kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
I had an insightful thought while going through the Spring 2016 LEAF photos. I realized why I am so drawn to swing, aside from the creative challenge I have as a lead.

I dance swing like some people dance contra. I don't know why I can't make that kind of energetic connections in "normal" contra. It's not from a lack of trying given that I've been dancing contra for sixteen years. Techno contra is another animal, closer to what I experience in swing. The bottom line is that while It is magical to see a room full of people connecting, It is more magical to do it yourself.
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
I was looking for inspiration on Tumblr and found a meme that said “Three seconds doesn’t seem like a long time, but when you’re gazing into someone’s eyes, it’s long enough to make a silent promise”. This reminded me of the three seconds of intimate gazing possible during a contra partner swing. These thoughts led me to write the poem “Three Seconds”.


Three Seconds

Three seconds was our time
perhaps a second more if God allows.
Curtains opened to another soul
admittance to the grand show.

One to affirm the mutual link
eye to eye when no qualms
our space is shared as bodies link
this is confirmed by our eyesight.
Moving through the space unduly shared
by other couples on the floor
they vanish in the first second
with only us left here to dance.

Two to find the zero point
with two lives balanced on the edge
of music's grasp and movement's tug
when this life is left far behind.
If I trip I may forever fall
when there were no measure
what came before and is now
the latter is all that matters.

Three to make the unsaid promise
voiced by the eyes and the heart
we'll may leave each other in the now
but we'll remain through the swing.
Monuments may yet be built
to commemorate the high moments
these are but dusty stones
to swing's measure in our lives.

To separate is our harsh task
when eyes break their gaze at long last
through three seconds we could see
the edge of shared eternity.

© 2016, Sean Green. All Rights Reserved, 20160611.
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
One of the ironies of life is that a dance style, Swing, does not embody the perfection of the swing dance move. I find it instead in contradancing. I may not be able to dip with a twit, but I do love a good swing with my dance partners. Most nights I am lucky enough to meet a few that synchronize their lives with me for a handful of minutes, and in that space, we create dance magic.


Flawless Swing
Poem for Day 318 – 20151115

Allow me to imagine the flawless swing,
hallmark of the divine shared.
Connected, supporting, equals met
in perfection's moment on the earth.
How is this marvelous thing realized
in the space of bodies socialized?
Strangers met on the stage of life,
asked to dance to the divine's delight.

Movement becomes the key,
the quick pacing with no shimmy,
gliding around a central core
of bodies shared yet separate still.
Neither carried by the other,
each the master of their destiny.
The end result shared in kind,
motion ideal in swing conceived.

Independent of looks or age,
no class incumbent on the end result.
Anybody may fully satisfy
the siren's call to the faultless turn.
Size matters little in the end result,
differences compensated in careful step.
Bodies balanced, ready to fly,
one to another, unequals meshed.

In the end I can experience
the gliding, soaring, sailing,
the very being of motion shared
with a person in balanced sway.
I've imagined the flawless swing,
brought to my reality by another one,
joined by the dance's purist form,
the swing divine by souls combined.

© 2015, Sean Green. All Rights Reserved.
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
Contra and swing are both social dance forms, but sometimes the world shrinks down to a singular partner. Others may be there, but they aren’t the one in your eyes.

Me and My Sweet
Poem for Day 077 – 20150318

Just me and my sweet out to dance,
going to some contra,
or maybe some swinging blues,
it'll be great fun tonight.

Can't believe my luck
to have a partner in you,
it's a gift from heaven
dancing at my side this night.

We may wait for our turn
to strut our boogie feet
that's OK with me
while I'm dancing with you

The dance floor is full,
dance small they say,
but all I see right now
is my sweet in front of me.

We'll glide across the floor,
hand in hand we'll connect.
My world is wholly content
with you as my partner complete.

A last dip for this song,
wrapped around, safe in arms,
Me and my sweet, dancing a treat,
I'd be nowhere else but here tonight.

© 2015. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
Swing is my other dance love. It is very different from contradancing. Eye contact is not a major factor with swing. Instead one mostly communicates through the hands. The poem “All in the Hands” is about the magic of swing communication.


All in the Hands
Poem for Day 061 – 20150302

All in the hands, reaching for you,
leading our dance, together with you,
guiding the moves across the floor

Step step rock step in unison,
and then spin you out for a twirl,
behind the back, done with no fear.

Hands speak louder than mere words,
this is our own language of motion,
with feet sharing in dialogue.

I could be blind, and still we move,
you and me, we've danced this before,
moves as a practiced perfection.

I'll push you away, pull you back,
twirl you around, both cross and front,
all in the hands, moved with our feet.

Avert the eyes, speak with the hands
So much has been said, nothing more,
as I dance with and you with me.

