Pillow Talk: Memorable Dances

Memorable dances or magic dances are a deep part of our lindy addiction. Listen in on a little late night conversation as we share our top three memorable dances and ponder the linking factors.

Susanne: Hello there, darling.
Craig: Hi love! Time for some more pillow talk?
S: Well, I’m in the mood. And I have words I haven’t yet used up today.
C: Well, I will help you meet your quota. Over the holidays, as we were driving up to Rehoboth Beach for some R&R, we started talking about memorable dances that we’ve had over the years.
S: Yes, certain dances are like snapshot memories for me. Sometimes because of who they were with, or because of the band, or because of a dance “breakthough.”
C: Yeah, bands are a big one for me, too. Sometimes, the right band with a room full of good people can make for an entirely memorable evening.
S: Memorable evenings and memorable dances are related but different, don’t you think?
C: Yes. For me, a memorable dance is usually a broad memory of a great event while a memorable dance is usually tied to stronger emotional responses and shared moments with a partner. Really, its that connection to a partner that stands out the most and makes a dance memorable.
S: The connection to another dancer is part of the lindy addiction for me.
C: So, what are your top three most memorable dances?
S: The top one would definitely be the dance that prompted you to ask me out. And then we had another one a week or so later to “Fire” by the Pointer Sisters. I’ll round out the top three with a dance I had right after I saw Michael Buble in concert. I was so ready to dance and it was perfect. I felt like Jewel.
C: Wow! Two our of three! I’m flattered. I remember that dance that prompted me to ask you out. We’d danced together for at least a year already, but one dance changed it all.
S: It did. I am still floored that I had a longer memory of you and you had little of me. But none of our other incidental meetings were nearly as powerful as that “first” dance. Do you remember the song? I have forgotten.
C: I don’t know. It was some slow, romantic ballad. Honestly, I was a little too preoccupied to be listening as carefully as I normally do.
S: I remember being so on edge, waiting for every little lead. I didn’t want to mess up a good thing.
C: Hahaha. That’s funny, because in my recollection of it, you were more relaxed than ever before.
S: Who knows? Maybe I was faking relaxed well. Or perhaps time has softened your memory. But I didn’t mean “on edge” negatively. Just that you had my full attention.
S: So, tell me about your top three.
C: So clearly, the most life changing was the one that prompted me to ask you out.
For number two, I’d have to choose the night where I left a girl standing on the dance floor.
S: Oooh, big breach of etiquette there.
C: It wasn’t that bad, and she deserved it.
S: I know you to have a long fuse, so I’ll have to take your word on that.
C: We were dating at the time, and she’d been treating me pretty poorly all night, hitting on other men at the bar and such. We had a super-emotionally charged dance together, and at the end of the dance, I led her into a free spin and walked off the floor. It wasn’t like the middle of the dance or anything and it fit with the music. It was very movie-esque, especially since the floor was near empty.
S: Wow. That’s intense.
C: Anyhow, for number three. . . .well, there’s a lot of possibilities for number three, but I think the honor goes to Keith McGee. We were trading lead/follow through the whole dance so often that it become a blur as to who was leading and who was following.
S: I’m always hugely entertained by your guy/guy dances. Sometimes they turn into controlled, intellectual wrestling matches with no holds barred.
C: Yes, I’ve also had some memorable MMF dance action. Actually, you were at the center of one of those at Chevy Chase Ballroom with Sylvan. That was such an amazing dance.
S: Aww…Sylvan was the best. I am still kicking myself that I never got his contact information. Damn those pre-Facebook days! That was such a fun dance, with both of you stealing me back and forth. I remember you also had a crazy MMF or was it MMMF dance at PittStop 9 where Kara Fabina was the focus.
C: MMMF. That’s where I first met Michael Q and John Paul Helveston. I’ll link to the video of it.
S: Such a stroke of luck to have it on video. The ending is the best part.
C: “I WIN!” — yeah.  Anyhow, tell me more about your number three. (since I already know about 1 and 2)
S: One Friday night when I was in grad school I’d gone with a friend to see Michael Buble at DAR Constitution Hall in DC. It was a fun, entertaining show, but I really wanted to lindy, and of course that wasn’t possible. Afterwards, I went to the regular dance at Chevy Chase Ballroom. At the time I was working on emulating Dean and Jewel’s style with a partner. In that dance it just felt like everything was finally clicking. And it certainly didn’t hurt that I loved the red satin skirt I was wearing.
C: Something tells me that your swivels looked fantastic in it.
S: Thanks, darling. They did!
C: After all of these amazing dances, what are the common threads? Clearly, one of the things which we already touched on is a great, connected partner.
S: I’m also detecting something about an emotional component, either from a place of vulnerability of connection.
C: Yes, I always search for that, and deeply value connection and intimacy in dancing. I think trust allows for dancers to be more fully expressed together. Also, creativity/novelty seem to play a part in making a dance stand out. I feel like that’s gotten harder to find the longer I’ve danced.
S: Hmm..I hear that. But I hope I appreciate it more now.
S: So, what about the music? How critical a factor do you think it is in these dances we’ve talked about?
C: I think the music needs to be good enough, but that a great moment can redeem a mediocre song. There are a few songs out there that would never have stood out to me if it hadn’t been for the fantastic dances I’ve had to them. And I’ve also had dances where I remember the dance but not the song. And also times where I remember the song but not the dance.
S: Sounds like the “good enough parent” theory.
C: I think its like having wine with dinner. You can have great wine and an ok dinner, and remember the wine or vice versa. Sometimes, you get both.
S: That’s a good way to communicate it. I’d like both please!
C: Amen.
S: Okay, is that becoming your standard close?
C: Amen?
S: Yes.
C: Well, it was going to be until you kept chatting me up. Didn’t we meet your quota already?
S: Met and exceeded.
Now I don’t know how to end it.


