Iceberg…

The “look out” on the Titanic thought he saw a iceberg far enough away to sound the alarm and keep everyone safe. Unfortunately there was so much bonus material below the surface that there was no way to avoid a collision…and the ship sank.

Before I get in to my weekly rant I first want to send a big heart felt thank you to John Festa for teaching at our last get together at DNE and more than that I own a huge thank you to the full house we had for the event. You all demonstrated the same passion for learning as John had for teaching and sharing his wealth of knowledge with our wonderful world of swing…This made for a very dynamic 2 hours that gave me a dancers high for 2 solid weeks!

 As I watched and participated in the Festa workshop a new realization washed over me. Swing dancing is like an Iceberg, all the real action is below the surface…Without tapping into the power that lies beneath the surface we are doomed to sink into the depths of the abyss. The key here is that we all have “it”…We can ALL tap into the hidden power if we learn where it is and how it is used.

Leadership is the manipulation of energy.

Following is the embodiment of energy.

Connection is the tie that binds the two together.

Bad A$$ 2-Step Lesson 

Sundays

6:30-7:30

Longfellow Club

524 Boston Post Rd

Wayland, Ma

  

John Festa…Where Is The Beef?

Where is the beef?

Lets take a mental field trip out side of dancing and think about thrill rides for a moment. Why do more people ride roller coasters than ferris wheels? Both rides go up and down but only one takes the rider right to the edge of out of control without going over. Except for high school kids heavy petting at the apex of the ride, the ferris wheel does not pack much of a punch for the thrill seeker. Roller coasters are the big draw, at the amusement park, because the are fast, intense, an

d no two parts of the ride are ever the same. This is what makes them so much fun!

When John Festa learned how to swing, the music was the draw. Dancing faster, holding your slot, and discovering new footwork variations drove dancers right to the edge without going over. They danced with speed, power, and needed tremendous control in their connection to keep the dancers on their feet and in time with the music. Pushing the envelope meant faster and more intense music. It meant giving more of your self to the partnership. It meant you could no longer do it alone. You needed your partner as much as they needed you and the only communication was good connection. Even if the song was the same, with the same partner, no two dances where ever the same and the scene exploded with dance junky thrill seekers. 

Five swing dance generations later (the turn over rate is about 5 years per generation) the music has gone the way of the ferris wheel and dancers have taken to high schooler heavy petting over speed, power, and control. As the song slows down your reliance on connection dissipates. You can begin using visual clues and body language to lead and follow. There is less risk, more time to fix mistakes, and in my opinion way less skill involved. You see, when you learn how to dance fast and choose to dance slow, you bring your connection skills with you. When your skill set is based in slow and you try to ramp it up you find your self behind and frustrated.

If you are tired of feeling like you just don’t “get it”or that you have been riding the wrong kind of ride, its time to experience the real thrill that is West Coast Swing.

This is how I have asked John Festa to approach to this Friday’s workshop. You will leave having felt what “On the Edge” feels like. He opened my eyes almost a decade ago and he will open yours this Friday. If you signed up for the Ramiro Workshop you are already signed up for this one unless you tell me otherwise. If you have put off signing up their are five spots left for our intimate class this Friday.

Leadership is the manipulation of energy.
Following is the embodiment of energy.
Connection is the tie that binds the two together.

This Friday Night
$30 pp (max of 30 leaders and followers)
7-9pm Workshops
Pizza, water, and the dance
The dance afterward is $10 if you want to dance but not take the lesson

78 Princeton St., N. Chelmsford, MA

This Sunday I am teaching West Coast Swing at Longfellows instead of Two-Step 
Lesson 6:30-7:30pm
Sunday nights 
$10
Longfellow Club
524 Boston Post Rd
Wayland, Ma

November 16th, 2012
$30 pp
Workshop is 7-9pm
Dancing is 9-10:30pm
John Festa will be bringing some of his music as well so we are in for a double treat!

The dance afterward is $10 if you want to dance but not take the lesson

John Festa Teaching this Friday

I hate when someone makes me choose between good and bad news. The sentence, “I have good news and I have bad news, which would you like to hear first?” is the conundrum of  conundrums! If both are going to be delivered to me in the same 5 minute period and the bad news is held for last I feel that I never fully get to enjoy the good news, knowing full well that the other shoe is about to drop. Inversely when the bad news is delivered first the good news often carries with it the expectation of being great news there by bringing with it even more disappointment when it is delivered.  If at the onset of news, good and bad, the messenger simply said

the news I feel like I could evaluate it for what is is and deal with it in real time.

 

In the swing world I have only 2 heros… Ramiro Gonzalez and John Festa. They are both known in the swing world for their love of swing music, dancing, and performing. They are both known for footwork, musicality, and music as well as being leading authorities in the swing world for all things swing. I owe who I am as a swing dancer to both of these men. 

 

Ramiro was scheduled to teach a workshop and to DJ this Friday night (November 16) and has informed me that he can not make it because of an emergency of a personal nature. When John Festa heard that Ramiro was unable to be here he offered to rearrange his weekend and fill the void. How lucky am I? One world class swing dancer replaced by another!

