So why social dance? For a multitude of reasons! Dancing is one of the great equalizers: No matter your age, class, or ethnic background – a shared love for the music, movement, and history can transcend language or social barriers. Partner dancing is also a great way to meet people and socialize in a fun, friendly, and low-pressure environment. Learning and engaging in activities together helps build solid foundations for stronger connections and friendships.
And as for the blues? The blues was the popular dance and party music of the areas in which they developed, so it is made for dancing and community. The common themes of blues follow the Black American experience and include major events, jealousy, loss, drinking, gambling, jobs, money, etc., and lament injustices. However, they also celebrate life, pleasure, success, love, and God. It is these relatable themes that help dancers connect to the culture. The dances do not exist without the music.
While there are definitive characteristics that make up blues music and the blues aesthetic, blues is also highly improvisational. Blues culture values creative interaction between dance partners and between the dancers and the music. Just as musicians who have never played with each other can get together and jam, dancers who have never met can come together be inspired to innovate together.
What is Blues Dancing?
The below is a summary of blues dancing. More detail can be found here: http://damonstone.dance/articles/blues-idiom-dance-stylistic-groupings-of-vernacular-dance-created-with-blues-music/
“Blues Dancing” is a modern shorthand term used to describe the family of vernacular (street) dances done to blues music. These dances evolved separately around the United States inspired by the regional styles of blues music. The various styles all conform to a common aesthetic that includes:
- An earth-centered, grounded, athletic posture and movement, knees bent, hips back, with weight down into the balls of the feet
- Improvisation between dancers one another and between the dancers and the music.
- Asymmetry in the body, where movement appears to originate and travel through all parts of the body, with no part dominating but all working together
- Movement articulated in multiple parts of the body – chest, hips, butt, shoulders, rib cage – emphasizing different meters or rhythms.
- Lag and play in the space between beats, a sense of being relaxed and unhurried while still arriving on time.