When you start social dancing you might not know about modern jive freestyles. You might just be looking to learn how to dance. Maybe learn to dance for your wedding. Or you’ve been dragged along by a friend or partner under duress. But even after one modern jive beginners class you’re encouraged to get on the freestyle dance floor. Class night freestyles aren’t so daunting once you get over the worry that you can’t remember anything. But making the move from class night up to a freestyle only night can worry newer dancers.
My main take out is don’t panic and take things slowly if that’s what you want.
Take me for example. I’ve been social dancing for the best part of 10 years with 14 years of dance experience behind that. Modern jive freestyles didn’t worry me (dance wise) because I did salsa first. If you can dance at a salsa night, modern jive freestyles are friendly and easy to enjoy in comparison. But west coast swing….I’ve done a year of wcs before having my son, and have done another 9 months of lessons over the last year. But I’ve never been to a wcs only freestyle (excluding a weekender with a couple of friends). Even with that background and experience, I still have a perceived worry about the level of dance and my freestyle proficiency needed for a full freestyle. So I certainly feel the pain of beginner modern jivers.
How to make modern jive freestyles less daunting
1, Ease your way in gently
Don’t leave a class night after the classes. Try and dance with lots of different people and to different music
2, Visit other class nights
Don’t stick to what you know. Try other classes, stay for their freestyle sessions afterwards, and you’ll broaden your freestyle experience and meet more people you’ll see at freestyles in future
3, Go with a friend or two
If you know people who’ll be there, then you always know you’ll have a dance, and when sitting out you’ll have someone to talk to, if you’re worried about sitting on your own. My advice would be not to go in a big group though – it’s much harder for other dancers to approach a group to ask for a dance, than when it’s a single person sitting at the side. If you go as a group, don’t stay sitting with them the whole evening
4, Don’t pressure yourself into dancing all night
Remember it’s social dancing so you can sit out and chat, or watch the dancing. Aim for a few dances with people you know, and maybe try and dance with someone new each hour you’re there.
5, Get used to asking people to dance
Confident people don’t sit out for long. If you’re ok about asking someone to dance, you will get to dance more frequently, especially if there’s a gender imbalance.
6, Research the type of music the freestyle will play
Some freestyles are themed around certain music genres, others play only main room music, some have 2 rooms, or the DJ plays main room earlier on then moves to slower more blues style later on. If you know what you enjoy and what to expect, you can practise listening to and dancing to those types of music. Or find another more suitable freestyle night.
You don’t have to go to freestyles straight away, go when you’re ready. But do practice dancing without just doing class moves. So practice mixing moves up, and getting confident about your repertoire.
8, Repeat the mantra
‘Freestyles are not scary places to be. I will get to dance. And I do know enough to give a dance partner a reasonable dance’. Confidence is a big part of people’s dance experience. People who are confident (without being arrogant) of their dancing ability will find it easier to go out and enjoy a freestyle.
How did you find the move to freestyles? What tips would you add?