My Wife and I Make Our First Viral Video – Let it Snow

I ‘m at work Tuesday morning (March 14th) when I get the call that we are closing the cigar shop at 1 PM because the snow was slowing foot traffic to a standstill. After a two-hour drive home in white-out conditions,  my wife, Debby, greets me with a proposition… lets make some people smile today and Let It Snow was born!

There is no question that social media has become the ruination of most people who use it daily. Negativity is rewarded with more interaction than positivity as a rule and Debby was tired of reading how much people hate the snow.

In most people, misery is an infectious poison and man does it love company. It spreads like wild fire from person to person. Debby doesn’t allow people’s misery to bring her down, as you will see in our video that has really caught on, she shares her joy with the world and makes herself the antidote.

You won’t be able to help but smile while you watch this video of us teaching together!

Better West Coast Swing Dancers Dance More


Why do Better West Coast Swing Dancers Dance More? I was exchanging emails with a swing friend and at the same time responding to one of the Swing discussion chat pages on facebook and the same topic came up in both “Better dancers don’t dance with us beginner dancers.” This is one of those age old arguments that gets stirred up with each batch of newer dancers.

Who is to blame?

If you are sitting out dance after dance the blame falls solely on your own shoulders. If you finish one dance and make it off the floor without asking someone else to dance perhaps you have the wrong expectations. Humans live their lives on a risk/reward system that works a lot like the songs I play when I DJ. No matter how good a song performed one time, it can’t replace the song that works for me every time. There are just a handful of tunes that I will play every time I see them on a list. Every dancer has 3-5 partners that they have shared enough dances with to not let them walk off the floor if they are in close enough proximity.

What to do

As a newer dancer (and I mean rank beginner wishing to be as good as the leaders with two left feet) I almost never left the floor. When I asked someone to dance I explained that I was a beginner and let them know that they could leave the dance floor half way through if I was being a burden. My focus was on developing my basics into second nature by dancing with dancers that were better than I was because they had so much to offer me.

At the time I had very little to offer those more advanced dancers or so I thought. It turns out that once I had my basics down cold I was able to add a value to my partners dancing that most of the leaders above my level (not counting the pros) could not…The added value was play time! Good solid basics have lots of room for playing with the music. Leaders and followers, it turns out, do not mind “dancing down” a level or two especially when it means they have the opportunity to embellish their dancing with a little play time.

The morals of this article are:

If you want to dance more, dance more

Your job is to value your dancing enough to want to dance up a level or two

Give your partner a good dance by knowing your basics

Try not to leave the floor without asking someone else to dance right away

NHABDA WCS and Country Two-Step Seminar May 3rd in Derry

NHABDA Dance Seminar 5-3-19_



May 3rd

New Hampshire Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association Presents

WCS and Country Two-Step Dance Seminar

7:00 pm – 10:30 pm

Featuring Guest Instructor: Mr. Jonathan

Location: Derry Veterans Hall Gymnasium

31 West Broadway, Derry, NH

7 :00 – 8 : 00 PM West Coast Swing Lesson

8:00 – 9:00 PM Country Two – Step Lesson

9:00 – 10:30PM Practice Dance (mix of country & ballroom)

Cost: $20 per person (includes both dance lessons and the practice party after)

**The lessons will be suitable for all dance levels, beginner through advanced **

Checks can be made out to me directly (Jonathan Barbeau) if you are pre-registering by 4-29-19 otherwise they should be made out to NHABDA. This event will sell out so please don’t wait until the last minute. You really should pre-register for this event so you don’t risk being turned away at the door.

Getting Better Dancers To Dance With Me

The Problem

I saw this question on a West Coast Swing Discussion Page and thought my answer may help others struggling with the same thing. “Is there a trick to getting better dances to dance with me?”

“I’ve been dancing WCS for a long time, and just about every leader in my local scene knows me and has danced with me at least once. My path to improvement has been very slow, and there are a lot of people who danced with me a few years ago who didn’t enjoy the experience and aren’t anxious to repeat it. Add in the fact that I’m one of the small army of overweight middle-aged women, and I get apprehensive looks even from people who’ve never seen me before. I generally dance with a group of leads who are at my level or below; we know and are comfortable with each other, and dancing with them is fun. However, they are no longer challenging me in the ways I need to be challenged. I take regular privates and my coach and I are now working on things which very few of the people I dance with can do.

So what is the best way to overcome this? I have a really hard time asking people to dance who clearly don’t want to, and if I tell them “hey, I’ve improved” and something still goes wrong I’m going to feel like a total idiot. My confidence around dancing isn’t great to begin with so I want to set myself up for success. The few times I have ended up dancing with a higher level lead they have dumbed down what they lead to the point where it still isn’t very challenging. There must be something I can do that would be easier than entering the witness protection program, getting a new identity, and moving somewhere else where no-one knows me. 🙂
I know this is not just my problem; whenever I get together with other “older” (ie, over 40) follow[er]s, most of us have some kind of problem getting some group of leaders to dance with us. So how do we break through this? It’s not that I want to force anyone to dance with me, but I would like to somehow encourage them to give me a/another chance without having to beg them to do it.”

