Balboanation Archive

This (unedited) thread was started in the events section of Balboanation on the incorrect use of the term Balboa. There are various contributors, some named and some go by their username. If you were a user of Balboanation, you’ll recognise the contributors. This thread starts with Peter Loggins. A fascinating and very long discussion, you’ll need to be a Bal Geek. Enjoy it and feel free to add your own comments at the end.

It seems very few events if any do any Balboa and instead of adding the term Swing which would at least encompass the so cal dances, they simply go with the flow of missleading students…
As a person who has studied this dances history…i simpy cant let the Lies go unmentioned… students have been getting ripped off for years now and its really lame. I wish everyone could follow what this website did on their stickers, i have one plaster on my laptop that says BAL ….balboa and Bal-swing.

AND worst of all fix the damn contest…balboa or swing. forcing both, makes for horrible Balboa and bland ass swing…

erinregina

Mar 13 2007, 10:11 PM

Peter, I admire your fidelity to the history of the dance and your respect for the old-timers. I think that for most contemporary balboa and bal-swing dancers, though, “balboa” indicates both pure balboa and bal-swing. So, if an event has “balboa” in the title (for example, Northwest Balboa Fest), the vast majority of those who hear the name of the event will assume it includes both pure balboa and bal-swing. Which it generally does (your event being the exception).

These days, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to associate balboa and bal-swing together. (The particular subject of having a pure balboa “prelim” in a contest has been discussed at length elsewhere on this forum.) In my mind it’s similar to seeing someone doCharleston in a Lindy Hop contest. The two dances are so closely related (in most people’s minds) that they are danced together without a second thought.

Peter

Mar 14 2007, 07:35 AM

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 13 2007, 10:11 PM)
These days, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to associate balboa and bal-swing together. (The particular subject of having a pure balboa “prelim” in a contest has been discussed at length elsewhere on this forum.) In my mind it’s similar to seeing someone do Charleston in a Lindy Hop contest. The two dances are so closely related (in most people’s minds) that they are danced together without a second thought.

Its only appropriate to associate balboa and bal-swing together if you dont know better or care…take your pick.

Don’t take my word just ask Dean Raftery or Dwight Lapardis…2 people that will be at ABW…
We clearly went over this last year during the little lecture.

Its never appropiate to re-write history…….period, especially when it can be so easily avoided with the addition of proper verbage.

forcing people to cha cha before doing a salsa final does not help dancers to accel and explore either dance for their own merits which is really sad….yes, its so typical of a dance studio isnt it?

How can anyone become a Truely Great balboa dancer knowing in the next heat they have to start breaking away, do tricks and dance like Jitterbugs when in fact they just want to be sophisticated and show their intricate rhythmic teamwork?

I want todays Swing dancers to be able to enter ULHS and go head to head with the best Lindy Hoppers , like they did back during the 30’s and 40’s. and allow everyone on this Forum to feel special that they have embraced a dance that the originators (Ray Rand dancers) were so proud of, and were willing to compete against all dancers to prove just that.

but now its been removed from the “neo-swing scene” and is being held down by the very people that claim to embrace it, because of their lack of knowledge or willingness to open the minds and promote the dance outside of its little box.

and it would be great to see strict Balboa dancers of all ages who in fact dress different and have a different outlook to be able to simply enjoy and possibly enter something for them…

I put on contest in Orange County as well as Los Angeles which i had help from these Legendary Dancers to show Myself as well as Everyone how it should be done, and thus i had old timers acually entering the contest as well, because strict Balboa is all ages and inclusive. Unlike The LA swing or Bal-swing which includes air steps,drops and routines and intense 300+ tempos…

Obviously there has been alot of Bullshit spread on this history..and its really sad, because while people line their pockets its the dance that gets hurt….the fact you expect Charleston in a Lindy Hop contest YET not in LA swing contest is all it takes to know you have been taught unfortantly wrong…

I hope to people wake up and start listening to people like Dean Raftery…..and perhaps these dances will have their rightful place in the future.

Soupbone

Mar 14 2007, 02:21 PM

Peter (and others),

Quick question: Back in the day, did the shortened term “Bal” get used? Or was it always called Balboa?

ScotAF

Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM

Peter,

I think I can see where you’re going with this. Unfortunately (for your task), all the Balboa instruction that’s taken place in the last 8 years that I have attended (except for your class at NWBF 2007) has either classified the dance as either “Pure Balboa” and “Bal-Swing” (should I mention “Jitterbal”), and the use of the word “Balboa” has been inclusive of both. It appears from your comments that the terminology used has not been historically accurate. You now have the unenviable task of putting the cat back in the bag in trying to redefine a word used throughout the world to its historical roots.

You’ve also used several other terms in slightly different ways than I’ve seen them previously….

Historically Accurate vs. Common Terminology today
Strictly Balboa = Pure Balboa
Balboa = Pure Balboa
SoCal Swing = Bal-Swing
LA Swing = Bal-Swing
Randy Swing = Bal-Swing
Swing = Bal-Swing

I’m not sure exactly when the historically accurate version of Balboa history will be the commonly understood or used, if ever, but I’m not sure what it specifically has to do with the present. While I loved the class you taught about the history and origins of this dance, I don’t agree with you when you say we’re rewriting history. Words and their definitions change over time, call it evolution or mutation (synonymous). The key here is that the word “Balboa” in reference to dancing is different than the meaning it had in the 30s and 40s. Should we try to change it back? As long as people are aware of the roots and progression of the dance, I think no harm done.

If I remember correctly from NWBF, you stated that the Balboa dancers were a more mature crowd, that dressed differently and danced in a corner by themselves while the “Jitterbugs” did Swing (Smooth Lindy, Dean’s Lindy, Hollywood© Lindy, Savoy?, LA Swing, SoCal Swing, Charleston, et al). You mentioned that at the time, they hardly every mingled together. It appears that you want to differentiate Balboa from the other “Swing” dances to include bal-swing. Which I’m not sure I understand why. Isn’t pure “Balboa” just a Swing dance also? Additionally, why do you want to lump Bal-Swing into the term Swing (as at MWBF), doesn’t it deserve the distinction it was given (albeit in the 1980s) as it’s own dance?

Are their any contests that have just a “Swing” division in which any variation of swing can be utilized? I didn’t see anything in my brief online search, but I noticed that even the NJC have divisions for the different swing dances and although the title for the contest is “Balboa”, the description below states that “Bal-swing or pure Balboa permitted”. This is in SoCal and the association between to the two dances remains.

My understanding of the primary difference between balboa and what is commonly referred to as bal-swing is that bal-swing, even though it has a pure balboa basic step, allows you to break away and do spins, airsteps, etc. If the definition of Bal-Swing ONLY includes those moves done outside of the Pure Balboa realm, then I’m guilty of associating the two because I’m switching between Pure Bal and Bal-Swing constantly when I dance. Thus to me, it appears that Bal-Swing is an adaptation or evolution of Balboa and are very closely related. As such, they should be associated together, but not necessary mean they same thing.

As for doing pure balboa as part of a larger Bal-Swing competition, I’m all for it. As long as the contestants are aware that the competition is looking at those two categories. It also forces Jitterbugs like me to practice our pure Balboa. Of course, other competitions solely for pure Balboa sounds great too. The only hurdle there is capturing the interest of spectators. Especially since pure Bal is a more nuanced dance form.

Mmmmia

Mar 14 2007, 06:10 PM

QUOTE(ScotAF @ Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM)
Peter,

I think I can see where you’re going with this. Unfortunately (for your task), all the Balboa instruction that’s taken place in the last 8 years that I have attended (except for your class at NWBF 2007) has either classified the dance as either “Pure Balboa” and “Bal-Swing” (should I mention “Jitterbal”), and the use of the word “Balboa” has been inclusive of both. It appears from your comments that the terminology used has not been historically accurate. You now have the unenviable task of putting the cat back in the bag in trying to redefine a word used throughout the world to its historical roots.

You’ve also used several other terms in slightly different ways than I’ve seen them previously….

Historically Accurate vs. Common Terminology today
Strictly Balboa = Pure Balboa
Balboa = Pure Balboa
SoCal Swing = Bal-Swing
LA Swing = Bal-Swing
Randy Swing = Bal-Swing
Swing = Bal-Swing

I’m not sure exactly when the historically accurate version of Balboa history will be the commonly understood or used, if ever, but I’m not sure what it specifically has to do with the present. While I loved the class you taught about the history and origins of this dance, I don’t agree with you when you say we’re rewriting history. Words and their definitions change over time, call it evolution or mutation (synonymous). The key here is that the word “Balboa” in reference to dancing is different than the meaning it had in the 30s and 40s. Should we try to change it back? As long as people are aware of the roots and progression of the dance, I think no harm done.

If I remember correctly from NWBF, you stated that the Balboa dancers were a more mature crowd, that dressed differently and danced in a corner by themselves while the “Jitterbugs” did Swing (Smooth Lindy, Dean’s Lindy, Hollywood© Lindy, Savoy?, LA Swing, SoCal Swing, Charleston, et al). You mentioned that at the time, they hardly every mingled together. It appears that you want to differentiate Balboa from the other “Swing” dances to include bal-swing. Which I’m not sure I understand why. Isn’t pure “Balboa” just a Swing dance also? Additionally, why do you want to lump Bal-Swing into the term Swing (as at MWBF), doesn’t it deserve the distinction it was given (albeit in the 1970s) as it’s own dance?

Are their any contests that have just a “Swing” division in which any variation of swing can be utilized? I didn’t see anything in my brief online search, but I noticed that even the NJC have divisions for the different swing dances and although the title for the contest is “Balboa”, the description below states that “Bal-swing or pure Balboa permitted”. This is in SoCal and the association between to the two dances remains.

My understanding of the primary difference between balboa and what is commonly referred to as bal-swing is that bal-swing, even though it has a pure balboa basic step, allows you to break away and do spins, airsteps, etc. If the definition of Bal-Swing ONLY includes those moves done outside of the Pure Balboa realm, then I’m guilty of associating the two because I’m switching between Pure Bal and Bal-Swing constantly when I dance. Thus to me, it appears that Bal-Swing is an adaptation or evolution of Balboa and are very closely related. As such, they should be associated together, but not necessary mean they same thing.

As for doing pure balboa as part of a larger Bal-Swing competition, I’m all for it. As long as the contestants are aware that the competition is looking at those two categories. It also forces Jitterbugs like me to practice our pure Balboa. Of course, other competitions solely for pure Balboa sounds great too. The only hurdle there is capturing the interest of spectators. Especially since pure Bal is a more nuanced dance form.

scott,
unfortunately for peter, he has had the long hard task of trying to spread the truth of the old timers and history by himself. why? not because he wants to be alone in this task, but because others aren’t willing to acknowledge that something happened down the road of communication through the years, and terms and such have gotten switched around.
being that he is a historian, and has been one of the ONLY dancers to have sat down and interviewed and discussed things at length with most of the dancers that were alive back then, who DID just dance balboa (pure, strictly, what have you) or who DID just swing (la swing, randy swing, socal swing, what have you), he is trying to take first hand information, and correct people who have misspoken, and keep a history that he cares so much about, alive and honest.
if you don’t care about the history of this dance, that’s fine. but his passion is such, and i think that he should be praised for trying to stand up for it the way he does. does it piss people off? maybe. does it offend? perhaps, but i don’t see why it should. he wants to do right by his friends that hes met over the years. he wants to respect all the people who danced back then. he wants to pass on ONLY CORRECT INFORMATION because he’s more interested in their truth, their lives, what they hold dear, than what name can make a buck today.
i’m not as eloquent as peter, nor would i ever claim to be. he’s the historian, not me. i just dance with him;) and i’m glad that i get to be so lucky to dance with someone whos spent the time and dedication to learn from the best in the world. the ones who gave us this dance.
and i agree with peter. that these terms. WORDS! how easy is it to change words! you can so easily say BALBOA SWING! (which by the way, is a made up term, and you can ask dwight himself. he made it up because he was confused about what kind of swing he was doing when he was taking private lessons from maxi.) but just to say balboa? no one is dancing just balboa!
and how easy to ask one resource…one that goes to almost every event for “balboa” there is. DEAN RAFTERY. he would be more than happy to tell you that no one is doing balboa. is everyone a fantastic, technically amazing swing dancer? hell yes they are! and thats awesome! but is anyone doing what you did back in the day, dean? the dance that you called balboa? no. he’ll tell you no. all people have to do is talk to the man. he is an amazing resource, one that is under appreciated, and one that is an amazing fellow who is one of the last living true balboa dancers left.
peter has shown me the importance of respecting the old dancers. without them, we would have nothing. not even the dance that balboa is morfed into. and i feel like i can say this, because i dance this “BALBOA” that eveyone else does. and i love it! its so fricking fun! i love dancing with everyone at every bal event i’ve ever been to. and now….i know that i can continue to love that dance, even with the knowledge that it is not truely balboa, and that its an amazing new swing dance. and if everyone else could acknowledge that it’s not actually balboa but swing, when they break away and improvise, and own it, and own what they do, then i think that what the old dancers were trying to pass on to us would be proud. proud that you know the difference, and proud that you are amazing swing dancers.
and those of you who just want to do “pure-bal” or balboa…that that can be its own appreciated thing and know that you are doing that dance…and using the correct name for it.
i’m sorry, i never respond online. but i wanted to publicly back peter up…but not just that….show that i give a little bit of a shit about history, and am willing to be an assistant in trying to use the proper verbage to honour the ones who came before us.

mia

ScotAF

Mar 14 2007, 06:32 PM

Hey Mia, I hope you don’t think I was attacking Peter, I respect what he’s done for the Balboa community way to much. I just wanted to point out that the information about Balboa as it has spread in the last 8 years (that I have witnessed) has propogated misunderstandings about the origin of the dance and that Peter has a lot of work cut out for him if he’s going to return the terminology to its historically accurate state. As it is, I don’t see the harm in the current terminology (“Pure Bal” and “Bal-Swing”) as they are fairly well understood throughout the worldwide balboa community. Even today, at events in the “Motherland” of balboa, we have competitions in “Pure Balboa” and “Bal-Swing”. Does that need to change? I don’t think so. Does everyone need to listen to Peter’s lecture? If they want to understand the origin and evolution of the Balboa, definitely. Does what I say matter? probably not.

TomHopper

Mar 14 2007, 07:31 PM

I am pretty new (“pure bal” and mostly “bal swing” for 2 years now), so I don’t know how workshops have been run that well, but can’t this “problem with terminology and setting history straight” thing be addressed by Mr. Dean Raftery at big events as a lecture? I would love to attend one of those lectures, if possible.
It may not be possible to switch all the terminology back to historically correct forms, but at least (as somebody mentioned) it would make people keen on learning this dance aware of the history.

Peter

Mar 14 2007, 08:39 PM

QUOTE(Soupbone @ Mar 14 2007, 02:21 PM)
Peter (and others),

Quick question: Back in the day, did the shortened term “Bal” get used? Or was it always called Balboa?

No…not really , the shortened term was acually Balboa, as it was acually called the balboa Shuffle…then it was shortened during the swing era to just Balboa or The shuffle depending on where you lived….

Bal-swing was invented in 1984 , by people that did NOT know balboa or its history..

Peter

Mar 14 2007, 08:51 PM

damn, unfortunatly…talking about history on balnation leads to what little dancers acually know , and whats been feed to them via classes…

(Dance lessons are buyer beware like everything else in life!!!)

AND WHEN THEY COME TO HISTORY, your gonna get ripped off by purchasing history from a “dance teacher” and not an historian or academic that will in fact give you resources and point you to other places for more information to learn and research….

and this is why i have for the most part stayed away. However, seeing this growth of unhistorical dance being reffered to as historical leads me to once again chime in, and clearly state ; Its ALL good and there is room for ALL to have fun…However, be aware most dancers are doing a contemporary dance which in fact does have Links to history ,but, its just not the same as what was done in the 30’s by the Ray Rand dancers.

Does Frankie dance the same as what he did in the 30’s? does he teach what all his Team mates did as being historically accurate?

The there are those that acually WANT to know the truth or would like to dance with more of a historical touch or style, these are who i am here for as i dont intended to shove history down everyones throats espeically those that dont care.

Ill post again when i get back from the store….

Hooloovoo

Mar 14 2007, 08:58 PM

So Peter, I have a question, then…

This is obviously proving to be a very confusing topic, with lots of differences/misunderstands of semantics. And I’m a bit confused.

You stated earlier that “Balboa” (aka Pure Bal), and “SoCal/LA Swing” (what we all think of as Bal-Swing, but might night actually be historically the appropriate word), are NOT related.

However, we see some of the Old Timers–in clips like at Bobby McGee’s–dancing both “Balboa” and “SoCal Swing.” And maybe you’ll argue that what we’re actually looking at is “Bal-Swing,” which you said, “was invented in 1984 , by people that did NOT know balboa or its history.” But it still looks like to me that some dancers are flowing in and out of both “Balboa” and “Swing” (either SoCal or Bal-Swing). Which makes me prone to believe that surely there is some connection between the two.

Also, what about the “Maharaja” clip? (for example) In watching that, I can pick out what looks like what we know as a “Balboa” (pure balboa) basic, but then they also do a heck of a lot of “Swing.” …. Agian, this makes me confused how these two dances cannot be related at all.

Can you clarify?

erinregina

Mar 14 2007, 09:06 PM

Okay I think I’m a little clearer on the project, now. (And it’s a perfectly fine project.) I also think that, despite the obvious passion you have for the subject, Peter, you could be a little less abrasive in calling people out on it. Nobody here has attacked you. Nobody here has said you’re way off base. But if you’re going to re-educate people, it would probably be easier to say, “hey, you know, I’ve done a LOTof research on this stuff, and there is some misinformation that’s been widely spread around, and I want to set the record straight on a few things.” People who have done the best they can with the resources they have (usually teachers) are going to be offended if you just start saying that they don’t care about the dance or they’ve got it all wrong. Nobody likes to be called out and just told, “look, you’re completely wrong” even when it’s true.

Personally I’m left guessing as to the details on everything you’re referring to re: the history, since I wasn’t able to be at your lecture at NWBF. And so I have no idea what you’re referring to when you say that bal-swing was invented in 1984. I’d love to hear more.

nadiaclaudia

Mar 14 2007, 10:24 PM

Our double-edged sword: Whatever you cal the dance(s) we’re dancing, its because of events and local teachers that it has been spread and learned all over. It grows the community and now we have can have favorite dancers in our city, state, and from all over the country and world who we all love to dance with. And get to do so locally and at the weekend events. But through all that the history and terminology has taken a backseat to the desire to get out there and learn to dance.

I personally love hearing about the history of the dance. I always appreciate events that have history talks worked into the weekend and teachers who discuss it in their local classes. So much so that I wish there was more, and that it was done more often. Even make an entire class at a workshop just on history/terminology- or even a whole local series. Does it only not happen because we’re used to it? What if we changed the culture of classes and event workshops to include more discussion? So that it became a norm?

To make a comparison, I would feel shortchanged if I took a karate class and only learned moves and how to punch and whack stuff and nothing about the history, language, culture and evolution of the discipline.

So, maybe at this point it’s just that one end of our sword is a tad sharper than the other.

Sure there may be money to be made in classes, and by hosting events. But when you look into it, for the most part no one is sitting reaaaaly pretty as a result. They do it because they love dancing and sharing it. So sure they teach “whatever you want to call the dance(s) we dance” but don’t shoot the messengers. Give them different messages to deliver. Tell them you want to learn more about history and the dance. Make it a package deal. If you want to learn The Balboa Shuffle, L.A. Swing, Bal-swing etc.” you have to learn ALL about it.

Maybe its up to us, the current ‘students,’ to help the teachers and event organizers shape the curriculum of our newer classmates. By telling them we want more history!

There were cave men, neanderthals or chimps or whatever before you got humans. So it’s not like poof “ and then there was bal swing”. Yay anthropologists. And yay swing/bal historians
I guess that works if you’re pro evolution. If not, um, I guess its like forgetting the other days of Genesis (yay Phil Collins ) before humans were created.

