Blues Dancing 101

Are you a blues dancer looking for more resources? Learning to learn more about the dance? About black culture?

Whether you are new to the style, looking for resources, or just want to gain some context, this article has what you are looking for!

Check out this article for a simple summary of blues dancing. We will be discussing some of its history, idioms, and more.

What is Blues Dancing?

Blues dancing is a collection of vernacular dance styles that combines and explores many dances. These movements are historical: They have been passed from generation to generation.

Blues dancing is tightly tied to the development of blues music. It has overlapping styles, genres, and comes from a similar culture.

Idiom Dances

A few years back, the idea of idiom dances became very mainstream within the blues dance community. Yet, going into smaller communities, people are still not exactly sure what that means. Is it just a ploy for more elitism? A competition thing? What exactly is an idiom dance?

Like how Ballroom Dancing encompasses Salsa, Tango, and Waltz, Blues Dancing is an umbrella term for a variety of vernacular dances. These are idiom dances.

Each idiom dance is distinct. Idiom dances can come from a variety of different backgrounds, types of music, time periods or locations. You can learn more about idiom dances here.

Blues Dancing: Obsidian Tea

Curious about blues dancing, but don’t know much about it? Obsidian Tea is a great place to be!

We examine what makes blues dancing different from other freestyle partner dances. We also explore the history of blues dance, debunk popular blues myths, and provide resources.

Below are examples of topics you might encounter while exploring this blog. Click on the link in each headline to learn more!

Example 1: Elders in the Blues Community

The modern day blues dance scene has struggled with diversification. As the community works through its diversity issues, we also combat the following question:

If these blues dances are historical dances, where are our black elders?

Most blues dance communities are currently missing this vital component. Lots of different things factor into this, such as popularity of the dance, oral vs written cultures, and community support.

In other styles, like Lindy Hop, this lack of elders has been accepted by white culture. The consequences of its acceptance has shaped the culture around the dance.

Here at Obsidian Tea, we like to explore alternatives to this codification. For example, we may look at the idea of there being more than one type of “elder” in the scene. Even without traditional elders, leadership can come in many forms. You can learn more about our feelings on elders in the blues community here.

Example 2: Lindy Hop and Blues’s Bad Blood

Lindy hop and blues are dances that have been around for a long time. They even used to be danced at some of the same events.

Years ago, however, there was a split between these two modern communities. This split caused a lot of bad feelings, which stop us from working together and acknowledging our strengths and commonalities. In this way, they only hurt us.

Instead of imposing values of each other’s dance, Obsidian Tea encourages working together to fix blind spots within both dances. You can learn more by reading OT’s full post on the topic here.

Conclusion

Hobbies – like dance – are great! The only thing that makes them better is learning more about them.

I invite you to think about the “how”s and “why”s of your hobby.

If your hobby is knitting, you can learn more by buying a fancy book of knitting patterns from japan.

If you’re a blues dancer, learning about black culture and blues music is a great place to start.

Want More Resources?

Below are links to archives for you to check out!

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Enjoy these resources! And happy dancing.

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