- What is do Something Blue?
- What is Blues dancing?
- I’m new to blues dancing. What should I know about preparing for and attending my first dance?
- What is the history of Blues Music?
- Where else can I go blues dancing in Los Angeles?
1. What is do Something Blue?
do Something Blue is a blues dance held in Los Angeles (well technically Pasadena). There is a lesson (included in the cover) and four hours of social dancing. See the list of dance dates on the Home Page or Calendar. The music is often DJ’d but sometimes there is a live band. do Something Blues also hosts a workshop weekend, L.A. Blues.
-CLICK HERE to join dSB’s MAILING LIST-
2. What is blues dancing?
“Like blues music, blues dancing finds its origins in African rhythm and movement.” -Wikipedia
Using the powerful beat originating from African Chants/Calls, blues dancing is about connecting to the earth and your partner. In fact, the best description of blues dancing is that it is a conversation. Because a large part of what makes blues dancing appealing is the physical interpretation of the music, it is open to intimacy and creativity between the dancers that is arguably unlike any other social dance.
This is not to say that blues dancing must be intimate and sensual. On the contrary, blues music “is a sharing of human conditions that everyone can access on some level, and a blues dance can include the entire spectrum of human emotions”, which does not mean that it has to look or feel sexy or sensual to those dancing.
Based on these emotions, there are several different styles of blues dancing. “The Gut-Bucket,” “The Fish Tail,” “Struttin'” and “The Slow Drag” are all different ways to interpret blues music.
If you’d like to see some videos of blues dancing, visit our YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/dosomethingblue-itsjustadance
3. I’m new to blues dancing. What should I know about preparing for and attending my first dance?
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.” -Martha Graham
These are some suggestions we compiled. Whether your first blues dance is do Something Blue or another venue or event, we hope it helps!
PREPARING FOR THE DANCE
- Cash (some dances are cash only and/or there might be coin-only parking meters)
- Smooth soled shoes (it’s best to have as little rubber on the sole for turning and spinning purposes – we suggest no flip flops or high heels as well)
- Extra shirts (bodies are moving, so venues can get warm and this is in case you perspire a lot)
- Hand rag (” “”)
- Apply deodorant
- Plan to arrive to the lesson ON-TIME, if not slightly early (this is considerate not only to the teacher, but the other students as well)
- Eat garlic
- Wear cologne/perfume
AT THE DANCE
- Asking people to dance
- Ask people to dance, including the instructor!
- It is polite to first make eye contact, smile and then ask verbally
- Don’t present your hand as a way of asking, even if it also includes a verbal inquiry
- It is ok to (s)he says “No”
- Being asked to dance
- It is good practice to say “Yes” when someone asks you to dance, but you always have the choice to say “Yes” or “No”
- Typically if someone asks you to dance and you say “No”, it is polite to a) sit that song out and b) ask that person to dance later that evening*
*This is in the circumstance(s) you say no because you need to go to the bathroom, get water, fresh air, etc. If you are saying “No” because that person makes you uncomfortable, unsafe, etc this does not apply. Most venues have a code of conduct in place, so, in the best way you feel comfortable, you should share your concerns.
DANCE ETIQUETTE & SAFETY
- Most venues do not allow aerials (both legs of the follow leave the floor) – these are dangerous not only to those around you, but also your dance partner
- Don’t lead or, for follows, initiate big dips (follow’s head and upper torso are parallel or more to the floor) – you, your partner or those around you could get hurt
- Blues connection points are: upper back, shoulders/upper arm and hands. Do not place or hold your dance partner by/on any other body part (including but not limited to hips: thighs, head, legs)
- Don’t force your follow into any position
- Don’t yank your follow into a turn(s)
- If someone is hurting you or making you feel unsafe or uncomfortable you can say something to them, tell a staff member and/or find out how to submit an anonymous concern
- Don’t teach on the dance floor (it’s just a big no-no, especially when unsolicited)
- Don’t accept teaching on the dance floor (kindly ask them to refrain)
- It shouldn’t be assumed that you can soliciting feedback from someone before or after dancing with them
4. What is the history of blues music?
The evolution of the blues provides insight into the changes that took place in the lives of African Americans after slavery ended. ” Jessica McElrath, African-American History.
Before blues music, solo music in the Black culture was irregular. Black music revolved around chants, call-and-response, and work calls. However, with the end of slavery and the discovery of the individual, Black music was free to explore” the personalized form of the song.” For instance, now instead of calling out to others, the singer responded to him/herself as they told the harsh realities of life.
In 1895, George W. Johnson created the first blues recording, “Laughing Song”. By 1920, blues was in its hayday, and Mamie Smith’s recording of “Crazy Blues” and “Its Right Here For You” sold 75,000 copies in its first month of release- the price was $1 a record.
The market continued to be mostly African American throughout the 1930’s and new artists continued to emerge including: Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Alberta Hunter, and Ethel Waters.
Blues would go on to influence other musical styles jazz, bluegrass, and rock and roll to name a few. By the 1960’s, there were several fusions of these styles, as well as artists from every race, country, and gender. And, with the Civil Rights & Free Speech movements, as well as other never-ending political battles, each generation has been inspired to find the blues as a way to express themselves through song.
5. Where else can I go blues dancing in the Los Angeles area?
Check do Something Blue’s Calendar or http://bluescal.com/ for dances and events in Los Angeles and around the country.