When I first started social dancing, salsa in my case, I was oblivious to the idea of a dance freestyle night. I went along for a class night which was held in a dance studio and when the two classes beginner and intermediate finished there was no dancing afterwards. Everyone just headed off to the bar. Salsa didn’t seem to call them freestyle night, they all had a special name depending on the venue and event. But as soon as I started ceroc, I soon discovered what freestyles were.
Most modern jive beginners start with the class and may stay for the freestyle tracks after the class. A singular freestyle night often seems like a long way in the distance when learning to dance. But there’s so many different types of freestyle, I’m going to share the different options that seem to be around nowadays.
Freestyle at class night
Most modern jive classes are made up of the same structure. A beginner’s class, an intermediate class with a beginner’s review class running alongside, and a short freestyle session after the classes have ended. Having a freestyle slot after the class tonight really helps beginners get used to the concept of practicing the moves, as well as meeting other dancers and getting to dance with people who have the four levels of experience.
The standard freestyle night varies according to the franchise, the area and theme of the night. Generally a modern jive freestyle may last from 8 to 8:30 until late. There’s usually no class although some venues hold a short Icebreaker class to try and help get people to the venue early. The fun classes are off in a good way to start off dancing in a new venue and meet other dancers.
Of course there are variations on freestyle nights. Some will be based on a theme for example Motown music, Blues, or may even have two room; a main room generally playing more upbeat and up tempo music and a chill out room playing slower blues or alternative music for those dancers who want to be more challenged.
Tea dances have become more popular in recent years in modern jive. A throwback to the tea dances of old, they are held in the afternoon, sometimes with a workshop beforehand, and always involving tea and refreshments. So if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like being out late then look out for a tea dance near you for a more relaxed afternoon vibe.
A dance weekender is more than a freestyle night. But it’s worth including here as there are plenty of freestyles to be had when you go on a dance weekend.
Dance weekends do what they say on the tin. Dancers mostly arrive on the Friday late afternoon, stay on site or in the hotel, and enjoy freestyles on the Friday Saturday and Sunday nights, with workshops during the daytime. The Sunday night survivors finish at breakfast time on Monday ready for a quick sleep or the long journey home.
Many dance organisers run events for charity. In our area one organisation runs a 24 hour jiveathon.
Dancers taking part do workshops during the day, followed by a freestyle at night, with other dancers joining for the evening session. They’re certainly an interesting format and for those addicted to dance, they’re a good opportunity to enjoy a full days dancing on a weekend.
Let me know if you have any variations for freestyles in your area and I’ll add them to the list.