How can I keep my dancing skills fresh over an extended absence?
October 18, 2008 10:28 AM   Subscribe

I have been learning to swing dance for almost a year now, and I have enjoyed it very much. However, I will soon be traveling for an extended period of time (over six months), and will not be able to continue with my classes or lessons during that time. What can I do to keep my skills from atrophying while I am away?

Additional, possibly relevant information: I dance West Coast swing, usually as a leader. When I do compete, it is still at the novice level, but I am not a raw beginner. I won't have a partner with me with whom I can practice, and I have not been able to find other clubs in the places where I will be traveling.
posted by philosophygeek to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total)
Where are you going? I ask, because we did a bit of traveling this summer and were able to find our style of dancing (contra) in many many locations in the US. Maybe you just need to dig a little deeper?
posted by jvilter at 10:47 AM on October 18, 2008

Wherever you go, you can almost certainly find swing. I'm in South Korea and there's swing - not just West Coast, but lindy hop, shag, etc. etc. They've even learned some Shim Sham that I had never seen back in the states. The point might be to dig a little deeper, use Google a little more - and when in doubt hit up the local dance studio to learn what, where, and when things are going on.

On an unrelated note, teaching swing is a great way to keep the skills handy and used on a regular basis. It's also a great way to introduce yourself to that really cute person at the bar / grocery store / wherever. Best of luck =)
posted by chrisinseoul at 12:11 PM on October 18, 2008

Yehoodi is a great message board for questions like this.

New England's DanceNet is a pretty comprehensive list of dances in my own region. Almost anywhere you go, you can find a dance at least once a week.

I think there's a lot to be said for just...practicing, even on your own. Walk through your basic steps, work on your frame with an imaginary partner, practice footwork. do whatever else you do to stay in shape. I agree there's a certain amount of "rustiness" that happens when you don't dance for a while, but there's also the fact that dance is a physical skill, in your spinal memory. You're not going to forget how to dance completely. When I haven't danced for a while, the main difference I notice is not in my own movements but in my ease with connection to my partner. I don't think there's any good way to practice that alone. But it doesn't take long to get it back.

Oh, also, there is a lot of swing and Lindy instruction - and cool historic film of swing dance - on YouTube. Occasionally I amuse myself by learning some new moves from one of those sites. I learned to Shim Sham from one of them, too (from Frankie Manning, fun)- and you could probably learn the Big Apple from some of those - kind of a good solo project. Check out Whitey's Lindy Hoppers doing the Big Apple.
posted by Miko at 2:37 PM on October 18, 2008

Try to teach yourself the follow steps by searching Youtube or whatever other sources are available. Then you have to teach those steps to a woman wherever you may end up so that you have someone to dance with. It is likely that you will find someone who knows the dance in the country you are in. You may have to travel to hook up with a group but hopefully you won't have to travel far. Spread the WCS love.
posted by JJ86 at 8:38 PM on October 18, 2008

Since you lead, you could just go dancing! If your lessons have been good, then you should be able to take anyone by the hand and swing them around the room. Swing dancing could be done at almost any club, and is almost always a crowd pleaser. Have fun!
posted by tomcochrane at 9:34 PM on October 18, 2008

I'm surprised that you weren't able to find Westie dance nights in the cities (I assume you're traveling to/through cities) on your itinerary. Most mid-size American cities will have at least one westie thing per week I would imagine.

If they really aren't out there, consider branching out to traditional swing dancing. 99% of swing events have a free lesson beforehand and you'll pick it up quickly from your westie practice. Generally it's quite similar, though to trad swing people (or at least to me) westie leading looks "prancy".

Also, don't think so much of it being a competitive sport. It's not basketball. It's a social event to have fun and meet people. And the very, very best way to improve your leading is by leading a wide variety of people.
posted by turbodog at 12:03 PM on October 20, 2008

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