Friday, August 31, 2018

The Ballroom Dance Craze

By Genevieve Bernstein, Hawaii Kai.

In the teens decade of the last century, the US went dance-mad and much of the world followed suit.This dance craze was given much impetus by a young couple Vernon and Irene Castle. Vernon, an English comedian was working in America in stage musicals and Irene, a wannabee dancer met. He got her a job in the musical he was working in and they were married in 1911. They practiced and practiced, went to Paris as a dance team and were a smash hit. They returned to New York where they began a series of tea dances that became the rage of high society.

“Social dancers believe that life is dance and everyone
dances with their own rhythm.”

And of course other dance teachers bloomed all over. From 1912 to 1915 over 100 ballroom dances were created. The Castles founded Castle House, a studio for teaching a more refined type of dancing. A natural sociological function to distinguish themselves from the "street dancers," the lower classes. Much as the Internationals have done in present day Hawaii. They created many dances, the Castle Walk, the Castle Valse Classique, the Castle Tango, the Castle Last Waltz, the Castle Combination, the Castle Lame Duck, and the Maxixe. And most of their dances became fashionable in most of the American upper class ballrooms.

 "Waterfalls" by TLC  (1995)

And the Castles firmly established the terminology for this type of dancing as "ballroom." When they first founded Castle House, they had trouble finding a band that played music suitable for their dances. They met James Reese Europe (a black man) and engaged him as their personal musician. Many black musicians in New York looked down on syncopated music. Ragtime was associated with minstrel shows. Europe decide that his future lay in popular music and realized the power of syncopation, even in the primitive form of those days and made great use of it. He played in Carnegie Hall in 1914 ten years before the great Paul Whiteman.

"Social dancers believe that there may be three sides to every story:
yours, theirs and the truth."

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hang In There

By Derek Anderson, Manoa

Having just finished college on the Mainland, I took a Ballroom dance class at Arthur Murray's as a way to meet the fair sex. Sound familiar? The course taught 6 dances and we met 6 Tuesdays for an hour. I paid close attention, tried hard, and was pleased to receive several compliments. I was excited when the instructor invited the class to go Ballroom Dancing with him the coming Friday for "Graduation".  I even remember going over my notes thinking what a great time I was going to have that night. Talk about a set up, I never had a chance. First I found I couldn’t tell a Tango from a Waltz from a Swing to save my life. To my inexperienced ear, they all sounded the same.

"Social dancers believe that if you love your music and dance from your heart,
your partner is sure to feel it too."

Then once the instructor told me what dance it was, I realized I could not remember the steps. The poor women in the class, bless their hearts, encouraged me to try and reminded me of some of the steps.Then I found out I didn’t know how to lead the steps. In class we had memorized the patterns. I started to seethe. Next I found I couldn’t hear the beat and think of the steps at the same time. Now I was angry. The ladies tried to cheer me up. They said none of the other guys were doing very well either. Oh, great. That makes me feel much better. But nothing prepared for the final acid pill. There was a girl in the class I had a hopeless crush on. I had tried unsuccessfully to dance with her three times that night.

"Bump n' Grind" by R. Kelly  (1994)

As she sat there twiddling her thumbs at the table, the instructor came over and asked her to dance. She couldn’t remember a thing either, but once he put his big arms around her she started to Waltz like Cinderella. She smiled and laughed and forgot about me. Hmmm, so this is what leading is all about. I just crossed my arms and steamed. It was obvious in the game of leading and following, the guy got the short end of the stick. I contemplated the cosmic joke that the sex that needs the easier part somehow got stuck with the harder part. No Fair ! Where do I go to report this injustice ?  No, I was not the winner. I soon left. Despite my total humiliation, afterwards I decided not to quit.  I sure am glad I didn't.  Nor should you. I am still having the time in my life in the social clubs and even in the nightclubs.

"We ought to dance with rapture that we might be alive …
and part of the living, incarnate cosmos." -D.H. Lawrence

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Yes, I know, most of us think we know and then again sometimes we are not so sure. In the Central Valley we cover a pretty large territory and which has been getting more residents in the last fifty years. Wahiawa Ballroom Dance Club stands out as one of the oldest and best dance clubs on Oahu. There is another dance club due, probably in Waipio along with a New Dance Night Club.

“Social dancers believe that Dance is the only art of which
we ourselves are the stuff of which it is made.”

