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On this page you will regularly find the latest news from Colorado Blues Dance.
The Importance of Lessons
While social dancing is very important if one wants to improve their blues dance skills, lessons are just as important. Whether you have been dancing for five days or five years, lessons can help improve dancing ability and allow people to meet and dance with a large variety of people.
Whether you are a beginner dancer or a seasoned veteran, it is always important to take classes that you feel are above your level. In this way, you are certain to challenge yourself and improve your dancing. Also, by taking these lessons, you can meet other people at the same level of dancing you are at and learn their different styles. Lessons are designed to improve dancing skills as well as bring new ideas into the community. These lessons also bring together different styles of blues and improve upon them.
However, as important as it is to challenge yourself in lessons, you must never forget the basics. Even if you have been dancing for years, taking beginning lessons helps improve your dancing in ways advanced lessons cannot. Getting back to blues basics not only refreshes the memory of what the root of the dance is, the basic lessons enable more seasoned dancers to get a better idea of how to teach other beginners.
So no matter how long you have been dancing, make sure you take lessons in order to expand your blues dancing knowledge. Combining this with your social dancing is a sure way to enhance your dance skills, meet new people, and have even more fun dancing.
Written by: Audra Peister
Get your Funk On!
Funkin’ Jam is a brand new dance to Denver, and brings together two styles of dance that used to be very separate in this dance scene. The dance has both a west coast swing and a blues lesson at the beginning, and the DJs cater to both styles of dance. This dance takes place at 2700 Arapahoe Street, which is a beautiful place to have a dance. The upstairs dance floor is absolutely gorgeous, with a great kitchen and just a good environment for a dance. The west coast swing 1 and blues 2 lessons start at 7pm, and then the west coast swing 2 and blues 1 are at 8pm. The lessons are $5 each and the dance, which starts at 9pm is $10.
The Funkin’ Jam is very unique due to the genres of music being played at this dance. There is a healthy combination of soul, funk, groove, blues, RnB, Top 40 and old school hip hop. This allows for west coast swing and a more funky blues style than you would find at Tuesday night blues, or even the tango blues fusion nights. Prior to this dance, I did not know much about funky blues or west coast swing. I had so much fun learning a new style of a dance I was comfortable with and learning a little west coast swing. The dance does a great job of being friendly to both types of dance and allowing the two to mix together comfortably.
West coast swing and blues seem to be dances that compliment each other in a very positive way. There are less cultural barriers between the two dances than there are for tango and blues. Although the tango/blues fusion scene in Denver is doing well, there was a lot more work involved in getting the two scenes to meld. Funkin’ Jam started full swing (no pun intended) and didn’t miss a step bringing the two dances together. The lessons are a lot of fun and no matter your skill level each hour has something to interest you.
Bernard Allison Live: April 20, 2012
Nothing beats live blues music. It is great to dance to and the musicians love to see their music being appreciated. Here in Colorado, we have many opportunities to enjoy live music and many talented artists that come to play. One such artist is Bernard Allison, playing this coming Friday, April 20, at the Toad Tavern in Littleton.
Bernard Allison is the son of late blues musician Luther Allison. Wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps, Bernard Allison recorded with his father and eventually branched out into making his own records. Allison’s career started as a lead guitarist for Koko Taylor, who contacted him after he graduated high school. Allison played with Koko Taylor for three years then branched into playing more with his father and his band. In 1990, Allison released his first solo record and began to find his own sound as an artist. Allison’s style combines both traditional and modern blues influences. To Allison, keeping the blues alive is very important and he constantly keeps pushing the limits and breaking new barriers in the world of blues. But despite his new sounds, Allison consistently keeps himself rooted in traditional blues and never forgets where he started.
So, for some great blues music and a place to dance, go see Bernard Allison at the Toad Tavern this Friday, April 20. Tickets are required and can be purchased at King Soopers. The Toad Tavern is located in downtown Littleton and is one of the best places in Denver for live blues music.
Written by: Audra Peister
A Weekday Escape
Tuesday night in the mile high city of Denver, you can walk upstairs at the Mercury Café and see people dancing the night away. This past Tuesday the crowd was light, but there was still a happy crowd of people socializing and dancing. For social dancing, you might come for the dance but you stay for the people. For $5 on a Tuesday night you can make a whole group of new friends, as well as learn something new and good for you.
