Summer time Dancing

Summer time Dancing

It is time once again to enjoy the summer.  For dancers that should mean, time to enjoy the outdoors and your dancing at the same time.  A little planning and foresight and the opportunities are endless.  You have all the beach clubs with island music, contemporary music, and/or Latin music.  You have company picnics, family get-togethers, boating parties, summer concerts, or any number of other outdoor possibilities.  You even have planned summer get-aways on cruise ships, or at any of the numerous vacation resorts that dot the country.

Additionally, nearby mountain, recreation and golf resorts have summer packages available.  What is the common theme?  It includes casual entertainment where you can use you skills, and really enjoy yourself for a change.  What does it take?  The simple questions, dancers all too often forget to ask.  What kind of music is played at the pool and lounges?  What kind of bands do you have playing at night?  Or, will there be a boom box or should I bring one to the family get-togethers?

Aficionados of other sports and activities would never think of making a reservation without checking first if there was a golf course close by, or even on the property.  Should I bring my fishing gear?  Are jet skis available?  Are the timberlands necessary or is this going to be one of those vacations.  Dancers, probably more than any other athletes, have the skills necessary to enjoy their hobby at a multitude of venues, but then arrive to find out the good clubs are next door, or the band is on holiday this weekend.  It is time for dancers to use foresight and ask ahead of time.  “I love dancing.  Is there a place around there where I can go?”  Quite often they will know of a place or can find one.  You have to be willing to ask and expect that your hobby deserves a little consideration.  Unlike so many others, it is one you can use at venues other than the established and recognized competitive venues.  You can’t play tennis without the court, and you won’t be satisfied with a miniature golf course if no regular course is available.

Time to put away the chrome leather-soled shoes, and practice barefoot or at least in sandals.  Time to get out of the tail-suit and/or Latin outfit and dance as they do in Latin American countries.  Bermuda shorts are back in fashion, and not a minute too soon for those of us that wear extra large and know we should be covered.  For others, covering up in light summer attire in the heat of summer, is still advisable.  I am a big believer in Cuban motion in Latin dances, but don’t want to see very many people in thongs and bikinis wiggling their butts.  Ladies generally know what looks good.  Men all too often need help.  So girls be kind to the audience and make sure your man is covered if need be.

There is probably a reason that the dances done in Latin American countries are considered party dances, and are also often danced in open or semi-open position.  Sit around the pool bar and listen for the Merengues, Salsas, or even Cha-Chas.  People who have never taken a lesson in their life start tapping their fingers, moving their feet or twisting in their seats.  The music is contagious and you can start a party with just a little knowledge and preparation.  Practice doing those steps in open position and it is much easier to invite your new friends onto the floor.   After all, if I don’t have to worry about getting stepped on I will much more likely join the fun.  It is not coincidental that the Conga Lines always fill up.  You can look down and see where the feet in front of you are.  You can stretch your arms out as much as needed to give yourself that space to protect your feet.

Dancing is first and foremost moving to music.  If you are out and about, show your friends how easy and safe this stuff can be.  No one would every take up baseball if they were first given the lecture of how to be good you need to hit a round ball with a round bat traveling at excessively high speeds, etc. and so forth while standing close and sideways…  You get the point.  Even the best of competitors would do well to worry less about the stuff that makes a dance hard, and more about what makes it fun.  So if you want to really be an ambassador for your sport.  If you really want to be the recognized expert in your hobby, show people how easy this stuff is at the most basic level.  Dance hold, partnership communication, technique and style are all for the level playing field.  First and foremost make it about the fun.  Enjoy, get out in the real world, let your hair down, look at each other, look at the audience and next time you too can be the life of the party and get all your acquaintances and friends to experience the first joy of dancing.

Michael S. Reichenbach


Dance Week

July 30, 2004


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