New lessons from Collegiate Class

Our Collegiate Shag Summer Skool has been very popular; so popular in fact that we added an extra week. As we come to the end of the Summer our undergraduates are already kickin’ up a dance floor, Collegiate style, near you. Great work everyone.

New Collegiate Shag Lessons in September

Many of those who attended our Skool through the summer, have expressed an interest in continuing the classes; and this has encouraged us to launch a new series of lessons suitable for complete beginners, or those looking to brush up on their Shag fundamentals. Starting on September 15th 2011 at 19:45 the classes will run every Thursday at English Bicknor village hall.

So if you’d like to join the growing number of Shagsters hitting the dance floors, then come and join us in September.  Click the flyer to view the details. We’d love to see you there.

Dai & Sharon

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Shag on the Shag Pile

A few months ago Tony Fraser and I, struck up an online conversation after I’d commented on one of his clips on YouTube. Since then, we’ve discovered that we have very similar backgrounds both in sport and IT. It was Tony’s idea to capitalise on our technical know how, and find some way he could share his lessons and workshops live the from the Dance Manhattan Studios, New York  where he holds a regular Monday night Shag class.

Seemed like a great idea, regular, advanced level Collegiate shag lessons beamed directly to our living room. Technically, we had worked out what was needed for a trial and we were all set for the first, transatlantic, live, Collegiate Shag lesson (if you know of one before this then let me know). Oh the power of the internet, breaking down boundaries, bringing people together, pooling of resource, highlighting time zones! Whilst Tony’s Manhattan lesson started at at an amenable 19:00 EST, this translated to 00:00 GMT. Not great on UK school night.

So there we were kids in bed, ready to do a Shag lesson, at midnight on a Monday in May, on our living room carpet in Gwent, through a live link up with New York, with the Canadian Shag Champion.

I think I need to say that again because it sounds weird to me and I was there. So there we were, kids in bed, ready to do a Shag lesson, at midnight on a Monday in May, on our living room carpet in Gwent, through a live link up with New York, with the Canadian Shag Champion. Yep! Still sounds weird.

“Hello Wales”, Hello New York. A few brief introductions and we were off, with Sharon and I viewing, and participating in Tony and Jaime’s lesson streamed through my laptop onto my 34″ TV, and Tony watching us through his Apple mac screen. And I kid you not, it worked.

Admittedly Sharon and I struggled with the multi rhythm shag Tony enthuses as we are/were strictly double time; although we have been able to bring into our dance some of the weight change techniques and micro connections that Tony uses in Multi Rhythm. His technique and technical approach to Collegiate Shag dancing certainly pushes every boundary of traditional Double Time Shag.

Since that first lesson we’ve done two other live workshops in our living room. A “Connections Intensive” and a “Tricks for Shag” workshop, both of which we now use in our regular dancing. We found that the time difference made the midnight Monday night lesson unsustainable, but the weekend, daytime workshops that Tony occasionally does are easily accommodated; even with the time difference. We also ironed out some of the technical wrinkles from our first session mainly by Tony investing in new equipment which improved the uplink speeds.

Using technology in this way could be a real step forward for dancers who cannot easily attend more advanced classes or international workshops. The available technology still limits the number of students who can remotely attend a class; but if a group of dancers came together then there’s no reason why we couldn’t make it happen collectively.

Let me know if you’re interested in trying a future workshop with us. It wouldn’t be on our shag pile though; we’d get a room.

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What More Could You Want?

So I’ve been a little lazy on updating this site but things have been really busy lately, what with Shag weekenders and developing a new format of lesson using new technology. More on the new format lessons in a future post but suffice to say, it’s an exciting time!

Sightseeing Munich

At the end of May we attended the Shag It! Shag Rattle and Roll weekender in Munich. 9 hours of intermediate/advanced shag lessons combined with over 11 hours of social dancing. My feet and legs really felt the pressure as we combined the workshops and dancing with a walking shopping/sightseeing tour of Munich which was probably a mistake in retrospect but it all had to be done.

The weekend kicked off at 8pm Friday night with a dance in the atmospheric, underground room of Cats Corner complete with its historic  “Swing tanzen verboten” sign at the door. Music was provided by shellac DJ Florian Freund spinning the authentic scratch and hiss, 78rpm, original sound of the 30’s. That was a really nice touch and something I hadn’t experienced before.  I think it fair to say that everyone did their utmost to make us feel welcome. Language was never an issue as it seemed everyone we met was fluent in English whereas my German stretched to, “zwei bier bitte”, which obviously has its uses.