Studies have proven how good dancing is for you. For one it is physical activity, but beyond that the socializing on and off the dance floor promotes a sense of well being. There isn’t much that feels as good as learning in an extremely positive environment. That is why I got so hooked on blues dancing about a year and a half ago. I got to learn something new with people who genuinely cared about the dance and me. After learning this new dance, you can sit and watch the regulars out of the floor. You won’t get away with just sitting at a social dance night though, no matter how new you are. Someone will ask you to dance, no matter how much you protest about your lack of skills. Something about having someone want to dance with you regardless to if you really know how is very special. You are included.
When the DJ finally calls it quits at Tuesday Night Blues (this past Tuesday the DJ was Adin Van Duyne from Fort Collins) it is typically around 12:30am. Everyone leaves with a smile, hugging each other and very slowly heading out to their cars. I can’t think of anything more therapeutic than being able to take a break during the work week to dance and spend time with close friends. Tueday night blues has an intermediate lesson at 7pm, and a beginner lesson at 7:45pm. The lessons are each $5 an the dance, also $5 starts at 8:30pm.
Written by MaryBeth Lauro
The Top 3 Reasons to Attend Tuesday Night Blues at the Mercury Cafe
Let’s face it; there are a million reasons to attend Tuesday night blues at the Mercury Cafe but three in particular stand out above the rest.
First of all, go for the great music. Tuesday nights, you will hear fantastic music from many different and talented DJs. They play a variety of music, from old classics by people like John Lee Hooker to new, fusion-infused songs that add a whole new aspect to blues dancing. Whether you are a traditionalist or enjoy dancing to more modern blues classics, you will find something you love on Tuesday nights. The DJs for Tuesday nights come from all over the state and sometimes from out of state. Also, every first Tuesday of the month there is live music and every fourth tuesday is a DJ battle. So no matter what Tuesday you come, you are bound to hear great music.
Secondly, go for the amazing people. While the dancing is the main reason to go to the Mercury Cafe on Tuesday nights, socializing is another important aspect of it. People from all over the state gather in one place for one purpose. Tuesday nights, you will meet these amazing people as well as enjoy social blues dancing. Tuesday nights are a great place to meet new people and make friends that you will have for the rest of your life.
Finally, go to improve your dancing! Practice makes perfect and there is no better way to practice your dancing than to go out and do it! Lessons can only take you so far. To really improve, the best way is to dance with many different partners and learn their different styles. With such a diversity of music and people, Tuesday nights are the perfect place to do this. So, come on Tuesday nights, take the lesson, and then practice what you learn on the dance floor.
So there you have it; three wonderful reasons to go to Tuesday night blues at the Mercury Cafe. Come to improve your dancing with many amazing partners as you dance to a variety of fantastic music. Hope to see you there!
Written by: Audra Peister
Ronnie Shellist CD Release Party and Tuesday Night Blues
Tuesday night blues had a special addition, Ronnie Shellist, a blues musician who has often played at blues events in Denver released a new CD. Tuesday night blues was happy to have him for his CD release party at Tuesday night blues. Ronnie is a favorite of blues dancers, he has a golden voice and plays an impressive blues harmonica. He also appeared at Mile High Blues this past weekend, performing and teaching a blues harmonica lesson for the dancers during the workshops. Tuesday night blues has live music about once a month, which typically raises the price of admission from $5 to $6-8 to support the live music.
Not only was a new CD released, but Tuesday night blues was filled with out of town guests that extended their stay from Mile High Blues, which was this past weekend. The brave dancers who had already experienced a three-night dance exchange and the Monday night after party with Sean Morse, continued to dance for yet another night. The Monday night house party was also hosted by Colorado Blues Dance and went into the early hours of Tuesday. Tuesday night ended around 1am, with dancers still going strong to Noah Nethero’s DJ set.
A birthday jam and out of towner’s steal jam happened in the middle of the dance, and the floor was still full with dancers visiting the mile high city. Tuesday night blues happens every Tuesday at the Mercury café. Even if you miss big events like Mile High Blues, the weekly dance after such an event is a great chance to dance with out of town dancers.
