Friday, September 29, 2017

We Got Nice Dances.

In Social Dancing most of us know that we have some terrific dances to terrific music. Swing is a solid, grounded Jazz dance, close to the music, sensuous, with close, gentle connection to other dances.  Ours may be unlike some which are upright, step-pattern heavy, push-pull, music-indifferent non-Jazz dances. Lindy-Hop, The Charleston, Shag, Black Bottom, Lindy Hop, and Balboa are danced with a partner to traditional Jazz music. Jazz is folk music, and jazz dancing is folk dancing. European and American with Negro feelings, solid, grounded, flowing, low, improvised.

"Social Dancers believe that the dance came from the people and
in exhibitions it is always delivered back to the people.

Unlike "modern/jazz" dance which is a choreographed stage dance that is not done to traditional jazz music, is not partnered, and is rooted in classical ballet sensibilities - high, up, pointed, leaps, etc. We are becoming more knowledgeable. The Fox Trot, originally a completely improvised Ragtime dance, dance to a rich variety of lively Ragtime music in its modern Dance Sport form is now generally done in set patterns with very little, if any, rhythm improvisation.

"Crazy Rhythm" by Harry James

Of course it has been formatted into the American and the English style and much is danced that way. Much dance instruction has been actually destruction of the natural joy of dancing, the natural ease of dancing, the nature of the dance forms, the interest in the dance form. And ultimately, of the dance community and the dance tradition. Of course all this is done with only the very best of intentions, by people who may be very fine dance organizers or very fine dancers.

"Old social dancers know that "Old roads, old dogs, old folks and
old ways still have a lot to offer in this sped up world we live in."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Getting Old

Now that I am 92, I know that I am old but I am quite sure that this place where I live is the cause of my depression. It is a prison of my own making and for now I just have to live with it. This fatalistic stance relies on widely-held but mistaken assumptions about what constitutes "normal aging." I should believe that, fatigue, weakness and depression, among several other common concerns, shouldn't be expected consequences of growing older. Instead, they're a signal that something is wrong and medical evaluation is in order. I am trying to get help from the VA.

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow" by Bruddah Iz

From the Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam,
a millennium ago.

Come fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
your Winter garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
to flutter - and the Bird is on the Wing.

Whether at Naishapur or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing, drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling, one by one.

Docter's Advice: Just one glass a day. I can live with that.

"At Last" by Glenn Miller

When I was a kid I could toast a marshmallow on my birthday candles. Now I could roast a turkey. Hope you all enjoy the beautiful holiday season coming up.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


My hobby, the study of social dance blogs on Oahu continues. I find that the general public assumes that you need to have taken lessons at a dance studio before you can dance. It is also assumed that dancing is steps and moves, rather than feeling, connection, improvisation, and harmonious attention, based on respect between the dancers and a love of the music and their own dance culture. The social dancers in the Night Clubs are very firm on this. I personally think lessons are great.

"Social Dancers use the creative process of dancing
to get to know themselves better."

The counters on all social dance blogs can be taken with a grain of salt. Specially very low counts. They may contain 30% scam spam robot hits and search engine hits. That means perhaps only 70% of your hits are legit hits. Most local web or blog sites are in single digit average per day hits. Double digits is still not so good. Most solid sites have average daily hits in the twenties. They must have feedback in the form of comments and information contributors. And with two or three Guest Bloggers, a social dance blog can get safely over the 33 average per day barrier. This is 1000 hits per month. And I can plan on getting my best blog independent.

"The Music Of Hawaii" by Melveen Leed

"This is the true joy in life - being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy." ~George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


I break most everything down to three. And we have our most important participants in our blogging into three parts too. First the ordinary everyday reader/dancers. They usually just attend and that is what the entire enchilada is all about. Many share feedback but only between fellow dancers and when we have comments in the blogs, everyone will know that blogging has arrived.

"Social Dancers like to prepare themselves so they can
be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud."

The next is only when the reader/dancer wants to. They can become a Two Center, the information contributor that can share by email more information and perhaps a few photos that can be published in the blog for the benefit of all our fellow dancers. Perfect for one who gets around a bit. Occasionally I get enough from one person to make the entire blog theirs. Why not?

"My Isle Of Golden Dreams" by Melveen Leed

Then and only when they decide they are ready, they can elect to become Guest Bloggers.They will be able to get in on their own. write, delete, insert photos and publish at their discretion, without having to say boo, to anyone. I can coach and help anyone by email, give them any of the posters that I have. They will in effect have their own blog within the main blog and all with ready made readers. And they can blog whenever they damn well please. With enough Guest Bloggers and the hits going through the roof - what does the blog need me for? Yes, you got it

"Dance music is the passion of a social dancers life. There is no greater feeling
than being with their dance friends and partying to the music they love."

