in swing dancing 'jamming' is something that is use quite common - just as musicians use jams as a way to showcase their skills so do dancers. a circle is formed in which there is (usually) one couple that pulls out their bestest stuff for a short period untill (ideally) they are kicked out of the circle by the next couple.
i've noticed that melbourne has been feeling somewhat jam shy in the last few months. i'm not sure entirely why but i had suspected that it had to do with some unwanted attention recieved by certain people who regularly reside in jams. they became reluctant to jump in and others are not neccessarily rising up to the occasion.
during mlx i was surprised to see so many jams (the first nite had two jams and the usually crappy cbd) ..but if i think about who and what was involved in the weekend i'm not entirely surprised that there were so many bursting to get out there and shake their groove thangs. there was a pretty nice vibe during the whole weekend, and people were generally alot more social and excitable than usual. the perthies are also total JAM SLUTS!
jams can also be manipulated to inndividuals/groups advantage. traditionally a spontaneous event, such things are rather easy to stage as either showpieces (for non-swing crowd), ice breakers (at balls), ego builders ..or a whole range of other uses. i was involved in recently in one such event where the music was pre-organised and a routine pre-choreographed to be pulled out in the second half of a jam. this was surprising for some (esp the poor couple that got trapped at the start) but it soon became apparant later on what had occured. i'm still not sure how i feel about the whole thing as a general rule - i mean: how far is too far? how does it make the previous participants feel to be upstaged like that? what about the people who wanted to go in afterwards? what about the audience? did they expect more a traditional performance format? ..it's not like it was the first time someone had done it - it has become an increasing trend to see multiple couples doing short routines in a jam - but i think we just took it to a whole new level.
tonite i witnessed a different kind of jam. there was a band playing at our usual thursday nite haunt and the crowd was getting tired-er and tired-er and the songs were getting longer and longer. so someone suggested that we 'jam' the last song (which was a cruiser track). and i was surprised to see that the whole room got into it. this kind of thing was a very supportive atmosphere and i quite enjoyed it. a simular feeling might be observed in a jam that is part of a class where everyone was included and cheered. my favourite part is not just that all different kind of people were going in - from all different levels - but that people were going in with different people than they usually dance with. mixed and matched dance partners = real social dancing. ..and well, the obvious part (seeing as i dont have a partner for this kind of stuff) is that i get to go in too!!
yes i am a bit of a jam slut. it's true, i wont deny it.
so, how do we encourage different people to get out there in jams? leading by example? cheering harder for new people? spreading the word? staging jams more often? who knows.
my bed time. xxc.