© 2015. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
I wanted to do a poem about the heart, but I got sidelined by reading about the importance of the springs used with swings. Oh my... and a poem was inspired. I'll do the heart thing another time!


Swing Spring
Poem for Day 050 – 20150220

Warning my friend,
from the discrete purveyors,
swing springs
are not just for suspension.

Bouncy bouncy,
it is just great fun,
but it has a reason too,
so let's stay in the mood!

It is better to stop slowly,
stretch 4 to 6 inches,
than to stop suddenly
and risk dire injury!

Smooth and steady,
the spring is the cause,
rhythmic motions
with no jars or jolts.

So install the magical thing,
that wonderful spring,
it is there for your safety,
so says your friend Abby!

© 2015. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
This was my 02/12/15 posting... it somehow did not end up on my journals! 

I once had a tai-chi teacher who said he practiced his moves during the slow times at work. He had embodied his art and it possessed him at all times. I find myself in the same situation with swing. At work, shopping, or even when I’m taking pictures, the swing bug grips me and I’ve got to react.


Swing Bug
Poem for Day 043 – 20150212

You can tell I’ve got swing bug
from that way I move my feet
no matter where I might be
when I hear that swing jive groove.

The soundtrack popping in my head
features Nat King Cole playing the tunes.
Gyrate my body to that swing medley
when I straighten up and fly right.

Step step rock-step and then a twirl,
Right there in the grocery store.
That swing soundtrack plays in my head,
I should be still, but I dance instead.

Hanging at the laundry mat,
Sensual swing fills my head,
Strut my moves in front of all:
triple-step triple-step rock-step.

My coworkers shake their heads
when I imagine dancing with you.
A sugar push tuck turn with a whip
You’re on my mind with swing in my feet.

Pay me no mind if you see me
tap my feet and spin around.
I’ve got that swing bug, dancing fool
when I hear that swing jive groove.

© 2015. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
Another swing-beat set of song lyrics. An upbeat little thing about the magic of swing from era before color photos.


Swing in Black and White
Bonus Poem for Day 038 - 20150207

Pale the color, turn back the years,
I want to swing with you my dear
this night in shades of black and white.

Strip back the years to a time when
dance was the king, and we would swing
the entire night, you by my side.

RKO pictures be the banner
on which we'll pattern our moves
swinging our hearts across the floor.

Dance will change us, I'm Fred Astaire,
you're Ginger Rogers in our Swing Time.
Playing parts in our dance revelry.

Cole Porter sing, Berlin play score,
You'll play the hot romantic lead,
and I'll play the second fiddle.

Big band play the tune, alight the night,
inspiration will move our feet,
dance the hot swing with me tonight.

We are dancing close cheek to cheek,
heaven is that place I'll be when
we're both swinging in black and white.

This may be our Missouri Waltz,
never fear love, we'll dance again,
we'll both swing in black and white.

© 2015. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
Paul Hoke challenged me to write a “swing” song. They are categorized by having four beat groups, sometimes chaining together to an eight beat group. I’ve researched a few (Beyond the Sea, Mr. Sandman). The structure is there, with a few cheats when you’ve got music to act as a buffer. I don’t have music, so here is a straight-up eight beat set of swing lyrics!


Swing Dance Baby
Poem for Day 035 - 20150204

Come down to the dance hall tonight.
Love those swing songs, DJ put them on
Move our feet with that jive rock step
Single or triple, it’s still swing

To quote John Lee, Hooker last name
I’m in the mood for some dancing
Come on darling, be there for sure
DJ has our song to play this night

You’ve got my heart, so take my hand
Sway with me long, stay with me here
One song isn’t enough when we do swing
Love those swing songs, love my baby

You and me dear beneath the stars
When I swing you are the brightest
Shine for all and swing dance with me
Swing dance with me, my swing dance baby

© 2015. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved.
kokopelle: Frank n Furter (frank_n_furter)
Most of my poems about dance could be about sex, or relationships, or sex. This time around I present a poem that seems to be about sex, but it is really about dance. Hmmm…

Heat Lightning
Poem for Day 058 – 20141120

You blaze my heart,
and light my life.
Heat lighting strikes,
my desire is will rise.
I hold you in my arms,
finally we are together.
I'll not take another.
You're my perfect storm.

We've got this groove.
Dancing is our mute kiss.
Something is wonderfully amiss.
This can only improve.
Take my embrace,
share my smooth moves,
we've nothing to prove,
as we dance this sweet space.

No rain on our head.
We make our own showers.
You are the petal flowers,
into your arms I head.
Reflect my passion,
share my devotion,
keep us in motion,
with this mutual attraction.

As you flash across my sky,
It will be fast,
but we’ll make it last,
cause it will soon be goodbye.
One more look in your eyes,
One more pull on my heart.
Now we must depart,
my heat lightning in disguise.