Blog Written by MaryBeth Lauro
A Couple Notes on Dance Etiquette
During the dance this week, it occurred to me that there are some basic things about dancing etiquette that are not always covered in lessons. While most lessons cover things such as connection and stance, there are some things that need to be mentioned in regards to these two things, especially in regards to connection between lead and follow.
Connection in dancing is very important, especially in blues dancing. However, there is such thing as too much connection. While I have had this happened during several dances, one particular dance this week stands out in my mind. The person I was dancing with acted as though I was about to run away any minute. His grip was so tight, I could barely breathe much less dance. While connection is important, this was too much. In the dance, there has to be give and take and both partners should feel comfortable and free to express. The follow cannot do this if there is no room to move.
On the other hand, there is such thing as too little connection. Another dance I had, my partner would barely touch me. Now, I’m not referring to open position but rather to no connection in closed position. Without this connection, it is difficult for the follow to understand what the lead is trying to communicate. A dance is a conversation but it cannot be one-sided. If the follow does not understand what the lead is saying, she cannot properly answer in a way that continues the dialogue.
Overall, connection is a very important aspect of blues dancing, but there must be a balance. Both partners should be comfortable in the dance and able to carry on the conversation with the music. This balance in connection will lead to an enjoyable experience for both lead and follow and thus lead to furthering the love of blues dancing in general.
Mile High Blues is a dance exchange located in our favorite city, Denver. This yearly event brings dancers from all over the country for social dancing and workshops. The dates for the event are March 30th-April 1st, this coming weekend. Unfortunately Mile High Blues full passes are sold out for this year, but the dance only passes are still on sale for $75 which gives you access to the Friday, Saturday and Sunday dances. The waitlist is also still open until Friday, and can still pay for a dance at the door for $20.
Dance exchanges are a big part of blues dancing, and a great way to improve as a dancer. The best part about exchanges is the opportunity to dance with many people you haven’t danced with before. Dancers from different areas are likely to have different instructors and styles from what you are normally exposed to in your local scene. They are also a great place to meet new people and just have a lot of fun. Not only are there workshops for all levels of dancers, but there is also going to be a chili cookoff and a harmonica class. Exchanges are an experience that any dancer, any level, should try out at least once. The energy at the event is always going nonstop, even at three in the morning there are still people out on the dance floor eager for more.
The party doesn’t end on Sunday though. Many of the out of town dancers stay several days after, and you can get the chance to meet some of them by attending the after party on Monday April 2nd with Sean Morse, Ian Hutchinson and Luke Halpin. If you have never heard Sean Morse and you like blues music, attending this after party to hear him alone will be worth your time. The after party is $5 at the door, check this website for the address for this event. Tuesday night, there is the regular weekly dance at the Mercury Café for $8, the dancing starts at 9:00pm.
Written by: MaryBeth Lauro
Strictly Blues with Kai Turner
Every Sunday morning for the last 20 years, Kai Turner has been starting off the morning with two hours of strictly blues music. From old classics by John Lee Hooker to new favorites with an old sound, 107.9 The Bear is the best place to hear some great blues music and maybe add a few to your own music collection. Kai Turner, aka “The Blues Vassal”, not only plays great music but discusses the importance of blues music in American history and current culture. By bringing a piece of the past into the present, Kai Turner revitalizes blue culture in America. Strictly Blues has been recognized by many publications such as WestWord and 5280 as one of the top blues shows.
However, Strictly Blues is not just the place to hear great music; it is also a place to find out about upcoming blues shows and live blues bands at local venues. For dancers, this is the perfect place to discover new places to dance and socialize. These concerts usually take place at various venues around Denver. While a lot of the concerts require tickets, the music is great and definitely danceable. And, if you miss the show on Sunday morning, the website, strictlyblues.com, has a calendar link with all the upcoming shows and ways to purchase tickets to them. It also has biographies of the artists and their music.
So whether you are looking for new music, a place to dance, or want to know a little more about the long history of blues in America, Strictly Blues with Kai Turner is the perfect place. The perfect combination of history and music, Strictly Blues continues to be one of the best blues shows in the state. Tune in from 10-12 to 107.9 The Bear on Sunday mornings or go to strictlyblues.com for artist biographies, concert dates, and to sign up for the weekly playlist.
