West Coast Swing Rueda

I love being around people with positive attitudes.  Things tend to happen around them.  Things get done.  That’s what happened earlier this week.

Doug Silton with Tori and Hannah

Doug Silton was in town and was looking for a group of dancers who would participate in a new idea he had for a video.  Doug wanted to take a cue from Salsa dancers and a thing they do called a ‘Rueda de Casino’ or ‘rueda’, and bring that into the West Coast Swing (WCS) world. It’s West Coast Swing danced in a circle with a ‘Caller’ calling out moves or groups of moves with code names, often involving partner changing in the circle. In a way, it’s like Square Dancing. Doug didn’t create the idea for the WCS version, he just wants to promote it, starting with a demonstration video.

I’d never done anything like that before, nor had the rest of us in our ad hoc group that got together Monday night.  Doug had his yellow notepad in hand and proceeded to teach us the calls.  The first one was called ‘Diet Pepsi’

Diet Pepsi is a WCS Basic through step 4, where the Leader then leaves his partner and advances one partner forward in the line of dance.  A ‘Regular Pepsi’ calls for the Leader to advance two partners forward in the line of dance.

Doug checking the video set up with Troy and Damon

Doug had a whole list of code names to teach us, some combining 4 moves in one called name.  Like the ‘Presentation Angel’ which combined a Basic Step to a Right to Left hand change, Roll In, Roll Out and HOLD while the Leader ducks under the Follower’s left arm and advances outside the circle to the next partner in the line of dance where they get into frame again, kick the ladies left leg out like a Tango move, freeze her in place again, and advance to the next partner where they finally complete the move by bringing the lady back into closed frame and doing an anchor step.

Doug then played some music and gave us a taste of what it’s all about. He’d call a Diet Pepsi, then a Center, moving the ladies into the center of the circle and back out, then a Whip series, an Edwin Lee,  and so on until the song was finished.

Okay, so that was challenging enough.  We practiced several times and had our screw ups but overall, we did pretty good. It took a lot of concentration plus it was something we just don’t do it West Coast.  We never line our dance slots up in a circle.  We’re always lined up in the same parallel lines.  But this was really fun, running forward or backward to Doug’s calls and partner changes.  We goofed up our instructions sometimes, but went right back at it and did it until we got it right.  But what I though was just as cool, was that Doug had a vision.  He wanted something and he made it happen with a bunch of volunteers willing to give it a shot.  He was patient with us, teaching us things we’d never imagined before.  He coordinated with Troy Anthony, a major player in the Salsa world who hangs out at D’Amico Dance studio too, to bring his video equipment to the studio to shoot video of Doug’s concept.

Troy and his buddy set up the equipment, get the monitor set along with some lights and just like that, Doug is addressing the camera, teaching each move while we demonstrate it in our group.  He moved through about 15 different moves he had planned for this filming and will edit them down into separate videos so that he can post them on his website to share with the rest of the world.  Doug hopes it will catch on at dance events everywhere.  Doug certainly tested our abilities, but in less than 2 hours, we got the hang of it and were wanting to dance it all night.  I like being pushed to get outside the box and learn new things.

Getting ready to video the Rueda

That’s what I love about being in the dance world.  There are so many creative, talented people who can do amazing things with music and bodies.  Dancers also seem to share and support each other a lot with different ideas.  They share studios, equipment, supplies and their time.  They are ‘can do’ types of people who are just fun to be around.  Dancers make a party, no matter where they are.

I love being in that energy field!

About Wayne to the Max

Active writer, dancer, traveler, Christian and father, aviation enthusiast, photographer, music lover and a DJ, hiker, Harley driver and fine wine drinker. My digital photo artist page: www.WayneToTheMax.com
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