I now have six blogs set up for this island of Oahu and one them may have to go. And it has taken a long time to build up the hits on all the blogs with the limited amount of help I have had. But hopefully this year only one of them has got to go. Hopefully Town Dancer in town, which is our best blog with the most hits. It will be so simple to expand and make independent when we get some Guest Bloggers to contribute their views and perhaps a few photos now and then.

"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston  (1993)

Then with independence I can resign in peace. The bloggers will have a ball, covering the dance parties in town, and their dance blogs will be hit attractions. No matter who is the contributor, some will generate just a few hits but they will generate hits. Some will have hits going through the roof. The pre-party advertising is very nice but the results and viewpoints of the party with a few photos, is what really attracts the reader/dancers. We are learning.

"The greatest friend of truth is time, her greatest enemy is prejudice,
and her constant companion is humility."

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Wot's New?

The best way to define social media is to break it down. Media is an instrument of communication, like a newspaper, a newsletter or a radio. However on Oahu, in our Internet terms, Social Media, (our blog sites) don't just give you information, but get feedback from the readers and share that information on the Blog Site. And we have several methods for getting this feedback. Comments, Information emailed and the top, of course is being a Guest Blogger. In effect, having your own blog within the Dance blog of your choosing.

"Social dancers may believe that love is song, dance and celebration: a song
of gratitude, a dance of thankfulness, celebration for no reason at all."

For our dance blogs, we need those snippets of information on your dance scene and two or three of your favorite photos. You are the final judge and your opinion comes first but a word of advice, two people in a photo are better than one. Three, better than two and four better than three. However, 16 is not better than 15. Again I state, the photographer makes the final decision. Then there is that special photo of a couple in a beautiful dance pose in exhibition costume. Perfect to make "transparent" and use it in my posters. Whatta deal for everyone.

"When A Man Loves A Woman" by Michael Bolton (1991)

Think of regular media as a one-way street where you can read a newspaper or listen to a report on television, but you have very limited ability to give your thoughts on the matter. Social media, (our blog sites) on the other hand, are a two-way street that gives you the ability to communicate too. You disagree with something? Email your version, you have rights too. Unfortunately, not many of our possible reader/dancers have understood any of it. So there is nothing to do but have patience and wait.

"The truth can be too obscure, too plain and too pure. To live it you may have
to explode. There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance."

Monday, August 13, 2018

Tripler Hospital

Just spent seven days in the Hospital and it was not so good. They mean well but it is very hard to do your own thing. I am not in perfect condition but I had to get out of there. The end may be near, and they were very negative about my leaving. They don't know and neither do I. Meanwhile I await my regular nurse and a doctor tomorrow and perhaps we can get a little routine going until the "time" comes.

"Social dancers know that Dance is the joy of movement
to music and the heart of life."

I am slowing down the Latin Rhythms blog and it will eventually be deleted. The readers have made the decision. Meanwhile it will just float around with a little JUNK, then it must deleted. And perhaps there are two or three of you out that would like to have it. I can coach you and you can have it.

"You must look into other people as well as at them."

Friday, August 3, 2018

Social Dance

Many of our social dances on Oahu are partner dances. In fact, quite often when spoken about social dances, ballroom or other partner dances are kept in mind. However it is should be natural to include in this category such groups of dances as circle dances, line dances, novelty dances, or simply club dancing in solo. A social dance is any dance that is done purely for pleasure with other people, as opposed for performance or competition purposes. It may not look as good, but in social dancing, the focus is on the people actually dancing, and not impressing judges or spectators.

“Social dancers believe that life may be just music
to which they choreograph their own dance.”

Some of the answers here say that social dancing encompasses only partnered dances that are not choreographed.  But after doing English and Irish folk dancing, and contra dancing, which are danced in long lines or large groups of couples, and often choreographed, I would include pretty much any kind of traditional folk dancing under the general umbrella of social dance, choreographed or not. So long as the aim is to have fun and to coordinate with other people, it's a social dance. It appears that in the context of this topic social dance refers to partner dancing in a social setting.

     "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You"? by Bryan Adams  (1991)

Partner dance is dancing that, as the name suggests requires a partner. In that context, a social dance is an event at which people will engage in partner dancing in a social setting. Salsa, Swing, and ballroom dancing are typical and popular examples of partner dancing. A primary characteristic of social partner dancing is the element of lead and follow wherein the leader choreographs the dance on the fly, in his own interpretation of the music, and uses the connection of "leading" to communicate the choreography to the follower. We are s fortunate the we some of the best followers in the world.

 "Trump does not bother me too much as we all know he is a liar and going down hill.
  I am grateful that he brings out the best insults in me!"