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 14 2007, 05:31 PM)
I am pretty new (“pure bal” and mostly “bal swing” for 2 years now), so I don’t know how workshops have been run that well, but can’t this “problem with terminology and setting history straight” thing be addressed by Mr. Dean Raftery at big events as a lecture? I would love to attend one of those lectures, if possible.
It may not be possible to switch all the terminology back to historically correct forms, but at least (as somebody mentioned) it would make people keen on learning this dance aware of the history.

Call me crazy but “one of those lectures” sounds like the perfect thing for a certain historian to do along with historical figures at a big event. The ones that have been done before I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated. And I see the curiosity in this thread as clearly in support of more as well.
(Yes I was ambiguous because while I like opening things like presents and doors, im always hesitant about opening potential cans of worms)

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 14 2007, 06:51 PM)
The there are those that acually WANT to know the truth or would like to dance with more of a historical touch or style, these are who i am here for as i dont intended to shove history down everyones throats espeically those that dont care.

Well, I want to know more and I (to the extent my budget and time constraints allow) speak with my feet when I travel to different events since historical classes is one of the things that helps me decide where to go. And I know I’m not alone in that. And for newer students, I see them like baby birdies with their mouths opening out of instinct, like a newbies desire to learn to dance. But what they really need is for momma bird to shove worms down their throats and in the long run it’s a very good thing since they grow up healthy and able to learn more like flying. Or in our case not just how to dance, but ALL about it and will become better dancers because of it.

The only thing left to be careful of is that as the demand for more history increases and more people talk about the history is that the accuracy is maintained.

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 14 2007, 06:51 PM)
Ill post again when i get back from the store….
I just bought gummie worms (hence the two references to worms)

Peter

Mar 15 2007, 12:42 AM

Mia said it all..basically…but to clarify a little on terms..

QUOTE(ScotAF @ Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM)
Peter,
You’ve also used several other terms in slightly different ways than I’ve seen them previously….

Historically Accurate vs. Common Terminology today
Strictly Balboa = Pure Balboa
Balboa = Pure Balboa
SoCal Swing = Bal-Swing
LA Swing = Bal-Swing
Randy Swing = Bal-Swing
Swing = Bal-Swing

yea, unfortunatly depending on who im talking to or where im posting, i or anyone has to use freaking stupid terms to get point across…the very reason Dwight came up with the term Bal-swing….in 1984.

If i was talking to Irene Thomas, Venna Archer or anyone for that matter from Los Angeles that danced during the swing era, i would just have to say Swing…and we are all on the same page.

Today amongst the better dancers in this artform i normally say Ray Rand or LA swing…

to everyone else Bal-swing…

the term strict balboa means the same thing as Pure Balboa, however it is a term the older dancers use today, which they would of never had to 50 plus years ago…

QUOTE(ScotAF @ Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM)
I don’t agree with you when you say we’re rewriting history. Words and their definitions change over time, call it evolution or mutation (synonymous).

well certainly nobody has to agree with history, hell some people even think WW2 didnt happen…
depending on your views in what dancers are or not, we are in fact rewriting history a history that was rewritten in the 80’s and now most people are copying that…

so to some, its just copying the re-written aspect, and to others its acually re-writting it to sell….
very few have acually stepped out of the box to infact dance as they did during the 30’s, which is be yourself, be original , innovate using all the tricks in the book to out do the other couples with airsteps and routines ,mixed up with Various dance’s (shag,lindy,etc..) and topped off with improvisation…That was a Ray Rand Dancer…

certainly, its hard to explain not having everybody back east sit down with the people that created these dances and have it come from the horses mouth, just as sitting down with a soldier that stormed up Normandy Beach.
Hearing or reading second hand from someone like me, will have little or no impact…excpet for those that care..

QUOTE(ScotAF @ Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM)
The key here is that the word “Balboa” in reference to dancing is different than the meaning it had in the 30s and 40s. Should we try to change it back? As long as people are aware of the roots and progression of the dance, I think no harm done.

well, there honestly isnt anything to change “back”..you either do balboa or ya dont…

QUOTE(ScotAF @ Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM)
If I remember correctly from NWBF, you stated that the Balboa dancers were a more mature crowd, that dressed differently and danced in a corner by themselves while the “Jitterbugs” did Swing (Smooth Lindy, Dean’s Lindy, Hollywood© Lindy, Savoy?, LA Swing, SoCal Swing, Charleston, et al). You mentioned that at the time, they hardly every mingled together.?

correct..they didnt mingle…2 differnt types of dancers with completely different reasons why they danced..

QUOTE(ScotAF @ Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM)
It appears that you want to differentiate Balboa from the other “Swing” dances to include bal-swing. Which I’m not sure I understand why. Isn’t pure “Balboa” just a Swing dance also? Additionally, why do you want to lump Bal-Swing into the term Swing (as at MWBF), doesn’t it deserve the distinction it was given (albeit in the 1970s) as it’s own dance?

This would get into symantics…as if Balboa is a swing dance or not…I dont think it is “just a swing dance”

as far as MWBF, and also NWBF i give people the benifit of the doubt and speak to them as I would anyone from LA, and that all todays younger dancers know what im talking about, espeicially on ad’s and print..although, truth be known it was most commonly refered to as Randy or Ray Rand Swing back in the 30’s by the media, and LA swing by the dancers themselves…

The distinction happens when the tempos soar…and thats something all of these original dancers were so darn strong minded about that its sad to have lost that…

QUOTE(ScotAF @ Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM)
Are their any contests that have just a “Swing” division in which any variation of swing can be utilized?

YES , the California Balboa Swing Championships….there was a balboa divison and there was a swing division. I did not create these terms, Maxie Dorf, Venna Archer did that.

Tempos dictated the dance….

QUOTE(ScotAF @ Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM)
My understanding of the primary difference between balboa and what is commonly referred to as bal-swing is that bal-swing, even though it has a pure balboa basic step, .

no it doesn’t…Ray Rand or LA swing can have all sorts of basic steps…AND never go into body to body dancing..

and the step i see as what people call pure balboa , isnt not acually a pure balboa basic step…

QUOTE(ScotAF @ Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM)
As for doing pure balboa as part of a larger Bal-Swing competition, I’m all for it. As long as the contestants are aware that the competition is looking at those two categories.

2 Completely different disciplines…..certainly morphing everything together will get the best all around so so dancer….but thats about it.

having two contest atleast people can strive to seriously obtain excellence in one or both , not to menton a shoe change…lolol

QUOTE(ScotAF @ Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM)
The only hurdle there is capturing the interest of spectators. Especially since pure Bal is a more nuanced dance form.

yup, balboa contest as in “strict Balboa” in itself is a completely different thread…that even swing era dancers I found can’t agree on…

I hope I clarified some of this…

Peter

Mar 15 2007, 12:53 AM

QUOTE(Hooloovoo @ Mar 14 2007, 08:58 PM)
So Peter, I have a question, then…

what about the “Maharaja” clip? (for example) In watching that, I can pick out what looks like what we know as a “Balboa” (pure balboa) basic, but then they also do a heck of a lot of “Swing.” …. Agian, this makes me confused how these two dances cannot be related at all.

Can you clarify?

Yup, there is absolutely NO balboa in Maharaja…

that is called Jig Trot…very typical Redondo Beach style of dancing. That Hal was one of the best at, but like all, gives Credit to Lawrence Wise.

If people honestly think this is Balboa Now, i’m lead to beleive that most dancers out there think anything in closed body posistion is Balboa?

I guess Ill have to make a list of All the dances that were done in closed posistion
all over the country that had nothing to do with Balboa…

But that will have to be on the dancehistory forum….not here…

as for the relasionship between the dances , please , keep in mind , i’m am speaking Historically, as i cant deny people have in fact done a great job of melding them together over the last few years, although its at the expense of strict balboa.

Peter

Mar 15 2007, 01:03 AM

QUOTE(Hooloovoo @ Mar 14 2007, 08:58 PM)
So Peter, I have a question, then…

However, we see some of the Old Timers–in clips like at Bobby McGee’s–dancing both “Balboa” and “SoCal Swing.” And maybe you’ll argue that what we’re actually looking at is “Bal-Swing,” which you said, “was invented in 1984 , by people that did NOT know balboa or its history.” But it still looks like to me that some dancers are flowing in and out of both “Balboa” and “Swing” (either SoCal or Bal-Swing). Which makes me prone to believe that surely there is some connection between the two.

Can you clarify?

yes, we see Many generations of dancers all dancing…

1930’s, 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s in some clips…

when you see a couple go into a body to body posistion it does not mean its Balboa..i guess thats the confusing part….

there is no flashy steps in balboa, there is No improvisation in Balboa, the couple normally has one basic step with the possibility of maaaaaybe one variation, feet tend to stay on the ground and always shuffle…

Bart Bartolo for instance was a 40’s dancers, one of Dean Collins students, he picked his “LA swing” from Maxie Dorf Later on…so what ya see him do is mix between the 2, but he never was a Balboa dancer nor have I ever witnessed do Balboa…he came along way after….and didnt dance for that reason. He was and is a Jitterbug, always showing off and getting crazy….That and Balboa is like Bleach and ammonia…

Balboa dancers even had different basics, personaly i dont think there really is one basic step with the strict balboa dancers, its more of a Basic rhythm…but we shouldnt get into this on here, AIM me tommorrow… 🙂

Peter

Mar 15 2007, 01:46 AM

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 14 2007, 09:06 PM)
People who have done the best they can with the resources they have (usually teachers) are going to be offended if you just start saying that they don’t care about the dance or they’ve got it all wrong. Nobody likes to be called out and just told, “look, you’re completely wrong” even when it’s true.

well thats a bummer no doubt…but thats when teachers start spewing what they do as something historical…instead of just sticking to teaching dance…

Resources? well like I’ve said all along, to all those acually care, come visit the original dancers and ask questions yourself,please nobody take my word for it…

one by one my dearest friends and those that shared this with me have passed on…and what really hurts is to have become to close with some of these dancers. I never wanted to teach ,I never wanted to travel or do any of this stuff…i was happy in my corner on my peice of floor with my girl. But as this stuff slowly leaked out and became more and more popular, i found people not happy with my refferals for teachers anymore and more and more demanding on the historical truth…which finally lead to me to start teaching hoping my friends would be become house hold names some day in the world of dance…

I’ve been a public resource for years, I’ve been selective as to where i go ,because honestly i can’t afford to travel and lecture, so i focus on events, and schools who’s main purpose is history, Ive done lectures all over the world, on Federal Grants and Local Grants, and even National Grants from the UK…i’m right here but i cant answer questions unless i’m asked…

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 14 2007, 09:06 PM)
Personally I’m left guessing as to the details on everything you’re referring to re: the history, since I wasn’t able to be at your lecture at NWBF. And so I have no idea what you’re referring to when you say that bal-swing was invented in 1984. I’d love to hear more.

It was an amazing ….i held the mic…and asked the first question ” Dwight, were does the term Bal-swing come from?” he answered, 1984……(and told the story of his confusion)

Then i asked the next Question
“Dean , what does Balboa and Bal-swing have in common?” to which he replied
…Nothing….(and told the story on how well the dancers today have tried to combine the two).

What else is there to honestly say? if ya think about it…once that is established then I can talk about the dance culture and the various dances and steps that the Ray Rand dancers did, such as the Frisco,camel hop,flea hop,Jig Trot,sugar foot,shag all in their “Ray rand swing” or what everyone calls “Bal-swing” , unfortunatly that 80% or about of the dance has been left out as well….

These Lectures cant be done with 1940’s dancers including Bart Bartolo,Lee Lieghts,Jeanie Veloz or even Ray Cunningham because they simply were not there…heck it was my friends Roy’s older Brothers that taught Bart how to dance before he met Dean Collins…but I guess thats another day on a another forum in another life…

well enough history ,lets dance… 🙂

Peter

Mar 15 2007, 07:56 AM

whats really sad is all the websites pertaining to this dance form , taking information from people like me and using it, without credit, so up and coming dancers interested in this history can find me to HELP further research and document these artforms…because i dont have the time i’ll going broke in doing so, instead of working.

When proper credit is not given as a resource, the information becomes “stolen” , and it could never be published without my consent because i hold the tapes and interviews to prove it came from me….putting up on the web in a sense is in fact publishing, and I beleive they need consent, i’m not sure…but its gotten to a point for the sake of the dance some type of extreme action should be done to wake people up..

Some people might perhaps try and claim they got the information from “so and so” in an interview, however, i’d could easily prove that incorrect in the specific things i see and unfortunatly make more then a few sites Guilty….

Now, some of the information was “lifted” straight from my website which no longer has the stuff up, (which is what it was for, IF credit was given) and some information was lifted from other sites, which in turn had stolen it from me, making these websites basically guilty as well. the funny thing is nobody credits anybody..so it looks like a bunch theives.

This information was and is NOT just simply “common knowledge” by any stretch of the imagination….It came from very few sources, and 1 or 2 to put them all together…

once it started getting shared , This is where is gets confusing and unfortuntaly bad…

everyone takes this information and embellishes on it in their own way to make their site a little different…and well as we can see the confusion and miss information everywhere….

It reminds me of the Movie Roswell, when the president and high ranking military staff say in order to cover up the truth, “we will leak miss information to credible sources and leak correct information to uncredible sources…”

instead of just enjoying a wonderful dance and teaching, sharing an amazing art form….. we have websites and totally misinformed dancers claiming a history of half bullshit fantasy, and half truths…..and all the poor students that beleived them.

Ray Rand dancers competing against Whitey’s Lindy HOPPERS???? holy shit, are you people for real? does everybody seriously just go along with that? drop a dime…and figure it out…

Whitey’s wasnt here that year….for one thing, and second aftre calling mary,venna,Lolly and hal…(hal who quite franky never remembered a whole lot) all said, Max is full of (Venna said “shit” , mary said “he is pulling your leg” and hal “no no”….)

and the Rumba story? ohhh man, all you Willie fans..,just ask Lila when she she made that comparison As a student of Willies…i think it was the late 60’s.. it wasnt until i did painstaking research of band charts and interviews that i found out it couldnt of been true, and finally dragged the truth out of them at Alpine Village Ballroom where Willie admitted he got it from Lila, and that he just wanted to be remembered as “different”.

How would someone like Willie know anything about Balboa anyways? he was east sider who grew up going to Ross’ Ballroom and Trianon in the city of south gate (way inland) as his local spots and he started dancing after the “BIG FOUR” and otherknown Jitterbugs…which are ALL to young to know anything about “Balboa History”.

to go to the Rendezvous Ballroom was a LONG track for a 16 year old to travel to dance…which very,very few did…and by the time they were old enough to enjoy traveling to dance, why would they go all the way down south when they have better ballrooms and bands in LA? like Paladium or Palomar, Casino Gardens,Trianon and ofcourse the Grand daddy of them all for the best, the Dianna Ballroom.
The heppest would have Hit central ave, and the strip up to Downtowns paramount .

OC was oil feild and few lone ballrooms for vacationers and locals…OC dancers would have NEVER gone to central , it was unfortunatly to intimidating for the middle class white dancers down south who grew up sheltered…they were stuck basically to dancing to whoever was booked on the beach, be it good or BAD.

It took an LA Disc jockey to put on a worthy event way down in O.C. at The balboa pennisula, where they drew from up north all the wild “LA dancers”…

and further more , there WAS in fact BLACK dancers in the Ray Rand dancers, THEY would have never traveled to the Rendenzvous…..BUT I’ll save that for later to those interested in this history.

every major city in the USA had some type of dance called “swing” during the 30’s…in Los Angeles like many other cities it came from Charleston…the earliest known places for this dancing was the late 20’s and the earlist record i have of it is 1932 at venice beach Highschool (west of west LA) with a mixed coupled winning a swing contest, which is very far north of Balboa in Newport.

the main population of adults were doing fox trot in ballrooms to society music just like Rendezvous with Gus Arnhiem, and like so many dances of that time and as far back as 1910’s on film, dancing was done body to body connection…

do the historians mention that stuff in classes when explaining the tension and technics? because they seem to have left of the websites…

The funniest shit i’ve read is that the balboa dancers got “bored” and started added kicks and spins…
wow, as if someone was reaching out with a Cattle prod and ZAPPING the BALBOA dancers, causing the electric shock to uncontrolably kick, spin and swing what they were doing…hahahah where you guys get this stuff?

Not re-writing history?

Tol

Mar 15 2007, 10:16 AM

Balboa and SoCal Swing are both folk dances- i.e. “folk” do them in contrast to more formal dances such as ballet which are alot more structured, written down, and proscribed.

Balboa and SoCal Swing both suffer or benefit (depending on your point of view) from the folk process, where they change over time from various influences.

All of the “folk” dances I am familiar with have a range of proponents from the historians (people who want to preserve the dance and understand its origins) to the experimenters (people who want to find new things to do with the dance) with the bulk of the dancer falling somewhere in between (call them the “just want to dance” folks).

Dancers and thus dances were alot more isolated 50-80 years ago. Seperate dances grew in various communities with alot less influence from outside sources. I am more familiar with this experience in traditional clogging, where each community had its own steps and styles and names, yet they were all a very similar percussive step dance that these days are now collectively referred to “clogging”. That wasn’t what they were called by the people doing them 100 years ago.

The past century has seen an extreme increase in the amount of relocation and especially casual travel that occurs. Which means that the outside influences on dances have drastically increased. Plus, there is the amount of visual documentation available. This is also an opportunity for either the historians or the experimenters: videotapes can show how something was done, they can also provide material for expanding and playing with.

I think Scot makes a really good point: it will be a seriously uphill battle to fight the folk process. Maybe we really did need a new term in 1984 “Bal-swing” which should have referred to the combination of Balboa and SoCal Swing even though that isn’t quite how it got used.

I personally tend to fall on both ends of the continuum. I like that the dances grow and expand, and mostly I view alot of the changes as growth, but I think it is important to know and understand the history of where it all came from.

Peter, unfortunately there aren’t alot of us with the opportunities you have had. That is, to spend quality time with several of the masters. Given that just about all of them have slightly different perspectives, thus different stories, it takes someone like you who can filter through the collection of responses to pull some consistancy out of it. My impression is that many of the instructors have been lucky to even spend time with 1 or 2 of the masters, and thus have that version of the history. Plus we are dealing with alot of dancers, not trained historians, just trying to learn what we can. I don’t think any one is being thoughtless or careless in passing on incorrect information– everyone is just trying to learn what we can and pass on what is heard.

Tol

Mar 15 2007, 10:21 AM

Anecdotally: re: “Bal”

At the first Rendezvous weekend when Joel Plys gave us the mission to locate the brass plaque commemorating the location of the Rendezvous ballroom, we were asking alot of the locals for it and talking about the dance weekend. The “Salt-water Taffy” lady remembered the ballroom, closed up shop for a few minutes to lead us to the plaque, and told us that was where they used to dance “Bal-hop”.

Now she wasn’t a dancer, so who knows where or when that term came into being, but it was a new one to me.

zzzzoom

Mar 15 2007, 10:36 AM

Oh lordy. This must be a joke but now there is a thread on Yehoodi about Savoy-style Balboa and that it all started at the Savoy. . .

QUOTE(“from Yehoodi”)

I had a discussion with one of the old timers tonight, and he believes that theSavoystyle Balboa will really make a comeback here in NYC, since this is where it all started. I was just wondering if any of you even noticed the difference between Savoy Balboa and the West Coast version of it.

http://www.yehoodi.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.ph…3fae4fe18825c7b

TomHopper

Mar 15 2007, 01:48 PM

Here I go, a relative newbie.

So if I understood Peter correctly, and with my imagination probably mix, here are a couple of things I would like to ask.

1. When you say there is no “balboa (pure bal)” in basic “Swing (bal-swing)” step, is it because the latter is steps, compared to the former is more of shuffle?
I noticed by watching others dance at comp and comp videos that people who are supposedly doing “pure-bal” are stepping back or forward in a linear way (no shuffling nor rotating foot internally/externally), but I noticed at Camp Jitterbug ’06 and Herrang ’06, that the way you dance (I assume you were doing “balboa (pure bal)”) has more shuffle feel and always your feet moving with rotation, not meaning you are doing turns, but you may move very little from the spot, but your heel moving internally/externally relative to your ball of your foot. (I can’t explain it well, because I never quite figured out what your dancing makes so distinctively different than what I was used to seeing.)

