West Coast Wednesday (sorta) - Nick Williams & Jo Hoffberg, J&J at Lone Star Championships (2011)
A little bit of a half West Coast Wednesday … and I don’t even know if that half would really be defined as WCS instead of pros-goofing-off.
The more I watch these videos, the sadder I am I wasn’t able to head to Lone Star. Nick and Jo are absolutely hilarious with their dance to “I Will Survive.” Did I even detect a reference to the Yes Dance in there? Yes, yes, yes, yes?
West Coast Wednesday - Jordan Frisbee & Jessica Cox, US Open Swing Dance Championships Strictly WCS (2010)
Two things I love (sarcastically): One, when tumblr says that I have (1) queued post and when I open the tab, there’s nothing inside. Two, when you try say something nice and the response is more or less “meh.” Can’t tell you how often that happens around me. But hey, in the words of Doctor Who: “They can shoot me down, but the moral high ground is still mine!” (I love me my David Tennant.)
Anyway, this is the video that was supposed to go live today. If it posts a second time thanks to tumblr’s weirdness, I’ll be deleting one.
So, West Coast Swing! This is a pretty wonderful performance to watch. The connection and frame between Jordan and Jessica is top notch (which, I guess is appropriate, being that this is the winning performance after all). The song selection is also something that you could get on a blues night, when the DJ’s feeling particularly up-tempo. I suppose that at certain points, WCS and blues moves can become interchangeable, which makes it even better to have a little bit of a background doing either, in case you want to start doing something the other dancers aren’t.
West Coast Wednesday - Brennar Goree & Torri Smith, US Open Swing Championships (2007)
Huge thanks to paperingasmile for alerting me to Brennar & Torri. Once again, I must admit how far out of my league I am posting about WCS, even if it’s only once a week. It’s still a form that intrigues me to no end, especially since it somehow really does combine swing with the ballroom aesthetic. From a semi-outsider’s perspective, at least.
It’s never really been more apparent to me than in this video how different WCS can be from other forms of swing—to the point that I almost hesitate to include it in the swing family at all. But no, that’s not an insult directed at the dance. It’s very much a compliment. This video is absolutely incredible to watch, especially with the innumerable spins Brennar leads Torri through midway through the performance.
West Coast Wednesday - Benji Schwimmer & Torri Smith, US Open Swing Dance Championships (2010)
So this happened over the previous weekend. Showcase-style choreography has always been something that I’ve wondered about: the effort of putting together a routine must be a strenuous as memorizing each portion of it. Of course, some parts flow more smoothly than others—it makes sense that this next bit in the choreography is coming up, etc. I’ve so far only participated in two choreographed routines, though, and never competed with one.
This is the 1st place WCS routine from the competition. Pretty amazing stuff to watch, and … I have to say it again. It reminds me so much of watching a ballroom performance.
West Coast Wednesday: Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollmann, World Cup, Moscow (2009)
As I’ve said before, I consider West Coast Swing to be the link between Lindy hop and the ballroom world; this video is one of my proofs for it. Yes, I consider it more of a link than other ballroom dances such as foxtrot, quickstep, and jive. Those three, while still set to music that can simultaneously be used for swing dancing, also depend on different aesthetics and movements. WCS, in the end, is still swing, but the movements and points of connection involved in the dance have a lot in common with Latin DanceSport styles.
This is a pretty fun video to watch, set to the Fray’s “How to Save a Life,” which … yes, it’s been played to death on the radio, etc., but look! Pretty dancing! Pretzels are moves that are largely coming to be shunned in the Lindy hop circles I frequent, but if you can pull it off like these dancers around @2:10-2:15, I don’t think anyone would really complain.
West Coast Wednesday: Miles Munroe & Tessa Cunningham, New Years Champion Swing J&J (2009-2010)
Skip to @1:45 for the goods, folks. WHOOOOOOOOOOAAAAA OH OH OOOOOOOOH OH OH OH OHHHHHHH CAUGHT IN A BAD ROMANCE ….
Sorry. I really, really wanted to find a WCS performance to Lady Gaga. YouTube turned up no showcase routines, but at least I found a competition Jack & Jill video! And they made third place. The whole video is fun to watch (I’ve probably done WCS to Tracy Chapman enough for the rest of my life, though).
I’ve been talking recently about how much Blues and Charleston can help develop your lead and follow recently. But there’s a little more to it—developing your dance vocabulary with other swing styles also helps keep dances more dynamic. I can’t tell you how invaluable it is to be able to toss some Blues movements in with your Lindy during slower songs, or how even being able to do the Balboa basic step can provide a momentary respite in a song intended for fast Lindy. Or a crowded dance floor.
