Carry on dancing,
This week's flourish is a ladies' chain flourish that incorporates elements of th the mid-twirl reverse chain flourish (December 2011) and our very first flourish video that described the mechanics of a ripcord twirl-out from a swing (April 2011). For this one, be sure that you have a familiar and capable partner who's not having shoulder issues, and that you have enough space.
Thanks for watching!
Carry on dancing,
So, I'm actually going to take time out on this blog and talk about life outside of it -- specifically, mine. And Steve's, since he's my partner in crime on YouTube.
(We're fine, for anyone who hasn't seen us around and was worried.)
(Heads up: the song titles are linked to dance craze videos. Use your judgment when clicking through at work. You have been warned. I am also hereby indemnifying myself from blame for any earworms that may result.)
What do the "Souja Boy" dance, the Cha-cha Slide, the Electric Slide, the Macarena, "Gangnam Style," and "Money Musk" all have in common?
All of them are or were popular amongst a subset of a community, had another subset of that same community wondering why on earth anyone would actually like that dance, and spread a bit in the cultural zeitgeist before heading off into the collective memory a short time later.
Contra actually seems to have one of those at the moment -- "Money Musk" is making the rounds, and Jack Mitchell called it at the Friday Night Contra at Glen Echo recently.
This particular fad seems to be traced to the "Money Musk" flash mob that materialized during the Ralph Page Legacy Dance Weekend in New England and the video was subsequently put up online.
We as a contra community 1) don't really get many triple minor dances, and 2) don't really get fads of the dance-craze kind in our subculture. So it's interesting to watch when it happens.
Folks who are less enamored of ECD don't tend to like the dance as much, I've observed. And there are those who want to dedicate March as "Money Musk Month." So perhaps it will continue to polarize, like many of the other dances mentioned in this post.
As an aside, it keeps looking like, if you booked it through the figures, "Money Musk" might actually track to the song "Tell 'Em/Crank Dat" (the one that tracks to "Soulja Boy")...anyone want to help me check?
Update: Corrected the name of the dance weekend to the Ralph Page Legacy Dance Weekend.
This week's flourish is a swing flourish that was recently pulled on me by a dancer at Glen Echo one week. It doesn't take up a whole lot of room beyond a regular swing and can be led quite handily from a barrel swing with a capable partner. (It is also a fairly easy flourish to refuse from the follow's perspective -- just don't grab the lead's hand and zie can't spin you out this way.)
As usual, beware of shoulder/arm issues, dizzy issues, and space issues; sometimes there just isn't room to twirl out, with either hand.
Carry on dancing,
One of the neat things to come out of the techno contra movement is a renewed focus on a medley format, in some form or another -- in other words, a less broken-up format in which the music is more continuous and the dances/partners change up independently of this, to more reflect a club-like atmosphere where the music continues all night without lulls between sets. I've heard of three main categories of this style of event as practiced in the contra dances and events I've been to, each with their own pros and cons. So, in no particular order....
This flourish is a way to smooth out an edge in some contras -- the one where you go from a ladies' chain to a move -- like long lines forward and back, or a circle -- that requires the follow's left hand to be in the lead's right. (It's also handy for times when the lead is having shoulder issues, or just wants to do something a bit different.) Cautions are the same as for a normal ladies' chain twirl; be aware of shoulder issues/people who don't want to be twirled/etc.
You too can have your flourishes featured! Drop us a line!
Dancers are Ryan Holman and Steven Roth.
Carry on Dancing,
When I spoke with Dennis Gagaoin (a.k.a. DJ Gaga) of Spokane, WA in late 2011, he mentioned the idea that techno contra might be a decent vector for outreach from the contra community:
"I believe it can even help people who aren't comfortable dancing since it provides a structure. All you have to do is know how to follow instructions!"
Dennis himself came to the contra scene through the "Deca-dance" gig he called in 2011 which was organized by Terra Price and called by Ray Polhemus.
Terra and her fellow organizers did such an effective job of marketing the event to newcomers that, as Terra mentioned,
"I actually had to do lessons on three separate times [in addition to the planned lesson before the dance] because we had so many new dancers."
How might others replicate this success? Marketing is mostly making sure that you've answered five questions:
Other ideas or suggestions? Think I'm crazy for even suggesting that a techno contra might appeal to folks outside the established contra scene? Let me know in the comments....
Mark your calendars! (And if you have more to add, leave them in the comments and/or drop me a line!)
March 23, 2013: Eric Black calls and dJ improper spins a techno contra. More information available here.
April 3, 2013: Julie Vallimont & Ed Howe playing, Lisa Greenleaf calling. More information available here.
May 22, 2013: Firecloud playing, Will Mentor calling. More information available here.
CAMBRIDGE (SPARK IN THE DARK):
March 22, 2013: Julie Vallimont & Jon Cannon playing, Rachel Shapiro calling. More information available here.
May 11, 2013: Firecloud playing. More information available here.
April 6, 2013: Chris Ricciotti calling a techno contra. More information available here.
GLEN ECHO (CONTRA SONIC EVENT):
May 2, 2013: dJ improper + brass playing, Will Mentor calling. More information here.
March 23, 2013: Brian Hamshar (a.k.a. DJ B-Ham) calls and spins a techno contra. More information available here.
Update, 3/18/2013: Deleted Louisville, KY contra on 3/29 after confirmation that my source was in error (and has since been corrected).
This week's flourish is a ladies' chain flourish where you actually end up doing a blind twirl that can get a lot of speed (clearly for nights when there is room on the dance floor!). Take a look:
You, too, can have your flourishes featured! Drop us a line!
Carry on Dancing,
We ended up talking the other week in a comment thread about what makes a good lead -- [Update, 3/13/13: and this works tangentially into the conversation about whether those designations should happen at all] but the other side of that seems to rarely be discussed. What makes for a good contra follow? (Or, to phrase it differently, what can a dancer do while dancing in the role that ends up on the right in a swing -- however you choose to designate it -- that will improve the experience for all?)
To my mind it depends a bit on one's partner and the ability to respond to their leads, but in some ways that's kind of the point. I remember something North Carolina dancer (and electrotrad maven) Eileen Thorsos said on the matter when I interviewed her in 2011 that I remember really liking: "....There's a lot of following -- understanding what's going on with your partner -- that's built into leading."
Do you agree? Is there something else that makes for a good follower/lady/right-hand-role in contra? For those who answer, I'm also curious -- which role do you usually dance, and do you dance switch (i.e., dancing where you and your partner agree to trade roles through the iterations of the dance)?
This project has concluded as of mid-2013 (with an epilogue posted mid-2016) but we hope to see you soon on a contra dance floor! Meanwhile, head over to our Facebook page for upcoming techno contra events and other items of interest.
The 100+ Friday Flourish videos can still be found on YouTube.
I dance with abandon. I play with glowsticks. I look for music that is conducive to one or both. I play behind cameras. I write about all of the above. I'm based in Glen Echo's contra dance community outside of Washington, D.C., but I'm happy to go dance afield when I can. Lather, rinse, repeat. Always repeat.
Comments are welcome; spam-bots and disrespectful behaviors are not. Please do (nicely) point out errors if they are found.