2. If “swing” dancers (“jitterbugs”) were the ones who did all the crazy show-off stuff, but “balboa” dancers were mainly dancing for “different” reason, was there such a thing as “balboa” competition back then (30’s)? If I understood correctly, the “different” reason would probably be to enjoy dancing with their partners and enjoy the ambiance, and not really dancing “to be seen” by others. It doesn’t sound constructive to have a competition, the nature of which is to be seen and be judged, for such a dance.
And if this is the case, is there a point for having a “pure-bal” competition in the first place, other than to have everyone’s basic quality of dancing technique checked (such as line and rhythm)?

BTW, is there going to be a DVD of NWBF lecture? I would be interested in watching it.

Tol

Mar 15 2007, 02:06 PM

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 15 2007, 02:48 PM)
BTW, is there going to be a DVD of NWBF lecture? I would be interested in watching it.

Yes, please let us know if the lecture is on the DVD. I would be interested in purchasing that.

Soupbone

Mar 15 2007, 03:41 PM

There is no NWBF dvd. But, maybe someone taped it????

Peter

Mar 15 2007, 11:12 PM

QUOTE(Tol @ Mar 15 2007, 10:16 AM)
Balboa and SoCal Swing are both folk dances- i.e. “folk” do them in contrast to more formal dances such as ballet which are alot more structured, written down, and proscribed.

Swing is a Vernacular Jazz dance…..

Balboa is not…

QUOTE(Tol @ Mar 15 2007, 10:16 AM)
I think Scot makes a really good point: it will be a seriously uphill battle to fight the folk process. Maybe we really did need a new term in 1984 “Bal-swing” which should have referred to the combination of Balboa and SoCal Swing even though that isn’t quite how it got used.

Yup…we do need new terms as time goes on sometimes, But where did it go???? I dont see swing in any titles of events, and there is no Balboa….so which is it going to be?

There is no “fight” , however, at some point we must hold the teachers and events responsible for the simple task of avoiding unnessesary and blantant false advertising….if they cared about this topic, and those dancers before them they would find the space on their letter head to include 5 more letters…

and to purposefully leave it off when their is no Balboa at the event is simply putting them in the cross hairs of acadamia…

Keep in mind this started because people simply wanted to leave out the word Swing and keep the word Balboa…when in fact they are swing dancing and not doing Balboa which is just the opposite…

I personally tend to fall on both ends of the continuum. I like that the dances grow and expand, and mostly I view alot of the changes as growth, but I think it is important to know and understand the history of where it all came from.

QUOTE(Tol @ Mar 15 2007, 10:16 AM)

Plus we are dealing with alot of dancers, not trained historians, just trying to learn what we can. I don’t think any one is being thoughtless or careless in passing on incorrect information……

Bingo…

lets just see how many teachers get billed as Historians this year and meet back here on the forum…:)

Hooloovoo

Mar 15 2007, 11:19 PM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 16 2007, 12:12 AM)

lets just see how many teachers get billed as Historians this year and meet back here on the forum…:)
Honestly, I really don’t see that many teachers being billed as historians …. usually, it seems events just call them “instructors.”

Peter

Mar 15 2007, 11:45 PM

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 15 2007, 01:48 PM)
Here I go, a relative newbie.

So if I understood Peter correctly, and with my imagination probably mix, here are a couple of things I would like to ask.

1. When you say there is no “balboa (pure bal)” in basic “Swing (bal-swing)” step, is it because the latter is steps, compared to the former is more of shuffle?

I noticed by watching others dance at comp and comp videos that people who are supposedly doing “pure-bal” are stepping back or forward in a linear way (no shuffling nor rotating foot internally/externally), but I noticed at Camp Jitterbug ’06 and Herrang ’06, that the way you dance (I assume you were doing “balboa (pure bal)”) has more shuffle feel and always your feet moving with rotation, not meaning you are doing turns, but you may move very little from the spot, but your heel moving internally/externally relative to your ball of your foot. (I can’t explain it well, because I never quite figured out what your dancing makes so distinctively different than what I was used to seeing.)

Unless it was a class, I dont do pure balboa….i enjoy improvising to much, if i was to tone it down and keep it in a basic then yes…depending on what your looking at you are describing correct.
Balboa was danced on spot…hence the shuffle, and the feet move behind.

all that traveling see-saw like movement Was Maxie’s swing…which like all swing came from charleston…just as he stated countless times…and keep in Mind Charleston and Fox trot were hand in hand in the earlier years.

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 15 2007, 01:48 PM)
2. If “swing” dancers (“jitterbugs”) were the ones who did all the crazy show-off stuff, but “balboa” dancers were mainly dancing for “different” reason, was there such a thing as “balboa” competition back then (30’s)? If I understood correctly, the “different” reason would probably be to enjoy dancing with their partners and enjoy the ambiance, and not really dancing “to be seen” by others. It doesn’t sound constructive to have a competition, the nature of which is to be seen and be judged, for such a dance.
And if this is the case, is there a point for having a “pure-bal” competition in the first place, other than to have everyone’s basic quality of dancing technique checked (such as line and rhythm)?

GREAT Post! Relative Newbie you call yourself? I say not…you hit everything on the head…

ok first , Dean said in OC he did see Balboa contest..aprox 1939..
however in LA , there was never such a thing……

The reason we had a pure Balboa contest at the california Balboa Championships was strickley to show everyone what Balboa was…that round ever so slightly changed over the years, But mainly it was an all skate…and The old timers judged who looked the most authentic.
(as in who was smoothest,no visable bounce, no improv, most relaxed look….and yes , id have to say Shoes…etc..) that was that an allskate, pick the winners after 3 songs….

Then it was onto the Main event, balls to the wall Swing….which was fast, faster and fastest in the world…

I wish people could have seen Maxie, and Venna Light up like little kids seeing their dance done on the level they did it…Maxie laughed in Joy as he stood their Judging in happiness watching His dance for the first time come back since the swing era. It’s All he could talk about for weeks and weeks and i honestly believe thats why he finally let go of Life…his life had been completed, seeing those kids doing his dance…

Not getting back to a pure Balboa contest, Dean’s idea, would be or was to have all couples dance and slowly increase tempo….Tap out couples one by one as they fall apart.
those keeping it the smoothness with no bounce,no movement and clean basic step continue until you have a winner…interesting? 🙂 sounds good to me….

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 15 2007, 01:48 PM)
BTW, is there going to be a DVD of NWBF lecture? I would be interested in watching it.

yea that would be intresting, like the dance it was 320 bpm and all over the place…lool

Very good post Tom…

telos81

Mar 16 2007, 12:48 AM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 16 2007, 12:12 AM)

QUOTE(Tol @ Mar 15 2007, 10:16 AM)
Balboa and SoCal Swing are both folk dances- i.e. “folk” do them in contrast to more formal dances such as ballet which are alot more structured, written down, and proscribed.

Swing is a Vernacular Jazz dance…..

Balboa is not…
Peter, would you mind explaining these statements?

i believe you also refer to Lindy-Hop as a “Vernacular Jazz dance” in the MOBscene documentary … so when you say “Swing is a Vernacular Jazz dance…..” is that equivalent to “Lindy-Hop is a Vernacular Jazz dance…..” or is there a difference?

and as many times as i read this thread i still don’t understand what Balboa IS … how is it different from a “Vernacular Jazz dance” or a “folk dance” (as Tol defines it)?

Tol

Mar 16 2007, 10:05 AM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 16 2007, 12:12 AM)
snip…..
Keep in mind this started because people simply wanted to leave out the word Swing and keep the word Balboa…when in fact they are swing dancing and not doing Balboa which is just the opposite…

Another factor this reminds me of is that the term “swing” gets used in many different ways. Possibly that is why people started avoiding it? It is a type of music… and at this point, it seems “swing” to refer to the gamut of dances that go to that type of music, or at least developed from that music.

But I am also getting confused, it is almost sounding like you are saying Balboa isn’t one of the swing dances? (in the meaning of danced to swing music, not meaning moving away from your partner?) I am aware that the dancers now dance Balboa and Bal-Swing to all sorts of music that either wasn’t being danced to originally or didn’t even exist originally. For example– I even though Hot-Jazz is very popular now, I remember Dean telling me it is totally the “wrong kind of music”.

TomHopper

Mar 16 2007, 02:28 PM

QUOTE(Tol @ Mar 16 2007, 11:05 AM)
it seems “swing” to refer to the gamut of dances that go to that type of music, or at least developed from that music.
If you go with this definition of “swing” as a dance, where does foxtrot fit in? I thought people used to foxtrot to swing music back in the old days… Yet do people now consider foxtrot as a part of “swing dance”?

Peter,

you mentioned in the past posts that “tempo dictated the dance”, “unlike the LA Swing or Bal-swing which includes…. and intense 300+ tempos”, and “the distinction (I assume between Balboa shuffle and LA swing) happes when the tempos soar… and thats something all of these original dancers were so darn strong minded about that its sad to have lost that…”

So originally, Balboa Shuffle was done to more moderate tempo?

Another question I have is about mixed dancing you referred to.
“there WAS in fact BLACK dancers in the Ray Rand dancers”
“the earliest record I have of it (some type of dance called “swing”) is 1932 at Venice Beach High School with a MIXED couple winning a swing contest”

I thought back in 30’s, LA was very segregated and racial discrimination was one of the worst in the US, like rest of the South. So I am quite surprised that there was any racial mixing for dancing. In a sense, if mixed dancing was regularly seen in LA in 30’s , the claim that Savoy people make that the Savoy Ballroom was the only/first place in the US for mixed dancing may not be totally accurate.

I have more questions, but I need to go home and take a look at some DVDs I have, and summarize my points.

I would still say 2 years of dancing on and off, in a state with only several people know current version of Balboa, I must be a relative newbie in this group of people who are posting…

TomHopper

Mar 16 2007, 02:37 PM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 16 2007, 12:45 AM)

Very good post Tom…

Thank you very much!

TomHopper

Mar 16 2007, 05:12 PM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 16 2007, 12:45 AM)

Unless it was a class, I dont do pure balboa….i enjoy improvising to much, if i was to tone it down and keep it in a basic then yes…depending on what your looking at you are describing correct.
Balboa was danced on spot…hence the shuffle, and the feet move behind.
I was thinking about your social dancing with Mia, so probably not exactly pure balboa. However, I looked up Herrang 2005 DVD, in which you taught “balboa (general current definition)” with Savitri. In that, I think at the beginning, you taught pure balboa, and mentioned shuffles, on the spot, etc. and demostrated it. So now I have better idea.

TomHopper

Mar 16 2007, 06:05 PM

Now. This is the hard part. I could get burned by posting this, but I would like to understand balboa better, so here I go.

Peter,

After reading through your posts again, I got a sense that, there are two-types of so-called “old-timers”. There are ones who actually danced “balboa” in 30’s, and the others who picked up “balboa” later.
People who picked it up later consists of following groups: 1) original “balboa” dancers of 30’s who also learned LA swing and started blending them together; 2) original LA swing dancers of 30’s who also learned 30’s-balboa and started blending them together; 3) people who learned later (through 40’s and on) from others, who probably ended up learning blended version of “balboa”.

Question 1)
Are most of the footage we see from DVD “Balboa Greats” at Bobby McGee this blended version, blending that happened over the time (through 40’s-80’s or 90’s), or is there actually any original style (30’s-style) balboa in there?
(Although I did see it written as “in 30’s many switched back and forth between balboa and swing even within a same song” in “Balboa Project” from All Balboa Weekend 2004 DVD…)

Question 2)
Were Maxie, Willie, and Hal all LA swing dancers originally, and not what you call “balboa” dancers? What I mean is that they were not dancing “balboa (shuffle)” in 30’s?

If the answer to the Question 2 is correct, then, here is my next question.

Question 3)
It appears that most of current “balboa” instructors/dancers learned from and are influenced by these three dancers. Is there anyone beside yourself, who learned from dancers who did/do balboa in original 30’s style?

Question 4)
So maybe that most of us have not used true “old-timers” who dances in original 30’s-style balboa, or someone who learned from them, as our source for learning whatever version of BALBOA we are learning. And if so, is there still anyone out there who danced balboa back in 30’s and still maintain that style of dance?

Peter

Mar 16 2007, 08:06 PM

QUOTE(telos81 @ Mar 16 2007, 12:48 AM)

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 16 2007, 12:12 AM)

QUOTE(Tol @ Mar 15 2007, 10:16 AM)
Balboa and SoCal Swing are both folk dances- i.e. “folk” do them in contrast to more formal dances such as ballet which are alot more structured, written down, and proscribed.

Swing is a Vernacular Jazz dance…..

Balboa is not…
Peter, would you mind explaining these statements?

i believe you also refer to Lindy-Hop as a “Vernacular Jazz dance” in the MOBscene documentary … so when you say “Swing is a Vernacular Jazz dance…..” is that equivalent to “Lindy-Hop is a Vernacular Jazz dance…..” or is there a difference?

and as many times as i read this thread i still don’t understand what Balboa IS … how is it different from a “Vernacular Jazz dance” or a “folk dance” (as Tol defines it)?

if you want to learn about Vernacular Jazz dance and American history PM and i’ll point ya in the right direction…;)

Peter

Mar 16 2007, 08:10 PM

QUOTE(Tol @ Mar 16 2007, 10:05 AM)
I even though Hot-Jazz is very popular now, I remember Dean telling me it is totally the “wrong kind of music”.

well yes traditionally Balboa Music is Big Dance band such as Lionel Hamtpon or stand kenton…

Peter

Mar 16 2007, 08:12 PM

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 16 2007, 05:12 PM)

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 16 2007, 12:45 AM)

Unless it was a class, I dont do pure balboa….i enjoy improvising to much, if i was to tone it down and keep it in a basic then yes…depending on what your looking at you are describing correct.
Balboa was danced on spot…hence the shuffle, and the feet move behind.
I was thinking about your social dancing with Mia, so probably not exactly pure balboa. However, I looked up Herrang 2005 DVD, in which you taught “balboa (general current definition)” with Savitri. In that, I think at the beginning, you taught pure balboa, and mentioned shuffles, on the spot, etc. and demostrated it. So now I have better idea.

this is true, im not sure what your looking at, but when im screwing around I do alot of b=bop stuff as well as lately adding c-walk stuff…

Peter

Mar 16 2007, 08:30 PM

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 16 2007, 06:05 PM)
Now. This is the hard part. I could get burned by posting this, but I would like to understand balboa better, so here I go.

Tom i must say I applaud your questions, for someone that claims to be new, you obviously have proven your self to care enough find out the truth in no time at all, which as you can see by this scene is rare.

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 16 2007, 06:05 PM)
Peter,

After reading through your posts again, I got a sense that, there are two-types of so-called “old-timers”. There are ones who actually danced “balboa” in 30’s, and the others who picked up “balboa” later.
People who picked it up later consists of following groups: 1) original “balboa” dancers of 30’s who also learned LA swing and started blending them together; 2) original LA swing dancers of 30’s who also learned 30’s-balboa and started blending them together; 3) people who learned later (through 40’s and on) from others, who probably ended up learning blended version of “balboa”.

yes , thats bascially it…Like i saw an Ad for Cunningham teaching Laminu somewhere, and it said he was an Old time original Balboa dancer, however he started in 1947,,,

so he could not of been an original balboa dancer because he missed the boat by 25 years…lolol

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 16 2007, 06:05 PM)

Question 1)
Are most of the footage we see from DVD “Balboa Greats” at Bobby McGee this blended version, blending that happened over the time (through 40’s-80’s or 90’s), or is there actually any original style (30’s-style) balboa in there?
(Although I did see it written as “in 30’s many switched back and forth between balboa and swing even within a same song” in “Balboa Project” from All Balboa Weekend 2004 DVD…)

Very little 30’s style on the balboa project as far as pure balboa…but there are a some..
id say the way to word it would be there were Balboa dancers thats what they did..

then there was swing dancers, they “might” have been caught trying to do balboa in their dance, or shag or jig trot…etc…

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 16 2007, 06:05 PM)
Question 2)
Were Maxie, Willie, and Hal all LA swing dancers originally, and not what you call “balboa” dancers? What I mean is that they were not dancing “balboa (shuffle)” in 30’s?

If the answer to the Question 2 is correct, then, here is my next question.

correct…but dont forget Lawrence Wise ! they were very vocal about this and thats why im puzzled people would ignore what they always said…

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 16 2007, 06:05 PM)
Question 3)
It appears that most of current “balboa” instructors/dancers learned from and are influenced by these three dancers. Is there anyone beside yourself, who learned from dancers who did/do balboa in original 30’s style?

yES, Dwight knew a handful of them…

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 16 2007, 06:05 PM)

Question 4)
So maybe that most of us have not used true “old-timers” who dances in original 30’s-style balboa, or someone who learned from them, as our source for learning whatever version of BALBOA we are learning. And if so, is there still anyone out there who danced balboa back in 30’s and still maintain that style of dance?

DEAN RAFTERY !!!!!!!
there are more alive as well, and too bring right back on topic OF THE FIRST POST………

COME TO THE BALBOA BASH IN NEWPORT BEACH THIS JULY!!!!

and enjoy a weekend of nothing but Balboa….and i mean….Balboa….

Tom you rock….

OC Eli

Mar 16 2007, 10:13 PM

I talked with Dean Raftery about some of this today…

First off I just want to mention that he always makes clear that he’s not critical of what people are doing now, but as far as he’s concerned:

“Balboa” is what we call pure balboa today. Dancing without breaking away from your partner over a spot. In Dean’s style you don’t move forward two steps and back two steps, but he did say that even at the Rendezvous Ballroom in their little square of space they would do moves like paddles and other turns remaining connected with their partner. They might even separate slightly to allow for some fancy footwork, without totally breaking away (which could get you tossed out).

The “other stuff” that we generally call Bal-Swing, as far as Dean’s concerned is shifting from dancing balboa to swing dancing. Maybe you’ll throw in a whip or two. Maybe you’ll do lollies or whatever, but you have stopped dancing balboa and are now swing dancing.

Dean told me he would often balboa all night — meaning not breaking into swing dancing (or bal swing or whatever). He also mentioned that it had (initially I’m sure) surprised him to go to a “balboa” event and see everybody swing dancing. It is pretty rare to see dancers stick to “pure bal” for an entire song let alone an entire evening.

It was an interesting discussion. I do have it on tape and will probably turn it into a DVD and/or post portions online.

By the way, Dean is always pointing out that he doesn’t want to dictate how people should dance, and that he really enjoys the dance events, but above at least my understanding of part of our discussion today.

See ya,

-Eli

Dwight

Mar 17 2007, 05:08 AM

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 16 2007, 06:05 PM)
Are most of the footage we see from DVD “Balboa Greats” at Bobby McGee this blended version, blending that happened over the time (through 40’s-80’s or 90’s), or is there actually any original style (30’s-style) balboa in there?
(Although I did see it written as “in 30’s many switched back and forth between balboa and swing even within a same song” in “Balboa Project” from All Balboa Weekend 2004 DVD…)

On the Balboa Project there are four couples that do what I consider to be the original style of Balboa. By that I mean: they only did Balboa, they didn’t do any swing moves, and they learned the dance in high school in the thirties. If you asked them what dance they were doing, they would say Balboa. Also, they all had danced at the Rendezvous Ballroom. I labeled them, so you can identify them: Bob and Marge Steinbrenner, Jim and Izzy Hignett, Gordon and May Almas, and Dean and Nancy Raftery.

Also on that compilation is Ernie and Elsie Rubin. Ernie is from the thirties, too, but he would mix in some swing moves (such as what is called Lollies and a reverse turn today) that he picked up in the later 30s and early 40s. Ed and Inez Thompson mainly danced Balboa but would also throw in some swing (Bal Swing) steps such as Lollies. In their case, I don’t think they learned the swing steps until a few years before in the seventies from Hal Takier. Ernie, by the way, considered what he was doing (including the swing steps) to be Balboa and didn’t make the distinction that other Balboa dancers I knew that said you never separated from your partner in Balboa.

It is interesting to watch these dancers because, even though they’re dancing Balboa as they learned in the 30s, they are all quite different in style. Each couple (and the individual dancers in the couple) are quite different.

