West Coast Swing has a lot of NY COOL…
Years ago I saw a video that inspired me for a tango choreography I was building. Yes, it’s pretty typical to pick inspiration from others. What was special was that I’d never seen this dance before. At that time I promised myself I would learn West Coast Swing someday (I was living in Buenos Aires and there were no lessons, I checked).
So when I received the “You Should be Dancing” newsletter about their beginner West Coast workshop, I signed up without checking my calendar. The teacher, Ricardo Torres, was warm and adapted his teachings to the group of students who showed. He was very clear about the steps and kept it simple, allowing us to get through a lot in one day.
What can I say about this dance? First, I really don’t understand why more New Yorkers aren’t doing this. Why has this not blown up yet? It is the epitome of ‘cool’ in social dance.. the movements are smooth and subtle but you can play when you want, the music is diverse and jumps from pop, R&B to classic rock. So you’re actually dancing to some of the music you probably listen to. Seriously NY!! Get into this. I was feeling the movement, the steps, the vibe… but the best part? When I was able to not look down at my feet anymore and look up at my partner, I noticed he had a huge smile on his face, and remembered —
Oh yeeeah... this is what social dance is all about: Enjoying the music, enjoying the stranger in front of you and sharing a smile.
Thanks for the reminder West Coast. We so often forget how simple joy can be.
If you want to check out any of the great classes at this NY studio, sign up for their newsletter at http://www.youshouldbedancing.net/index.aspx
For the video that inspired me just get to about 0:52.. you’ll see what I’m talking about.
About three or four times a year an optical illusion occurs where the planet Mercury slows down so much it seems to move backwards. And with it everything in our lives falls along into this reverse pattern. So if suddenly an easy breezy business deal sinks without warning, your sweet relationship turns sour or everything you say seems to come out wrong, you may be feeling these reverse effects. And the best news of all: this will be for the entire month of June.
So as we detox this month and clear out old energies for a summer soft, this is a great opportunity to start your day with meditation and get a clear head before speaking to well, anyone. I know, meditating is hard and intimidating. So here is an easy way back into it if it’s been a while or if this is your first go. Many years ago a Doug Varone dancer started a class with this easy technique and it has stuck with me. This is what you do:
Set a timer for 5 minutes (a good starting point)
Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
Let your first thought appear in your mind. Instead of trying to clear your mind and not think about anything (which is virtually impossible, especially if you’re stressed), allow yourself to observe this thought and spend a few seconds with it. Once you have taken sat with it, you swipe it away with an imaginary windshield wiper and enjoy a few seconds of silence.
Almost immediately the silence will be disrupted by the next thought. The key to this meditation is to not chastise yourself for having another thought appear so quickly, but to again calmly sit with this new thought until you are ready to release it. It is this action of sifting through your thoughts and allowing yourself to sit with them that may lead you to moments of clear and blissful emptiness.
Eventually the 5 minutes feels short and you can work up to longer sittings. The treasure lies in the gap between thoughts… those mere seconds where you might just experience absolutely nothing and everything, all at once.