Where Might We Go From Here?
& Dan Finch
Our Roundalab (RAL) Manual of Standards gives us 15 rhythms as
standards for our activity. We easily recognize them from the ballroom
or swing world: waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, rumba, jive, west
coast swing, cha cha, bolero, merengue, mambo, paso doble, samba, two
step and slow two step. The “standard” rhythms of 60 years ago have for
the most part disappeared: the mazurka, polka and varsouvianna.
The waltz was new 200 years ago; fads come and go. Is there a new
rhythm waiting for us? RAL does not rule out innovation. In fact, our
manual provides a category called “unphased” material that allows new
figures and new rhythms to develop. If they catch on, they eventually
get standardized. Bolero was accepted as a new rhythm in 1993; slow two
step slipped into the manual as a new rhythm the same year. Single
swing was spun off from the other swing rhythms in the past decade to
have its own set of standards.
Even waltz has seen a “new” twist in recent years. Kay & Joy Read
reached back to 1910 to give us a hesitation canter waltz (combining
early waltz variations).
Ken & Marion Scholtz have just written a dance in a new rhythm
called “blues foxtrot.” Ken describes it as a social dance rhythm from
Europe that uses foxtrot style walking steps but changes the basic
timing from slow-quick-quick to four even beats per measure. That makes
it easier to learn. Their World On A String could be step-cued as a
phase III two step.
“We feel it should have a place in round dancing as a new rhythm.” they
wrote in their dance notes. “It opens the possibility of a wider choice
of music for easy and intermediate dancers. In addition to its inherent
value as a dance rhythm, it could provide an early introduction to
passing steps in Banjo and Sidecar that are required for phase IV and
Rey & Sherry Garza went Latin with the introduction of bachata in
2003. The rhythm came from the Dominican Republic, almost a Latin
equivalent of the blues foxtrot, with a little merengue. Its basic is
counted 1,2,3 and on 4, touch.
Bill & Carol Goss, who gave us the first slow two step in 1991,
also gave us a Lindy, called In The Mood in 1999. The Lindy is fast,
acrobatic, improvisational street dance, called the mother of swing.
Kenji & Nobuko Shibata have tried introducing salsa, an exuberant
form of mambo (Salsa Café), and hustle (Be My Lover).
The hustle periodically reappears. It is a fast swing dance, done
mostly in a slot, like west coast swing, with lots of inside and
outside turns for lady. You know it by the Saturday Night Fever-kind of
disco music. Its timing varies, depending on the style.
The first hustle to appear in round dancing was Hustle-A-Round by
Charlie & Nina Ward, released in 1978. It was danced to the
Bee-Gees “Staying Alive,” the undeniable disco hit of that era. The
Wards were primarily known for their efforts to bring International
smooth styling into round dancing (Maria Elena Foxtrot) but their
hustle was done regularly in Southern California for several years.
Hustle is a street dance, evolving in the early 1970s. American hustle
is the most basic—counted 1234. Rebecca Sorenson came up with an old
book showing many forms of hustle no longer done, but LA hustle or
street hustle is still a local club favorite and more basic -- good for
crowded floors, she said. New York hustle (called also syncopated
hustle or three-count hustle) requires more training, combining Latin
and smooth techniques. The basic hustle foot pattern is simple—rock
recover, walk, walk (think quick, quick, slow, slow).
Jim & Bobbie Childers recently put us onto Brick House, written in
1979 by Bennie & Dixie Humphryes (Hurricane Swing, the first west
coast swing) in collaboration with dance teacher Peggy Freeman, to the
Commodores song of the same name. The cue sheet says they adapted
several forms of hustle and a little samba to make a dance appropriate
for round dancing. The sections spell out samba, swing, line dance
hustle, LA hustle and American hustle, with a four-measure ending of
mostly point steps and a lunge. Bobbie says she has several records, if
anyone is interested.
The Shibatas’ Be My Lover came out in 2001 at that year’s URDC (ICBDA)
convention, having parts of three-count hustle (&123) and
four-count hustle (1234). Curt & Tammy Worlock tried their hand at
hustle in 2005 with You Owe Me One, which was voted to be this year’s
Oldie teach at Purdue. They combined four-count hustle (four even beats
in a measure) with cha cha to the ABBA hit.
Michael & Regina Schmidt of Germany wrote two dances to the
European social dance rhythm called disco fox (Self Control, 2006, and
Street Life, 2009). Disco fox was known as the European version of
hustle. They used jive figures with rolls and a tamara wrap to a
three-measure sequence count of 12&34; 1&234&; 123&4.
Curt described four-count hustle as introductory hustle using figures
that can later be danced in three-count timing as dancers become more
proficient with the actions.
It’s hard not to like hustle music—Hot Stuff, That’s The Way I Like It,
Oh What A Night. Will we come to like the dance too?
From a club
newsletter, November 2015,
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, March 2018. Find a DRDC Finch archive here.