Maybe you need it, maybe you don't… but welcome to the FAQ of Party Like It's Mardi Gras!
Cause... well what is Mardi Gras anyway? How this connects to swing and blues dancing? Can I still come and Lindy Hop? Read on my friend...
Why Party Like It’s Mardi Gras!?
Because we want to party on a drab winter’s day, and what better inspiration than one of the richest New Orleans celebrations of the year!?
In Party Like It’s Mardi Gras! we’re going to have a closer look at connections in music and dance styles that come from this special musical city of New Orleans. Dip into the early styles of jazz dancing in the Peabody workshop, discover solo movement of Jazz Parade dancing, explore the latin tinge in New Orleans Blues dancing and learn a funky Mardi Gras solo choreo.
What is Mardi Gras anyway?
Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, and refers to the last day of the catholic carnival before lent starts. Lent is a 40 day period between Mardi Gras and Easter during which Christians live a more austere life, so before it starts life is lived at its fullest! In New Orleans the holiday of Mardi Gras is important and has many special traditions and customs grown out of the city’s love to party, parade and celebrate.
So why New Orleans?
New Orleans considered to be the birthplace of jazz, and though the real story is likely more diverse, nobody will dispute its importance in Jazz history. It is also there that the big Mardi Gras celebrations take place! Cultural and musical influences met and merged in New Orleans, from Africa, the Americas, Europe, Haiti, Cuba and other places. People from all these places impacted the local music scene to a vivid and sustainable music culture that still is here today. Add some carnival and you’ll see it all fits together like a good gumbo stew!
How this connects to swing and blues dancing?
Ha! Lindy Hop, Balboa, (Collegiate) Shag, Slow Balboa and vernacular solo jazz are primarily danced to swing music, a popular jazz style from the 1930s-1940s. Blues dances are danced to blues styles, since the end of the 19th century until today! They all connect to New Orleans and Mardi Gras through shared roots, influences, originating from bits and pieces that are fundamental to the cultures they come from.
Tell me more!
There are so many ways to explore your dancing. You learn moves, you learn about rhythm, connection and movement, you may discover creativity and find your individual dance expressions. But all these things have a historical and cultural context, like it also has the context of today and the context of you. If you explore more you may find relations and connections between all these elements. It may not be obvious at first, but it will seep in somehow.
All of this is interesting regardless of your level! It’s a journey for all, including for your teachers, fellow dancers, musicians, DJs and organisers. Just hop in and have fun while you’re at it! Solo dancing contributes to your movement in blues dancing, blues dancing contributes to your connection in balboa, shag dancing contributes to your faster lindy hop, balboa dancing contributes to your sense of weight changes and so on. It is all connected!
Quite some background story to throw a carnival party on a drab winter’s day, right? Yeah, why not? But let’s not forget the main excuse here. Like swing & blues dancing in general: you will have a truckload of fun with a bunch of nice people with good music. Even more so if you can add glitter or a purple wig, right? Now who needs more excuses?
Ehm... can I still come and Lindy Hop?
Yes yes yes, and Shag and (Slow) Balboa, Blues and hop around solo! New Orleans jazz, blues and funk will make you wanna dance all of that and MORE!
Have more questions about Swing & Blues?
Here are some short introductions:
Swing music is a popular jazz style from the 1930s-1940s. Artists such as Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Count Basie among others brought this infectious music to dance halls and saloons across America. Swing just didn’t happen overnight, it evolved from earlier blues and jazz styles that mostly originated in Afro-American communities. New Orleans plays a big part in that history as it was a fertile ground for all the influences of the early development of jazz. Just like swing music, swing dancing relies on things like rhythm, improvisation, co-operation, relaxation and groundedness.
Blues Dance is a family of African American vernacular dances, danced to Blues music; dances within this family are linked by shared aesthetics and techniques rooted in Black American traditions and historical context. Blues dance as a strong emphasis on connection with the partner, the music, and the community. It is an improvisational dance which places high value on rhythm and individual movement, and is primarily danced in partnership but also solo or in a group.