The Solution: Getting better Dancers to Dance With Me

I had a student ask me a similar question once and she was surprised to hear that I lived through the same thing as a leader and struggle, even now, as a follower.  Dancing outside of someone’s level group may trigger  a subconscious fear of missing out on a dance with one of their friends but often there is little incentive  for the better dancer to stop their own goal of dancing up to find beginners to dance with. What ever the reason is, its a problem that is not going away. Getting the highly sought after “better dancers” to dance below their level is  not easy but I found a way.

My go to move was to ask for help. “Hey there, I am practicing leading whips with a strong 5. Would you mind letting me practice with you for this song?”  Because its not a “regular dance” where someone might dance as if they where in a spotlight jack and jill. They can let their guard down when they are thinking in terms of “practice” and their lead and follow technique tends to be more on point. You may be tempted to ask for feed back but be careful you do not want to over stay your welcome. Especially if they are a teacher you could sour the relationship without realizing it.

If you have success with the same person a couple of times, be sure to bring them a small thank you gift, a card, or some homemade cookies, nothing elaborate or expensive but you want to show some reciprocity. This will separate you from all the other people trying to get a dance with them. Giving back is so very important to building any relationship. Better dancers have people taking and taking from them at every dance. A little social grace will go a long way in a short amount of time. I hope this helps!

Learning How to WCS: He Scrolls, She Styles

This sequence features a standard basket whip, a fake basket whip that has the leader scrolling his position down the slot, a free spin for the follower (she can single, double, or reverse her spin), Right sing pass to 2 hand hold, and finally an inside roll to basket he hooks his footwork 5&6 as she styles the anchor 5,6,&1…

Mr. Jonathan has been teaching WCS and Country Two-Step for over a decade. His unique approach to teaching makes him a sought after dance coach. You can catch his 2-Step Class every 2nd Sunday from 6:30 –7:00 pm WCS class 7-7:30pm at the Longfellow Club JoEllen in Wayland, Ma (524 Boston Post Rd) Each Class is $15 and includes practice time/Dancing afterward.

Jazz Singer Ariana Savalas’s Reaches Out

Breaking news about my demo at Living Legends…The artist who cover’s the song “Peel Me A Grape” got alerted that it was being used in my video. She has the right to refuse its use and gave it a watch…Instead of booting the song off of YouTube she commented officially on the video. Apparently I have a new new fan in Ariana Savalas the daughter of famed actor Telly Savalas! Click the video to read what she wrote.

New England Dance Festival Report

I had SO MUCH FUN dancing Thursday and Saturday night at NEDF! Dean had his work cut out for himself as many more ballroom dancers showed up Thursday night than I have seen in the past. Most of what he played crossed over for the WCS dancers and a lot of it worked for Country as well. I felt like he really turned the heat up for the last hour and I don’t think I missed a dance! Saturday Donna stepped up to the challenge of a full room competing with 2 others and she managed to keep things rocking till almost 2 am…My feet still hurt! Next year’s event is scheduled for August 1-4 so mark your calendars.

Speaking of marking your calendars I hope you made a big notation for this Sunday because I am bringing some new music in almost every dance!

California Mix Dance
6:30pm Night Club Two-Step Mr. Jonathan
7:00pm  WCS Mr. Jonathan
7:30-11ish DJs Mr. Jonathan

Longfellow’s Club JoEllen
524 Boston Post Rd
Wayland, MA

Saturday, August 18th
1 Union Square, Milford NH
6:45 – 7:30 pm by Lesson by Lets Dance Studio
8:45 Showcase by Lets Dance Studio, Concord.

Music by Mr Jonathan
7:30 – 10:30 General Dancing
Please make Reservations by 7pm on Thursday, Aug 15th
Cost: $17.00 per person, $12.00 per person for NHABDA Members (annual dues are only $20)
Late reservations and admissions at the door: $2.00 additional

Become a member at the dance for only $20 for the year and you`ll receive Footnotes, our monthly newsletter in addition to lower admission costs.

E-mail Betty Ashooh at OR call 603-716-6791 and include date of dance, names of all attending and seating preferences

Debby Monk Returns to Longfellows in September!

Keep your calendar open for September 8th as my wife and I will be splitting the duties of the night. She has a bad ass lesson plan to teach and as you can tell from my latest Spotify list that the music gods have blessed me with some new groove!

Saturday, September 8th

8pm WCS Lesson W/DebbyMonk
9pm-? WCS Dance W/DJ Mr. Jonathan
Longfellow’s Club JoEllen
524 Boston Post Rd
Wayland, MA