Peter

Mar 17 2007, 10:06 AM

Calito the rescue, Dwight & Eli ………thanks!

rounding up the Last of the true Balboa dancers for July 7th, is going to be really interesting to say the least…

When Dwight refers to Ed and Inez as doing Lollies it certaintly means its a standard term,
Lisa ferguson created the term Lollies in the late 90’s…:),

ALL THIS INFORMATION WILL BE RELEASED, its just a matter of Time and funding….
But i simply cannot do it by myself…I have countless hours of interviews ,tapes as some can imagine.
With the help of friends from UCLA i even started the documentary process…

its a looong process…and im looking for anyone willing to help that has knowledge in this feild of work…

Soupbone

Mar 17 2007, 11:09 AM

I’m assuming that last one is Peter, not Mia. [ha ha… it got deleted while I was typing my reply]

As far re-educating folks goes, I think you’ll always get farther with “pulling in” rather than “pushing out.” Most poeple hanging out on BalNation have their heart in the right place with trying to learn about this dance. Or these dances, I suppose

TomHopper

Mar 17 2007, 01:02 PM

So to simplify what has happened recently, does this sound right?

Some (or a few) people (A) found old-timers doing balboa, which turned out to be 1)strictly balboa, 2)LA swing, or 3)mixture of 1) & 2).

Of course, 2) and 3) are more eye-catching, so people start learning 2) and 3) first, however, these people (A) also learned 1).

Other people (B) start noticing these new dancers (A) doing “balboa”. These people (A) were still doing all 1), 2) and 3). However, those other people (B) again paid more attention to 2) and 3).

This process of dissemination of “balboa” from (A) to (B), with emphasize more on 2)&3) than 1), goes several cycle, and in sowewhere in between, the emphasis among 1), 2) , and 3) got so skewed that most people don’t pay attention to what 1) is any more.

Many people aren’t aware of 1), and somewhere along the line 2) and 3) morphed into one, and became “bal-swing”. To remind people of 1), the term “pure balboa” was created. At this point the term “balboa” meant both “pure balboa” and “bal-swing”.

However, because many people don’t really know what 1) is, “pure balboa” doesn’t look exactly like 1).
Meanwhile this trend of popularization of bal-swing out-numbering pure balboa continues.

Now, it got to the point that most people associate the term “balboa” with “bal-swing”. And it is easier to simply say “balboa”, so the term “balboa” got re-defined by many dancers (end user/customer), most of which weren’t aware of the history. Because their potential customers don’t know the difference, even organizer and instructors goes with this re-defined term “balboa” to attract potential participants/customers of their events/classes. This also strengthen the re-deined concept of “balboa”, which is what current version of “balboa” is.

However, current version of “balboa” is mostly “bal-swing”, which originated from 2) and 3). 3) is mixture of 1) and 2). So basically, current version of “balboa” actually looks much more like “LA swing (2)” than “Balboa (1)” in the original style of 30’s. Hence, it got very confusing.

And now people, who actually know what is historically accurate version of “balboa (1)” is, are speaking up.

—————————————————————————————————————————–
BTW, I am looking forward to the documentary. Unfortunately, I don’t have any expertise so I can’t help, except by buying the product once it is made.

Peter

Mar 17 2007, 03:20 PM

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 17 2007, 01:02 PM)
So to simplify what has happened recently, does this sound right?

However, current version of “balboa” is mostly “bal-swing”, which originated from 2) and 3). 3) is mixture of 1) and 2). So basically, current version of “balboa” actually looks much more like “LA swing (2)” than “Balboa (1)” in the original style of 30’s. Hence, it got very confusing.

And now people, who actually know what is historically accurate version of “balboa (1)” is, are speaking up.

ummmm, Tom….confusing…i didnt figure out that post until the end….

Yes, I spoke out….

If ya want to talk history drop me a phone call or email me…or even better come in person to the midwestern balboa swing event…and see us in person, Ill be lecturing a bit with Dean on this subject….

——————————

This thread was about the countless Balboa events that dont do balboa…

People question my comment, and bascially wanted to explaination,proof or justification,
and i’ve explained it pretty clear, with more then enough proof…

and then I followed that up with being this is the events part of the forum , i backed this all up to included an event that is in fact a “pure” Balboa event, just in case there are a few people that read this forum seriously interested in getting into this aspect of dance….

The Newport Beach Balboa Bash isnt really intended to be some event, its a small party for those to remember the good ol days…if young people want to come thats fine as well…but we will be policing the floor .

Keep on shuffling…

Kara

Mar 17 2007, 06:35 PM

Peter,

Quite enjoyed your historical discussion at NWBF 2007 and dancing balboa with you there! And excited that you have recently discovered Dean Raftery. His historical discussions about some of the very topics you are also interested in have been a pleasure to participate in or watch later on DVD at a number of events over the past few years (All Balboa Weekend, London Balboa Festival, Balboa Rendezvous, to name a few). Dwight Lupardus has been a substantial contributor to many of these same discussions helping a new generation of dancers understand the historical differences between the balboa and swing (the marriage of which in a modern-day context has become to be known more globally as Balboa). Both gentlemen, behind the scenes, have served as invaluable advisors to the numerous well-known younger generation of instructors who have been building their local, national, and international scenes, helping clarify variances in the contemporary expressions of balboa and swing and their historical orgins.

Given your passion for the history of these dances (as well as many others), I would welcome on your new dancehistory.org website or in a booklet of some sort (perhaps published via cafepress unless you have a scholarly publisher lined up) a presentation of the differences as you see them based on your archival research and extensive interviewing of original balboa and swing dancers. It would be extremely helpful, both to students and teachers interested in the historical roots of these well-loved dances, to have a concise, coherent genealogy and/or timeline of the dances that you have studied (balboa as well as others), their principal dancers in the 1930s or other time periods and their subsequent influence via the younger generations they inspired.

For ABW 2005, Randy undertook a related film project called “Inspirations” which showed the influence of well-known Balboa / Swing dancers from the 1930s on the younger generation of instructors. As your interaction with LA and OC (Orange County) dancers is much more expansive and covers more years than ours, you are in a prime position to detail the earlier history in a written or other media form, as Randy detailed the more recent one. In this, it would be most instructional to include a map of the LA basin and Orange County, their high schools, respective dance halls, (perhaps where some of the main dancers lived) and the modes of transportation at the time to underscore the geographical distinctions relevant to the time and to the distinct developments of the dances.

I have promised Randy a hike in the woods to take advantage of our lovely summer in March day. I will write more later.

Dr. Kara Britt, Ph.D.

OC Eli

Mar 17 2007, 06:39 PM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 17 2007, 03:20 PM)
The Newport Beach Balboa Bash isnt really intended to be some event, its a small party for those to remember the good ol days…

Now how about moving it to before July 4th, or after July 22nd so I can attend?

TomHopper

Mar 17 2007, 07:13 PM

Well, I can’t afford time to travel right now (trying to wrap up my PhD by this summer), but I hope I can make it to either Newportor Herrang, and talk to Peter in person.

Meanwhile, I welcome other people’s contribution to the discussion. That way, I still get to learn without traveling.

Dwight

Mar 17 2007, 07:28 PM

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 14 2007, 09:06 PM)
And so I have no idea what you’re referring to when you say that bal-swing was invented in 1984. I’d love to hear more.

The term “Bal Swing” was invented in 1984, and I probably invented it. The dance it refers to was done in the 30s.

When I was taking lessons from Maxie Dorf in 1984 he would use the term “swing dancing” in two different ways. One was for the dance he was teaching me and that he and other dancers such as Willie Desatoff did in the 30s. This was a distinct dance, different than the Lindy. But he would also use it as it was commonly used in the early 80s, to refer to what is known as West Coast Swing (it’s changed a lot since then). This was the dance that was done at the LA Swing Dance Club. I started using the term Bal Swing with Maxie when I was referring to the 30s dance (that Willie Desatoff sometimes called LA Swing Dancing), not West Coast Swing.

The term Bal Swing was never used in the 30s. It was just called swing dancing. However, swing dancing can be used (and is and was) in a broader, catch-all sense to include the Lindy, shag, Camel Hop, New Yorker, etc., as well as what Willie Desatoff referred to as LA Swing Dancing.

I’m not sure (I need to talk to Peter about this), but I don’t think LA Swing Dancing (Bal Swing) is synonomous with Randy Swing. Randy Swing is a broader term that includes LA Swing Dancing but also a lot of other stuff too.

When Maxie taught me, he also taught Balboa and how to transition from Bal to swing and back. But we spent over six months doing just swing by itself before he got around to Balboa. It was just the opposite with Willie. We spent over a year on the Balboa before he got around to showing me the transitions to swing. Historically, I’m convinced, they were two separate dances done by different dancers, some of whom learned the other dance and developed transitions between them. After awhile some dancers would mix the two pretty consistently and they often applied the term Balboa to refer to both.

Kara

Mar 17 2007, 09:59 PM

Randy and I had a similar experience to Dwight when working with Willie over several months in 2002, in that Willie focused almost exclusively on balboa with us for a number of months before showing any transitions into swing. Based on all the videos we had seen of Willie, we anticipated that Randy would learn a lot of fancy swing footwork that Willie is so well-known for, instead we focused almost exclusively on balboa partner connection, footwork and ad-libs steps. Although I cannot say for certain, I believe others who sought out individual instruction with Willie (Marty Lau, Jen Urich, David Rehm) had a similar experience in their training with Willie. For us, the focus on balboa as a dance unto itself led to a fundamental restructuring of our approach to the dance(s) and when we began teaching we have always indicated the historical roots of the dance(s) and clarified what would have been danced in the day to the extent of our knowledge based largely on discussions with Willie Desatoff and Dean Raftery and how this has been transformed into a new dance today.

Peter mentioned that most of the LA swing dancers did not travel to Orange County to learn to dance the balboa. Willie was an exception to the general rule, in that he danced both dances in the day and also went to clubs in the black neighborhoods. (Lila, if you’re on balboanation these days, please confirm or correct me if needed. Or Dwight. We have hours of lessons with Willie on tape (90% delightful storytelling and 10% intensive balboa lessons), but it would take a good deal of digging to find a spot when he spoke about this, if we managed to capture these particular stories.) It was Willie who gave us our first description of the Rendezvous Ballroom, the soda fountain there, the double-breasted suits of the dancers (both men and women), and he who bugged me incessantly to buy a pair of heels…

Kara Britt, Ph.D.

Kara

Mar 17 2007, 10:21 PM

When Randy and I started dancing in 1999, it was very common, as Peter has mentioned, for the new generation to confound the two dances into one. For us, it was at Peter’s event, the CalBal Championships that we first begin to discern the distinction between the two dances, with the two different divisions he has detailed elsewhere, a balboa and a swing division where anything was ok (Charleston, swing, air steps, usually embedded in what is generally now called bal-swing).

While the young generation of SoCal dancers may have distinguished between the two dances because the old-timers were on the dance floor doing them both right beside them and offering both solicited and unsolicited feedback :), in other communities I think this distinction was less clear. For balboa fanatics outside of SoCal, All Balboa Weekend made this more clear in their competition format. By making balboa a preliminary round for the bal-swing finals, it forced students to make a clear distinction between the two dances.

Every year at ABW, Randy and I sit down with Dean and Dwight and have the same discussion on whether it makes sense to have balboa as a prelim for the bal-swing finals. Dean and Dwight are always on the side of historical accuracy. And despite my academic training as a literary, cultural, linguistic and historical scholar, in this one context I have typically tended towards the side of the previous structure of the ABW competition (which has been adapted at other events as well) for all its historical non-sequiturness. (I have three degrees in literature/language, I can morph non-sequitor into a “ness” as needed). Those few minutes of balboa prelims forced students to see the difference, work on the difference in the dances and recognize it, whereas before many dancers would only do a balboa basic as a holding spot before breaking into swing. Had we not had this competition structure, I am not convinced that much time at all would have been devoted to balboa.

Randy and I, for example, were quite willing to focus on balboa when we worked with Willie because we knew we could never compete at ABW without it. It has added a dimension to our dance I am certain we never would have had otherwise and I believe the same is true for other dancers as well. Once introduced to balboa, then we focused on it almost exclusively for about two years. So much so, that we taught a group of students in the Bay Area almost entirely balboa. They still find bal-swing a little bit of a bizarre dance and default into balboa song after song.

Kara Britt, Ph.D.

ad-roc

Mar 17 2007, 11:46 PM

Peter,

I would buy a book based on the sole fact that you were the author.

http://www.lulu.com/ self publishing company, you get to keep all your rights and print as many or as few copies as you need.

Adam

QUOTE(Kara @ Mar 17 2007, 09:59 PM)
Peter mentioned that most of the LA swing dancers did not travel toOrangeCounty to learn to dance the balboa. Willie was an exception to the general rule, in that he danced both dances in the day and also went to clubs in the black neighborhoods.

I don’t remember Willie ever talking of going to clubs in the Central district (the black neighborhood), but he may have done so. He palled around with Hank Negley, who did go there (often with Connie Wiedell, a shag dancer). Willie was originally a swing dancer who never saw Balboa when he was learning to dance (he was on the East side), but once he did he started studying it and going to Orange County. Hank Negley (who was five years older) was a Balboa dancer who later on discovered (or observed the development of) swing dancing. As a consequence, they were familiar with the venues and dancers of both dances.

That was a little bit of the exception, from what I can tell. Basically they were two different crowds and I don’t think they mixed that much. At least that’s my impression. I remember Carmella Hicks (one of the best of the original Balboa dancers still dancing; I’ve got to get her on film) saying that the Balboa dancers basically looked down there nose at the swing dancers back then. They each had their own venues. And even when they danced at the same venue (such as the Palladium), they would dance in different parts of the dance floor, the Balboa dancers to the right of the stage and the swing and Lindy dancers to the left.

Jonas

Mar 18 2007, 05:50 AM

Yes!

This is one of the best and most interesting threads at BalboaNation ever, too bad the discussion is stuck in a thread called “So…. many…. balboa …..events”. It should be moved to it’s own thread, with a sticky keeping it constantly at the top.

Big thanks to Peter, Dwight, Kara and other “Big Guns” in the Balboa/Bal-Swing community who are posting in this conversation, Tom for very well formulated questions that precisely ask what I’ve been thinking about, and all you other posters as well. I’ve been longing for an open discussion on this subject. I hope that even more of the “Big Guns” who read this forum would chip in.

/Jonas

Jonas

Mar 18 2007, 06:49 AM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 17 2007, 02:30 AM)

[…]

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 16 2007, 06:05 PM)

Question 4)
So maybe that most of us have not used true “old-timers” who dances in original 30’s-style balboa, or someone who learned from them, as our source for learning whatever version of BALBOA we are learning. And if so, is there still anyone out there who danced balboa back in 30’s and still maintain that style of dance?

DEAN RAFTERY !!!!!!!

[…]

I have no doubt that Dean Raftery is one of those still alive who CAN DO an authentic “Balboa Shuffle” or “Balboa Dance Step” better than most anyone else.

I’m wondering though, is even Dean ACTUALLY DOING the Balboa?

Start out from the following definitions of “Balboa” given by Peter on various threads here on BalboaNation, on the Dance History Forum (great resource), and in person:

* moving as one (including footwork)
* no improvisation
* no turning
* dancing on the spot

(please say otherwise if I’ve interpreted you wrong, Peter)

Given those criteria, strongly narrowing what is “ok” for your dancing still to be considered Balboa, I’d say not even Dean could have been considered doing “strict” Balboa the few times I’ve seen him dance live (those of you that see him dance more often can probably say otherwise, I’m sure).

1. Dean’ll throw in that little cool circle slide of his (which is an improv), when shuffling around in a basic step, meaning he’s doing footwork his follow is not, is he “swing” dancing or “balboa” dancing” then?

2. He’ll do his back pivot, lots of moving around the floor and turning (as a couple though), is he “swing” dancing or “balboa” dancing” then?

3. When dancing to slow music, he’ll take very big steps, not staying on the spot, moving back and forwards (looking a little bit like the Laminu that Ray Cunningham teaches, but I recall Dean just calling it slow dancing when I took his class, not Laminu), is he “swing” dancing or “balboa” dancing” then?

If I’m totally wrong on this, please correct me, I’m very eager to get a grip on this!

/Jonas

Boomer

Mar 18 2007, 06:56 AM

QUOTE(Jonas @ Mar 18 2007, 04:50 AM)

This is one of the best and most interesting threads at BalboaNation ever, too bad the discussion is stuck in a thread called “So…. many…. balboa …..events”. It should be moved to it’s own thread, with a sticky keeping it constantly at the top.

Good point! You asked for it, and you got it!

Jonas

Mar 18 2007, 08:48 AM

QUOTE(Boomer @ Mar 18 2007, 12:56 PM)

QUOTE(Jonas @ Mar 18 2007, 04:50 AM)

This is one of the best and most interesting threads at BalboaNation ever, too bad the discussion is stuck in a thread called “So…. many…. balboa …..events”. It should be moved to it’s own thread, with a sticky keeping it constantly at the top.

Good point! You asked for it, and you got it!

Thanks, Gary!

Now I hope EVERYONE who pops by BalbaNation will read this thread and take part in the discussion, or maybe just sit back and learn as the knowledgeable people take turns in helping to shed some light on the history of Balboa, the Balboa Dance Step, the Balboa Shuffle, Swing, L.A. Swing, Randy Swing, Bal-Swing, Jitterbal and other possible labels of the dances we love 🙂

Just come to think of it, contemporarily (!?) famous Mr. Maestretti could rightly call his dancing “Randy Swing”, even if it would turn out to differ a lot from what the Ray Rand dancers did in the thirties, right? Wouldn’t that be a fun way of making this disussion even more interesting?

/Jonas

russell

Mar 18 2007, 11:11 AM

Echoing others – thanks for all the great discussion. As someone fromAustraliafar fromCaliforniais has been to get a great understanding of the history. Looking forward to my first Bal Rendezvous and meeting some of the originals.

zzzzoom

Mar 18 2007, 12:21 PM

QUOTE(Jonas @ Mar 18 2007, 09:48 AM)

QUOTE(Boomer @ Mar 18 2007, 12:56 PM)

QUOTE(Jonas @ Mar 18 2007, 04:50 AM)

This is one of the best and most interesting threads at BalboaNation ever, too bad the discussion is stuck in a thread called “So…. many…. balboa …..events”. It should be moved to it’s own thread, with a sticky keeping it constantly at the top.

Good point! You asked for it, and you got it!

Thanks, Gary!

Greg . . . I know you meant Greg but typedGary . . . .

Peter

Mar 18 2007, 12:56 PM

QUOTE(Boomer @ Mar 18 2007, 06:56 AM)

QUOTE(Jonas @ Mar 18 2007, 04:50 AM)

This is one of the best and most interesting threads at BalboaNation ever, too bad the discussion is stuck in a thread called “So…. many…. balboa …..events”. It should be moved to it’s own thread, with a sticky keeping it constantly at the top.

Good point! You asked for it, and you got it!

splitting the thread takes my post out of context..

My post was in response to a post made in the “events” section…in a thread about so many balboa events…
I would never in a million years post a thread about anything historical and spam events, or promote any type of venture, and spitting topics like that simpy doesnt make sense unless it was requested…

Id Request to “move” the INTIRE THREAD……instead of splitting it way out of context…..

Peter

Mar 18 2007, 01:20 PM

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 18 2007, 12:11 AM)

QUOTE(Kara @ Mar 17 2007, 09:59 PM)
Peter mentioned that most of the LA swing dancers did not travel toOrangeCounty to learn to dance the balboa. Willie was an exception to the general rule, in that he danced both dances in the day and also went to clubs in the black neighborhoods.

I don’t remember Willie ever talking of going to clubs in the Central district (the black neighborhood), but he may have done so. He palled around with Hank Negley, who did go there (often with Connie Wiedell, a shag dancer).

