WEST COAST SWINGFrom Boom-Bang-Bing To Swing

by Michael A. Harvey

No matter how hard some of our brethren try to push mankind into a unisex world, it will never happen. I LOVE the gender difference of Creation. I love the fact that men tend to be hard and hairy, that women are less hairy and soft. I love that women adorn themselves with jewelry and make-up, that men are less inclined to do so. I love that women drive men nuts, yet we can’t live without them. Because of my gender I can’t begin to fathom why women are so attracted to the gross male creature, but I’m glad they are. I love these facts of life and can’t conceive of it being any other way!

Men are thinkers and doers, women are sensitives and responders. Men venture from the nest and hunt. Women tend the nest and nurture. Men create, women enhance. Men draw, women color. Men are fundamentally projectors, women are fundamentally receivers. What’s born from the union is new life, Creation.

When the first caveman slapped a stick on a rock and heard "boom," he was immediately intrigued by the sound. His mind was set in motion. Doing it several times, he smiled at the sound of "boom-boom-boom." This was really cool. Curious, he then struck a larger rock and heard "bang," a smaller rock and heard "bing." His mind quickly took him to "boom-bang-bing." It was an easy jump to "bang-bing-boom," "bing-boom-bang," and so on.

After knocking his chosen mate over the head and dragging her back to his cave by the hair he played "boom-bang-bing." She immediately moved a leg - a hip - an arm. She couldn’t help herself. It just happened. And so it’s gone from there.

Creating music has traditionally been a male domain. Females frequently and most easily enter that domain through their voice. They use what’s internal to supply an external sound. Female singers complement a male band. Freed from the confines of an external instrument they easily express internal emotions with their body and move to what they are singing and with the music they hear. Men see the music in their minds, figure it out, and do it. Women feel it.

Dancing to music has traditionally been a female domain. Men frequently and most easily enter that domain as a prop for the woman, a note of contrast, a physical presence. They bang the drum, the ladies gyrate. Not wanting to miss the fun, some men get up and gyrate with them. The ladies think even the attempt to dance with them is really, really cool.

Men tend to play the music, women tend to move to the music. Men think through the universe of sounds and apply their physical dexterity. Isn’t this how men lead? Women are moved internally and express emotionally through the universe of movement. And isn’t this how ladies follow? Men describe what they hear and structure a lead. Ladies become what they hear within a framework of following. When I lead I’m pro-active. When I do the following part I become re-active. The male "scope" tends slower and deeper, the female "scope" faster and broader. Men want to get to the heart of the issue, women want to express all the issues. Don’t you just love the gender differences?!

So now, this male has reached the heart of the issue. West Coast Swing captivates us so much because of the interplay between male, the female, AND THE MUSIC. This is the golden nugget that most people who first learn West Coast Swing have no idea exists. They can "see" it in others doing it and they say to themselves "I gotta learn this dance." But it’s an elusive nugget that, frankly, many people miss.

This is the unfortunate fate of "Pattern Man." He’s equally proficient dancing to R & B, Pop, Soul, Rock, or a metronome! And he can’t figure out why, with all his great moves, more women don’t relish dancing with him. The answer is that sharing an aerobic moment with someone is OK, but not nearly as satisfying as a sensuous union. Women can adapt to and express "boom-boom-boom." But they will enjoy "boom-bang-bing" much more. Give them "boomity-bangity-bing-bing-bing" and they’ll be in the throes of ecstasy!

Only in West Coast Swing does it happen spontaneously. And that’s what sucks all of us in. The fabulous disciplines of Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Tap, and many other incredibly difficult and visually stimulating dances certainly match form to music. However, this artistry is choreographed. Ballroom dancing certainly reacts to the sound as it’s nearly impossible to Foxtrot to Latin music. Each Ballroom dance, however, does not have the same diversity of music as West Coast Swing.

Free-lance dancing is very expressive to music. But people do that alone. Where’s that at? Isn’t this merely self-pleasuring? Even if the free-lance dancer faces their partner and somehow meshes their moves, where’s the physical "connection?" All dances are fun to do, requiring great passion and discipline. But for the West Coast Swing dancer each song with a new partner creates an entirely brand new life.

Each woman, each dance, feels different. The spectrum from short to tall, slim to full-figured, tight to relaxed, soft to toned, light to heavy, joined with music from smooth to bumpy, fast to slow, hard breaks to subtle accents, all provide a huge palette with which to create. Add to this the scent and texture of a woman, eye contact, and the unique way your energies intermix, what you have is a powerful adventure. As a man projects his sense of the music into the sensitive receiver of the woman, she creates for both a memorable experience. West Coast Swing is an activity where both participants "get into" each other, traveling as one gender-enhanced entity into the music.

Many enthusiasts get frustrated with teachers who keep stressing "basics" and "connection." But the teachers are the ones who understand the "nugget" that is West Coast Swing. It’s the "feel" of each dance that keeps us going hour after hour after hour. Yes, underarm turns are boring. But match it and accent it to the music, and it becomes a flower. Do it with concern for your partners balance and she’ll scent the flower. Push breaks, so difficult to learn at first, are incredibly ideal for the narration of music. And that’s just the beginning!

If you aren’t eager to join yourself and your partner to the music, you haven’t yet found the golden nugget. Go for it. Find it. It’s waiting for you. You think you’ve suffered the difficulty of West Coast Swing enough? Ha! You think you can’t be seduced any further into this dance than you already are? Ha, Ha! You think every time you make great strides to the top of the mountain only to see it stretch even farther away? Ha, Ha, Ha! We addicts are completely captured by the charms of West Coast Swing. "Boom-Bang-Bing!"

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