Incorporated into the Shag weekend was Munichs “Die Lange Nacht der Musik” (The Long Night Of Music). This was at over 400 venues across the city offering live music for a single 15 Euro ticket; excellent value for money. The venue for the weekender “Cats Corner” hosted 2 superb swing bands for the Saturday evening with dancers and non-dancers mingling for the band and dance performances, enjoying the music, and Bavarian beer. Apparently this went on untill 06:00am Sunday but our legs gave in at around 03:00am and we headed back to our hotel. The following day, as we met up with other revellers from the night before, we learnt that an impromptu Charleston lesson had started around 04:00am which didn’t surprise me, as people were still arriving as we were leaving. It was a superb night with a great party atmosphere and really was the highlight of the weekend.

Diana Temple, Hoftgarten, Munich

Diana Temple, Hoftgarten, Munich

Following the four and a half hours of Shag workshops on Sunday we had an outdoor dance at the Diana Temple in the Hoftgarten; a beautiful venue and the Sunshine didn’t fail us. By then I was pretty much danced out; but I pushed on for the final 2 hours of Shag and Lindy tunes. It was a great opportunity to say goodbye to all our new German friends and also to Paul Crook and Natasha Hall who had led most of the Advanced lessons througout the weekend.

At 20:00, as people started to disperse we were invited to a farewell drink by Christine the weekend organiser. This was the perfect way to wind up the weekend relaxing with a cold beer in the warmth of the evening sun. I must admit I was tempted to pour it over my poor shagged out feet rather than drink it but it was too good to waste, and I also got some peculiar looks when I suggested buying ice cream to massage between my toes. I guess my sense of humour doesn’t easily translate. I was only half serious.

Beer and Baker Boy

What More Could You Want

September sees the Munich Lindy Exchange in conjunction with the Oktoberfest (Beer Festival) A perfect combination of two of my favourite things; Beer and Swing, combined with the welcoming Munich swing dancers. What more could you possibly want?

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Collegiate Class Summer Skool

Click for more info

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Shag Is The Word

In a count of active swing dancers I would say Collegiate Shag would probably come a very poor 4th place behind Lindy Hop, Balboa, and Jive. Its status is almost underground. In the UK its very name must be spoken in hushed tones for fear of causing offence in polite company.

Over the past few weeks I’ve started to try and raise its UK profile through this blog, facebook groups, twitter, and direct emails to event organisers. But it seemed even technology was against me. Every email I sent out ended up in the recipients Junk mail folder. No matter how I spelt it Collegiate Shag or Sh@g, or $hag, or $h@g, eventually mutating to an unreadable $4@g; emails simply did not get seen. I thought the SPAM filters out there had gone into overdrive.

But how did, bird watchers, hairdressers, tobacconists, film critics, rug manufactures, 70’s pop gurus and others discuss Shag related topics with other like minded people?

I did a little digging and it now seems it’s not the Shag word that’s causing the problem, it’s my email address. Free email accounts such as Hotmail, Yahoo, and in my case GMX, are apparently renound for being singled out for special treatment by SPAM filters.

Armed with this knowledge I now plan to reinitiate my email campaign of Collegiate Shag propaganda with a new (not free) email address.

Hmmm! “Email campaign”, isn’t that a polite way of saying SPAM?

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Shag It! German Weekender in May 2011

Shag ItOne of our aims is to publicise Shag events worldwide that UK Shag fans may be interested in. Our first is hot off the press from Munich. This weekend at the end of May 2011 has the admirable aspiration of moving intermediate and advanced Shaggers to Super Advanced. We’ll be contacting the organisers for more information  but you can also visit their website.

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Awakening Collegiate Shag

Tony Fraser is a dancer and instructor from New York.  He is a major proponent of single time shag (if you don’t know what that is, don’t worry I’ll explain in a later post). Here is Tony and Jamie Shannon giving a demonstration in November 2010.

I love this article by Tony entitled “Awakening Collegiate Shag“. He sums up nicely everything that needs to be done to promote our wonderful dance. I’d like to have a debate with him over his bias for single time shag but agree wholeheartedly with his sentiment. 🙂

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History of Shag

Peter Logins  Blog “The Jassdancer” has an excellent history of Collegiate Shag, and is recommended reading for anyone interested in learning more about jazz music and dance history.

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