Filed under lindy hop, Pillow Talk

8 responses to “Pillow Talk: Memorable Dances

  1. Daniel Rizza

    As I’m dancing with more and more follows with all kinds of abilities and skills, sometimes they won’t even crack a smile and sometimes I’ll walk off the floor literally breathless. I actually love that there is such a wide spectrum of possibilities. Kind of like buying a lottery ticket each time you stretch out your hand.

    In just the short time I’ve been dancing so far, I can totally relate to this post. Anybody can, really. It seems like each night there is always one or two dances that stand out. Then as you batch several dance nights together, only the really awesome ones remain in your head. And it isn’t even about the moves which is what I used to really try and focus on. It’s exactly what you said Craig, that connection. My ability to lead and her ability to understand me and follow. When that clicks, the dance just moves to a whole new level of cool. I can’t even remember the moves that were done, just that we did them together and right.

    Great post!

    • “Kind of like buying a lottery ticket each time you stretch out your hand.” Love that!

      • craigsparks

        Except, unlike with the lottery, I always win with dancing! I think of it like the assorted pack of Jelly Belly jelly beans, I may not know what I’m eating, but it’s almost always awesome. (just no buttered popcorn, please)

  2. Roy Gothie

    What makes a memorable dance…is simply the expression of true-self through movement shared with someone else for three minutes and forty two seconds of your life.

    Some thoughts on generating the memorable dances:
    • The music counts for a great deal but is not a deal breaker. After all haven’t you heard a favorite song come on and grabbed a follow with high expectations only to just…not…reach the sweet spot?
    • Live music counts differently than recorded music as far more people are actively interpreting than the two of you.
    • Don’t try too hard. Generating a great dance is like holding water; the harder you squeeze the less you have to enjoy.
    • Follows may bite if you squeeze too hard.
    • You don’t have to hear what your follow does in the music (rhythm, off-beat hesitations, wild clarinet solos) but you have to hear what he/she “says” while dancing.
    • Apply emotional content in liberal doses and dance with passion (happy, sad, angry, and silly all count here)
    • Smile and make eye contact. You’re not dancing with a hat rack.

    In closing a question for you. We’re all able to tell when we have a memorable dance because it feels so wonderfully intense, but can you spot a memorable dance from the sidelines?

    • “Don’t try too hard. Generating a great dance is like holding water; the harder you squeeze the less you have to enjoy.”

      I have mixed feelings on that one. I can remember a number of dances where the person I was on the floor with and I both come to the realization that “it was on”, and then a mutual desire to push the dance and go for it further and further took over.

      More often than not letting the wildness take over just leads to someone losing control and the dance coming apart. But when it holds together… that’s some good stuff.

      • christina

        I’m with Susanne, sometimes you can tell. And I’m with Jason in that when the crazy holds, it can be sick.

        This past summer, at KissME in Ann Arbor, I had one of each: a friend of mine had a dance with an unfamiliar follow that was dynamite on the floor, and I stood transfixed for the whole thing. A picture of it came up on facebook later, and the ensuing discussion confirmed that it had been a magic one. And also a 4 am dance, the last song of John Lozano’s set, I think, that had my lead whooping and hollering at the end. I walked to the side to sit down after and people who’d been on the other side of the room were like, what the hell was [he] yelling about just now? And I’m like, yeah, that was our dance. High fives all around.

  3. Yes, sometimes I can spot a memorable dance from the sidelines, esp if I know the dancers. Context and all that. But I hardly think that it’s something I can always do.

  4. David L

    Wow, it’s hard to remember my own stand out dances!I remember performances and dances from others in comps and such and some of my own dances but not because they were some of my best (just happen to remember). If I have a great dance I remember it less as that single occurence and more as a return home.

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