Here are three reactions to the May Article on "Save the
Fri 04/27/2001 3:10 PM
First I want to start by saying that you have written a great article. Secondly, I agree with most of what you have said. Lisa and I have kind of been caught in the middle of this whole Whip, West Coast dilemma since we moved here.
We were introduced to WCS in the early 90's through our Country and Western competitions. It did not take us long to realize that we preferred WCS over the other dances and we were never beaten in WCS on the Country floor. We have tried to tell those who ask that Lisa and I were doing double resistance from the beginning, not knowing anything about Whip.
When we first moved here we noticed immediately the difference between the two dances. One, Whip was done in a much shorter slot, mainly because of the frequency of two hand holds. Two, double resistance is done at the end of almost all patterns and repeated more than once on a regular basis.
We have been saying all along that Whip and West Coast are the same dance with different styling but some of the traditional Whippers do not appreciate that point of view and would rather argue over which dance came first.
Because of our extensive dance training and teaching experience we simply decided to make Whip more understandable by breaking down the steps and leads in a way that had not been done for the most part. I also agree with the spots that you have picked out as being the most important in preserving Whip but I personally do not like to teach double resistance in the hammerlock position. Because we do not teach a repeating bump or double resistance more than once in closed dance position this seems unnatural. The Lady is already on her Left foot at the end of any pattern that ends in the Hammerlock position, therefore to add double resistance after a pattern is complete makes it more difficult to teach and for the student to understand.
As far as teaching double resistance over at SWWC your sources are a little mistaken about the emphasis on the subject. Lisa of course does not teach DR in her Beg. class because it is not introduced until the Int. level. I believe most of the Whip clubs around town do the same, so of course Whip and West Coast are the same dance until the Int. level, another topic that seems to ruffle the feathers of some.
In my Intermediate 1 class Double resistance is one of the first things I teach at the Beginning of every month. In the syllabus that we teach several of the patterns end with a two hand hold and at this stage in a dancers learning process I choose to have them execute DR only when finishing with both hands. It is true that when a pattern finishes only holding one hand I do not encourage DR.
I am happy to hear your take on this whole thing because you teach more people than all of us put together. I have to admit that at first I was not all that fond of what I was seeing from your students, they seemed to be very rigid in their approach to the dance and were not able to dance with those who were more relaxed with much success. However, over time I have seen a difference in the quality of the dancers from SSQQ and I think that you are doing the right thing, no matter who you piss off.
I just want everyone to get along and realize that dancing has brought us all together and at times tears us apart but we can agree to disagree and still have one of the finest dance communities in the country.
I would love to sit down with you sometime and talk further on the subject if either of us ever have the time.
It was great to see you in Dallas and I wish you the best over at SSQQ.
Mon 05/14/2001 11:52 AM
I've been busy and just got to read your Whip/WCS article. Earlier this year I took three months of Whip classes from you and loved it and have to tell you that I would be deeply sadden to see you EVER fully remove Whip styling from your offerings. The Whip hip motion does bring something special to the dance floor and while, fine in it's own right, the care-free, gee-whiz,
tuna-saladness of West Coast Swing just doesn't compare. However, I think you've hit the proverbial nail right on the head by combining the two dances together as it gives a lead a lot of options to play around with.
It would be nice to see SWC and HWC open a dialog on this, of course the sure fire way to get their attention is to woo their students away from them by letting it be known that there is still a place where they can learn this awesome part of the dance. Let us hope that your writing started to of done this and once the other studios figure out what's happening (and your classes overfill), they'll change their ways.
I think one thing that may be holding Whip back is that it can sometime suffer from an image problem. For me, it really took a while to decide that I was OK with learning Whip since I felt that it can often be danced too trashy for my tastes. As someone who has spent quite a bit of time observing the dance I was surprised to realized that my apprehension lied mostly with the way some women danced it and most notable with their hip motion. I ended up classifying the way that women dance Whip into three categories- sassy, sexy and trashy (well, there's also bad but we won't go there :) ) The sassy style is what most of the well-learned women use in class and contains a conservative, restrained but precise hip motion which can be done in such a way that says "I know what I'm doing and there could be more, but not yet." The trashy and sexy styles are nearly one in the same where the women seems to dance more like a stripper than anything else- there's a very fine line distinguishing the two but I think it all comes down to the look in the women's eyes, if they match the way she is dancing then the dance becomes amazing. The first time I ever saw a very talented couple dance this way I thought they were going to need a cigarette when they were done! However, if all the right elements aren't there then the dance can seem to become trashy.
I guess I'm telling you this since it seems like it could be food for though for someone considering Whip. If all a person sees is the stripper look, they may be turned off from it since they wouldn't want to dance that way with just anyone. I've also heard that there are a number of moves (not necessarily taught in your classes) that guys can lead that many women don't feel comfortable with- it's like the Western Swing slither (which some women loathe) but a lot worse. Maybe it's just me, but if you watch the wrong people, Whip can leave you with the impression that it's one big nasty slither. Of course it doesn't have to be and the thing that's important is that you have choices in the way you Whip and it can be as conservative or let loose as you want for any given dance. For myself, after enough observations, I concluded that there was a perfect, fairly conservative style in which I would feel comfortable with.
It's pretty clear that Whip is special to you so it would seem you own it yourself to promote it and teach it till the demand completely dries up, which doesn't seem too likely. I know I'll be back for more.
Hope this all reads well.
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2001 11:29 PM
I enjoyed your article. Here's what I think:
Short and sweet...when I dance with someone who doesn't know how to lead any
"whip" (and he might be a "great" West Coast Swing dancer) something is definitely missing from the dance. I wouldn't want to be doing whip moves all night, but a little "whip styling" as you so eloquently put it, makes the dance more complete (and fun)
Thanks for taking the time to write such a comprehensive article.