And sometimes, DJs just want to do whatever the hell they want to do (more power to them, I say). Frim Fram will get the occasional nontraditional song—a little bit of groovier WCS-style music here, some pop music over there (though, I haven’t heard the latter at all recently, maybe due to complaints?) I don’t know WCS well enough to be very confident going out on my own to those events, but I’m not opposed to dancing it elsewhere. I just wish a few more people in the Lindy scene dabbled, too!
Come to the dark side. We have cookies.
West Coast Wednesday: Pete Green & Sarah Breck, US Open Swing Dance Championships 2009
The level of auto-tune in the song they choose is absolutely ridiculous. It’s fun to listen to nonetheless.
If I have any issue with this video, it’s not the choreography or the costumes or the attitude. It’s the fact that you can’t hear the audience reaction and instead only hear the music. I really, really wish I could hear the audience cheering during the “FREEZE!” segments, because those seem like moves that could bring down the house, especially the first time they do it. Or I could be wrong and there was no audience cheering. In which case, what the hell, audience!? (Perhaps they’ve edited clips from the 2010 championships to reflect audience approval, though).
Anyway. I love Sarah Breck. Sarah looks like she’d been born to do the Lindy hop, though—this video includes an aerial straight out of Hellzapoppin’ towards the beginning. When we were hanging out in Montreal, she told me that she initially started doing Lindy hop as a teenager, but at the time, she didn’t really know of the big stars in the field and it was still largely based in old school moves. She found more of an affinity to West Coast Swing instead and pursued that for several years before getting back into the Lindy scene during its present new school resurgence.
WCS gets a lot of hate from the Lindy community for some reason. Whether it’s the aesthetics or its choice of music or its breaks from even Hollywood-style Lindy hop, people do leverage legitimate criticisms of the genre. Nonetheless, I actually do love it and wouldn’t mind picking up a little bit more of the dance to add to my overall vernacular. Priorities, first though. Dean Collins Hollywood-style Lindy moves, here I come! (Fast Lindy workshop with Jeremy & Laura tonight!)
West Coast Wednesday - Nick Williams & Melina Ramirez, Boston Tea Party 2009
Another crossover Jack & Jill competition. I know, I know. I’ll post ACTUAL west coast swing videos sometime later. But Nick Williams is absolutely hilarious to watch in this. With the popped collar, he looks more like Count Dracula than John Travolta. On second thought, maybe I should’ve made this the Halloween video?
I hit up Session 73 last night and had a bunch of good dances, but mostly at the beginning. The crowd tapered off somewhere around 11 (when it usually gets good!), so there was … one Lindy hop regular and two women visiting from out of state.
I realized after dancing several times with one person in a row that I’m not as consistent as I’d like to be throughout a night. I’m still working on my core lead, but having a follower that danced continuously well allowed me to isolate several things that I was doing wrong. My legs are still getting ahead of my body, my shoulders lean too far and I get off balance, and I seem to have lost my Hollywood-style swing-out. Damn it.
Well, that’s what tonight’s workshop is for.
West Coast Wednesday: Ben Morris & Nina Gilkenson, Boston Tea Party 2009
Okay, maybe this is cheating a little. I went to 2010’s Boston Tea Party, which reignited my love for Lindy hop while simultaneously stimulating a sincere interest in West Coast Swing. What makes BTP special is its crossover competition, where WC Swingers are expected to tangle with Lindy hoppers and vice versa. It makes for some very interesting results.
Ben Morris & Nina Gilkenson placed third in this competition, and their performance gets a standing ovation at the end. It’s made of just way too much awesome. I’m surprised I don’t see Ben Morris pop up more in the Lindy hop scene, but hey, I’ll take what I can get from him. On the other hand, Nina’s always impressed me every time I watch her compete. I believe she’s from the D.C. Lindy scene, making that another city I’m in dire need of visiting for more than 12 hours for a certain Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.
This performance is an utter joy to watch.
Let’s have a little bit of West Coast Wednesday.
Above is Ben Morris and Tessa Cunningham in 2007. I’m also not as familiar with the West Coast scene as I am with Lindy Hop, but if ever there was an intersection between DanceSport and swing, it would be West Coast. Well, okay, maybe foxtrot or two-step something like that. Shush.
Personally, I haven’t done much West Coast Swing before. In fact, whenever there’s a WCS event going on, I’ll usually just burst into blues instead. This being one of my weaknesses, I intend on taking a lesson or two to see how it’ll benefit my Lindy Hop connection, especially since WCS really emphasizes musical improvisation.