February 08, 2013

#60: Swing Into Spring with Joe & Lisa

Christopher Joe & Lisa Cortez
(Now Schaupp)
History is a vast early warning system. -Norman Cousins

It's time to tune you in on what's been going on these last few weeks. In between working on my third book and doing some long overdue accounting paperwork, I've been taking breaks to upload never-before-seen videos up on my YouTube. I was only a teenager when I started collecting WCS videos, so being picky was already a good quality for someone on a teenage budget.

So I don't have all the videos of all the years I danced, but I do have a number of videos that I hand picked as the ones I wanted to watch and study. I've uploaded a bunch on my YouTube Channel. (Have fun checking them out! Included is the couple featured below, Scott & Amy - talk about fast and furious!)

But as I got older, I could afford more tapes, and so, in 1997, I was able to buy a couple of the US Open tapes. Thank God I did. As I'm watching them unfold in my video editor, I'm realizing just how much changed that year. It was an incredibly pivotal year in West Coast Swing.

Scott & Amy from St. Louis in 
Showcase Finals
Many did not return to the floor after that year. Many of our brightest stars quit WCS completely, and those that didn't still quit doing routines and competition in it. I can't blame them now. I just wish I'd had the insight they did back then.

Of course, back then I was so young... loving every minute of this fast, amazing & thrilling new dance I'd found. And I LOVED the music... I learned so much about so many artists and era's that I'd never been exposed to before. I was so busy enjoying everything, I never thought that anyone would want to change anything.  I don't think I'll ever make that mistake again.

Anyhow, as I was scrolling through the 1997 Classic Prelims, I ran across one of my favorite West Coast Swing routines of ALL TIME. I froze. I couldn't believe I had it!!!! And I made sure to upload it first, before all the others, and then my husband and I went on to watch it nearly twenty times in the next three days.

Because that's what HOT West Coast Swing does. It makes you watch. And learn. And learn. And learn...

The more I watched, the more I realize it literally outlined, danced and demonstrated every darn point I made in Routines 101, especially the book version. Phrasing? Check. Individual personality? Check. Dancing? Triple check!!!

I can't believe how many of her syncopations I've taught in my classes over the years. I can't believe how many of their patterns I danced on the social dance floor for years and years. I can't believe how many six count patterns, musicality "within" the beat instead of ignoring it, and... well... joy this routine has.

The first thing my husband pointed out was the community. Can you see how those watching are soaking every single movement in? Do you see the incredibly large range of ages in the background? Can you see how powerful Lisa is? How powerful Christopher is? How much they are simply enjoying each other out there... enjoying real WCS, and inviting everyone else to enjoy it with them? The swing "family" radiates off the screen.

There's so much to soak in while watching this video. So much you can copy and learn from. About everything. Watch for yourself:

And that was just prelims!!! Here's a little WCS trivia for you: in finals Lisa replaced her black pants with a matching blue skirt and... get this... her shoe buckle came undone! in the middle of the routine. The foot she kicks with! And did she stop? No sir... she kept right on dancing. A pro indeed. We talked about it for years.

When I posted Christopher Joe & Lisa Cortez's routine, it went a bit viral - a number of e-newsletters used it, etc etc. As such, I received more emails than usual upon its release. And almost everyone asked, "why isn't this danced anymore?" My answer? "I don't know, but I sure do miss it." (Okay, so I do know, but it's not fun to really think on.)  I miss dancing these patterns. I miss dancing to good dance music. I miss how men loved it when the women rocked it, and I miss how awesome it was when I danced with a man who took pride in his lead - who didn't rely on the woman to compromise. I miss powerhouse dancing. And I miss the joy of the swing family. It's the exact opposite today at WSDC comps. A total 180. What a loss.

But my local clubs are my joy. I hear they are yours too. As well a few non-WSDC events. Some of those are doing incredibly well. And when you hire amazing pros like the ones above, who were smart enough to get out of the WSDC regime when it turned on our dance, you will find joy too. The joy of dance, the joy of swing, the joy of... red hot West Coast Swing!

From Weekly WCS Note #60: Swing Into Spring with Joe & Lisa (once 'Spring and Swing.') Released April 2013.