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The Secret Polka Step

About 50% of all social dances can use the polka step instead of whatever they say is the right step. Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing,  East Coast Swing, Cha Cha. Basically it’s the triple-step without the rock step. The rock step usually costs a dancer about $1000 in dancing lessons to figure out. The old Intermediate syndrome. Term was invented by dance instructors. You either do it perfect, one piece at a time, or . . . . . you are an eternal intermediate. Frame is an example, balance is another, and mastering the Polka step by itself will free up all your thinking and let you focus on getting frame and upper body stuff perfected.

Now, the second you mention Polka everyone visualizes a couple careening around the dance floor while spinning clockwise with leather hosen and Swiss Alp hats. Beer barrel polka and so on. But the Polka is really just a double triple step. The Samba is the same thing, but you don’t turn. You can turn in either direction or go forward and back or hold hands and both face forward. You get the picture. I also heard that the “Dixieland 2 Step” is also the same as the Polka, but I can’t say for sure because it was Martin Rhoe who said that and he doesn’t teach anymore and so I can’t find him to have him show me.

Anyway, you get the Polka step down and you get the Cajun or Hippie Suffle down and you’ll have all you need to go on one of those ocean cruises where there is dancing in the lounge.

Polka is kinda hard on the knees, so be careful. Maybe that is why they invented the rock stop. Either that or a conspiracy of dance instructors wanted to figure out a way of making the circle lopsided so students wouldn’t get it first time or two . . . .thousand.

There is a dance in Europe called the “Boogie Woogie”. I swear it is the Lindy Hop done to Polka.

Here is how you count the Polka:
1-2-3 and 1-2-3 and

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Dancing In Portland And The Friends I Made Dancing

Today’s blog is about some of the people I consider friends who I met thru the Portland, Oregon dance community.

Evrim Icoz is one of the best photographers I know. His wedding photos make me want to get married. I used to think you could just point and click and it would capture the essence but Evrim does something that makes his pictures outstanding. He has an incredible collection of photos of the Lindy Hop Dance scene during the Viscount Ballroom and Crystal Ballroom era. Evrim is now serving a stint with theTurkish army. Go figure.

EJ Simmons is a blood cold lawyer with a very warm heart. I love the level he talks at and someday maybe he can sue somebody for me. He’s got this huge poodle, go figure.(this just in, his poodle died—it was 13 years old) He doesn’t do too bad either when it comes to introducing new follows to the Portland Swing scene (EJ, bring a couple for me!). He is constantly studying and talking Internet talk and one of those people that is always happy to see me. (Read: rare) and always just takes off and starts talking at this great level that taxes my IQ. His electrical accident site seems to always have new stuff. Think I’ll let my garden hose wander over towards the electrical outlet while I’m watering my plants. Maybe make it rich with EJ’s help. I think I better stand on a chair so I will fall off and disconnected the flow of electricity that might be going through my body. Also sue them for a broken arm. So who? Not sure, we’ll get to that bridge when I cross it.

I like Joshua Kereos and his girlfriend Karissa. Karissa used to work for EJ Simmons. He said she now has a “real job”. Heh heh. Joshua has spent some serious money setting up Swingout.net and it’s bulletin board and he is fair with everyone. Many dance websites that try to cover dancing in Portland don’t want to acknowledge Portland Dancing but not so Joshua. (when you wonder if a website is feeding you a bill of goods, just look for a link to Portland Dancing—no link, no complete. Portland Dancing always includes contact phone, email, and URL with each listing: it helps people get associated with Portland dance and lesson choices—oh well). I love talking tech talk with Joshua. He is a programmer for a big internet/communications company and always has a friendly smile or a cheerful reply when I email him. Oh god, I love dancing the Blues with Karissa. I really don’t dance Blues that good, but Karissa is wiggling all over the place. The way Karissa dances the blues borders on G-rated obscene (go figure what that means). Joshua, you are a lucky guy! And I am lucky to know you guys.

All of you, everyone in this world, I am lucky to have met and known you.

And glad I have a list of dances in Portland.

Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival

Folklife was great. For me at least.

Bought some shoes, having buyer’s remorse. I should have gotten the ones with more green.The husband and wife team make Kool Shoes and come up from Arizona and have a booth in the Folklife crafts alley. They have a great website that shows off their wares. I think I would order them next time so I could get something that matches something I have (bald head?).

 

Ok, now that that is out of the way, remember that the Blues Festival is coming up on the July 4th weekend. There will be a dance floor in front of the Back Porch stage and there will be Zydeco bands on Friday night and all day Saturday. On Sunday the Back Porch Stage will have swing bands. It was a great event last year and if you’re there, it should be great this year. You can leave your bags and street shoes at the Cascade-Zydeco booth on Friday, Saturday, and on Sunday it will be hosted by the Portland Lindy Society.

 

So, I should have all the dance events up on Portland Dancing soon so you can get to them really quick. There just might be some Spirit of Portland

cruises going out that will have dancing(I think there are 2 dance floors/stages on the boat). Blues Festival should have schedule of cruises. I’m usually worn out from dancing and I end up not going on the cruises. They get back around 2:30am. Plus, they cost money and are booked up very early in the game.So . . . see you at the Blues Festival!