March 24, 2012: Hot Night Tango and Blues Fusion
Hot Night blues and tango fusion is an event that typically takes place in Denver, but recently has started a night in Vail. The Vail hot night is taking place March 24th, which is this coming Saturday. The gorgeous Sonnenalp resort is where you can find Karen Gilmore and Brain “Lucky” Skillen teaching a beginning blues class, and a tango class will be taught by Carol Morris and Jeff Brenman. The classes are from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and the dance goes from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm. The class, delicious tapas and social dancing will run you $38 and the dance only is $15. The DJs for the night are the talented Noah Nethero and Jeff Brenman. What could be better than two passionate dances put together and then skiing the next day?
Hot night has always been a very exciting event, and a very open learning environment. The two dances have curious dancers who have begun fusing the two dances together, and it has been great to watch the hot night dance progress. When the first hot night was put on at the Highlands House in Denver, the two dance scenes were very divided. Three blues songs would be played, and then a tanda for the tango dancers. The dance floor would rotate between the two groups of dancers, and there were very few people who were trying to dance both. Since then the dance has moved locations, and grown quite a bit during the two moves. The Denver version now has a home at City Hall downtown Denver, although for a while the dance took place at The Mercury Café (home of Tuesday Night Blues). Dancers have begun moving between the two styles of dance, and it is pretty normal to see a dancer finish a tanda and start blues dancing with a different partner, or even the same one!
The crossover between the two scenes has grown and grown, as has the crossover of the music styles. More and more ‘fusion’ music is being played at the hot night, as the night progresses the music moves away from traditional blues and tango to alternative or fusion music. sIf you are interested in more fusion dances, a west coast swing and blues dance called The Funkin’ Jam happens every 3rd Saturday in Denver at the Savoy Event Center.
Keywords: Colorado Blues Dance, Denver dancing, Denver partner dancing, The Funkin’ jam, the funkin jam Denver, Vail dancing, things to do in Vail, Sonnenalp resort, tango dancing sonnenalp resort, blues dancing sonnealp resort, alternative tango, west coast swing, blues dancing, Denver blues dancing, Denver tango, Denver fusion dance, Colorado fusion dancing, Karen Gilmore, Brian “Lucky” Skillen, Noah Nethero, Jeff Brenman, Carol Morris, social dancing vail
Written by: MaryBeth Lauro
Tuesday Night Blues – March 6th – Mercury Café - Every month, Colorado Blues Dance invites a live blues band to perform for their amazing community of dancers at the Mercury Cafe downtown. This month was no different with featured Bluesman Willie Houston.
Willie Houston is a remarkable bluesman who has spent a lifetime seeing, feeling, and singing the blues. He began in the Louisiana delta cotton fields playing a simple juice harp (mouth harp) and eventually ended up in Denver, CO playing at the Saddle Club in downtown in the 50’s with his band Willie Houston and His Rhythm Rockers.
Willie plays a fluid, loose, downhome style that he affectionately says comes from the “alley.”
"People don't come to the street to hear blues," Houston insists. "They come to the alley. They say, ŒPut me in the alley.' You can't go no deeper -- old moonshine sittin' up there 'Gad-dawgit, boy! Gals out there doin' that Belly-rubbin' stuff, you know -- that's dance. Everything goes on in the alley -- everything. You don't do no uptown stuff. You goin' down. You down and out." - http://www.westword.com/content/printVersion/222414/
At Tuesday Night Blues, the dance floor was properly filled to the brim and the energy of the room transformed reflecting the 85-year-old's soulful playing. Willie Houston's band gave us an amazing dose of downhome delta blues that kept everyone dancing (or as Willie calls it “belly-rubbin”) well into the night.
It's hard to identify what's different when there is live music, but everyone can feel it. That "it" is the connection between two dancers, the music and the dance. Perhaps the music moves people in a different way because of the unpredictability of the song. Blues music and dance are both improvisational thus dancer and musician have an amazing conversation by playing off of each other.
Blues dancers in Colorado are fortunate because not only does Tuesday
Night Blues feature live music EVERY first Tuesday of the month but there will also be an ENTIRE WEEKEND of live blues music and dance at our national blues dance exchange: Mile High Blues. For more information, please visit www.milehighblues.com. The event will be taking place during the last weekend in March.
2011 November 1
I'm so excited about the new site which brings together all of the Colorado Blues community.