Tuesday, January 8, 2008

fast dancin'!

jeremy and i taught a fast lindy class yesterday evening.

i'm always going to feel a little underqualified to teach it 'til i can dance more like this:

but whether or not i'm ever championship material, i like to dance fast, and i like to DJ fast. but without making everybody else sit down. thus, my totally selfish goal for the class was to make more people comfortable with higher tempos so the floor won't auto-clear when the music gets fast, thereby enabling me to get my adrenaline fix more often. i love it when selfish goals happen to align with getting to share some joy. (at least it looked like people were having fun. and as much as i thought we wore them out, most of them stuck around for the social dancing!)

leading up to class time, i quizzed a lot of experienced dancers about what hints helped them speed up. i was surprised how consistently a couple things came up:
  1. to dance fast, dance fast. dance how you'd dance slow, clean up the technique, speed it up. actually get up and dance to songs that you think are too quick; if you consistently challenge yourself, what used to feel insane becomes normal. personal testimonial -- i remember a set a couple years ago where chris slowly increased the tempo for the whole evening, winding up at the boilermaker's version of "rugcutter," which was about my top speed at the time. so i was recently shocked when i was wanting something to release some pent up energy and talked the dj into playing it... it's not really all that blazing.
  2. relax! even when it's fast, think lazy. think not tense. dan pointed out that a lot of the jerkiness people run into is a result of freaking out because it's fast and actually getting ahead of where they want to be... which means stopping momentum later waiting for music and partners and the rest of the world to catch up, leading to the "train wreck" feeling. i usually take a couple seconds to repeat a little mantra, "it's not as fast as i think it is." shutting up the part of the brain that's yelping "i can't do this!" makes doing it a lot easier. (for what it's worth... good balance is important enough while attempting high-speed dance that alcohol is much less useful for dulling that mental voice than it is for a great many other activities. so says me, anyway.)
there are plenty of swingout tweaks and ways to improve efficiency of movement that help too, but those seem to be the big two concepts. and they're where we wound up centering our class.

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