Some Thoughts on Rhythm from Herräng

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I mentioned in my last post that Samantha and I had been thinking a lot about rhythm lately. In terms of technique, we’ve been focusing on keeping our rhythm consistent throughout our dance. Obviously this is desirable. But it’s also one of those tasks that get assigned to us somewhat early on, we work on it a bit, see improvement, pat ourselves on the back, and adjoin to the public house for celebratory quaffing. Or maybe your process is different from mine. More fool you. The point is, it’s very tempting to work on it a bit and check it off a list, to be greatly surprised and maybe even offended when someone recommends that we work on it again. But I already did that! Can’t I get to the next level now? Continue reading

Ruminations on the Concept of “Basics”

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Samantha and I just got back from Herräng, and one thing (of many) that we’ve been thinking about a lot since our trip is rhythm. To say that rhythm is important to swing dancing is to make a point so obvious that it borders on nonsense. Breathing is important to being alive. Realizing there’s a problem is the first step to resolving it. Even a long journey begins with a single step. These clichés are, at first glance, so self-evident that it’s a wonder people say them at all. The weird thing is they do. They say them all the time, and often as a revelation. So what gives? What is so hard to understand about these basic concepts that people waste valuable breath – which as we all know is important to being alive – repeating them. What is so compelling about hearing them that people spend loads of money traveling to exotic locales to hear some unwashed holy person tell them things they learned in their first few years of life? Or, to hit closer to home, what is so hard to understand about rhythm in the context of dance that I hoarded dollar bills and coins for over a year in order to fund a trip to Herräng (no easy feat as a lowly valet), where my girlfriend and I could learn about it? Continue reading

More Than Fun

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Warning: Long Post Ahead. Dress appropriately.

A lot of times, when I tell people that I’m a swing dancer, I get one of a small number of stock responses. People say they’ve done it before. They’ve always wanted to do it. They’ve seen it on TV. Oh, is that the one with the flips? While I think I do a good job of communicating how strongly I feel about it – the breathless quality of my voice; the distant look in my eyes as though, in my mind, I’m caressing a lover; and of course the cursing – I don’t think I do so well communicating how important it is. There’s a lot of “Oh, that sounds like fun.” Continue reading

By Way of Introduction

Hello, my name is Alex Cloutier and I am a lindy hopper. I have been dancing almost four years. For most of the time I’ve been dancing, I’ve also been teaching locally, traveling, and competing (with varying success). I’ve talked about it a lot with people I admire as well as with people who may very well admire me. I’ve been watching, listening, doing, and thinking. Continue reading