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Big-T & the Bada-Bings


Don't Step On My Blue Suede Shoes!
By Clare Tattersall

This edition of Cyber*Kool origionally was featured in the Summer 1999 issue of ATOMIC Magazine.

Tired of spending long nights playing solitaire against your PC and sipping dry martinis alone? Perhaps a dash of social dancing could add that missing olive to your evenings. You don't even need a partner—just a good imagination and a keen ability to read and move your feet at the same time. So, put on your blue suede shoes and cruise the Internet in four-four time for a few lessons in hepcat twist and shimmy.
Score one for for putting together an excellently designed program that takes you through a detailed yet comprehensble swing tutorial. Not expecting too much frmi the enthusiastic beginner, the site gives you just enough material in each well-planned lesson to make you right-click on to the next one. The lessons elucidate the basic footwork and arm movements necessary to propell your partner about the dance floor. Once you've mastered swing, you can move onto the fox-trot or the waltz. there are also links to numerous dance-related sites, some as far afield as Russia.
If you're searching for a little innocent fun with animation and moving footsteps, and you have a JavaScript 1.1 compliant browser, such as netscape 3.0, then this is the place for you. click onto the graphics and watch the dancing feet move in single or triple step. This iste even offers such valuable information as what to wear while Lindy Hopping. For men, "baggy stripped pants and suspenders" are appropriate, while for the ladies it's "a beaded dress and a hat with feathers." Just don't confuse the two.

Good intentions aside, this site attests to the fact that anyone, yes anyone, can create a Web page. Keith Edwards (who has included on his homepage a picture of himself looking very serious, or confused, or seriouly confused) proudly declares that he has "recently gotten into swing dancing" and admits that his partner "gets her toes stepped on a lot." Mr. Edwards' dance page lists about two dozen basic moves—what he calls "patterns"—then offers a slightly longer explaination for half of them from both the man's and the woman's perspective. He was also good enough to include links to sites relating to his seemingly limitless list of other hobbies, frmo single malt scotch to cultural archeology. This page is a clear example of swing fanaticism gone awry. Wanting to share his passion for swing—and swept up by the exciting bandwagon of Web design—Mr. Edwards had all the best intentions. But somehow, between the gray matter and the HTML, the sparly enthusiasm dissolved into a mass of confusing, egotistical ramblings.
This site's creator, Dr. Deyne, obviously put a lot of thought into passing along his knowledge of East Coast Swing as performed on the country dance floor. The explanations of steps nad moves are, in fact, comprehensive and clear on this page. There are also links to sites on everything from viting preference to dance floor etiquette. so, if you can live without an aestically pleasing background or visuals that motivate the lazy eye—and if you vote for Dole—then check out this page and learn a l'il thang or two.
Ten out of then for background braphics of hte Philadelphia Swing Dance Society: the crumpled red velvet wallpaper is soothing to the eye and puts you in the perfect retro mood. Although the site focuses solely on jitterbug or East Coast Swing (described as a repeating pattern of four steps per six counts of music), the lessons are clear and easy to follow. there is a detailed explanation of basic-step footwork, below which are color-coded words that blink in six-count time (slow, slow, quick-quick) to help the viewer find the beat. But perhaps the most helpful lesson on the site is included in the brief list of dance floor rules, under Rule #2: When in doubt, just "fake it for a few seconds."
Clicking onto this page, I felt as if I had returned to my high school science lab, where the walls were hung with periodic tables that seemed to me an indecipherable jumble of letters and numbers. Mr. Mernyk's site boasts a simply staggering list of dance moves and abbreviations that will make your head spin, such as this explanation of hte open Charleston: kick L F Q, step F onto L G, kick R F S, kick R B Q, step B onto R Q, kick L B S. repeatr 8C. L hand F when R foot F, and vice versa, like walking. Bounce or skip with each step. Unfortunately, without adequate explanation of the sylbols and abbreviations on his site, I felt as little chance of finding a dance partner s I would have lighting a Bunson burner.

But maybe I should learn to walk before I run, or read periodic tables before I dance. Once you decipher the secret swing code, you'll find an almost endless supply of new moves to try. (Although on the dance floor, your partner may ask, "Is the a cheat sheet in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?") what's more, Mr. Mernyk's site includes useful links to bands, dance events of the Northeast, clubs and other intricate details. More two-toned power to you, Daddy-O!
If you've grown tired of slogging through lessons online, visit this site for some lighthearted relief. It offers a hilarious vocabulary of insulting names and phrases that were coined by frustrated hepcats on a crowded and hormonally charged dance floor. Even if you have given up all hope of learning how to dance, at least you'll be erudite in new ways to lurk around the bar and pass misanthropic judgement on everyone from the "Honey" to the "Wookie."

Having twisted and shimmied my way through a multitude of swing sites, I collapsed square-eyed and exhausted onto my keyboardm yet still found myself holding the proverbial triple-step baby. Perhaps to learn to dance. Although many of the sites are fun and informative, you are probably better off getting an instructional video—or getting a life.


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