Connie was really good friends with Venna and lived Ricky Birch one of Black kids in the Ray Rand dancers who danced in Cabin in the sky…

according to the dancers who acually hung out on central, Willie didnt go there..eh, but that doesnt mean he couldnt of check ed out one night and peeked in…

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 18 2007, 12:11 AM)
Willie was originally a swing dancer who never saw Balboa when he was learning to dance (he was on the East side), but once he did he started studying it and going toOrangeCounty. Hank Negley (who was five years older) was a Balboa dancer who later on discovered (or observed the development of) swing dancing. As a consequence, they were familiar with the venues and dancers of both dances.

Willie certainly was no Balboa dancer and it sorta suprises me that anyone would think he was, I remember all through the 90’s he himself distancing himself from being called that.

He was a swing dancer, and that is what he claimed…

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 18 2007, 12:11 AM)

That was a little bit of the exception, from what I can tell. Basically they were two different crowds and I don’t think they mixed that much. At least that’s my impression. I remember Carmella Hicks (one of the best of the original Balboa dancers still dancing; I’ve got to get her on film) saying that the Balboa dancers basically looked down there nose at the swing dancers back then. They each had their own venues. And even when they danced at the same venue (such as the Palladium), they would dance in different parts of the dance floor, the Balboa dancers to the right of the stage and the swing and Lindy dancers to the left.

we can say this over and over…and people just dont seem to beleive us…or understand…..

Peter

Mar 18 2007, 01:40 PM

QUOTE(Kara @ Mar 17 2007, 06:35 PM)
Peter,

Quite enjoyed your historical discussion at NWBF 2007 and dancing balboa with you there! And excited that you have recently discovered Dean Raftery. His historical discussions about some of the very topics you are also interested in have been a pleasure to participate in or watch later on DVD at a number of events over the past few years

I had a blast dancing with you! ahhh yes…..Balboa…

Thank you much, unfortunatly these discussions tend to hit and miss depending on what dances and names youve heard before..shoving these discussions into 20 minute slots doesnt help either…

discovering any Balboa dancer still alive is always an amazing moment, especially when you can sit down with them and they sing the song and story your so committed to. What most people dont understand is Dean is Young for a Balboa dancer and they were the pre swing era generation and most left us along time ago,leaving us the “swing or jitterbug generation” of the willie,maxie’s…yes, Dean is a gem.

hopefully My talks Help put individual dancers opinions like Deans into context…with the whole picture.

QUOTE(Kara @ Mar 17 2007, 06:35 PM)
Given your passion for the history of these dances (as well as many others), I would welcome on your new dancehistory.org website or in a booklet of some sort (perhaps published via cafepress unless you have a scholarly publisher lined up) a presentation of the differences as you see them based on your archival research and extensive interviewing of original balboa and swing dancers.

well dancehistory.org was launched for people that are more intrested in history and not learning steps or scene politics. As I have a Number of Academics chimming in as well as members on various topics…

Also wiki board which will be edited by academics and historians and not the general public…

Im just busy, and always gettig hired to work on other peoples stuff..never enough time to do my own thing..

Randy

Mar 18 2007, 03:33 PM

QUOTE(Jonas @ Mar 18 2007, 08:48 AM)
Now I hope EVERYONE who pops by BalbaNation will read this thread and take part in the discussion, or maybe just sit back and learn as the knowledgeable people take turns in helping to shed some light on the history of Balboa, the Balboa Dance Step, the Balboa Shuffle, Swing, L.A. Swing, Randy Swing, Bal-Swing, Jitterbal and other possible labels of the dances we love 🙂

Just come to think of it, contemporarily (!?) famous Mr. Maestretti could rightly call his dancing “Randy Swing”, even if it would turn out to differ a lot from what the Ray Rand dancers did in the thirties, right? Wouldn’t that be a fun way of making this disussion even more interesting?

/Jonas

Yes! For years I have hoped that people would discover the connection of my great great grandfather Ray Rand and me (just kidding, I am not going to fabricate history on this forum!). Ahhh yes… for years I knew about Randy Swing, wishing I could “line my pockets” from the royalties. So if there is any organizers out there listening (Marty & Val), “I Randy Maestretti would be okay with event names being changed from what they are currently being called to something perhaps a little more historically accurate (my favorite event ALL BALBOA WEEKEND for example being renamed as the ALL RANDY SWING WEEKEND[copyright 2007, randandkara.com])”. That way as long as I was there all weekend long people wouldn’t be able to question the fact that there was no “Randy” at the weekend.

I hope those of you in theUK andAustralia get a good kick out of this post, and perhaps an event name such as the “All Randy Weekend” would get a few more registrations! If you catch my drift.

Peter

Mar 18 2007, 04:00 PM

QUOTE(Randy @ Mar 18 2007, 03:33 PM)

Yes! For years I have hoped that people would discover the connection of my great great grandfather Ray Rand and me (just kidding, I am not going to fabricate history on this forum!). Ahhh yes… for years I knew about Randy Swing, wishing I could “line my pockets” from the royalties. So if there is any organizers out there listening (Marty & Val), “I Randy Maestretti would be okay with event names being changed from what they are currently being called to something perhaps a little more historically accurate (ALL BALBOA WEEKEND for example being renamed as the ALL RANDY SWING WEEKEND[copyright 2007, randandkara.com])”. That way as long as I was there all weekend long people wouldn’t be able to question the fact that there was no “Randy” at the weekend.

I hope those of you in the UK and Australia get a good kick out of this post, and perhaps an event name such as the “All Randy Weekend” would get a few more registrations! If you catch my drift.

Now we are talking!!!!!!!!!LOLOLOLL

NO wonder You rock this shit, You were named After this dance!!!!

DAMN, Ray Rand passed away in 2001….perhaps his spirit travled into you…?

Jonas

Mar 19 2007, 01:48 AM

QUOTE(zzzzoom @ Mar 18 2007, 06:21 PM)

QUOTE(Jonas @ Mar 18 2007, 09:48 AM)

Thanks,Gary!

Greg . . . I know you meant Greg but typedGary. . . .
oops, sorry, yes, I appreciate the pointer Mary Ann, I don’t get to see the two of you enough when living on this side of the pond

thanks GREG (and those of you out there have to realize I actually met this guy, how embarrassing…)

/jonas

russell

Mar 19 2007, 06:02 AM

/sidepost/
Yes Randy has different connotations here in Australia and might create more interest
/end sidepost/

alligato

Mar 19 2007, 11:22 AM

This has been really interesting to read- thanks, y’all!

brohm

Mar 20 2007, 02:20 PM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 15 2007, 09:03 AM)

there is no flashy steps in balboa, there is No improvisation in Balboa, the couple normally has one basic step with the possibility of maaaaaybe one variation, feet tend to stay on the ground and always shuffle…

Peter, could you please explain, what do you mean by improvisation here?

As I understand “improvisation” in social dancing it is something closely related to musicality, i.e. doing “something” to music. But then it’s just impossible to social dance and not to improvise, so it’s obvious that my understanding is not universal.

Dwight

Mar 20 2007, 09:13 PM

QUOTE(ScotAF @ Mar 14 2007, 03:12 PM)
My understanding of the primary difference between balboa and what is commonly referred to as bal-swing is that bal-swing, even though it has a pure balboa basic step, allows you to break away and do spins, airsteps, etc. If the definition of Bal-Swing ONLY includes those moves done outside of the Pure Balboa realm, then I’m guilty of associating the two because I’m switching between Pure Bal and Bal-Swing constantly when I dance. Thus to me, it appears that Bal-Swing is an adaptation or evolution of Balboa and are very closely related. As such, they should be associated together, but not necessary mean they same thing.

As for doing pure balboa as part of a larger Bal-Swing competition, I’m all for it. As long as the contestants are aware that the competition is looking at those two categories. It also forces Jitterbugs like me to practice our pure Balboa. Of course, other competitions solely for pure Balboa sounds great too. The only hurdle there is capturing the interest of spectators. Especially since pure Bal is a more nuanced dance form.

When I used the term Bal Swing with Maxie in 1984 I was referring to it in the second sense: only moves outside of Balboa. I’m not sure what people mean by the term today. If you’re right about what it commonly means today, then I don’t see that the phrase has any usefulness left. Especially if they mean the same thing by Balboa. It would seem to be redundant.

The reason I made the distinction is that Maxie, Willie Desatoff, Hank Negley, Harry Berlin, and others would often dance it without doing any Balboa. They told me that that was how they usually danced it in the 30s. The dance stood on its own. It was not the Lindy. It was not Balboa. You didn’t have to do a Balboa basic to get started.

True, you don’t see Bal Swing (my meaning) danced by itself anymore, except in old clips. The teachers don’t teach it that way. And it was common, even in the 30s, to combine it with Balboa, like Hal Takier and Bart Bartolo. In a lot ways, the combination makes for a better, more comfortable, and interesting dance, especially as a social dance. It’s certainly the way it’s universally taught today.

You can call that progress, and in many ways it is. Something’s been lost, but it’s probably not that important. It certainly doesn’t bother me that Bal Swing as a separate dance has essentially disappeared. Lots of social dances go out of style.

I am conflicted, however, when it comes to pure Balboa. I think it would be a shame if it disappeared totally. It is a simple, elegant dance that is so well suited for jazz music of all tempos.

Pure Balboa is pure style, feeling the music with the soles of your shoes together with your partner. I don’t think it really suits the contemporary temperament. About the only time I see it danced for a whole song is when some competition dictates it. That’s not a good reason, but I’ve noticed that a lot of the more experienced contemporary Balboa instructors and students dance a greater portion of their dance in closed position than when they first started a number of years ago. Maybe as the years progress some of them will dance pure Balboa by preference and the dance in its original form will return, at least to a limited extent.

TomHopper

Mar 20 2007, 10:01 PM

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 20 2007, 10:13 PM)
The reason I made the distinction is that Maxie, Willie Desatoff, Hank Negley, Harry Berlin, and others would often dance it without doing any Balboa. They told me that that was how they usually danced it in the 30s. The dance stood on its own. It was not the Lindy. It was not Balboa. You didn’t have to do a Balboa basic to get started.

True, you don’t see Bal Swing (my meaning) danced by itself anymore, except in old clips. The teachers don’t teach it that way. And it was common, even in the 30s, to combine it with Balboa, like Hal Takier and Bart Bartolo. In a lot ways, the combination makes for a better, more comfortable, and interesting dance, especially as a social dance. It’s certainly the way it’s universally taught today.
If I remember correctly, Nick and David taught a class (for “super secret ninja training camp” level, or whatever the ridiculous name was…) at Eastern Balboa Championship ’06, which was about not getting back into “balboa basic” and just keep dancing bal-swing by itself. It never occurred to my mind at the time that it was about just doing only LA swing, and separating Balboa (in the old sense) away from Bal-swing (of current version), resulting in bal-swing of what it meant in 1984.

Does anyone else who was there remember/understood the class that way as well?

Southern Fried Bal

Mar 21 2007, 12:45 AM

[quote name=’TomHopper’ date=’Mar 20 2007, 10:01 PM’ post=’21308′]
[quote name=’Dwight’ post=’21307′ date=’Mar 20 2007, 10:13 PM’]

If I remember correctly, Nick and David taught a class (for “super secret ninja training camp” level, or whatever the ridiculous name was…) at Eastern Balboa Championship ’06, which was about not getting back into “balboa basic” and just keep dancing bal-swing by itself. It never occurred to my mind at the time that it was about just doing only LA swing, and separating Balboa (in the old sense) away from Bal-swing (of current version), resulting in bal-swing of what it meant in 1984.

Does anyone else who was there remember/understood the class that way as well?
[/quote]

Yes! I do remember that class, as it totally changed the way I think about, and dance Balboa and swing! That was one of the best classes of the weekend. David also taught a class in the Adv Plus level at All Bal Weekend 06 that dealt with separating the two dances. I find myself, at times, actively trying to dance “Pure Bal” or just “swing” for a few songs.

Dwight

Mar 21 2007, 01:51 AM

QUOTE(Tol @ Mar 16 2007, 10:05 AM)
I even though Hot-Jazz is very popular now, I remember Dean telling me it is totally the “wrong kind of music”.

Dean grew up when swing music was popular and that’s the music he prefers to dance Balboa to. He calls a lot of the earlier music played at a lot of the Balboa events “rinky tink” music.

However, Balboa is very suited to that music (if it moves you to dance) as well as hot jazz. In fact, a lot of old time Balboa dancers I knew favored small combo jazz bands over big band swing. It is just a question of taste. I didn’t really learn to appreciate Dixieland jazz until after I learned the Balboa. Which is unfortunate, because I lived inNew Orleans in 1965 when there was a ton of that music. Now it’s mostly blues.

TomHopper

Mar 21 2007, 08:34 AM

This may be a little off-topic, but I will ask.

Sometimes, you can use triple-step to replace up-hold or down-hold step (2 counts) as a kind of ad lib step, especially in “pure bal” context.

However, I am just curious if the triple-step was a part of Balboa or LA swing vocabulary back in the old days. Or because most of the current dancers started out (I assume) as Lindy Hoppers, I wonder if the triple-step was recently imported from Lindy Hop into what we now know as “balboa”.

(edited to correct typos)

ScotAF

Mar 21 2007, 09:00 AM

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 21 2007, 09:34 AM)
This may be a little off-topic, but I will ask.

Sometimes, you can use triple-step to replace up-hold or down-hold step (2 counts) as a kind of ad lib step, especially in “pure bal” context.

However, I am just curious if the triple-step was a part of Balboa or LA swing vocabulary back in the old days. Or because most of the current dancers started out (I assume) as Lindy Hoppers, I wonder if the triple-step was recently imported from Lindy Hop into what we now know as “balboa”.

(edited to correct typos)

I remember Dean teaching a Slow Bal class at ABW that incorporated triple steps…

Boomer

Mar 21 2007, 09:03 AM

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 21 2007, 07:34 AM)
This may be a little off-topic, but I will ask.

Sometimes, you can use triple-step to replace up-hold or down-hold step (2 counts) as a kind of ad lib step, especially in “pure bal” context.

However, I am just curious if the triple-step was a part of Balboa or LA swing vocabulary back in the old days. Or because most of the current dancers started out (I assume) as Lindy Hoppers, I wonder if the triple-step was recently imported from Lindy Hop into what we now know as “balboa”.

(edited to correct typos)

Good question Tom. I’d be interested to see what Peter, Dwight, or Nick might have to say on this one. Many times we hear about triples in the context of a particular dancer. “Maxie’s triples” or “Willie’s triples”. I wonder if these are just a variation that these dancers added to the dance or if it was part of a basic form of swing or even balboa. I’m pretty sure it’s not something created by the new generation, because you can see the triples footwork in clips of Bobby McGee’s (correct me if I’m off base here Dwight).

Greg

Jonas

Mar 21 2007, 10:30 AM

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 21 2007, 04:01 AM)

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 20 2007, 10:13 PM)
The reason I made the distinction is that Maxie, Willie Desatoff, Hank Negley, Harry Berlin, and others would often dance it without doing any Balboa. They told me that that was how they usually danced it in the 30s. The dance stood on its own. It was not the Lindy. It was not Balboa. You didn’t have to do a Balboa basic to get started.

True, you don’t see Bal Swing (my meaning) danced by itself anymore, except in old clips. The teachers don’t teach it that way. And it was common, even in the 30s, to combine it with Balboa, like Hal Takier and Bart Bartolo. In a lot ways, the combination makes for a better, more comfortable, and interesting dance, especially as a social dance. It’s certainly the way it’s universally taught today.

If I remember correctly, Nick and David taught a class (for “super secret ninja training camp” level, or whatever the ridiculous name was…) at Eastern Balboa Championship ’06, which was about not getting back into “balboa basic” and just keep dancing bal-swing by itself. It never occurred to my mind at the time that it was about just doing only LA swing, and separating Balboa (in the old sense) away from Bal-swing (of current version), resulting in bal-swing of what it meant in 1984.

Does anyone else who was there remember/understood the class that way as well?

I have gone to a few camps the last twelwe months or so (Balboa on the Promenade 2006, ABW 2006, London Balboa Festival 2006) where David Rehm called his outstanding classes “Balboa without Bal-Swing” and “Bal-Swing without Balboa” (or something very close to those words). As you can understand from the titles, he did only Balboa in the first class, and only Bal-Swing in the second (starting right into the “and-Out-and-In” movement). So there are well-known teachers who, as Peter, do focus on the two dances separately and tell us students something about the history, of why they do focus on them separately.

Inspired (mostly) by Peter and David, that is the way we try to teach the dances here in Uppsala. We have one track for Balboa, and one track for Bal-Swing. We do demand though that students complete the beginner Balboa track before entering the Bal-Swing beginner track, and during the final one or two beginner Bal-Swing classes we teach transitions from Balboa to Bal-Swing and the other way round. If students want to learn Balboa only they can do that and go into our higher level Balboa tracks without having to do any Bal-Swing classes.

Of course we realise that you don’t need to know Balboa in order to learn Swing, but since the prevailing status of camps around the world is that you have to know both Balboa and Bal-Swing to get into classes, we are “saving” them by having them learn both, and since all of us teachers in Uppsala like blending the two dances into one, we also teach the transitions. After the beginners level, they can drop the Balboa if they want to, or drop the Bal-Swing (if they haven’t already opted out by not even taking the “Swing” classes), and then choose to delve as deep as they want into the dance they like best (we haven’t done this for very log, so the outcome isn’t really clear yet, but this far it seems as if most of those who try out both want to continue with both).

I’d say that the “universal” way of teaching Balboa and (Bal-)Swing is moving more in the direction of teaching the dances separately, as more and more of the top international teachers change the way they structure their classes and talk about the two dances.

Come to think of it, most teachers teach and have taught “Balboa stuff” separately and “Bal-Swing” stuff separately as long as I’ve been into this dance (a little more than three years), but since it’s mixed over and over, and most people know both dances, most people don’t see and much less understand the difference. Moreover, stylewise, compared to the style of the original dancers of Balboa and L.A. Swing respectively, the Balboa, as I see it, has become “swingified” by most teachers (a little bigger movements, covering more floor, etc), and the Swing has become “balboafied” (a little smoother, more polished than what can be seen on for instance “Start Cheering”, the “Beach Clip”, and “Maharaja”, etc).

Sylvia Sykes has told me numerous times that one of the main reasons for teaching Bal-Swing together with Balboa has been to use the “flash-and-trash” moves of Bal-Swing to get peoples attention, so they will actually take an interest in the dances, and then when they are taking the classes they get to do pure Balboa as well, and when they’re hooked they get more of the secrets of Balboa. It’s kind of using the Bal-Swing to save the Balboa.

Sure, you want to have people knowing about the history and knowing what Balboa really looked like, but if no-one is interested in learning Balboa, because nobody ever sees it (“if you attract attention on the dance floor, you’re not doing Balboa anymore”), the dance might disappear forever. So I guess there needs to be a balance between on the one hand wanting to keep the dances authentic, and on the other hand having, at least in a smaller scale, “selling out” to get a critical mass big enough to carry the scene.

Maybe, hopefully, we have reached or are reaching that critical mass of people now, since Balboa/Bal-Swing camps are en masse around the world, and then we don’t have to “sell out” anymore. Awareness about history is increasing, especially amongst the grassroots people on the worldwide scene.

Hopefully we will soon find a bigger spectrum of individual styles among the (Bal-, L.A.-) Swing dancers, and when more people try out the alledgedly “original style” Balboa Shuffle, as Dean Raftery and maybe some other “vintage” Balboa dancers (an 80-year old female “original style” Balboa shuffler for a change maybe…?) get to show their stuff at camps, and when people learn how to master that or do it good enough, we can hope for a variation of styles of Balboa following in the wake of that. First be inspired by some kick-ass dancer, then imitate that dancer, trying to do it exactly the same way, honoring your source of inspiration, then finally, when you’re really good at the imitation you take it to the next level by innovating things of your own, to make the dance yours…

/Jonas

TomHopper

Mar 21 2007, 03:05 PM

QUOTE(Jonas @ Mar 21 2007, 11:30 AM)
Sylvia Sykes has told me numerous times that one of the main reasons for teaching Bal-Swing together with Balboa has been to use the “flash-and-trash” moves of Bal-Swing to get peoples attention, so they will actually take an interest in the dances, and then when they are taking the classes they get to do pure Balboa as well, and when they’re hooked they get more of the secrets of Balboa. It’s kind of using the Bal-Swing to save the Balboa.
I suspected this was the case, but I had not heard from anyone in person, so I wasn’t sure.