© 2014. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved.
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
Poems are inspired from the smallest things. I attended the local Lindy Swing event at the kind invitation of a regular attendee. I didn't get to speak to him much, but there was a good reason! He said “I hear the music come on and find myself moving with it in a heartbeat! “. I so know that feeling! That got me thinking about involuntary actions, and the Pied Piper came to mind. The result is the poem “Swing of Hamelin”.


Swing of Hamelin
Poem for Day 052 – 20141114

We are all children of Hamelin,
drawn to the song of the swing.
The piper's vocals are sublime.
He invokes the siren call of the treble
and beacons with the beat of the base.

Sunrise Serenade will pull us in!
Glenn Miller is the band leader.
A sweet slow beat will move the feet.
The spins come easy as we glide
and the feet move to the lilting meter.

Let's take the beat up a bit,
Sweet Georgia Brown got the catch
that moves the feet in triple rhythm.
From the back step I'll pass you behind the back.
and finish it with a twirl to the right.

The Lady will be Good.
The Count will make us swing delight.
Hands in the air as we move apart,
ready to triple step into quick swing,
you close to me, and then out again.

Tangerine makes me cry,
Jimmy Dorsey's sounds make me weep,
as my heart belongs to swing.
Let's keep this one close, feet just apart,
as that swing piper works his black art.

The Moonrise Serenade ends the night.
Glenn Miller plays again.
I'll hold you close in a musical embrace.
Our feet will move, hands will hold,
while swing sounds in the town of Hamelin.

© 2014. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved.
kokopelle: (Cat Jazz Hands)
I'm getting better at doing the lead swing thing. This poem is a loose interpretation of what I and others experience. It is also fodder for swing quotes!

Swing Lead
Poem for Day 006 - 20140929

I am the swing lead
guiding you through dance.
I'll be your swing lead,
step up and take a chance.

The dance is my invention
that I create on the spot.
Don't be left in suspension,
come on out and have a trot.

We'll do a basic step
linked in the closed position.
Just a rock-step baby
then the inside turn rendition.

Onto the fancier stuff!
I've got moves to spare.
Some may call them fluff,
but we do them with flair.

It's all about being cool.
We'll have that attitude.
We make look the fool,
swing gives us that latitude.

The song is ending its groove.
I hope you've been pleased.
We've strutted our moves
because I'm the swing lead.

© 2014. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved.
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)

I've found that social dancing provides glimpses into how relationships should work. My latest ah-ha relates to the contradance swing. This swing is very similar to a ballroom swing, with the shoulders parallel with your partner and the arms held firm but not rigid. When swinging, the partners move as one. This sounds simple, but the rest of the story speaks to how relationships are handled.

Swings can include extra moves, with the twirl being the most common addition. The gent typically leads the lady into a twirl when starting or ending a swing. The time allowed for the overall swing dictates the amount of time taken up by these optional twirls. While the twirls come in several forms, the purpose is twofold: showing mastery of the dance by the gent and providing the lady with some spice in the swing.

So, we have a swing and we have the flourishes before and / or after the swing. What does this have to do with relationships? The swing is the mainstay of a dance relationship. It is the period of time that you are most connected to your partner. A typical set of moves is 64 beast long. Lots of things can happen during this 64 beats, with partner swing is only going to last 8 or 16 beats of this time. In the end, a swing with a dance partner you really enjoy is only a small part of the entire dance sequence. A swing is meant to be treasured, just as relationships. The time allocated to this is only a fraction of all the time available.

My realization was that the flourishes are a distraction. A swing only lasts for 8 or 16 beats of the available 64 beats, and then your dance partner leaves your arms. A twirl before and after a swing can reduce the swing to 8 or even 4 beats of music. This unwanted reduction of quality time with a partner is executed for the sake of twirls that are motivated by vanity or habit. Ah! Here is the heart of my thoughts. I was glad to learn how to do decent twirls, adding flourishes to my dance, but now I know they come at a price.

An informal poll of accomplished female dancers has informed me that the ladies would prefer to have a solid, well executed swing, over a series of dizzying flourishes. I agree with the poll results. I've come to treasure a swing that is smoothly executed by both parties. The smooth swing is a result of a mutual effort between the dancers. The swing is a dance relationship, and just as the flourishes can jar or shorten a swing, the flashy distractions of life can impact a social relationship.

Now I minimize the twirls I perform, especially if I very much enjoy being with a dance partner. I want to enjoy the heart of the swing and not rob myself of the moment by the unnecessary twirling about. A social relation should be given the same treatment. Every relationship has a place in which the partners are synchronized in their actions. The flourishes of life, as flashy as they may be, take away from the connection. A smooth swing is effortless. It appears simple, but the ease originates from a lot of cooperation and understanding on the part of the partners. Relationships are like this too. Appreciate the times that relationships are working well. Don't distract yourself with social equivalents of twirls.

