With a tradition of two left feetness I've not been much of a dancer. My generation also conspired to sabotage dancing by embracing all the free form spontaneous dance grooves of the sixties and seventies.
If it wasn't for Disco....
And I loved Disco. Still do. I still appreciate the outfits and the kitschy style. I love the songs with their cascading sounds. And Funk -- Funk is my soul beat. My addiction.
So to take up dancing -- line dancing! -- now! -- after years of music eclecticism is weird.
Bio snippet:I came into my own during Punk but collected American Old Time music (esp from North Carolina/West Virginia). Played blues harp, bodhran and five string banjo. Music, for me, was always a listening medium.
And I'm a guy and line dancing is overwhelmingly a womens' preference.
But that eclecticism in the wake of Hurricane Katrina drew me to the culture of drowned New Orleans and I've been obsessed with Louisiana music forms ever since. Among these is Zydeco.
Zydeco Music is a unique form of musical expression that originated in rural southwest Louisiana. Locally known as "la la" music, Zydeco music was formed and forged in a time best forgotten--a time when African-Americans had to struggle in the fields from sunup to sundown as sharecroppers so that their children might reap a better life. It was these backbreaking hard times that help to define one of the most vibrant and successful musical traditions in the world. The phrase "Zydeco sont pas sale'" means "The snapbeans are not Salty" in Creole French, and the music draws upon French, Creole, West African, Cajun, Caribbean, and R and B musical traditions. Zydeco Music is characterized by the use of the accordion, spoons, scrubboard, fiddle and triangle. Source.
But Zydeco is primarily dance music and its dance focus parallel Cajun music alongside which it grew up. So if you get into Zydeco you have to find a way to dance to it. And there is form to both Zydeco and Cajun dances. It's not just jumping up and down. Fast tunes are akin to the Jitterbug and have a lot of syncopation. With my background, I'd liken it to Irish Ceili music -- but it's much sexier than jigging and reeling--and has a lot more 'swing'. (Well, there is really no 'swing' in a reel. They're so up and down.)
To cut a long story short: line dancing was my route into Zydeco dance. And along that route I discovered Soul Line Dancing -- Afro America's answer to the whitey's preference for boot scootin'.
Soul Line Dancing is a very broad church which is buoyed up by choreography that's always evolving and in the scene new dances take off and get danced with abandone.
So far I've discovered three Zydeco line dance choreographies and that's enough to keep me busy for the foreseeable future. Whether I can convince my local C and W ruled line dance group to dance Zydeco (or Soul) remains to be seen. But I figure that if I learn the steps I can also teach them.
The 'white' line dance habit is now more open than of yore (see excellent history summary here). After the deluge of country line dancing in the wake of Achy Breaky Heart - line dancing became synonymous with country music:"yeehaa" music. But since then there has been a drift away from country music and a new preference for a mixture of styles.
But Soul Line Dancing seems to embrace a preference for different steps as it's in a different groove. Boot scootin to "yeehaa" music may be fun but it has a very different substance to Soul -- and among my musical habits was indeed a long time addiction to Soul and its offspring, of course, is Funk. The first record I ever bought -- way back when -- was Otis Redding.
A simple dance like the Zydeco Bounce (where "Southern Soul meets Zydeco") captures that essential difference I think. So I master that and move on.
Up ahead somewhere I will tackle and I will dance the 'James Brown slide' . It's part of the Good Foot line dance choreographed to his Funk classic, Get on the Good Foot (Super Bad).
Then perhaps I too will have a little bit more soul ... and happier feet.