People often ask us how they should understand the term “Slow Dance” and what is the difference between Slow Dance and other dances? That is a good question!
The easiest and the best definition of Slow Dance is just dancing to slow music. But practice isn’t as easy as the theory 🙂 Dancing to very slow and very fast music are the two main challenges of swing dancers, which is why it is worth practicing, even if the goal is reaching a contrast in your regular dance, making your dance more interesting and conscious.
The characteristic features of Slow Dance are, e.g.:
– contrast (slowing down and spreading up, changing energy), playing with rhythms, improvisation to the music,
– extension of movement,
– entering a frame (closer embrace) from time to time, pivots, etc.
– differentiating between triple, grooves and smooth walking without pulse or bounce,
– elements borrowed from other styles, such as Blues, West Coast Swing, Tango, etc.
Dancing to slow swing music can have a very wide scope, depending on the character of the music. The groove can be more rhythmic or melodic, have a more swinging feeling or focus on a single beat and the beat itself may be sharp or smashy. If the swinging mode prevails, the dancers need to slowly fill in all the time and space between the beats, making their movement very smooth. This requires mastering the technique of a gradual shift of your balance and is related to advanced work of your feet, as well as gradual body movement (in contrast to the sudden changes of balance). The dance has a sway and a bit of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers flavor to it, even though it typically also maintains the tripples, swing-out and other Lindy Hop steps, rhythms and figures.
Skye Humphries & Sylvia Sykes
On the other hand, Slow Dance can also be danced without the swinging feeling, acquiring more of a West Coast feeling, when the beat feels more simple and less flowing:
Mikey Pedroza & Jo Hoffberg
can very much look like jazzy Blues, with a lot of walking on 1 and characteristic stretches led above the follower’s hip, etc. (see e.g. the interpretation of the winners, Ron and Sharon):
Ron Dobrovinsky & Sharon Dobrovinsky
Sometimes Slow Dance can also be inspired by Tango and be based on stretches, speeding-up and slowing down (Fabien Vrillon & Lisa Clarke):
Fabien Vrillon & Lisa Clarke
Finally, it can even have some elements of Lyrical Jazz and focus on expressing and interpreting the prevailing instruments:
again, Mikey Pedroza & Jo Hoffberg
As you can see, there is a wide variety of styles in Slow Dance and everyone can choose something for him- or herself. It is useful to take at least one Slow Dance workshop in order to try a different approach to swing dancing and decide for yourself, what you could adapt to your Lindy Hop or Blues.