September 09, 2013

The Rock Step

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"Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going."
-Charles Stanley

I hope this quote really resonates with you. We've been hitting some anniversaries along the way here, and I'm suddenly aware of how and where things are right now.

I really do wonder how much happier we all would have been if those who have been complaining for all of these years about "this isn't swing," "that isn't swing," "the music" "the music" "the music!" had actually followed through with some kind of action. We would've settled for a minute pinky-lift, right? SOMEthing, anything, right?

But all of them, when they've had, what? their like, 3 MILLION opportunities to actually act on their complaints? They've followed their "friends" instead, even when they knew that 'they' weren't real friends at all.

They played dead. Dropped like a donkey and laid there, motionless. They played dead.

I have a list a mile long now with the names of teachers, promoters and ED's that swore the dance was dying, but who chose to play dead instead. Like, 3 million times now.

You are the brave ones. I love what you're doing! I like what you're saying! Quite inventive you all are too! Things I never would've imagined. Good for you.

Now, here's a little treat for your feet!

Swing's Rock Step
If you've purchased the upgraded and updated collection of Weekly Notes, good for you. You'll be on the same page with me already on this. Because in that book, I really expand on the subject of the Rock Step. It was in the Note called Triple Threat, I believe. Anyway, in short, I learned a lot while researching WCS's history - talking to people, dancing with people, listening to people, reading about people and, of course, watching a million videos.

It was while I was watching those millions that it dawned on me. They were all doing Rock Steps. Emphasis on were.

Because (now bear with me here!) 

-ONE single teacher called for the elimination of Rock Steps. 

-This teacher was and still is on the Board of Directors of the World Swing Dance Council. The WSDC. That's right. I said it. The teacher who called for the elimination of Rock Steps was, at the time, on the WSDC board... and still is.

-This teacher called for it, you guessed it, at the exact period in history when Points were enforced.


Talk about timing.

If you read Setting Dancers Free, you'll see that I didn't connect those dots back then. I just said a single teacher said they should be eliminated, and puff! they were gone. I remember wondering while writing it, how the rest of the teachers in the USA got behind it when it was a CA teacher's idea - but now I realize the judges were told to look for that, so only those dancers not doing it were placed. Teachers got wise, and felt like they had to teach "to win."

And so began the end of WCS. Especially at Point events.

I believe I should clarify something - the teacher originally said, and still does, to the best of my knowledge, "why do a Rock Step when you don't have to?" Well, she may have put it that way, but the word didn't spread that way. I remember exactly where I was, what spot on the floor I was dancing and who I was dancing with when I was told: "We don't do that anymore." I was like, "okay" and stopped. 

I didn't ask why or how - I just did it. I didn't realize what I'd be missing.

If you delete a Rock Step?
You delete a bajillion patterns.

For example, this lovely beast:

Traditional Tandem West Coast Swing (Bontemple, Shermoen, Sharlott, Shirley) 1987

I'd forgotten about this fun little trade-off wheel people used to dance - in jams, shows and showcases. I loved it, and after a few moments of finding and watching this video... it all came back to me! I loved watching this danced... right up until, yup. You got it. Points. The end of the Renaissance of Swing.

Some call this partner pattern Four Play (a bit of a pun), or Traditional Tandem, etc etc. I don't care. 

I just think you should learn it.

In fact, I think you should learn it NOW!

I mean, the people in this video are all in the Hall of Fame. They were and are influential and they were all highly successful on the social floor and the competition floor. These are REAL WCS Champions!!! And won't you look at that! They had fun doing this little wheel, and guess what! It's ALL real WCS!!!

In the introduction to my first book, I list the Basic Steps of WCS. One of them was the Tuck-Out... and oh! hey!!! Look! That's what they are doing. The Tuck was the first thing to go when that 'someone' killed the Rock Step. It looks really fun, right?

Right! Because it's 

Okay - so I want you to learn this tandem up above because it will burn pure WCS right into your bones. That's right - the eight count whips, the six count tuck outs, the anchoring, the underarm turns - ALL of it is straight WCS and straight WCS basics!!!

I know you can do. I know you want to do it!

Because the best antidote to non-swing?
is the sweet foundation of pure 100% West Coast Swing
coursing through your veins.