OC Eli

Mar 21 2007, 06:00 PM

I forwarded Dean Raftery the discussion from this group a couple of days ago. Here are his comments based on some of the messages. This is direct from an email I received from Dean:

QUOTE(Dean Raftery)
1. In reference to a balboa contest in Balboa as happening in 1939 as someone posted in my name, that is incorrect, I don’t know that this happened and I did not say that this happened. There was a contest in the 1980s I believe that was the date approximately, at the Pavillion that was won by Lances father, Lorrie Chamoyen.

In 1939 and 1940 myself and two other couples danced on the stage in a musical extravaganza at Chaffey Junior College in Ontario, Cal. Two couples did pure Balboa and a little jitterbug and the third one did aerials, I did not do aerials.

2. Someone questioned on Balboa Nation as to whether or not we did balboa or swing in the travel steps (Paddles) as you call them now. We were doing the travel steps before we knew about swing, However, we could only do them when we had room which was not often. We could do them in a a tight circle even ina crowded ballroom with care not to bump into someone, and I have no reason to think that you could call them swing.

Dean

To clarify his point about travel steps, he also told me on the phone that they might travel in a straight line to one side or another in pure balboa, but this all depending on having room to do it. At the Rendezvous ballroom they could just do moves like paddles that went in a tight circle.

Also as far as slow balboa, what Dean teaches now is a dance he & his wife came up with he thinks around the 70’s (possibly 80’s). He told me that “back in the day” they would just do pure balboa steps more slowly for slower music.

Regards,

-Eli

ad-roc

Mar 22 2007, 12:40 AM

Peter,

Do you view the current contests Pure-Balboa prelims as a way to maintain the respect for the dance, and an attempt to reward dancers that can do pure balboa or are you saying no one is doing pure balboa?

I attended Cal-Bal the last year you (or you and Lisa again not sure) ran it (not tied to Rendevous). I enjoyed the Pure Balboa division very much (forgive me if I got the title wrong). I am in no way an authority on the subject of Balboa I can only claim to be an enthusiast , but I really felt that the second contest where couples where doing Bal-swing to be more of a lindy contest which makes a little more sense now. I also remember being a little concerned about the judges. Maybe you can recall better than I can but I think Mary Collins was a judge along with Gil Brady and a few others. They could have been judging the Balboa Swing division (sorry fuzzy on the contest name again please correct me if I’m wrong).

If they did judge the pure balboa contest, were they considered Balboa dancers?

Adam

Peter

Mar 23 2007, 12:57 AM

This thread is just all over the place and its hard to keep up now…and now some people are answering for me…hehehe

There are a few questions way back somewhere i never got to, please feel free to bring them back to light.

to those worried about what your doing is not historical or not, just dance….

Its obviously best if you email or pm me, those questions wont slip past me as easy.

Ill do my best to answer everyone…

Peter

Mar 23 2007, 01:37 AM

QUOTE(ad-roc @ Mar 22 2007, 12:40 AM)
Peter,

Do you view the current contests Pure-Balboa prelims as a way to maintain the respect for the dance, and an attempt to reward dancers that can do pure balboa or are you saying no one is doing pure balboa?

both…Pure Balboa is a totally different discipline, then the LA swing or bal-swing. Ofcourse, Im generalizing, but bascially what i see and what “so and so” see’s as whats being called “pure-balboa” is horrible….

I know people around the globe that just enjoy trying to get that Pure balboa look and groove going with no intrest in swing…these people do various excersises to enhance the muscles needed in Pure balboa that are unnessesary in swing to work on…

This type of stuff in all unnessesary in swing…and acually, most Followers today dont “enjoy” wearing the higher Heels nessesary in Pure Balboa….

its no diferent then the 30’s in my opinion…the swingers that did in fact try to do Balboa didnt do it very good for various reasons. and well, to be honest the Balboa dancers that added some swing to their Balboa looked kinda awkward or square to put it nice…

over the years it slowly melded in various ways to create all sorts of styles by the 70s and 80’s..

QUOTE(ad-roc @ Mar 22 2007, 12:40 AM)
I attended Cal-Bal the last year you (or you and Lisa again not sure) ran it (not tied to Rendevous). I enjoyed the Pure Balboa division very much (forgive me if I got the title wrong). I am in no way an authority on the subject of Balboa I can only claim to be an enthusiast , but I really felt that the second contest where couples where doing Bal-swing to be more of a lindy contest which makes a little more sense now.

first , thank you for enjoying yourself, It served its purpose and was no doubt a historic moment. who would have ever thought a new generation would come along and completey ignore how those legends wanted contest to be run to show off their dance in the proper light…

yes, Tempo’s dictate the dance….and when it gets going one dance comes out supreme and to the Ray Rand dancers it was their dance. Keep in Mind “Lindy Hop” at that time was a “step” , and even after it came out to the west coast the Ray Rand dancers still considered their dance as superior, especially at faster tempos, after all most of them learned Lindy just so they could social dance to the slower music, and continued to do their thing at fast tempos and in contest, which were always fast.

It was this Locking horns of the dancers that created not only some amazing talent but also originality which was very, VERY important at that time…

QUOTE(ad-roc @ Mar 22 2007, 12:40 AM)
I also remember being a little concerned about the judges. Maybe you can recall better than I can but I think Mary Collins was a judge along with Gil Brady and a few others. They could have been judging the Balboa Swing division (sorry fuzzy on the contest name again please correct me if I’m wrong).
If they did judge the pure balboa contest, were they considered Balboa dancers?
Adam

I would never call someone a balboa dancer if they are not…

and just because they were a pure Bal dancer or a 30’s dancer or a Ray Rand Dancer doesnt mean they could Judge…

I’ve used just about every old timer i knew at one time or another for some type of contest out here in LA, and thats why i know who is who and how they Judge.

Some of them were horrible judges, meaning they picked the dancers they knew or their students…but those i obviously didnt pass my test and never judged the Cal Bal champs..

I dont beleive i used Gil, or Bart or any of the dancers that came later…as a judge for the cal bal, althiough i did use them for other things…

I used Mary Collins as a head Judge numerous times, even though she like Marge came around much later, their knowledge and scoring is spot on with the original 30’s dancers.

i was very careful as to who i used….and acually got to know the dancers before taking the plunge of having them judge the Cal Bal.

Many times id sit with them at various ballrooms, more often then not Alpine Village and talk about what makes a great dancer great…etc…

Not to mention the answers they had for me when i would ask , whats wrong with that persons Balboa..etc..

The only dancer i can remember passing my test and then being way off in the deep end was Ray Hirsch…lolol

Peter

Mar 23 2007, 01:49 AM

QUOTE(Boomer @ Mar 21 2007, 09:03 AM)

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 21 2007, 07:34 AM)
This may be a little off-topic, but I will ask.

Sometimes, you can use triple-step to replace up-hold or down-hold step (2 counts) as a kind of ad lib step, especially in “pure bal” context.

However, I am just curious if the triple-step was a part of Balboa or LA swing vocabulary back in the old days. Or because most of the current dancers started out (I assume) as Lindy Hoppers, I wonder if the triple-step was recently imported from Lindy Hop into what we now know as “balboa”.

(edited to correct typos)

Good question Tom. I’d be interested to see what Peter, Dwight, or Nick might have to say on this one. Many times we hear about triples in the context of a particular dancer. “Maxie’s triples” or “Willie’s triples”. I wonder if these are just a variation that these dancers added to the dance or if it was part of a basic form of swing or even balboa. I’m pretty sure it’s not something created by the new generation, because you can see the triples footwork in clips of Bobby McGee’s (correct me if I’m off base here Dwight).

Greg

Triples were common in swing as far as anyone remembers (early 30’s)

triples were “fancy” and not done by pure Balboa dancers.

during the War some swing dancers did the triples in closed posistion which some people took as being Balboa, when in fact closed posistion was not limited to Balboa, which seem to be the biggest misconception today. after WW2 the melding of these dances became apparent, swing and foxtrot…which is not the same as Balboa…

If you asked was their any Pure Balboa dancers that did triples steps during the 30’s….certainly its possible,But the handful i spoke to and interviewed said no, not until later and then if they did , to them it would have been then swing and not Balboa anymore, this pertaining to the swing era…

obviously as the decades rolled past, everyone started doing weird shit and mixing it all up…including traveling and paddling all over the damn place…

in other words…there is no such then as triple bal or double bal….these terms were created by teachers….decades and decades later….

Boomer

Mar 23 2007, 01:56 AM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 23 2007, 12:49 AM)

QUOTE(Boomer @ Mar 21 2007, 09:03 AM)

QUOTE(TomHopper @ Mar 21 2007, 07:34 AM)
This may be a little off-topic, but I will ask.

Sometimes, you can use triple-step to replace up-hold or down-hold step (2 counts) as a kind of ad lib step, especially in “pure bal” context.

However, I am just curious if the triple-step was a part of Balboa or LA swing vocabulary back in the old days. Or because most of the current dancers started out (I assume) as Lindy Hoppers, I wonder if the triple-step was recently imported from Lindy Hop into what we now know as “balboa”.

(edited to correct typos)

Good question Tom. I’d be interested to see what Peter, Dwight, or Nick might have to say on this one. Many times we hear about triples in the context of a particular dancer. “Maxie’s triples” or “Willie’s triples”. I wonder if these are just a variation that these dancers added to the dance or if it was part of a basic form of swing or even balboa. I’m pretty sure it’s not something created by the new generation, because you can see the triples footwork in clips of Bobby McGee’s (correct me if I’m off base here Dwight).

Greg

Triples were common in swing as far as anyone remembers (early 30’s)

triples were “fancy” and not done by pure Balboa dancers.

during the War some swing dancers did the triples in closed posistion which some people took as being Balboa, when in fact closed posistion was not limited to Balboa, which seem to be the biggest misconception today. after WW2 the melding of these dances became apparent, swing and foxtrot…which is not the same as Balboa…

If you asked was their any Pure Balboa dancers that did triples steps during the 30’s….certainly its possible,But the handful i spoke to and interviewed said no, not until later and then if they did , to them it would have been then swing and not Balboa anymore, this pertaining to the swing era…

obviously as the decades rolled past, everyone started doing weird shit and mixing it all up…including traveling and paddling all over the damn place…

in other words…there is no such then as triple bal or double bal….these terms were created by teachers….decades and decades later….

You better edit the video on Youtube you have labeled as Balboa, because there’s triples being put in all over the place.

Dwight

Mar 23 2007, 02:35 PM

A lot of Balboa dancers I’ve known (from the 30s) used triple steps. They didn’t necessarily call them that. Lots of times they called it a shuffle. Sometimes they called the whole dance The Shuffle. That’s the way it was known at the Mandarin Ballroom in Redondo Beachin the mid 30s. Sometimes they called the Balboa the Balboa Shuffle.

A number of times I’ve had old time Balboa dancers tell me that it was a matter of pride among the better Balboa dancers back then to how fast they could dance and still do the shuffle step (triples). They did say that at a certain tempo they had to drop them, though. A couple of dancers called the dance the Bal Hop when that happened.

One of the Balboa dancers from the 30s whose dancing was highly regarded by other Balboa was Cecil Byington. I remember watching him dance at Bal Night at the Balboa Pavilion in the early 80s. He used triple steps. I talked to him and him, with him showing me his basic. It was eight count: step, step, triple-step (two beats, three steps), step, step, triple-step. Cecil told me that in the old days he wouldn’t necessarily stay in one place when he danced that Balboa, that sometimes he would travel around the room, but still keeping the triples. He demonstrated that for me. Other Balboa dancers would travel across the room but wouldn’t use triples, just a series of steps: step, step, step, step, etc. Dean Raftery even calls those steps traveling steps and would use them when he had room. Ed Thompson would do that all the time.

Hal Takier showed me the first dance he ever learned, at Bobby McGee’s once. It was eight count with triple steps, the same rhythm as the whip or swingout. He traveled forward, like Cecil Byington did sometimes. Hal didn’t say the name of the dance (Hal didn’t remember), he wasn’t even sure if it was called the Balboa or not.

I remember watching Hank Negley dancing the Balboa, who usually didn’t dance the Balboa with triples, put them in at odd times. With Hank, he would generally do it on the right side (right-left-right) but not the left. Hank basically mixed in triple steps whenever he felt like it, unlike a lot of other Balboa dancers who would use them consistently, keeping a constant rhythm pattern.

By the way, none of these dancers danced the shuffles or triple steps picking steps picking their feet off the floor. Their triple steps didn’t look like Dean Collin’s triple steps, for instance. It was almost like they didn’t completely change weight. They were sort of indistinct looking, not precise. Shuffle is really a better way to describe it. Maybe using the term triple steps is misleading, but the rhythm is the same, at least approximately.

Those of you with access to the Balboa Project can see them with Jim and Izzy Hignett. It’s kind of dark, but you can see it if you looked closely. Jim and Izzy did their Balboa side to side, sort of, which was unusual. Peter’s put them up on YouTube, along with some other Balboa dancers from that compilation.

The URL is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW2JZ8mK5-w

Edited to add the URL to Peter’s YouTube posting.

Peter

Mar 23 2007, 02:58 PM

QUOTE(Boomer @ Mar 23 2007, 01:56 AM)

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 23 2007, 12:49 AM)

Triples were common in swing as far as anyone remembers (early 30’s)

triples were “fancy” and not done by pure Balboa dancers.

during the War some swing dancers did the triples in closed posistion which some people took as being Balboa, when in fact closed posistion was not limited to Balboa, which seem to be the biggest misconception today. after WW2 the melding of these dances became apparent, swing and foxtrot…which is not the same as Balboa…

If you asked was their any Pure Balboa dancers that did triples steps during the 30’s….certainly its possible,But the handful i spoke to and interviewed said no, not until later and then if they did , to them it would have been then swing and not Balboa anymore, this pertaining to the swing era…

obviously as the decades rolled past, everyone started doing weird shit and mixing it all up…including traveling and paddling all over the damn place…

in other words…there is no such then as triple bal or double bal….these terms were created by teachers….decades and decades later….

You better edit the video on Youtube you have labeled as Balboa, because there’s triples being put in all over the place.

keep in mind are all sorts of various syncopated steps, not all being triples steps,and like i said, they didnt use that term. There were syncopated shuffles that were part of the basic for many of these dancers however they were not triple steps , there were no weight changes…..

The acual Triple step came from swing and adapted by these dances down south, sometime in the later 30’s

and by the time the rest of the world discovered this dance and witnessed tapes of Bobbie McGee’s & LA swing club, The Culture of the Original Balboa dancer was gone….
they all became dancers and as i stated:

“everyone started doing weird shit and mixing it all up…including traveling and paddling all over the damn place…”

I think dancers should do whatever they want or feel like doing…and not really be concerned about being authentic or original. Like the Savoy Dancers, there were generations, first , second….however by the third they were not considered Balboa dancers…they were swing dancers thay learned the Balboa…

If people are that concerned about being original ,these later dancers like Bart certainly wouldnt be the topic of focus at events…

Peter

Mar 23 2007, 03:49 PM

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 23 2007, 02:35 PM)
A lot of Balboa dancers I’ve known (from the 30s) used triple steps. They didn’t necessarily call them that. Lots of times they called it a shuffle. Sometimes they called the whole dance The Shuffle. That’s the way it was known at the Mandarin Ballroom inRedondo Beach in the mid 30s. Sometimes they called the Balboa the Balboa Shuffle.

yupppers…I think I posted this earlier…the shuffle was a commonly done dance, and technically didnt have to have a connection to the Balboa or Newport…dancers were doing THE SHUFFLE at The Dumar around 1930.

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 23 2007, 02:35 PM)
A number of times I’ve had old time Balboa dancers tell me that it was a matter of pride among the better Balboa dancers back then to how fast they could dance and still do the shuffle step (triples). They did say that at a certain tempo they had to drop them, though. A couple of dancers called the dance the Bal Hop when that happened.

Oh Shit, dwight let the Cat out of the Bag….

“Bal-hop”…lololol Oh no you didnt!!! Your going to make alot of dancers cry….

yes people….. Bal-hop= hold step

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 23 2007, 02:35 PM)
Hal Takier showed me the first dance he ever learned, at Bobby McGee’s once. It was eight count with triple steps, the same rhythm as the whip or swingout. He traveled forward, like Cecil Byington did sometimes. Hal didn’t say the name of the dance (Hal didn’t remember), he wasn’t even sure if it was called the Balboa or not.

Foxtrot….the same as what Lollie Wise did…

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 23 2007, 02:35 PM)
By the way, none of these dancers danced the shuffles or triple steps picking steps picking their feet off the floor. Their triple steps didn’t look like Dean Collin’s triple steps, for instance. It was almost like they didn’t completely change weight. They were sort of indistinct looking, not precise. Shuffle is really a better way to describe it. Maybe using the term triple steps is misleading, but the rhythm is the same, at least approximately.

….this is VERY important Dwight, people are hanging on every little word we type….

shuffle is a better way to describe it for a reason….thats is in fact what it was called…Even by the swing dancers back then, a Triple is a triple step, 3 steps in 2 beats..

Thats the confusion….

todays dancers obviously call everything with that rhythm a triple step….when in fact its not…Shuffles are Not triples, there is no weight change in shuffles….

then we have acual Balboa dancers who did in fact do “Triples” with weight changes , however the dancers today dont understand these people added style,steps and variations into what they did their whole life, until what they finally see on Tape of Video in the 1980’s and 90s….

erinregina

Mar 23 2007, 05:08 PM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 2007)

to those worried about what your doing is not historical or not, just dance….

I think dancers should do whatever they want or feel like doing…and not really be concerned about being authentic or original.

I honestly don’t know how you get away with dropping comments like these after all of the bashing of the scene you’ve been doing:

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 2007)

There is no “fight” , however, at some point we must hold the teachers and events responsible for the simple task of avoiding unnessesary and blantant false advertising….if they cared about this topic, and those dancers before them they would find the space on their letter head to include 5 more letters…

Tom i must say I applaud your questions, for someone that claims to be new, you obviously have proven your self to care enough find out the truth in no time at all, which as you can see by this scene is rare.

Pure Balboa is a totally different discipline, then the LA swing or bal-swing. Ofcourse, Im generalizing, but bascially what i see and what “so and so” see’s as whats being called “pure-balboa” is horrible….

Either you think people should pay attention to what you’re saying about nit-picking on vocabulary or you don’t. Either you think people should “do whatever they want or feel like doing…and not really be concerned about being authentic or original” or you want them to keep alive a certain kind of historically accurate and authentic dance form and stop maliciously disseminating misinformation, as you keep accusing everyone of doing.

Here’s what Dwight says about triples:

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 2007)

By the way, none of these dancers danced the shuffles or triple steps picking steps picking their feet off the floor. Their triple steps didn’t look like Dean Collin’s triple steps, for instance. It was almost like they didn’t completely change weight. They were sort of indistinct looking, not precise. Shuffle is really a better way to describe it. Maybe using the term triple steps is misleading, but the rhythm is the same, at least approximately.

Here’s you nit-picking vocabulary, since you seem to be one of the only ones who doesn’t understand what the heck everybody else is talking about, even though the rest of us are clear on it.

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 2007)

todays dancers obviously call everything with that rhythm a triple step….when in fact its not…Shuffles are Not triples, there is no weight change in shuffles….

in other words…there is no such then as triple bal or double bal….these terms were created by teachers….decades and decades later….

keep in mind are all sorts of various syncopated steps, not all being triples steps,and like i said, they didnt use that term. There were syncopated shuffles that were part of the basic for many of these dancers however they were not triple steps , there were no weight changes…..

I challenge you to go home and do a triple pattern without changing weight at all. If you say you can do it, then you’re not doing any triple pattern I’ve ever seen in the past 8 years, whether shuffle or step or slide.

Get off everybody’s case, Peter. Either say what you have to say constructively and in a way that respects that the people who are reading your posts are practically the only people in the world who care what you have to say about the history of our dance. And moreover they are the ones paying you when you teach, the ones registering for your very historically authentic dance event.