 

The deal is the same:

$30 pp (max of 30 leaders and followers)

7-9pm Workshops

Pizza, water, and the dance

The dance afterward is $10 if you want to dance but not take the lesson

 

Privates are available before hand at a rate of $85 per 45minute lesson and must be booked in advance.

  

Two Step Lesson

Sunday nights 

$10

Longfellow Club

524 Boston Post Rd

Wayland, Ma

  

How Mr. Jonathan Met Ramiro Gonzalez

It was one of those Labor Day Weekends that melted anything and everything that was in direct sunlight. My lovely wife and I had risen early and driven the short 5 hours to Jersey City in her jeep. As tired as we were, the music of the Hudson Swing Affair begged one more dance for 4 straight hours until she just could take it any more and retired to the hotel room. I needed more…Swing…Connection…Real Lead and Follow…More of everything that was being offered at this event. My swing senses were on fire that night and just as I was about to pack it in, for fear that I had danced a hole in each sole of my feet I happened to bump into Ramiro Gonzales. 

He had been leading and following all night at a high enough level that I took notice more than once as the evening unfolded. Lots of men have goofed around and pretended the could follow but you can tell they are not too comfortable in the follower’s roll. Ramiro’s dancing was different. When he lead he was masculine, firm, and direct. When he followed he was graceful, yielding, and connected. No trace of either roll leaked into the other. He could dance both rolls with exactly the same level of precision and proficiency. Like any good leader I had to see if he felt as good as he looked like he felt (awkward turn of phrase I know but don’t get distracted). I asked him to dance and my life will never be the same.

The first minute was like any other first time dance.  Two dancers feeling each other out (stay focused) and slowly pushing the envelope…The second minute was a back and forth to see who was going to be the star of this dance he would spin twice on a free spin and then I would do 3…I hit a line in the break and he made sure that his was sharper…

At this point I need to explain that Ramiro is no small man…He is 6′ 2″, 225lbs, and is impeccably dressed at all times…At his size you would expect that he would be slow, sluggish, and off time but he is light on his feet, quick to spin, and has near perfect timing….The story continues…

After a solid minute of very subtle one-ups-man-ship and 3 minutes of dancing I could feel his star shining brighter than mine. I found out much later that he is a veteran of early 90’s swing (know as the “White Hot Era”), holds a couple of Jack and Jill titles, and has been teaching the dance longer that I have been alive, but not knowing this going in to the dance I was not about to be bested by some dude with a couple cool tricks up his sleeve.  There was only one choice…This large man had to be dipped. Thats right I dipped Ramiro Gonzales!

Neither of us realized than anyone had been watching us but more than half the floor had stopped and every on looker was standing and cheering as I lifted him out of the deepest dips I have ever been the leader of (once he went back…he kept going). After that dance we became fast friends and I hired him several times for privates as both a leader and a follower. 

Ramiro has agreed to come up from Texas to teach an intensive at DNE Friday, November 16th. He will be teaching a mix of basics and more advanced techniques all centered around swing connection. He does not do this EVER so you will want to take advantage of his visit.  The event will be limited to 25 leaders and 25 followers (you do not need to sign up with a partner as we will be rotating throughout the lesson.) Payment is due when you sign up.

November 16th, 2013

$30 pp

Workshop is 7-9pm

Dancing is 9-10:30pm

Ramiro will be bringing some of his music as well so we are in for a double treat!

Two Step Lesson

Sunday nights 

$10

Longfellow Club

524 Boston Post Rd

Wayland, Ma

Acres of Diamonds

My dad told me a story as a kid (after he finished the book) that applies to swing on many levels. The story begins with a man and his unhealthy obsession with diamonds. Traveling his whole life searching for the mother load of on the surface diamonds, he searched where they where often found. In and around streams that flowed through grassy fields where the ground was made up of just the right mixture of sand and clay. If one were to sift through the sandy banks of just such a location and find just one diamond they could just as easily find millions of the crystal clear little gems. 

  

It turns out that after a life time of world travel the man who lived his life in search of riches died penniless. As the man’s son walked his ashes out to the back yard to his final resting place, the young man was struck by a tiny beam of light. Upon further investigation it turned out to be a diamond the size of cherry pit. 

  

Had the man ever gone for a thoughtful walk out back…Had he sifted through the banks of his own stream…Had he just once taken the time to check the sand and clay content of his own back yard…He would have found the mother load of on the surface diamonds.

  

Our acres of diamonds can be fond in our basics. We spend so much of our time in dance, trying to level up with cool looking moves that we rarely consider the diamond mind in our own back yard…Good Triple Steps take practice, Solid Connection takes time, and Dancing to the Music is a true art form that one could spend a lifetime perfecting. The only way to improve anything is to break it down into its smallest parts and drill those parts until they are second nature. 

This Friday is Basics Broken down into the smallest parts so they are easier to understand, quicker to master, and that much quicker to level up!

September 14th and 28th

$20

7-10:30pm

DNE School of Dance

78 Princeton St

N. Chelmsford, Ma