Dancing to live music has been one of the best experience I had in the last years. You can’t describe the atmosphere of a lindy event when there is a great band playing swing … but do we remember how it feels to be a beginner leader?

My post on How to Grow the Lindy Hop Community was read by lot of dancers around the world and all the comments inspired me to take the discussion further. Today I want to go deeper into the subject Live Music and Beginners Leaders.

First of all: I hope it’s clear that I love live music and I wish that there would always be live music. How great would be to have bands after bands, without having to dj any swing music. But of course bands are expensive and not all the scene can afford to book them.

But if you have the chance to get a band playing at your scene don’t wait, call them and book immediately.

But don’t forget of your beginner leaders

Do you remember how painful is, as a beginner, to go to an event where they play live music?

Very fast

The music is usually very fast, for a beginner it’s very hard to fast. Beginners have a very hard time finding the one. They spend a good part of the song, in open position, holding hands, shaking it and trying to find the one. That is painful to watch from outside, think how painful is to be the one that can’t find the one. And of course, found the one, it’s just very hard to dance on fast music and 99% of the time you rock step for the second time, you just lost the one and you have to find it again.
Why it’s so hard to dance to fast music? So many scene are still teaching beginners the swing out as the first or maximum the third lesson. More advanced scene are teaching 2.0 lindy hop, starting from charleston or groove walk. But in old school place they still go for triple step and swing out and trying to swing out (when it’s the only move you know) to live music is just painful, plain and simple.

Slow music

But it’s true, of course band they don’t play only fast fast fast. They also play slow, slow, extremely slow songs. Blues songs. And when you know only the swing out or few other moves, slow music is as painful as fast music. Now you the problem is not finding the one but keeping it.

It’s crowded

When live music is playing everybody is on the dance floor, the place is packed and it’s hard to dance. And it’s very easy to swing out your partner against someone, or to kick some ass during your charleston or to rock step on the girl behind you. People  look at you very bad and you get a reputation very fast

How long is the song?

Live music is hard to predict, a song can be very very long. And you can’t give up, when you asked someone to dance you have to dance. No matter you can’t find the one, no matter it’s too fast, too slow, she is too drunk or the place is too crowd … if this is your first night at the lindy club, YOU NEED TO DANCE!!!

Let’s make every event beginner friendly

How do we make live event beginners’ friendly? The only problem for girls, usually, it’s that there are not so many leaders, but this is a common problem for advanced and not so advanced followers. And what I have seen, in every scene there is at least one guy that goes and ask to dance to all the new faces coming to the party. For guys it’s fun to dance with not so experience girls, it makes us feel cool and important. But girls asking not so experienced guys? I haven’t seen that very often. So how do we make our lindy even more beginner friendly?

Teach them how to dance to fast music

This is the best but the hardest fix. It requieres to change the teachers mindset and to skip the swing out, don’t teach them how to dance around each other, but working on the real leading and following, connection, groove walk … you know what I mean.

Asking the band to play some/more medium tempo songs

Why not asking the band to play some medium tempo songs, especially if we know there are lot of beginners at the event? I don’t mean the all night playing easy tempo. I love fast music, powerful swing out and breath taking songs when even balboa is challenging. But the all set of fast fast fast or slow slow slow (and usually it’s like this) it’s a beginner killer. They will grow hating your events and they won’t show up anymore. I have seen it.

Advanced followers asking beginner leaders to dance

The advanced followers of the scene needs to have an active role in this, going and asking the beginner leaders to dance. This can achieve lot of things

  • the feeling that is not painful to dance (in general, and with fast music)
  • the feeling that  it can be fun to dance, even with advanced dancers
  • they will see that even advanced dancers can have fun dancing with not so experience leaders
  • ….

I know, it’s not fan to dance with beginners leaders, it can also be painful cause they squeeze, pull, push, don’t connect and just want to dance you instead of dancing with you. Guess what? It’s hard to be a leader, especially in the beginning.

Guys love to dance, they love to dance as much as girls. It’s just very hard to learn in the beginning, learning curves are different between leading and following. So be patient and spend time with beginner leaders.


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