A few weeks ago I went to a Balboa event for the first time in my swing dance life. It was my second dance weekend in a row and I probably only survived by being honest with where my body was and taking the best self-care I could. And overall, All Balboa Weekend was a genuinely great experience.
(Throwback to when I first started swing (specifically Lindy) and couldn’t stand Balboa. Oh, how far I’ve come. But more on that later.)
One of the reasons why I think I liked it so much was because I was coming as a beginner. I even signed up for the beginner track, which I haven’t done for years. And I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to approach the dance as a beginner. (Granted, I was coming in with 7 years of following experience, overcoming arguably the hardest hurdle in that specific role, and therefore making the experience much smoother.)
I highly recommend this for any dancer, to take another dance event at a beginner level. I’ve blindly followed Balboa on the social dance floor, but it was so rewarding to have it broken down and be like “oh that’s what I’m supposed to do!” and “oh, I’ve been cheating at this for so long.”
All in all, very enjoyable and making me feel much more capable on the dance floor, which is what all dance classes should aim for.*
Over the course of the weekend, I got a better understanding of what classes I liked vs. what classes I didn’t and the slower pace of the beginner classes allowed me to analyze why I liked those classes more.
The classes that I enjoyed concentrated lesson focused less on “put your foot here” and “do this with your arms” and focused more on rhythms, body movement through space, and connection. There were less limitations and made the students think more on how they were moving vs. did they “do it right”.
Because what I love about swing dances (I can’t really speak for any other couple dances) is that the more advanced you go the more you realize the rules are more what you’d call guidelines.
That being said, I am a huge fan of basics in any dance. As someone who primarily follows, basics are what I think of as my bread and butter. And having a whole weekend that concentrated on nothing but the basics? Basically, my dancer heaven.
I think a few of the reasons why I didn’t pick up on balboa in the beginning was (1) the close proximity of dancing partners, (2) the speed of the music, which determined how fast the pulse was (which was difficult to discern as a beginner dancer, and (3) it’s just not as “showy” as Lindy Hop. Boy, did ABW prove me wrong on all accounts.
Hopefully, I’ll make it again next year. Can’t wait to add more Balboa to my life. 🙂
* – Really quick note. It is unreasonable to expect this from every class you teach or take a student. “Ah ha” moments get scarcer the more advanced you become and can lead to a lot of people quitting once they’re progress slows. As Mike Faltesek (Falty) likes to say: “Enjoy the plateaus” because that’s where you’re going to live the most, the longer you dance.