One of the few times I got myself out to Lindy Hop, a very astounding thing happened.
First off, I’m definitely a beginner when it comes to Lindy Hop. Of course, I can dance… which gives me a bit of a head start. In any case, I found myself at a Lindy dance one night, and had plenty of baskets of fun. It’s not my favorite dance in the world, but it’s fun. I see why people go mad bananas over it.
As I was leaving, an older man (I won’t call him gentleman for the reasons following) came up to me and struck up a conversation. He complimented my swivels, etc. and asked how long I’d been dancing. I told him that I was new to Lindy Hop, but that I’ve been dancing salsa over three years (this was a couple years ago).
He looks at me, and says (smiling), “Oh, you must be a really good salsa dancer then. After all, Salsa is so simple that an advanced Salsa dancer is only equivalent to an advanced beginner Lindy Hopper, and you’re doing quite well!”
You could have scraped my jaw off the floor when I heard that comment.
Luckily, one of my best friends ever is a crazy awesome Lindy Hopper and Blues dancer, so I realize that not *all* Lindy Hoppers are like that (though I’ve met quite a few that are). I also have the decency to recognize that Lindy Hop is not “easy,” but…
Neither is Salsa. And if you think it is, you’re either close minded or not doing it right.
Neither is Tango.
Neither is West Coast Swing.
Neither, for the love of all that is right, is Brazilian Zouk.
Neither is Balboa.
Neither is Blues.
Neither is Bachata.
Neither is Ballroom.
Neither is Cha Cha.
Noticing a pattern?
You doing a dance well does not give it superiority over others. You liking a dance more does not give you superiority over others. You trying a dance once or twice or ten damn times does not make another dance better than it. And absolutely, in no case, on no planet, does watching another dance make you capable of judging its difficulty.
If you have put in years learning the technique and have traveled and experienced the dance done well, then you may potentially be able to judge. If you have tried a dance and noticed a pattern, that is fine. Here are some examples:
– From dancing with Lindy Hoppers, I’ve noticed that their connection is much heavier and their spins are not as strong as a whole (likely because spinning as Salseros know it isn’t really a Lindy ‘thing’). However, I’ve never found a solid Lindy Hopper to have trouble with timing or endurance.
– From dancing with WCS dancers, I’ve found their leads and follows most adept at improvising and being able to make many styles of music or dance ‘work’, even if they’re not doing it correctly. However, most WCS dancers when put into other genres look relatively style-less from the waist up and tend to be very stiff in the upper body.
– From being a salsa dancer, I’ve noticed that spins are one of my stronger suits in any dance I venture into. However, a salsa connection does not seem to be as transferable to other dance styles, and I’ve noticed that salsa dancers in other styles often feel disconnected.
– From being a Zouk dancer, I know that I have the ability to really feel where my partner is. However, the tradeoff is I often follow things that are not actually a ‘lead’ in a dance since Zouk seems to be the only dance that utilizes tilt of the upper body as a fundamental part of the dance.
Shall I go on, or is this enough? The point is, every dance style has its strengths and weaknesses. Some may be a steeper learning curve. Some might be more beginner friendly. But, NONE of these dances are more or less difficult, if you do it correctly.
And, also, what dance is difficult varies from person to person. If you asked me what dances I had the easiest to hardest time learning, it would be as follows:
That’s right. WCS was easiest for me. It feels most natural on my body. Lindy feels like I’m a wayward helicopter about to crash into a forest. Salsa hips took upwards of 2 years for me to understand. Zouk… well, in short, I just wasn’t physically capable of doing about half of what the dance actually consists of when I started.
But, one of the most frustrating things I’ve had to deal with since starting West Coast is hearing a plethora of “our dance is the most sophisticated and most difficult dance there is.” I’ve heard the timing is more complex, the connection is more sophisticated, etc. That dances that are trick-heavy are not real dances. That Zouk is simplistic, that Salseros have no connection. I could go on, and oftentimes these comments come from some of the community leaders.
That part makes me very sad.
And guess what? None of the dance communities out there are excused from this snobbery. I’ve picked on West Coast and Lindy, but I could also pick on Salsa. So far, I’ve seen very little from Zouk or Blues in a superiority complex (I’m thinking it may have to be with their status as up-and-coming dances… they don’t really have a strong enough community to go slamming other dances – yet).
I hope these communities never go that way. And, I hope that WCS, Lindy, Salsa and every other dance community clean up their act. Salseros slam Lindy dancers, Lindy Hoppers slam West Coast dancers, and Westies slam Salsa dancers.
Maybe, just maybe if we stopped demolishing these other art forms (because that is what they are) we could strengthen our own dances.
I’ve seen Lindy Hoppers learn to spin from Salsa dancers
I’ve seen Westies adopt Zouk at super high levels
I’ve seen LambaZouk dancers utilize Salsa spins
I’ve seen Salsa utilize Zouk at super high levels.
It makes us richer – and no, your dance didn’t spontaneously combust. Dance is like a language; it has to evolve or it becomes obsolete. Why not look at the positives of what these other dances offer, rather than tearing them down? It’s fine to dislike a dance… just don’t turn it into a metaphorical pissing contest of which dance is ‘harder,’ especially if you want to spread the joy of dance.