The time you have available with your partner, be it in dance or elsewhere, is short relative to the rest of life. I've cut back on the twirls and the reward has been wonderful. Look to your personal life and see where you can focus on simplifying the flourishes while you focus on the magic of relationships.

 
kokopelle: (Cat Jazz Hands)

I got a lesson about diversity this past weekend at Summer Soirée. What is diversity? Webster says it is “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.”. Many forms is the vision I've had! Here is the scoop: I've been dancing contra for almost fourteen years now. I am pretty aware of the basic contra moves. I am also aware of other dance moves going on in my local contra dance community. Where the heck did they come from? I heard rumors they were associated with something called swing, but I didn't really know. Now I know where the non-contra dance forms originated.

I attended a workshop called “East Coast Swing”. Hank Morris and Tracy Bulostin walked us through some basic swing moves. I think this was officially the fourth time I had done swing dancing. Anyway, I learned some new movies and realized that I had seen the moves somewhere else. I had seen them at contra! Ah! Diversity of dance as different forms come together in the thing called contra. I spoke to a friend about this and they said that contra was pretty open to a bit of diversity. I am so tickled that I learned the swing moves.

Now I get to go back to my local contra dance hall and try out these new swing moves. I suspect they will serve me well in both contra and waltzing. Shoot, I tried a couple doing a waltz during the weekend and the results were promising! Color me excited. A little diversity is a good thing. A lot is probably a great thing. Let's see what we can do with this!

kokopelle: (Cat LOL'd)
I came across a fake (hopefully) newspaper article about a young lady and a bass player.



It inspired me to create my own newspaper article!  Mine featured the coming together of the dance worlds of swing and contra!



kokopelle: (Monty Python - Completely Different)
The swing is the center piece of contra (contradancing). I can't dip worth a darn, knees and back issues, but I can do a decent swing. The swing can be a complicated bit of timing and position between the participants, and it becomes truly a lovely thing when things come together.

Sarah Lyons was one of the first people that I had a “perfect swing” with. I remember that it was an eye-opening, beautiful experience. Recently she visited from school and we got to relive the experience. This has resulted in a few thoughts about the perfect swing.


1) The speed of the perfect swing does not have to be fast or slow, but it does have to be in unison.

2) Physical proximity is best when it is neither too close nor too far. The balance between the freedom to move, and the stabilizing physical connection, is the key. Too close inhibits freedom. To far destabilizes the physical connection. Each couple defines their appropriate proximity.

3) The perfect swing is effortless, like walking on air. The partners support each other even as they propel themselves forward.

4) A smile warmly shared is the indication that all is well in the world. A sincere smile is more important than eye contact.

5) Footwork does not have to be identical. It can be very different as long as each partner is able to do their own thing, together. The important thing is that the result be movement in respectful unison.

6) Gender, body type, social statues, and age are not factors in the perfect swing.

7) The perfect swing is modified to accommodate the physical surroundings as other couples are respected. The result is that the swing is perfect, be it expansive or small.

8) A dancer who is a perfect swing with one person may not have a perfect swing with you. Connections between people are uniquely personal, and the perfect swings we do have should be treasured and not forced.

9) The perfect swing is enjoyed and appreciated by both parties.


Does this sound like a list describing a perfect relationship? It does to me!
kokopelle: (Cat - Bunny Love)
Contra (contradancing) is a social experience, and more so than I realized! There is the aspect of having as many as 12-13 dance partners in one evening. The dance experience is shared with each partner for about ten minutes, and during that time a multitude of neighbor couples are interacted with, with the partner shared and other dancers interacted with in brief exchanges of contra moves.

Boy that sounds sociable, enough to make Austin Powers raise an eyebrow, but there is more. I was talking to dancers who do both contra and swing, and I was told that contra is more sociable, with an emphasis on eye contact. Why? The swing community quickly identifies incoming contra dancers because of their intense eye gazing. Dancers were told to “tone down the stares” because the swing dancers were not used to the eye contact intensity. Blues may have contra beat on the intimacy scale with the up close and personal personal dances, but contra has blues and other dance genres socially trumped when it comes to the eyeball beat-down.

There are other social delineations between the dance forms. I am told that the Swing / Lindy style has dancers “doing their own thing” even while the partners cooperate. Blues dancing, and many other forms, the interaction is between one couple. There is no constant influx of new neighbor couples. Square dance, in some ways the most close form of dancing, only has three neighbor couples in each square. A contra line (guessing!) has 10-12 neighbor couples encountered in a single dance.

Bottom line, I love contra for the social experience. As an introverted extrovert, I really need to be pulled out of my shell. I blossom once interacting, and the incredible social experience of contra is the nudge I need.

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