notes from March Lindy Hop Class

Class #1

For a demo, see the video
We practiced bouncing downwards, into the beat. We did a variety of scooty-scoots to find our way to the Lindy triple step. Then we added two steps before the triple and repeated it to complete a full 8-count Lindy step which goes like:
1, 2, 3-and-4, 5, 6, 7-and-8 with the triple steps going on the 3-and-4, and the 7-and-8.
Some homework to build your muscle memory: Practice your 8-count with a little Nina Simone and Louis Jordan!

We partnered up, facing each other and holding both hands Barrel of Monkeys-style (Google them, the visual is really helpful!). We bounced and triple stepped together from side to side.
We discussed open position connection: Leader standing to the follower’s left, right arm around the back guiding the follower’s center, with the follower’s left arm behind the leader’s right arm, pressing down on it to create a frame. We emphasized the follower’s “sitting” gently into leader’s right arm, staying connected generally through the middle-lower back.
We practiced this connection with followers’ eyes closed to emphasize the feeling of being led without anticipating (aka, back leading). We then introduced an 8-count basic step, and the flip-flop.

Class #2

 We introduced two new moves.

1) The He-Goes, where the leader ends up in front of the follower. Starting from closed position, the leader will move in front of the follower on the triple step 3-and-4. It’s important that both partners have tension and energy in their arms, so that the frame doesn’t collapse and an elastic sort of feeling occurs. As the leader steps back on 5, the elastic begins to go taut and rebound the energy, with the leader returning to the follower’s side by 7-and-8. The follower is anchored to go no further by the tension from the leader’s Left hand on hers.

2) The She Goes, where the follower ends up in front of the leader. Starting from closed position, the leader draws the follower in front of him starting on 2, so the follower triple-steps into place in front of the leader, face-to-face. As the leader steps forward on 5, the elastic begins to go taut and rebound the energy, with the follower returning to the leader’s side by 7-and-8. The follower is anchored to go no further by the leader’s Right hand on the back. Leaders – sink into the floor so as not to be pulled off balance.

Then once those are solid, you can mix it up with the 4 moves we all know – alternating between 8-count back/forward rock, flip-flop, he goes, she goes.
We’ve attached the video from class.

Class #3

We added on the he-goes promenade and the she-goes promenade, and a new 8-count basic.

video:  You might want to watch the video first, then read the notes, since a (moving) picture is worth a thousand words.

- For the he-goes promenade, after the leader has flipped to face the follower on 3-and-4, he continues to step straight backward on 5, 6, bringing the follower with him with his right hand on her back. She walks forward in the same tracks as his feet. The leader then brings the follower back around to his side on 7-and-8. The couple is now facing the opposite direction from the start of the move.

- For the she-goes promenade, it’s the same idea, but the leader brings the follower around in front of him on 3-and-4 (leader starts moving partner around on the 2), and continues to walk forward, walking the follower backward on 5, 6. The leader then flips around to end up beside the follower on 7-and-8. The leader’s left hand and followers right are important here: Followers, don’t let your wrist buckle, hold your frame. Leaders, don’t force your partner backward, walk her there. If she’s matching the energy from the hand on her back (always finding your hand, as it were), then she should realize you’re not bouncing back on 5, but moving forward.

- The new 8-count basic starts off similar to an 8-count back rock/forward rock basic (in closed position), except that the leader squares his shoulders with the follower on 3-and-4, and then leads the follower to rock away from him on 5, then back on 6, then leads the follower back to side-by-side on 7-and-8.

Other stuff!
1) Get used to walking around to 8-count music with your step-step-triple-step pattern. Once it’s automatic and you no longer have to think about it, then you can spend more energy on enjoying your partner and fun moves!
2) Shoe suggestions: Followers are doing a lot of fast moving in all directions, especially backwards so balance is very important. For me, that means grounded, and I find dance sneakers to be my best bet. You can get them online, and in Portland at Finer Pointes  Wear what you want of course, but remember your mission as follower is to be responsive and stable so you can enjoy the music and your partner.

Class #4

we got to 3 different turns! All variations from the same family – the swing out. This is one of the
signature moves of Lindy Hop, so you’ll get to know it well.
-Please watch the video, since it’s easier to grasp the explanation after
the visual.
1) Swing out from closed position
At the end of this move, the leader will have turned 360 degrees and be facing the same way, but he will have led his follower into a 180 turn to face him and the pair will end in open position.
The leader will start the move similar to the he-goes promenade, leading a rock step on 1 and 2, and ending up in front of the follower by 3-and-4. However, on the 5, the leader leads the follower forward, PAST him, while stepping back out of the way with his right foot (crossing it over behind him, finishing his 360 on the 6, then triple-stepping 7-and-8 in place). All the follower has to do is stay connected to the leaders arm until he releases her and you just stay in step for 5, 6, 7-and-8. The leader will send the follower out on 5, and she just continues to the end of the count facing the leader at the end.
Important notes for followers: think of centrifugal force pressing your back center of gravity into the leaders arm, rather than scooting sideways. This is the force the leader will need to send you in the right direction. Keep a bit of a bend in your arm by the end of the move. The elbow ought not to hyperextend, and keep your hips in line with your body — don’t let your lower body escape with your butt out!
2) Swing out from open to open
We then did a swing out from open, with the leader leading the follower forward on 1 ,2, catching her by 3-and-4, and letting her go on 5 as above.
Important notes for followers — lag behind a little on 1, 2. Don’t rush into the leader. Sometimes I don’t even move toward him all that much until “late 2″ . Make sure you connect well into the leaders arm on 3-and-4 (Emma). Again, don’t scoot sideways. Keep your center of gravity down and centrifuge yourself into the leaders arm. To emphasize this, try practicing this while connecting just with the leader’s right arm to the follower’s back (no hands for followers).
3) Swing out from open back to closed aka, Lindy circle (Note: Lindy circle can also be led from closed)This is the same as swing out from open, except that the leader doesn’t release the follower at all. Instead, from the first triple step onward, the footwork is done in place, both partners spinning in closed, using the momentum from the leader drawing the follower forward on 1, 2.
Important notes for followers – This is where the centrifuge idea is really important, because the leader will need your presence in his arm from 3-and-4 to guide you back to closed position. And you never know if he will swing you back out or bring you in. The only way you’ll know is by the arm:back connection.