the decision to put myself through a swing dance boot camp, as many lessons as I could take for Atomic's flat-fee month. The month is over and I've really lagged on blogging it during the final stretch, so I'm going back to reconstruct my thoughts on the various classes.

3/30 (Sunday)
As previously mentioned, I re-upped for OC Swing lessons, but on Sunday instead of Thursday (as it was starting immediately). The beginner class was just that, but it's enjoyable to take and was tough to resist signing up for at $20 over the cost of the other two classes I really wanted to take. 3pm is the Charleston kicks class. We go over the inside-out kicks which we learned last week (but I forgot about in the blur). Starts with the left foot kicking in front of the right. Then we pivot on our right foot to the left and kick out to the left and finally step on the left foot. Then the right foot kicks in front of the left, pivot on the left foot to the right, and kick the right foot off to the right, then step on the right. So each foot kicks "in" front of the other then "out" in the opposite direction. We then incorporate this into the partner Charleston by making a left-to right hand connection and pushing off the partner's hip on the second double-kick to help the pivot. A styling note is that it's cooler to over-rotate the pivoted kick. Shesha and Nikki demo this, and it looks amazing.

We also learn to do this kick variation with the follow offset in rotation from the lead, so the lead does the first inside out kick, then stays off-set and repeats the outside kick while the follow pivots back. Then the lead pivots back in while the follow pivots out while the lead pivots in. I've completely failed to find a YouTube clip of this.

Intermediate class was kind of blah. No strong memories of it.

In fact, the rest of the day passed like a blur as well. The Atomic schedule tells me I did a class on the See Ya Later Alligator and Rip It Up routines as well as a technique class, but again, no strong memories of it.

Bachelor Rules #1

I think there are some unspoken rules about life as a bachelor. Some guys never have the good fortune of being taught, which I hope to rectify in a new series of posts (that I'll post whenever I happen to think of a new rule).

Rule 1: No Shopping Carts

When you go grocery shopping for yourself, you can't use a shopping cart. This isn't always convenient. It isn't always pretty. But it's the rule.


  • Party Supplies

  • Beer
    Yes, just beer. No, not wine. Unless it's for a party. See the first exception.

  • Girlfriend
    If you're shopping with your girlfriend, a cart is almost mandatory.
    If you're shopping for your girlfriend, it's optional. And a quick tip, if you're still embarrassed to buy sanitary supplies for your girlfriend, simply putting them in a cart reduces the embarrassment factor by two orders of magnitude. Even if it's the only thing you're buying. Really. Oops, except when you're at Costco and all they sell are 100-packs.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Mixed Messages

Friday 3/23:
Gerald and Scott are both present. We rock. The Balboa classes are combined. and Jenny leads us through:

Transitional Step
Come Around
Come Around w/break
Come Around w/down hold

The transitional step is a right-foot rock-step-cross on 5-6-7. The down-hold is on 7 while opening the follow's torso (similar to the opening of a tuck-turn).

Jerry teaches Swing 2: ECS Patterns
ECB (x2)
Tuck Turn
Walk-Through, Spin to Charleston
Charleston Basic
Vintage Charleston
Tuck-Turn with the lead turning as well
Funky-Hand inside turn to closed

No idea on the actual names for those last moves. With the walk-through variation, leads re-establish connection early in the walk through and do a right-foot rock-step on 4 (instead of the second triple step). During the rock-step we open way up, then snap closed and lead a spin with the left hand. Follow spins to the side, where we end up in Charleston position. The Vintage Charleston is done in closed. It's rock-step, triple-step, kick, triple-step. My knee gets tweaked and I have to sit out a bit.

7:45pm Swing 2: Double Bug
The Double Bug is when a single lead dances with a follow on each of his hands. Very advanced kung fu. Scott was doing the best, but I think he has several years more experience than either Gerald or I. Or both of us combined. I seriously tweak my knee and have to sit out the last third of the lesson. I don't even bother to stay for the dance, as I want to get some ice on the knee and be ok for the team practice the next day. Sucks.

My knee feels great in the morning. Testament to icing it. I pick up some chemical ice packs from the drug store on my way to team practice. We don't work on choreography at all, just swing outs. Normally, Jerry teaches a swingout where the leads are holding ground while the follows are doing most of the traveling. We spend some time during this practice traveling in each direction: Follows anchor on 1-2, bringing the leads forward, while on 5-6, leads send the follows, continuing the motion in the same direction. Very cool. We also travel the other way, with leads anchoring 1-2 as normal, but then hooking the right foot around the left after 4 and getting a push on the right shoulder from the follows, stepping backward on 5-6. This is pretty fun, actually. We spend time working this, getting across the floor, synchronized as a team, with fewer and fewer swingouts. Neat exercise. We also work on rotating around the center axis as a team during swingouts. This is a lot harder, as leads have to over or under-rotate, depending on where we are. I'm still worried about learning the choreography, but apparantly Jerry isn't, as we don't work on it at all.

Jerry invites us to check out the Swing 1 team since we have to learn the choreography to advance. We stay, and they do See Ya Later Alligator. Gerald and I have actually done this, so it's not new, but I don't actually know it. They do Jeep Jocky Jump (the AB team choreography) once and I get worried about learning it all over again. I start to take notes on my Treo, then have a head slap moment, and record with the camera. But Jerry and Katie ask me not to. I'm puzzled as they want us to learn the choreography, but don't seem to want us to do so at the same time. I keep asking for the written notes, and they keep saying they'll get to giving that out. Jerry also seems to not want us to watch the performance videos on YouTube, or record the practices. Clearly there's something I'm not understanding about this. Scott points out in a later email to me that they might not want to give away their teaching techniques nor do they want to see unfinished product out on YouTube. I guess that makes sense for the recording of practices, but how about getting us the choreography?

Not even sure how to approach the subject with Jerry.