Bow to Your Queen

Years ago, when I was living in Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to take a workshop with Frankie Manning. I don’t know that I learned any new moves that day, but I learned so much about dancing. During the workshop, Frankie taught the basic swing out. He told all of the guys as they rock stepped to “Bow to their queen,” and all of the guys obliged, imitating Frankie’s deep bend with the free arm swinging back. Those words have been stuck in my head ever since.

I always try to remember that every follow I dance with is royalty, worthy of adoration. For three minutes, it is my job to serve them and adore them. On the most basic level, that means not running them into other dancers, and protecting them on the dance floor. As I got better, I learned how to listen as a lead. Now I watch my follow to see how she’s styling and to keep track of her weight changes. If she missed something I tried to lead, I try to incorporate what she’s done into the dance so seamlessly that she never notices a missed lead. And lastly, I try to let her know that I think she’s wonderful, and that I appreciate those three minutes I get to dance with her.

In the etiquette of swing dancing, its usually considered rude to turn down a dance (there are exceptions). But those few fleeting minutes we get to share with someone are not an obligation. They are a gift. So to all of my dancing queens out there, I bow to you, and I thank you for the gift of your time that you share with me. J’adore.

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2 Comments

Filed under C-Jam, lindy hop, Technique, vintage

2 responses to “Bow to Your Queen

  1. My husband, wooing the women of the lindy community one by one.

  2. Roy Gothie

    Indeed Graig, often tell my follows that it’s my job to make them look fabulous; but it’s also important to make them feel that way well. Thus, for me, every dance presents an amazing opportunity to send someone home glowing with enough energy to light the stars. From the point at which you request the pleasure of her company, each moment needs to be all about making the dance a perfect canvas for her to cover with her emotions (as highlighted by the musical interpretations of the vocalist, band, and arrangement).

    Sometimes we’re throwing paint at each other in delight and other times we’re creating calligraphy and fine line drawings. But the moment she realizes that this a creation WE are creating and her input is not only required but valued the “connectivity” becomes more than physics. It becomes a dance.

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