As you can tell from the original topic of the “many balboa events” thread, it is this scene that you keep bashing that is responsible for the resurgence of interest in balboa and bal-swing, thereby growing the audience of people who are interested in hiring you or listening to your lectures. And it is the instructors you keep criticizing who have played the primary role in nurturing and growing that scene into a national and international presence.

Show some respect. It’s due to more than just the old-timers.

Dwight

Mar 23 2007, 05:13 PM

By the way, the word shuffle is an interesting (and, to me, somewhat elusive) concept. There is a shuffle rhythm that is used in jazz and American popular music. It’s almost universally used by drummers for all sorts of styles of jazz and popular music. Whenever I get a chance to talk to a drummer about it, I do.

Wednesday I was at the Rhythm Club in Playa del Rey and there was a trio with John Reynolds on guitar, a violinist (!), and drums. The drummer was Daniel Glass, the drummer in Royal Crown Revue, who is also a historian on drumming. I had an interesting talk with him after the dance, and we discussed shuffle rhythm, swung eighths, straight eighths, and how they were used differently over the evolution of American popular. Daniel was explaining to me (and later demonstrated) how it was played by drummers.

The shuffle rhythm, as I understand it, is related to swung eighths and consists of breaking the beat up into thirds but not playing the second of the three parts of the beat. I may not have that exactly right, but it’s close.

Anyway, that’s the rhythm that Dean Collin’s used in his triple steps. It was a broken triplet, where you step on the beat, then step again on the last third of the beat, then step again on the next beat. Three steps in two beats of music. As far as I can tell, that’s the rhythm that most Lindy and swing dancers in the thirties and forties used for their triple steps. Sometime in the fifties a lot of dancers who started dancing swing dropped the syncopated triples and started dancing evenly divided triple steps (straight eighths), like the cha cha. That’s the way it’s taught today in West Coast Swing.

There is also a shuffling way of moving your feet, and most Balboa dancers do that style of dancing. Also, a lot of them, I’m convinced, combine both the shuffling way of moving with the shuffle rhythm into something equivalent, rhythmically, to the shuffle rhythm. So rhythmically their basic Balboa step was the same as the whip or swing out.

But that may only be an approximation. And the shuffle rhythm as I described it (with a beat divided into equal thirds) may only be an European approximation to a distinct African rhythm, such as the playing of two quarter tones (a black and an adjacent white key) is a substitute for a “blue note” which is used in modal music but is not on our diatonic scale (and consequently not on our piano). I was talking to Jonathan Stout about the shuffle beat, and he said the thought it was closer to sixty percent and forty percent. Other drummers tell me that it is an elusive concept to do with the feel of the rhythm and can vary between bands or even songs.

Dwight

Mar 23 2007, 06:40 PM

Well, Gina, Peter has a way of raising the temperature of a conversation when it gets into areas about which he feels passionately. Lot’s of times it’s a communication problem with what’s the correct use of words. There are many times when Peter’s said something that I thought was totally wrong, but when I heard him out and saw where he was coming from, I could understand him and come to agreement.

An example is the use of the word “jig trot”. Peter’s often told me, and posted, that Hal Takier was not a Balboa dancer but a jig trot dancer. Well, I didn’t agree with him, because I’ve never seen Hal do what I called the jig trot. In the jig trot I’ve seen the guy kicks forward all the time. That is what I’ve seen Laurie Schermoen, Harry Berlin, Dean Collins, and John Mills do, and when I asked them about it they called it the jig trot. It turns out that Peter got the term (and the opinion) from Venna Archer, who danced with Hal in the 30s and danced a lot of jig trot as she described it. Peter corroborated that with others, did a lot of research, has newspaper clippings, and he has knows a lot about the the jig trot was done in the South Bay. I always thought that Hal was doing the Balboa; according to Willie Desatoff Hal was doing the girls part of the Balboa with shag styling, and that was the opinion I formed. When Peter and I discussed this we saw where the other was coming from (and why) and we could communicate without disagreement.

Peter has a passionate interest in the dance, the culture, and the dancers of that period, has interviewed a lot of them, done a lot of research with original sources, and can speak with considerable considerable authority on the subject. I also have an interest in the dance, but less passion, and have talked to a lot of dancers from the period, but by and large they were different dancers. I talked to a lot of dancers ten years before Peter did (mainly Balboa dancers, but also Lindy dancers like Dean Collins, and swing dancers). A lot of them had died before Peter came on the scene. But Peter has talked to a lot of the dancers I never did talk to and has a lot more information about the swing scene than I (I was more interested in Balboa). A lot of the Balboa dancers were still around when Peter arrived, and he got to talk to them (and see them dance), so he has a good idea and knowledge about Balboa too.

Peter also has bragging rights when it comes to dancing. He is just about the only of the new generation of Balboa dancers that will dance Balboa for a whole song (there are some inSan Francisco, too). But more importantly, he’s a great dancer and can do some astonishing things with his feet when dancing Balboa. His dancing resembles many of the original dancers in that the foot work is mystifying and almost impossible to analyze. Currently he’s experimenting with a different style, incorporating bebop moves and other material into his dance. If he says he’s doing triples without changing his weight, I won’t argue with him. Certainly I can’t figure out what he’s doing with his feet. (I felt the same way when I was trying to figure out Balboa twenty five to thirty years ago with a lot of the original many of whom also did what I considered mystifying footwork).

Dwight

Mar 23 2007, 07:10 PM

Sorry about the Bal Hop, Peter. I’m just posting what I heard from a couple of dancers who danced in the Rendezvous in the forties. None of the Balboa dancers I’ve talked to from the 30s have ever heard of the expression.

erinregina

Mar 23 2007, 07:36 PM

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 23 2007, 07:40 PM)
Well, Gina, Peter has a way of raising the temperature of a conversation when it gets into areas about which he feels passionately.Lot’s of times it’s a communication problem with what’s the correct use of words. There are many times when Peter’s said something that I thought was totally wrong, but when I heard him out and saw where he was coming from, I could understand him and come to agreement.

I hear you, Dwight. And I’m not trying to say that Peter doesn’t have a lot of valuable things to communicate to the community about the history, I’m not saying he’s not a fantastic dancer, I’m not critizing any of those things. What I do think is lacking, though, is some clear communication on his part, and some respect for the current–contemporary–balboa and bal-swing dancers and teachers in his comments. Although Peter is very knowledgeable, he’s not the only person who’s talked to and studied with the old-timers, and I just think it’s rude to get on a forum where many of those teachers are regular readers and posters, and to insult their instruction and their dance style. And moreover to insinuate that the larger community of balboa and bal-swing dancers are willfully ignorant or don’t care about the history of the dance. And I think if your mission is to correct misinformation, the way to do that is to get out there and disseminate the correct information. Not to insist that people who ‘really’ want to know have to PM him. For example, I think it would be fantastic if Peter would write a book to chronicle all the information he’s gathered over the years. I’d buy it.

TomHopper

Mar 23 2007, 10:00 PM

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 08:36 PM)
I think it would be fantastic if Peter would write a book to chronicle all the information he’s gathered over the years. I’d buy it.

I totally agree, but I would say it would be even better with DVD, so that we can actually see dancing. It’s sometimes hard to explain footworks/styling just by words.

Peter

Mar 24 2007, 06:39 PM

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 05:08 PM)

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 2007)

to those worried about what your doing is not historical or not, just dance….

I think dancers should do whatever they want or feel like doing…and not really be concerned about being authentic or original.

I honestly don’t know how you get away with dropping comments like these after all of the bashing of the scene you’ve been doing:

Because its truth, just because Im calling events and teachers out on their Labels and Terms, doesnt equal bashing a scene…

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 2007)

There is no “fight” , however, at some point we must hold the teachers and events responsible for the simple task of avoiding unnessesary and blantant false advertising….if they cared about this topic, and those dancers before them they would find the space on their letter head to include 5 more letters….”SWING”

Pure Balboa is a totally different discipline, then the LA swing or bal-swing. Ofcourse, Im generalizing, but bascially what i see and what “so and so” see’s as whats being called “pure-balboa” is horrible….

I stand by this 100% !,

IF THEY DIDNT CALL WHAT THEY ARE DOING PURE BALBOA IT WOULD BE FINE AND GREAT DANCING!!!

….VERY FEW dancers today do pure Balboa…. and the ones that do, know who they are.

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 05:08 PM)
Either you think people should pay attention to what you’re saying about nit-picking on vocabulary or you don’t. Either you think people should “do whatever they want or feel like doing…and not really be concerned about being authentic or original” or you want them to keep alive a certain kind of historically accurate and authentic dance form and stop maliciously disseminating misinformation, as you keep accusing everyone of doing.

actually I could care less how anyone dances… its about terms,labels and explaining to the old timers why these dancers today call what they do “Balboa” when its not.

thats it!!!! nothing more nothing less….

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 05:08 PM)
Here’s you nit-picking vocabulary……..

yes, my nit-picking is to those that wish to know the history….

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 05:08 PM)
I challenge you to go home and do a triple pattern without changing weight at all. If you say you can do it, then you’re not doing any triple pattern I’ve ever seen in the past 8 years, whether shuffle or step or slide.

This is the first thing I learned in the 90’s when i started this style…If you cant figure that out or have not been taught how then thats your problem….but that doesnt mean you should go challenging me on the subject.

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 05:08 PM)
Get off everybody’s case, Peter. Either say what you have to say constructively and in a way that respects that the people who are reading your posts are practically the only people in the world who care what you have to say about the history of our dance. And moreover they are the ones paying you when you teach, the ones registering for your very historically authentic dance event.

Im not on anyones case at all, other then those advertising and teaching using incorrect labels and terms.

Im just being honest, certainly i could possibly candy coat it better but im horrible at that, the emails im getting in support is rather amazing, and they fact i’m honest is why i am successful, perhaps not in your “scene” but thats not my loss…

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 05:08 PM)
As you can tell from the original topic of the “many balboa events” thread, it is this scene that you keep bashing that is responsible for the resurgence of interest in balboa and bal-swing…..

Unfortunatly the thread was split and thus taken WAY out of context….all this was about is events using the term Balboa as a blanket term to include swing/jitterbug/bal-swing etc… as Ive stated time and time again..

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 05:08 PM)
Show some respect. It’s due to more than just the old-timers.

respect? ohh boy…..thanks for chiming in, your historical input was amazing….

Keep on shuffling , or triple stepping if thats all you can do….

Peter

Mar 24 2007, 07:51 PM

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 07:36 PM)

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 23 2007, 07:40 PM)
Well, Gina, Peter has a way of raising the temperature of a conversation when it gets into areas about which he feels passionately.Lot’s of times it’s a communication problem with what’s the correct use of words. There are many times when Peter’s said something that I thought was totally wrong, but when I heard him out and saw where he was coming from, I could understand him and come to agreement.

What I do think is lacking, though, is some clear communication on his part, and some respect for the current–contemporary–balboa and bal-swing dancers and teachers in his comments.

first off, this is a forum….typing like this is horrible communication in the first place…you have no idea, i could be laughing or i could be crying…you would never know…but im rarely serious ,angry or mean…although my typing would read different…

ALL the dancers & teachers who have been around for years are pushing me on to tell the truth, (they can’t for political reasons) because they know im one of the few that can and that i dont care about scene Politics and lastly my day job has always kept my dancing Honest…

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 07:36 PM)
Although Peter is very knowledgeable, he’s not the only person who’s talked to and studied with the old-timers,

REALLY? Pure Balboa dancers? or the Swing dancers? By all means Bring em on!!!

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 07:36 PM)
Not to insist that people who ‘really’ want to know have to PM him.

Thankfully i dont have to insist…and if anyone really wants to know, they can go out of their way and contact me, is that such a big deal?

some people really want to know certain aspects of the history and clear answers, without somebody else chiming in on their question or my answers, we simply dont have time to wade through all of the off topic crap..

And yes, a book has been in progess for years, and even a documentary…but it takes time and money.

my only concern is getting the truth out…if it offends people, well of course that sucks! I can no doubt be sympathic, but not to those that want to argue with me on something they know little about.

i can’t just re-write history for individual’s who have based their teaching, events, and dances on misinformation and lies….thats crazy.

Peter

Mar 24 2007, 07:55 PM

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 23 2007, 07:10 PM)
Sorry about the Bal Hop, Peter. I’m just posting what I heard from a couple of dancers who danced in the Rendezvous in the forties. None of the Balboa dancers I’ve talked to from the 30s have ever heard of the expression.

No, i think its great,,,lol

its totally true, however, its just another term to confuse everyone….

Travis

Mar 25 2007, 12:06 PM

Man, this thread is great!! I love it when the gloves come off and people actually seem to start speaking their minds (with is never a problem with Peter – haha!!).

Fortunately I know Peter and have had the pleasure of listening to a lot of his talks over the years and, like Dwight said, I know how strongly he feels about the history of the dance and the proper use of terminology. It’s the ‘terminology’ part that always causes the flame wars. But I do believe he wants people to dance however they want to and I’ve never heard him say otherwise – just be careful what you call it!! And I think it’s because of the fact that Peter has so much respect for the dancers that he comes on these forums and tells it like he sees it without sugar-coating anything.

As for his shuffle-steps with no weight changes, well, fortunately before a dance last night I had specially calibrated scales installed beneath the entire dance floor and was able to measure his weight changes from an unmarked van parked across the street and, nope, no weight changes detected.

erinregina

Mar 25 2007, 03:42 PM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 24 2007, 07:39 PM)

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 05:08 PM)
Show some respect. It’s due to more than just the old-timers.

respect? ohh boy…..thanks for chiming in, your historical input was amazing….

Keep on shuffling , or triple stepping if thats all you can do….

Y’know, I’ve had some emails too thanking me for calling you out on your attitude. Of course you’re bashing the scene and those in it, just look at what you’ve written above about my “input” and your disrespectful comment about my dancing–which you’d know nothing about since we’ve never danced the balboa together. I never said you couldn’t dance or didn’t have something valuable to say: just check my repsonse to Dwight. But here you are being ridiculously rude to people again. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you can’t treat people with common respect and say what you want to say in clear terms. Although apparently you have big problems doing either of those things.

Peter

Mar 25 2007, 04:09 PM

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 25 2007, 03:42 PM)

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 24 2007, 07:39 PM)

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 23 2007, 05:08 PM)
Show some respect. It’s due to more than just the old-timers.

respect? ohh boy…..thanks for chiming in, your historical input was amazing….

Keep on shuffling , or triple stepping if thats all you can do….

Y’know, I’ve had some emails too thanking me for calling you out on your attitude. Of course you’re bashing the scene and those in it, just look at what you’ve written above about my “input” and your disrespectful comment about my dancing–which you’d know nothing about since we’ve never danced the balboa together. I never said you couldn’t dance or didn’t have something valuable to say: just check my repsonse to Dwight. But here you are being ridiculously rude to people again. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you can’t treat people with common respect and say what you want to say in clear terms. Although apparently you have big problems doing either of those things.

ofcourse i have an attitude when talking about this…but only with certain people.

if you want to talk history and ask normal questions and banter , fine! But if you want to cloud historical issues by wanting to challenge anyones abilties on a forum? ….you picked the wrong person.

Ability has nothing to do with Knowledge…

This is a forum about dance……. in a topic about history.

want to talk about your scenes,my scene,this scene or that scene…..or proper forum behavior please start another thread so we can keep the topic of history going…

Peter

Mar 25 2007, 04:10 PM

QUOTE(Travis @ Mar 25 2007, 12:06 PM)
As for his shuffle-steps with no weight changes, well, fortunately before a dance last night I had specially calibrated scales installed beneath the entire dance floor and was able to measure his weight changes from an unmarked van parked across the street and, nope, no weight changes detected.

dude!!!!!!! Your killing me….

how about that Tetris Bal????

erinregina

Mar 25 2007, 04:27 PM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 25 2007, 05:09 PM)

if you want to talk history and ask normal questions and banter , fine! But if you want to cloud historical issues by wanting to challenge anyones abilties on a forum? ….you picked the wrong person.

Way to ignore the 90% of what I had to say in favor of the irrelevant 10%.

erinregina

Mar 25 2007, 04:43 PM

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 24 2007, 07:39 PM)

IF THEY DIDNT CALL WHAT THEY ARE DOING PURE BALBOA IT WOULD BE FINE AND GREAT DANCING!!!

….VERY FEW dancers today do pure Balboa…. and the ones that do, know who they are.

actually I could care less how anyone dances… its about terms,labels and explaining to the old timers why these dancers today call what they do “Balboa” when its not.

thats it!!!! nothing more nothing less….

yes, my nit-picking is to those that wish to know the history….

Is your purpose to explain to the old-timers why people call what we are now doing “balboa”? Or is it to entirely change the current scene’s use of vocabulary to line up with what the old-timers say? Or both?

If your nit-picking is to those that wish to know the history, then why complain about what people are calling their events? What if they don’t wish to know the history but only to support the dance as it currently exists? Then according to what you’ve said about who you’re trying to educate, there’s no reason for you to complain about it.

And MY WHOLE POINT was that if your purpose is to re-educate the currently balboa-ing (or balboa-esque-ing) public into using an entirely different set of vocabulary words to identify the dance(s) they are doing, then you’d be more effective by being less abrasive. So actually I’m trying to help you in achieving what I perceive to be your goals. Which help clearly you’re not seeing or are rejecting, in which case you’re welcome to try it the unpleasant way by alienating people. The end.

erinregina

Mar 25 2007, 04:44 PM

OMG and it is hilarious, I just noticed, that Peter is a “Balboa Revolutionary” and I am a “Balboa Minister.” Thanks, interweb.

Mar 25 2007, 06:30 PM

It appears to me what the word “balboa” means to people have changed over the years.

Is the current dance “balboa” an accurate representation of the balboa done in 30’s? It appears not. So you could argue that it is historically inaccurate to call the current dance “balboa”.

However, somewhere along the line (between 30’s and now, more likely between 90’s and now), the word “balboa”, to many people, started to mean the current dance, which is a mixture of balboa done in 30’s and LA swing. I think most people can agree on this.

The fact that the use of the word “balboa” has changed over time itself is a history (though a recent one), something that has already happened. I don’t know if it’s worthwhile to figure out why that has happened, as it seems to stir up some heat, but I kind of got an idea.

That’s how I see now, after reading all the discussion.

[Edited to add]
Because there is no central organization controlling the definition of dance “balboa”, if people start to use the word to mean a different dance then it was back in 30’s, I don’t know if there is anything you can do about it to correct it. However, you can still educate people what the word “balboa” meant back in 30’s. I learned a lot of that historical aspect in this thread, and I appreciate everyone’s input.

[Edited to add even more]
The example I see is the word “swing”. It meant a particular form of dance in 30’s in LA area. Later on Lindy hop and its offspring came in, and probably “swing” dancing, in LA now, means different thing than “swing” of 30’s in LA. If someone calls that current swing dancing in LA is an accurate representation of LA swing of 30’s, that’s probably incorrect. However, you can’t deny the fact that most people now are in fact dancing “swing”, just the word “swing” means different dance to most people now (though still may mean LA swing of 30’s to some people).

So why word “balboa” should be any different?

Peter

Mar 27 2007, 01:03 AM

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 25 2007, 04:43 PM)

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 24 2007, 07:39 PM)

IF THEY DIDNT CALL WHAT THEY ARE DOING PURE BALBOA IT WOULD BE FINE AND GREAT DANCING!!!

….VERY FEW dancers today do pure Balboa…. and the ones that do, know who they are.

actually I could care less how anyone dances… its about terms,labels and explaining to the old timers why these dancers today call what they do “Balboa” when its not.

thats it!!!! nothing more nothing less….

yes, my nit-picking is to those that wish to know the history….

Is your purpose to explain to the old-timers why people call what we are now doing “balboa”? Or is it to entirely change the current scene’s use of vocabulary to line up with what the old-timers say? Or both?

If your nit-picking is to those that wish to know the history, then why complain about what people are calling their events? What if they don’t wish to know the history but only to support the dance as it currently exists? Then according to what you’ve said about who you’re trying to educate, there’s no reason for you to complain about it.