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Social is Normal

By Jon Okamoto, Honokai Hale
What has happened to traditional Social Dancing on Oahu? Arthur Murray, a long time ago promoted the notion that dancing is steps, and that you need to take lessons to be able to dance. He built a lucrative mail-order business where customers could step through his patterns in the solitude of their own home. He also created a vast network of franchised dance schools, which, at first, also taught local dance forms. Actually many people have learned to dance using his methods.

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane
by those who could not hear the music."

Victor Silvester, in 1935, declared that dancers should not have to dance to traditional music. He invented the notion of "strict-tempo" music, and actually created "strict-tempo" bands. This broke the ancient tie between live, traditional, popular music and dancing. The "purest" "strict-tempo" music is a metronome, and there actually are "ballroom dance" competitions done to metronomes. The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing promoted the notion of dancing as competitive sport and became very strict in the accepted timing.

"From Here To Eternity" by Englebert Humperdinck

On Oahu we are developing a very good group social dancers, not require to stick to the steps and dances prescribed by Dance Societies.  Most stick to the basic moves and enjoy the music that way. But some with a steady partner can get pretty fancy. I have been to many West Oahu dances where they include WC Swing, Bachata, Salsa and even Night Club 2 step. Not only that but many are dancing it. Whatsup?

"Social Dancers may sometimes just want to party and dance with
no thought or conscience or regard for tomorrow."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Social, Anyone?

The great Fred Astaire was an American dancer, singer, actor, choreographer and television presenter. He began his career as a professional dancer one hundred years ago. As a dancer, he is best remembered for his sense of rhythm and his perfectionism. Fred Astaire presented dancing as an art form for the screen, to be performed and enjoyed by spectators, rather than a popular social activity that everyone could participate in.

"Social Dancers believe that when you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each movement to the music - along the way."

Before that time, dancers and musicians were all active, co-operative participants as a group. After Fred, there were stars - and - admirers. The performers were a different class and it was understood and accepted. All other dance forms, including the originals that were appropriated and re-defined for the dance sport culture, were looked down on as "street dances." Social dancing was often looked down on as what failed dance sport competitors end up doing. It remained pretty much that way on Oahu until the Palladium in Honolulu.

"Maui Waltz" by Loyal Garner

That is when the social dancer began to emerge on Oahu as a thinking entity and able to make other decisions than those taught by the masters. From the moment they heard the term, "Junk Dancer," they realized that they were moving very pleasantly to the music of their choice - their way. Many fad dances continue to come and go, simply because they were new and mostly catered to the young. This century is now for the social dancers which are by far the largest dance group on Oahu. Some social dance clubs even play Salsa? Heaven forbid.

"Dancing is the loftiest, most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because
it is no mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself!"
-- Havelock Ellis: The Dance of Life

Monday, September 11, 2017


The new name for Dancing in the Dark is now officially Social Dance Oahu. That is most of the subject matter that will be covered. The old title had too much competition in the search engines. Two different popular tunes with many interpretations. Today, many people think of Dance as something that professionals perform on stage and spectators watch passively. It is an art form (or professional, competitive sport), separated from ordinary people and from everyday life.

"Social Dancers find that music and dance is how they make sense of the world.
It pushes them to think of things bigger than life's daily routines."

On Oahu, most of us are social dancers. But our culture is dominated by visual consumer media that reinforces dance as being visual, passive, rather than participatory, social, tactile, or even musical. Social dancing does not look spectacular on TV, and therefore it does not exist in the consciousness of typical TV consumers. The only social dancing that makes it onto the TV screen is choreographed performance or competition, in other words, not social dancing. Almost all the ballrooms have disappeared on the Mainland. On Oahu we have beautiful, smaller, friendly, dance parties.

 "Sweet Someone" by Don Ho

Received from my niece, Yvonne some nice photos of a little get together. From left: My sister Bea and my sister Eleanor. Then Billy Bob, Yvonne, Bea, Eleanor, her son Robert and his wife Ellen. Such a nice birthday present. I also got two birthday cards from Bea and Eleanor. My depression went out the window.

"Walk Through Paradise With Me" by Melveen Leed

The expression "Ballroom Dancing" has been redefined by the commercial franchise dance studio industry to mean competitive dance sport. These studios have created a monopoly not only on dance teaching, but on dancing itself. They have created a very small list of permissible dances, each of which has been severely pruned down to a small set of allowable moves, with the music confined to a narrow range of allowable tempos. Fortunately, most of our social dance clubs are well aware of this.

