Weekly Note #5
 November 7th 2011
This Week's Note
Hiss of the 'Niss'
wcs-narcissism One of my readers emailed me after attending a recent event. In his review he said that the "Hiss of the Niss" permeated the event, referring to my article The Nissy.

Needless to say, this definitely made me laugh aloud... how perfect and brilliant a term! "Hiss of the Niss"...  I was frustrated and sad that any event would be saturated with Nissies, but they do tend to attract each other.

It's been 8 months since I first released The Nissy (.pdf version), so I suggest you go back and take another go at it. And then I'd like you to notice... notice how, as you become empowered, excited, aware and awake... notice how the Nissies of our community are reacting. Hissing indeed!

Hiss of the 'Niss'... keep your eyes open. They've already begun to rattle their tails and strike... but it will always be to no avail....

Because 'knowing' is half the battle, and they, unfortunately, will never really "know" us, will they? They can shake, rattle and roll, but the fact of the matter is, they do not have the fangs... we do. 
Previous 'Weekly Notes'

Want missed 'Notes'? 
Just hit "Reply" and type 
in the Subject line and you'll get all the Weekly Notes you haven't been sent yet!

sign up  ONLINE.
It's easy! 

Quick Links

Articles in .PDF

Contact Katherine

Katherine Krok Eastvold

PO Box 61555
Santa Barbara, CA 93160

Dear Reader,

What a week. WHAT A WEEK! Ever had those days when you've been hit with "ick," "ew," "yuck," "you've gotta be kidding," and just plain "ugly" from a variety of levels and you never saw any of it coming? Well. I just had six of those days in a row. And NONE of the lunacy came as a result of my Halloween Note... who would've thought?
But nothing could get in my way for this week's edition. Not when it's of such vital importance for the survival of our dance. I've told you to "Buckle up!" before, but today, that would be an understatement.
This week's note is going to CHANGE EVERYTHING.
Be prepared. Be alert. Read everything. And watch... watch, watch, watch. Everything. All the way through.
It's gold. 
You want answers? I think I found a lot of 'em...     
Rock On, -KKE
US Open ZDC?
Swing vs Zouk
Abstract Improvisation has a sister dance. It's more evolved, more structured than Abstract Improvisation, but it's still a very basic dance. It's a simplistic dance, where as Pure WCS is an extremely complicated one.
What is it?
It's called Zouk. And you are very very familiar with it. Yes. You are. You'll see.
It is a dance that is fooling judges. It has incredibly large movements, is unslotted and is danced to the same, if not similar, music our DJ's are playing today. After watching Zouk, Swing suddenly looks dull and boring... until we work to zoom our eyes in closer, re-adjust our focus and lean in. Then we see how amazing it is. You'll see what I mean in a minute. And then you'll understand why our judges are so off in their scores.
It is a dance that dancers say they draw "influence" from. Influence? Influence is when I add a Salsa shimmy or a Cuban hip movement for two beats of music into my Swing routine. Influence is when I'm doing Swing... the Swing Essentials... with just a touch, just a flavor, just a moment of "influence" from another dance.  

Influence DOES NOT mean copying moves, repeating patterns, stealing rhythms, motions and characteristics in a dance and calling them Swing. That's not influence. That's just doing a different dance. And in this case, a much less complicated one.
At BBB, I saw two routines that clearly began in Nightclub Two-Step basics. Straight out Nightclub Two Step. That's not influence. That's Nightclub Two Step. If I do a cross-over triple with my partner down the slot in closed position once during a Swing dance, then that's "influence."  
But Zouk's been winning. Flat out placing. In Swing contests. It's time you took a look.
And when you do, I encourage you... watch all the way through each video. There are hundreds online and I chose these. They are some of the best Zouk videos available... and, if watched all the way through... eye opening, if not eye popping. 

Larissa and Kadu dancing Zouk Lambada: Salsa Cruise Asia 2009

Um. Yeah. And notice these were taped in 2009 and earlier? Yeah. They are NOT stealing our moves and our dance... it's the other way around... keep watching...   

