One of the best things you can do for your dancing, especially as a beginner, is to listen to a lot of swing music, and when possible, practice the basic rhythm patterns and footwork in time with it. Listening closely helps develop an ear for song structure, breaks and riffs; practicing steps has the happy effect of moving the basic into your physical memory, so your body can dance while your conscious mind focuses on your partner and the music. Dancing the classic six count basic through an entire song without missing a beat takes concentration . Start with gentle tempos and move up incrementally as you feel more comfortable. If you cannot do a step cleanly at a slower tempo, there is little reason to try it faster as speed almost always compounds problems rather than clearing them up. As you attempt to push your limits, relaxation is key. Tensing up in an effort to use brute strength to achieve higher speeds may be effective in short bursts, but is difficult to maintain for any period of time. Better to follow Count Basie’s philosophy and swing easy!
I’m often asked for recommendations of good swing albums for a beginner to buy. Frankie Mannings’s “Really Swingin'” compilation disc is an excellent place to start. It contains music by many of the key artists of the swing era. This might be out of print, but there are lots of used copies to be had from Amazon and other sources such as Dancestore.com . (Beware of the MP3 download version on Amazon; the song listings there are inconsistent with those on the actual cd.) Another that I recommend, though purists may scoff, is Indigo Swing’s “All Aboard.” Every song on this disc is danceable and the arrangements are straightforward – perfect for training the ear to hear the form in more complicated music. This is one of the best albums of the neo-swing era by one of it’s most sincere acts.
Starting this Saturday at 1pm (immediately following Lindy I), Christy Vee and Nate W. will begin an ongoing class for Competition and Show swing. Says Christy: “The purpose of this class is to help you feel great and look great in jam circles, contests, and any other setting in which your dancing is on display. This will be a guaranteed confidence booster for any Lindy Hopper!” Class meets at Just Dance studio, 84th and K Streets. Cost is $40 for four weeks.
Josie Lawhon will be holding orientation and tryouts for the Omaha Jitterbugs community outreach team. This group will give informal demonstrations of historical and modern swing dancing to schools, civic groups, etc in the Omaha area. Date will be 2pm Saturday, February 9th, at Just Dance Studio, 84th and K streets. For more information write firstname.lastname@example.org or speak with her at Jitterbugs Night Out.
Friday February 15th will be the annual Omaha Jitterbugs Pink Party in honor of Valentine’s day. There will be a prize for the best pink outfit. There will also be a partnered, anything-goes swing contest! You pick your partner, we pick the music. We’ll have preliminaries and finals as required; finals will include a jam where every couple gets a spotlight. Entry is free and prizes will be awarded.
Tonight at Jitterbugs Night Out, Carol Applegate of Carol’s Closet Vintage will have a wide variety of pink threads and accessories for sale. This is the perfect time to get togged up for the party two weeks later!
On Friday, February 22, join Omaha Jitterbugs as we celebrate the birthday of America’s first President, George Washington. We’ll have live music that night, band TBA. Cost will be $8; no passes please.
The Friday after that, February 29, JNO will again be relocated to St. John’s Church on the campus of Creighton University. The dance will be held as part of a workshop weekend, tentatively entitled “Son of Swing-a-ma-Thing,” sponsored by the Creighton Swing Club.
On March 14th, Omaha Jitterbugs hosts The Rite of Swing toga party/swing dance featuring the Prairie Cats. Cost will be $10 for regularly dressed patrons, $7 for those appropriately attired. Beware the eve of the Ides of March!
The Midwestern Balboa Swing Festival is nearing re-launch. Tentative date is the second weekend in May – the 9th, 10th, and 11th. We have a few more components to nail down but the prospects are very good! We should have an official announcement in the next week or so.
We would like to see as much support as possible from the Omaha scene for two cool regional dance events – the Hawkeye Swing Festival in Iowa City (April 11th-13th; http://www.hawkeyeswingfestival.com/) and the MoKan Swing in Kansas City (April 18th – 20th.) These are both great events and will be even more fun if Omaha represents in force! I’d love to see thirty Omaha dancers at each, especially the very close-by MoKan Swing. Plan on it, you won’t regret it.