Don’t Forget NW Folklife

Don’t forget the FolkLife International Folk Festival is coming up Memorial Day weekend in Seattle at the Seattle Center (Space Needle). There is so much dancing there I’m going to have to suggest that you download their 4 day schedule. At the same time Camp Jitterbug is happening across town. You can end up FolkLife at 11pm, mosey over to the Salsa bar, dance until the after hours Lindy Hop at Camp Jitterbug that starts at 1am.

 

 

Waterfront Blues Festival–Lots of Zydeco and Swing Dancing

Well, the Waterfront Blues Festival came and went this last week. It was a long one, from July 4th (Wednesday) to July 8th (Sunday). All the dancing started Friday night for me when the AE stage had two Zydeco bands playing back to back. Then Saturday, it was Zydeco all day long on the AE stage. There was a big dance floor off to the side of the stage and it saw a lot of use and a lot of happy people. Sunday was good too. Swing bands started playing at 4pm and didn’t stop until the place closed down with the Linda Hornbucke Band. A highlite of Sunday was Karmen of the Rhumba Bums let me babysit her 8-month old baby. Lucky, I had a little help from Sus Gutz, a favorite dancing pal of mine (she has had experience with kids and grand kids). I only have one daughter, and she is off in New York. Brings back memories. Diapers are still no fun, heh heh.

Usually at the Blues Festival is when I run into people that use my website, PortlandDancing.com. I get a lot of unexpected compliments and it’s harder than heck to dance with such a big head. I really don’t advertise my involvement with my website but I guess word gets around. Paul Ciri told me at the Zydeco brunch that it’s his “daily bible”. Holy cow! And he doesn’t even know what the pulldowns or for! Maybe I’ll make a help file.  Time permitting. Heading off to Trek across Glacier National Park with 7 other people starting July 12 -20.

I guess I should blog about the Blues Festival before it happens, not afterward. Same thing for Folklife. These are 2 of my favorite summer dance events, spaning whole weekends and attended by a cajillian people. Oh well, stay tuned, I will try better.
May your heels sparkle like diamonds, may you always have a dance partner, and may the good times outweigh the bad.

Northwest Folklife

Just got back from the International Folklife Festival in Seattle. They take over the whole Seattle Center (space needle) and there are 2 stages where they have dancing 12 hours a day, 4 days in a row. That is just a piece of what is happening. You can see the schedules for this year at http://www.nwfolklife.org/. They are still there for your perusal and I can’t event start to describe the number of dances they offer. Participational and instructional. And, low and behold, there amongst the Balkan, Irish, Contra, Scandadavian, Brazilian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese dancing are healthy amounts (6-8 hour blocks) of Waltz, Swing, Tango, Ballroom, Cajun, Zydeco whew. Mark your calendars: Memorial Day Weekend you should be in Seattle, in a motel, walking over to Folklife. (Memorial Day is the last Monday in May–make your reservations now, you can always cancel).

If you are into dancing any way you can, any style you can, with 100s of people, sometime 1000s, then Folk Life is for you. The secret is to rent a motel close by and just park for the weekend and walk over there. It opens at 11am and closes at 11pm. If that is not enough for you, then you can go “off campus” and dance Cuban Salsa at Mojitos down the street. Or. . . .Camp Jitterbug is happening that weekend and it is full of stuff including all-night Lindy Hop dances for $5.

You can google Camp Jitterbug, motels around Seattle Center. I am in a hurry to write this blog and then go back to work. And, never fear, I am going to blog about the secret dance step that covers 50% (or more!) of all dancing. Then I will write about the secret dance step that covers the other 48%. Then I will write about the secret dance step that takes care of that rascal 2% that seems to bite you when least expected. You will need a collaborator to use these steps. The world is full of “perfect” dancers, but remember you didn’t hear it here first: DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING!!

Until then,
John A. Davis
Lazy Dancer

Frame Frame Frame Shame Shame Shame

Frame is the biggest thing you can concentrate on as a beginner or intermediate dancer. Heck, you don’t even have to be a dancer to get better at dancing if you work on your frame. Martin Roe used to tell people to practice frame by holding a chair out in front of them.

I forgot the lady’s last name but she was one of Frankie Manning’s recent partners. She came out from New York to teach a workshop here in Portland, OR and she said that in New York if your frame is too rigid and extended they call you “virtuous” and if you collapse your frame, they call you a “whore” (kids, cover that word with your hand and don’t look at it!).

The point about frame is to never collapse it. Doesn’t matter how far in front you hold things, or how stiff you hold your partner–all that matters is not collapsing your frame. To the really naive, this means don’t let your elbow go behind your back, always keep it in front. After you have mastered a stiff, over exaggerated frame, then start working on the subtleties of connection; the linkage; the language between partners that discusses where to go next. For now, speak in rudimentary concepts: Dick moves Jane. Jane moves. Jane collapses frame, destroys Dick’s control. Jane wants to be on top. Jane and Dick are 2 odd shaped pieces in the puzzle that fit pretty good because Dick lets Jane collapse frame and doesn’t complain. Dick is a wimp. Dick is just happy to have anyone dance with him.

You really don’t need to know any footwork. Just stay balanced and keep your frame and move as a unit.

shame shame shame you collapsed your frame frame frame

Next blog: The Secret Hidden Step That You’ve Spent Thousands to Never Find Out About.