Zouk with Little Liz and Allan Dantas

Are you okay? Need to take a deep breath? Go ahead. And then watch the above Zouk videos again. You'll need them for the Open this year. Believe me.
Now. Here is the crazy thing. Even I, who has an incredibly rare and excellent eye, experienced this.  Go ahead... watch some Swing: 

Kyle Redd & Sarah Vann Drake 2003 US Open - Johnny B Good

Did you notice how you had to work to adjust your focus "IN" to enjoy the Swing after watching Zouk? Zouk has such large movements and all the disconnects are so easy to gloss over... but when you watched the Swing... it took a while for your eyes to adjust didn't it? It almost looked bland... you had to work to zoom in. And this is one of the most famous WCS routines of all time!
But when you did the work... did you see the subtleties? The intricacies? SUCH a higher level of dance. But judges today see it and think "I've seen that before" and pass over it, when in reality, that's when they should start to really pay attention. Swing dance competitions aren't supposed to be "what have I not seen before?" contests, but "how well did they execute what I've seen before?" contests.
No wonder only the younger dancers have a shot at finals! No wonder dancers think head flips and body rolls are a major characteristic of WCS. No wonder the Master's are requesting routines that aren't swing.It's because Pure WCS has been replaced.
But Zouk, despite being a simplistic dance, definitely has the upper hand in one area. The men sure do take care of the women. I haven't found a Zouk video yet where the women are not carefully watched, handled, led, caressed and treated like the precious gifts that they are.
I challenge all of our men to take a page out of the Zouk leaders' book and see the women as the picture, not your frame.
And judges... people will be watching your scores closer than ever at the Open this year. They want to know... is it really the US Open Zouk Dance Championships? Because Zouk, or Ceroc, or Abstract Improvisation shouldn't be making finals, never mind placing, in a Swing Dance Competition.
                                          -Katherine Krok Eastvold

PS- I get that money is behind a lot of this. Easier dances are easier to learn by more people. But they are also less addictive and burn through dancers at a much faster rate. It's not excuse to lock us Pure WCS dancers out of our own competitions.

May I ask where you'd like us to dance? Because you haven't given us any options. Zouk and Ceroc have competitions, and I'm not against adding those categories to our events, but I am against eliminating Pure WCS as a dance... and that's what you do when a swing competition blatantly puts Pure WCS at the bottom of the scores.
Open, Open, Open...
US Open Logo
Uh oh, folks. November is upon us! And you know what that means... the US Open.


Now, the Open is NOT what it used to be. We don't all buy the tapes and watch them all year long anymore. We don't do that with any tapes, really. And that's a sign of the times. So I'm very much aware that if you are a social, country or international dancer, you might not give a darn about the US Open.


But here's the thing. There are still judges, events, teachers and students who still look to the Open to tell us who we should give our money and power to. Plus it offers a broad spectrum of competitors, thereby functioning as good thermometer to take the temperature of the community. What happens at the Open still eventually trickles down to the social dance floors, no matter what corner of the world, city, suburb or desert you are in, in one form or another.


And that's too bad, because hardly anyone did swing last year in Classic and there was a huge switch in attendees. The veteran attendees of 10 and 25 years are giving up their seats in boredom and new blood is coming to see what the fuss is about... but last year all the newcomers I talked to told me Shag ended up being their favorite division. I found that believable, and it's part of why I started my SwingIN!s and writing.


So this month my articles are geared towards education, training and preparation before the Open arrives, so that YOU, judge or jury, will understand what you'll be seeing.  
    -Katherine Krok Eastvold
PS- I should let you know now that my sister is getting married over the US Open. You'll see me coaching during floor trials and perhaps in the lobby a bit on Friday, but otherwise, I will not be competing, judging, teaching, etc... send me your feedback please! but in the meantime I do ask that you do me a favor and CHEER for SWING!


Rearview Mirror
I'm constantly learning and growing as a writer for our community.

For example, I had written last week's note several weeks in advance. But as Halloween drew closer, I found myself increasingly worried that I would lose readers over it.

How wrong I was!

I gained readers... A LOT of readers. And not one negative comment in my even larger flood of emails.

So I'm learning!

AND I'm getting to know you better. As often as I hear people say it's a relief to know they haven't been dreaming, I also hear great insights, thoughts and observations. I've always said Pure WCS attracts a demographic of great thinkers, and it's edifying to see that flame that was being dimmed suddenly re-ignite.

So let's keep this ball rolling, shall we? And if you are tired of having these forwarded to you instead of getting them first, then it's time you just signed yourself up!
Love ya'll!
Katherine Krok Eastvold
About Katherine
A Champion dancer who fell in love with West Coast Swing in the early 1990's, Katherine has owned her highly successful studio, has choreographed top 5 routines, is a finalist in both Classic and Strictly at the US Open, has been on the board for Boogie by the Bay, has traveled and taught in dance scenes in over 38 states and has written articles for numerous magazines and newspapers in the community since 1997. 

She is not afraid. She loves beauty. She loves truth. And she believes it's knowledge that can bring a dancer more joy than they can imagine on the floor.

Want to know more about Katherine? Read her biography here.

Copyright 2016
Katherine Krok-Eastvold