If you aren’t a friend of Omaha Jitterbugs on MySpace and Facebook, do log on and join us. There are some fun photos on both sites.
Please pre-register for classes by emailing email@example.com with “Class Registration” in the subject line. Specify what classes you are interested in, and be sure to include your phone number so we can contact you in the event that the class has to be cancelled. Thanks!
Last week’s trivia question was: What is the nickname of the Savoy Ballroom, and who allegedly gave it that cheerful appellation? Trevor Pikop submitted the only response so far, and though it was not the answer I was looking for, it is correct: Dancers called the Savoy “The Track,” for the very large size of the floor and the distance foxtrot dancers covered in traversing it. So Trevor wins five Jitterbucks. I’d still like to get the answer I was thinking of though, so a couple of hints are in order: The nickname appears on the ballroom’s marquee. and the originator of the phrase, an oft-married actress, was once Mrs. Artie Shaw.
Now on to “This Week in Swing.”
DANCES and SHOWS
Friday 2/01 Jitterbugs Night Out – Eagle’s Club, 24th and Douglas Street, upstairs – 8pm to midnight; $5.
CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS:
Starting this Week:
Friday 2/01 – 7pm Balboa I with Nate and Christy – Eagles Club (4 weeks, $40)
Saturday 2/02 – 12noon Lindy Hop I with Nate and Christy – Just Dance (4 weeks, $40)
Saturday 2/02 – 1pm Competition and Show – Just Dance (90 minutes; ongoing. $60 for one month; $80 for two)
Monday 2/04 – 8pm Balboa II with Brian and Josie – LaVista Community Center (4 weeks, $40)
Upcoming With Nate and Christy:
Friday 3/07 – 7pm Balboa + (will build on previous month’s Bal class) with Nate and Christy – Eagles Club (three weeks, $30)
Saturday 3/01 – 12noon Lindy I with Nate and Christy – Just Dance (4 weeks, $40)
Upcoming with Brian and Josie:
Wednesday, Feb 13th 8pm–Charleston II4 weeks–$40.00 per person LaVista Community CenterWednesday, Feb 20th 7pm–Lindy II 4 weeks–$40.00 per person LaVista Community Center
Monday, March 3, 10, and 24th 8pm–Balboa Practice NightEach class only $5 Location TBA
Wednesday, March 19th 7pm–Intermediate Lindy Hop4 weeks– $40.00 per person LaVista Community CenterWednesday, March 19th 8pm–Tranky Doo2 weeks–$20.00 per person LaVista Community Center
UPCOMING NOTABLE EVENTS
Friday 2/15 – Annual Pink Party at JNO for Valentines Day
Friday 2/22 – Live Music at JNO for George Washington’s Birthday
Friday 2/29 – Leap Day edition of JNO – location TBA (not at Eagles)
Friday 3/14 – The Rite of Swing Roman Bacchanal – Beware the Ides of March!
4/11 to 4/13 – Hawkeye Swing Festival
4/18 to 4/20 – MoKan Swing
8/21 to 8/24/08 The Cowtown Jamborama VI
TRIVIA The person sending the best response to firstname.lastname@example.org will receive $5 in Jitterbucks at the next Jitterbugs’ Night Out. Put “trivia” in the subject line. Ties will be broken by time of receipt.
For five jitterbucks: Same as last week, plus a little hint.
This week’s swing birthdays include Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton (2.1.1904), Stan Getz (2.2.27), Sonny Stitt (2.2.24), Lil Armstrong (2.3.1898), Snooky Young (2.3.19), Tony Fruscella (2.4.27), Eubie Blake (2.7.1883), Lonnie Johnson (2.8.1889), and Walter Page (2.9.1900).
See you on the dance floor!
executive director, Omaha Jitterbugs email@example.com