And MY WHOLE POINT was that if your purpose is to re-educate the currently balboa-ing (or balboa-esque-ing) public into using an entirely different set of vocabulary words to identify the dance(s) they are doing, then you’d be more effective by being less abrasive. So actually I’m trying to help you in achieving what I perceive to be your goals. Which help clearly you’re not seeing or are rejecting, in which case you’re welcome to try it the unpleasant way by alienating people. The end.

Well, I feel that I’ve made myself clear that its only about the terms used and not anyone’s or any scene’s skills or abilities.

However, i would like to apologize for my abrasive attitude or for anything that was taken out of context.

My intentions are to keep history straight and truthful, and unfortunatly i get riled up sometimes….so again, i am deeply sorry.

PS. If anyone has any questions about dance history, feel free to contact me,
or check out The Balboa Bash in Newport beach this summer, which is dedicated to nothing but the old timer’s and their history.

peace out!
plog

Dwight

Mar 28 2007, 08:12 PM

Our discussion on terminology seems to have generated more heat than light. Sometimes terminology differences can mask agreement, and other times it can result in the communication or failure to communicate important information and distinctions.

Lots of times people get quite emotional. When I point out that historically West Coast Swing is a styling evolution of the Lindy, a lot of modern day Lindy Hoppers go ballistic. They insist there’s no relationship and get quite upset at the implication that there is.

Sometimes different words mean the same thing. For me, whip and swingout are synonymous. Maybe there’s a subtle difference I can’t see, and I might learn something important by discussing it. For example, when I learned the whip from Dean Collins he had different terms for different types: shoulder twist, push whip (the normal one), pull whip (that had a slide), and flying Lindy. The different terms were used to discriminate and communicate some important information.

On the other hand, sometimes the same word is used for quite different things. For instance, shag. For me, there’s at least four dances called shag out there that are totally different. I don’t see any relationship between the shag done in St. Louis, Baltimore, the Carolinas, and what’s called Collegiate shag. I don’t even think there’s a historical relationship. Certainly there’s no structural similarity in the patterns as there is with WCS and the Lindy.

I was talking to one of the dancers from the 30s, Ernie Rubin, about dances in the 30s and he described the shuffle, the jig trot, the shag, and the Balboa. He said that they were all similar, but he considered them different dances. From Ernie’s description the differences seemed to be mainly in style of execution. If I were to see them, I’m not sure that I would have been able to tell the difference. Certainly the shuffle sounds very similar to the Balboa I’ve seen (done with triple steps).

People can dance how they like and call the dance they’re doing whatever they like. And others have a right to disagree. The only time it makes a difference to the dancers is if they’re competing in a dance contest. Or paying for dance lessons. To people interested in the history of the dance, like Peter and I, the differences have to do with historical accuracy and communication. I’m still interested, for instance, in the differences in the four dances Ernie described.

ArkHunter

Mar 29 2007, 12:36 AM

i’, confused… the shuffle, jig trot, shag, Balboa, Bal Swing, Randy Swing, LA Swing, socalswing, camel hop, swing… four difrnt dances al called shag… how many dances ARE there?

BalBurgh

Mar 29 2007, 11:05 AM

Here’s one place to get an insight into how many dances there are:

http://www.streetswing.com/histmain.htm

There must be other such encyclopedic listing efforts out there.

Nick

Mar 30 2007, 04:48 PM

I’ve been avoiding posting because it didn’t seem like the discussion was about dance for awhile. Here are my 2 cents.

First of all, arguing about terms on a forum, in any swing forum, can never be agreed upon. Without visuals and the fact that the old timers were not big on “terms” then it makes this near impossible to agree on.

Let’s start with these terms: balboa, swing and bal-swing.

Balboa: So little is known about the actual history and evolution of balboa. Most of it is heresay and guessing. We can find the oldest people we can to try to find out, but the simple truth is that a lot of that history is lost. Not only that, but what the old timers do and what they say can often be different things. Balboa is historically a very simple dance with shuffling, a few ad-lib steps, and some little footwork variations for the basic. These changed based on the region each person lived in

Swing: This developed separately from balboa, most of us can agree. I’d say this was big in the mid 30’s. Swing encompassed many things. There’s wasn’t one “swing dance” at this time. There was no fundamentals to make one dance. Most of these dances didn’t really take off because there wasn’t much to them. Think of the Beach Clip or Bachelor Mother, etc. Nobody today moves or has the dynamic like the swing dancers did in the 30’s. Basically we can the beginning stages of evolution, but nothing has fallen into place yet.

Bal-swing: This is a modern term, but I think it’s a great one. It really truly describes what we do today. Sometime in the mid to late 30’s and the early 40’s balboa and swing came together. Balboa became the core of the dance. From there “swing” had something to grow out of. It all came together and created a very dynamic dance. The fundamentals fell into place and took movements and ideas from the “swing” that had started. Think Maxie Dorf, Lollie Wise, Hal Takier and Willie Desatoff. There wasn’t a new “term” created back then. But today we need to distinguish between many other dances and terms. I think saying “Bal-swing” is a perfect way to describe today’s scene.

Does dancing bal-swing mean you don’t dance balboa? I don’t think so. I think you can do both. You can do the separately or together. Most don’t focus enough on balboa, but little by little the scene is gearing away from “flash and trash”. This is a baby scene compared to the other scenes. We have a lot of growth and learning yet to accomplish.

Peter does have a point about educating today’s scene. They should know the historical difference and significance of balboa, swing and bal-swing. It would be like disguising charleston to be lindy hop. All we can do is educate. We can’t shove it down their throats. Maybe promoters can put on their websites and flyers that there will be balboa and bal-swing.

Evolution happens and terms change. When Lindy Hop was first named it didn’t look anything like it does today. Does this mean we don’t do lindy hop? Does this mean Frankie doesn’t do lindy hop?

Do I think that events need to change their name? No. If most events described every dance they had in their weekend the titles would be ridiculous. The American Lindy Hop Balboa Swing Blues Charleston Groove Cabaret Championships.

Also, this argument on triples and weight changes. I don’t know if anybody has mentioned this, but what about “partial weight changes”? To do a triple in balboa, your body stays over one foot the entire time and the free foot makes a partial weight change in order to shuffle a third time (let’s say it’s about a 5-10 percent change). Heck, a lot of the original balboa dancers had half their basic as partial weight changes.

Frankly, it’s best if we don’t attack each other, or play the blame game and just work together to educate the scene. All these negative vibes and the me me me me me’s are just going to destroy this scene and the dance that we truly love.

Nick

Mar 30 2007, 11:24 PM

Yikes, I wrote that so fast and just re-read my post and the gramatical errors are ama-za-zing.

Anyway, I would also like to point out that most old styles of pure balboa are not taught. It’s mostly the Willie/Maxie basics. I, for one, am going to make it a point to teach other basics and ways of moving that the pure bal old timers did. I don’t want to get rid of anything we already do, cause I love it, but I also think we need to expand our minds and include more of the original styles. Granted some pure balboa styles are better than others, so we can pick the goods ones to be include. I believe that, to take balboa and bal-swing in a positive direction, we must understand where they came from and why.

“I love to dance.”

“Keep it casual.”

erinregina

Mar 31 2007, 04:33 PM

QUOTE(Nick @ Mar 31 2007, 12:24 AM)
Granted some pure balboa styles are better than others, so we can pick the goods ones to be include.

How do you determine what the “good ones” are?

Nick

Mar 31 2007, 04:56 PM

QUOTE(erinregina @ Mar 31 2007, 05:33 PM)

QUOTE(Nick @ Mar 31 2007, 12:24 AM)
Granted some pure balboa styles are better than others, so we can pick the goods ones to be include.

How do you determine what the “good ones” are?

It isn’t just for me to choose. It’s a matter or supplying the community with information and eventually the good ones will be the ones that prevail (hopefully).

Dwight

Mar 31 2007, 05:41 PM

QUOTE(Nick @ Mar 30 2007, 11:24 PM)
Anyway, I would also like to point out that most old styles of pure balboa are not taught. It’s mostly the Willie/Maxie basics. I, for one, am going to make it a point to teach other basics and ways of moving that the pure bal old timers did.

I think that’s a great idea, Nick. However, the Maxie Dorf basic is such an integral part of the way the dance is taught today that it’s difficult for me to see that happening. The way I’ve seen the dance taught is to learn the Maxie Dorf basic and then learn some way of transitioning to swing as soon as possible (I think the teachers are calling it the break turn or some such thing; I’ve also heard the term comearound, although it’s not clear to me what’s meant by the term). The result is what’s been described on this thread, aptly, as a blended Balboa. The two dances have been fused together to allow the transition to be as seamless as possible.

To dance the other styles of Balboa (pure Balboa) would require quite a departure from the way the dance is taught and done. With Maxie’s style the man is leading the dance and can control every weight shift. There’s a movement backward and forward. With other styles the man isn’t necessarily leading; sometimes he does (such as in Dean Raftery’s traveling steps); sometimes he’s just dancing in place. The woman may follow him, where their footwork matches. Or she may not, and do quite different footwork. They’re dancing together, to the same music. But they’re not necessarily matching each other, in a mirror image.

Nick

Mar 31 2007, 06:57 PM

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 31 2007, 06:41 PM)
I think that’s a great idea, Nick. However, the Maxie Dorf basic is such an integral part of the way the dance is taught today that it’s difficult for me to see that happening. The way I’ve seen the dance taught is to learn the Maxie Dorf basic and then learn some way of transitioning to swing as soon as possible (I think the teachers are calling it the break turn or some such thing; I’ve also heard the term comearound, although it’s not clear to me what’s meant by the term). The result is what’s been described on this thread, aptly, as a blended Balboa. The two dances have been fused together to allow the transition to be as seamless as possible.

To dance the other styles of Balboa (pure Balboa) would require quite a departure from the way the dance is taught and done. With Maxie’s style the man is leading the dance and can control every weight shift. There’s a movement backward and forward. With other styles the man isn’t necessarily leading; sometimes he does (such as in Dean Raftery’s traveling steps); sometimes he’s just dancing in place. The woman may follow him, where their footwork matches. Or she may not, and do quite different footwork. They’re dancing together, to the same music. But they’re not necessarily matching each other, in a mirror image.

I’m not saying any of these things will become a prevalent part of the scene, maybe just a minority, but at least we can start introducing them. After all, we’re talking about pure balboa basics, not bal-swing. They can just be taught on their own for now. Start with camps and see what happens. The point isn’t to make that the “new style” but to do our part in presenting the information so it is not lost. Also, it will give dancers the option to take these ideas and styling and add it to their dancing. And I think a bit of departure is due right about now. Most balboa dancers are stuck in patterns and this will be a good way to get them out of their comfort zones.
As far as lead and follow, anything can be lead, or not lead, in any style. Yes, Maxie’s style does lean towards more lead and follow, but also he was able to open up options and not always lead strict weight changes. This is something that not many dancers have a grasp on. Maybe learning these old styles can help that.
The balboa scene is in a state where people need to learn. They crave more balboa input. They can’t get enough. So let’s give them this. It may create more of a pure balboa interest.
Side note: I’ve seen video footage of pure balboa dancers doing what we refer to as a “come-around” or “break turn”. It does exist. Nobody made it up out of thin air.

Dwight

Mar 31 2007, 08:46 PM

QUOTE(Nick @ Mar 31 2007, 06:57 PM)
Side note: I’ve seen video footage of pure balboa dancers doing what we refer to as a “come-around” or “break turn”. It does exist. Nobody made it up out of thin air.

Maybe this is one of those terminology problems. I don’t remember ever seeing it with the old time dancers.

Nick

Mar 31 2007, 11:13 PM

QUOTE(Dwight @ Mar 31 2007, 09:46 PM)

QUOTE(Nick @ Mar 31 2007, 06:57 PM)
Side note: I’ve seen video footage of pure balboa dancers doing what we refer to as a “come-around” or “break turn”. It does exist. Nobody made it up out of thin air.

Maybe this is one of those terminology problems. I don’t remember ever seeing it with the old time dancers.

It’s a modern term to a variation that did not have a name (like paddles, lolly kicks, etc.). In pure balboa, the come-around is no more significant than any other ad lib step (progressives, scoots, paddles, pivots, etc.). But it has a great significance to bal-swing. It’s the glue that holds it all together.

erinregina

Apr 1 2007, 05:03 PM

QUOTE(Nick @ Apr 1 2007, 12:13 AM)
It’s a modern term to a variation that did not have a name (like paddles, lolly kicks, etc.). In pure balboa, the come-around is no more significant than any other ad lib step (progressives, scoots, paddles, pivots, etc.). But it has a great significance to bal-swing. It’s the glue that holds it all together.

I thought the out-and-in was the glue that holds bal-swing together. Or do you mean the come-around is the glue that holds “pure” balboa and bal-swing together?

Nick

Apr 1 2007, 06:33 PM

QUOTE(erinregina @ Apr 1 2007, 06:03 PM)

QUOTE(Nick @ Apr 1 2007, 12:13 AM)
It’s a modern term to a variation that did not have a name (like paddles, lolly kicks, etc.). In pure balboa, the come-around is no more significant than any other ad lib step (progressives, scoots, paddles, pivots, etc.). But it has a great significance to bal-swing. It’s the glue that holds it all together.

I thought the out-and-in was the glue that holds bal-swing together. Or do you mean the come-around is the glue that holds “pure” balboa and bal-swing together?

The come-around is the transitional glue. Take each motion (crossovers, lollies, and throwouts) and it ties them all together.
The out-and-in is what makes each bal-swing pattern work. It’s not what ties them together but makes every one of those figures functional.

There are two general fundamentals in bal-swing. Out-and-in and Rotation. If you take out one of them, you don’t have bal-swing. Crossovers, lollies and throwouts all have these elements.

I can go into more detail if you need to. Let me know.

erinregina

Apr 1 2007, 07:24 PM

QUOTE(Nick @ Apr 1 2007, 07:33 PM)
The come-around is the transitional glue. Take each motion (crossovers, lollies, and throwouts) and it ties them all together.
The out-and-in is what makes each bal-swing pattern work. It’s not what ties them together but makes every one of those figures functional.

There are two general fundamentals in bal-swing. Out-and-in and Rotation. If you take out one of them, you don’t have bal-swing. Crossovers, lollies and throwouts all have these elements.

I can go into more detail if you need to. Let me know.

Ah. All is clear.

Dwight

Apr 1 2007, 07:47 PM

Well… pretty clear. I’m still not sure how the Balboa basic fits in with swing. Are you saying the come around is the glue that connects the closed position Balboa basic to swing, too, just as it connects the Bal Swing patterns?

Nick

Apr 1 2007, 09:41 PM

QUOTE(Dwight @ Apr 1 2007, 08:47 PM)
Well… pretty clear. I’m still not sure how the Balboa basic fits in with swing. Are you saying the come around is the glue that connects the closed position Balboa basic to swing, too, just as it connects the Bal Swing patterns?

The come-around is a tool often used to transition from Balboa to Swing but I don’t think it’s in any way the “glue” (much like a transition step is used going from Balboa to crossovers). I’m just referring to bal-swing patterns.

TomSEde

Apr 3 2007, 12:25 AM

For anyone interested in seeing what balboa looked like in the 1930s, I have three words: “Follow The Fleet”.

saracynthia

Apr 3 2007, 10:30 PM

QUOTE(TomSEde @ Apr 3 2007, 12:25 AM)
For anyone interested in seeing what balboa looked like in the 1930s, I have three words: “Follow The Fleet”.

not to sidetrack the discussion, but the preview for this movie
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP8JmaARSeQ

uses the phrase “a tidal wave of rhythmic joy”

sdswingr

Apr 5 2007, 12:13 AM

umm, what was the point of that clip?

2PlySwing

Oct 27 2007, 11:39 PM

Jetlag is an intersting beast: 5:40am in Toulousewhere I am now – really should be sleeping but read through this entire post – GREAT STUFF!

I RARELY post anything other than event info on forums or get into topics due to the issues already brought up in this post and any other post where opinions come into play, nevertheless, I’m wide awake, intrigued and interested in posting on this topic started months ago (perhaps this is way old news now):

QUOTE(Peter @ Mar 23 2007, 02:37 AM)
It served its purpose and was no doubt a historic moment. who would have ever thought a new generation would come along and completey ignore how those legends wanted contest to be run to show off their dance in the proper light…
IMO – any current competitions do not ignore this at all, on the contrary I think promoters have added divisions and other comps to show the versatility of the dance (Balboa, Bal-Swing, whatever you want to call it)

I know for me personally the reason I changed the format (rounds, judging, etc) was to respect Peter’s original competition. When he informed me in 2005 that he was no longer going to do his competition at the Pavilion I wanted to change the format completely in case he ever decided to run it again & encouraged him to do so (I still think he should bring it back). It had nothing to do with ignoring legends… {just want to make sure that history is correct here}

The competition at the Rendezvous now fits the educational programming to show students what can be done and inspire them:
Friday classes are all about Balboa (the Friday PRE-LIM comp is Balboa)
Saturday classes are all about Bal-Swing (the Saturday SEMI-FINAL comp is Bal-Swing)
Sunday is all about meeting as many ‘original’ dancers as possible and the FINALS of the comp is all about entertaining the crowd (especially the ‘original’ dancers)

The sad reality is that there are VERY FEW of the ‘original’ dancers left. Many that are invited at the Rendezvous were the next generation from ‘original Balboa dancers’, but it’s the closest living link we have. It’s always a special night seeing so many of them there sharing stories and being able to dance with them.

NOW ON THE TOPIC OF BALBOA:
I think that PURE BALBOA was coined to further differentiate BALBOA from BAL-SWING. The ‘pure’ was just extra emphasis added, but most definitely not required…

Generically, BALBOA = closed, BAL-SWING = open, but as Peter pointed out dancing in closed position does not necessarily mean you are dancing BALBOA… BUT – if you learn other dances, on the social floor who is going to tell you not to add that little step or styling in closed position (I will not, but some will).

This post has been quite helpful to me as an instructor and have learned something new as I often do.
Different teachers will use terms that make sense to them or coin new terms for marketing or to differentiate themselves.

GENERALITIES:
Know that numerous titles are used for these ‘steps’ so you may know it as something else:
BALBOA – basic step/rhythms/ad-libs/paddles/serpentines/crabwalks/pivots/break turns
One point of this topic is that many of things are NOT Balboa – I’m just throwing out general terms I know that are out there…
BAL-SWING – throwouts/pop turns/crossovers/lolly kicks/transitions

Over the past 8 years, anything that I have witnessed being taught is a variation or combination of these steps with various footwork variations added. I’m always willing to learn new things though…

THE BIG PICTURE:
The one thing I would like to point out is the VERSATILITY of the dance. There is so much you can do in Balboa and so much you can do in Bal-Swing as well as many other dances… When you start learning many different dances and not get too caught up on EXACT historical steps or terms you start to see how many things are related. Any ‘old timers’, ‘original dancer’, whatever you want to call them I’ve talked to always stresses the FUN and JOY they had when dancing. They NEVER get into technique and exact terms unless I push it that way – they danced for enjoyment.

Now because of all our resources and our desire to package things up for history, for reference, for dance, for further education we strive for the ‘right term’ or the ‘correct step’.

Without a doubt, Peter is the most knowledgeable person of Balboa history and many other dancers.
Without a doubt, there are many dancers/instructors evolving the dance and taking it to new places.

THE WARM FUZZY:
To preserve a dance we must have a knowledge of the history (terms, steps, etc)
To evolve a dance, we must be open to new things (terms, steps, etc)
If you can both preserve (by your knowledge) and evolve (by your openness), and get many other people dancing along the way – now you’ve really got it!

If we all remember to continue to be students of the dance (even if we are teachers) we will always be amazed at the new things (terms, steps, etc) you can learn and then pass on if you want to or keep them to ourselves.

The beauty of your personal JOY or personal choice of KNOWLEDGE on this or any other dance is that it 100% does not depend on what anyone else says or does – it’s amazing once you stop worrying about that!

Joel

PS – PM me if you want any continued discussion from me, my next post will be on NOV 15 when I open registration for the Rendezvous. I neither have the time, nor energy to continually post and defend any follow up or shots taken at my opinions here.
Now I really need to get some sleep before teaching some BALBOA & BAL-SWING tomorrow (oops TODAY!)

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