"Social Dancers may believe that dance is the most fundamental of all art forms."

Friday, September 8, 2017


By Roberto Benavides, Mililani.

We still got good Salsa in Hawaii. In a way we were lucky, because once the old fashion "Cuban" dancers got over the "protocol" step, to the well trained eye of the Ballroom teacher, who was totally unfamiliar with the feeling of Latin music, those dancers looked  like they were dancing 234 etc. And so, they started to teach the Mambo on the 2. Their "luck" also turned out to be their misfortune, for ever since then they have had to come up with all kinds of senseless explanations for this non-existent accent on the 2, as well as dirty tricks to make their students "feel" the accent.

"Social Dancers think that the only way to make sense out of change is
to plunge into it, move with it, and join in the dancing."

They should have changed the Tumbao, switch the slap and the TumTum around. Luckily, that was beyond their powers. But what do dancers know about drumming? The rubbish placed around the "House of the Two", to protect it, has been falling in this century. According to dancers of The New York 2, you do a step on the one, and "break"on the 2. I don’t know of any 2 dancer in New York stepping on the 1. (International?)

"Ven, Devorame Otra Vez" por Dolores Solorzano

One of theses days, I plan to include my views about Eddie Torres’ teaching and his video. Also, an explanation as to why the Clave beat is for everyone. Anybody out there know what a Clave beat is? Finally, I will like to raise the question: "Do people really dance to one particular beat on the music (like horses), or is there something more human involved which can help to explain the diversity of ways in which people dance Salsa?" You are a thinking dancer, this is your chance!

"Social Dancers may feel that music is an emotional journey on how well they can feel and move to something that they haven't quite felt before."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Street Dancer

By Jay Akiyama, Maili
As a general rule of thumb, Traditional Social Dance forms on Oahu are dance forms that were introduced in the thirties and reinforced during the War Years. What about other dance traditions? The traditions that we are familiar with, came in the late 50s with new social dance clubs teaching the Mainland methods. These have been directly marginalized by the dominant dance and media-entertainment industry.

"Street Dancers may not dance your dances or speak your language,
but they can still be a blessing to somebody."

The rest of this is being slowly being re-organized island wide with many characteristics of traditional social dancing: The traditional Waltz is small, simple, round, smooth, low, grounded, gently-solid dance. Unlike the modern Ballroom Waltz, which is large, angular, stiff, upright, and formal. The Ballroom Dance Establishment has "defined" the Waltz to have a very narrow range of "permissible" tempos. This has all but obscured into oblivion an entire musical genre and the old time Waltz that very few people know how to play and dance any more.

"Tahiti Nui" by Amy Hanaialii

Street dancing is solid, smooth, low and the various traditional dance forms were either forbidden or cleansed, standardized and simplified. In some cases new "traditions" were invented from scratch, as with the modern dances and the high-kicking step dances. In addition, institutions promoted these new dances through performance and competition. Instead of just going to the dance and enjoying the fun. We can also learn about what we are doing.

"Street Dancers love their music and dance with their hearts."

Friday, September 1, 2017

Dancing in Hawaii

The Art of Social Dancing focuses on exactly that – social dancing. But should it be called an "Art"? Because the point is to be able to dance with anyone, anywhere and have a blast doing it. Basic moves could be led and followed easily on Kauai or the Big Island. Of course. there will be techniques and fancy moves in the dance studios and the social dance clubs, which are a part of the learning process. But the focus of the entire dance scene will be refining everyone into an acceptable, sought-after social dance partner.

"Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will
never do any harm to the world." ~Voltaire 

This should include the amenities that go with social dance and are broadly conceived as physical movements organized into patterns in time and space. Writings on dance grounded in the European intellectual tradition have tended to distinguish dance from other systems of organized movement (such as sport, military drills, synchronized labor, festival processions, and sometimes ritual) by identifying a dimension of conscious craft or artistry. This development of teachers has evolved all over the world.

"In The Mood" by Glenn Miller

Dance criticism is an intellectual project and with time and help from others it will form in our blogs by itself into something worthwhile. Yes, I know blogging is something completely new to the dance scene. I am getting little feedback and I even came across one that said, "It will never work." But I have to try. I believe that the social dancers can help each other in this entire island Paradise. Our blogs can help only those that can see the advantage of blogging. If we help them, we will be helping the rest. Should be pretty simple.

"Social Dancers think that dancing to your favorite tune
may be poetry with arms and legs."