Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Francis Yonai, Los Angeles.
Most of our social dance readers try to avoid these reports of dance as an art. They have a place? Yes, elsewhere. But let's not be looking down our noses at anybody. Three of the most popular fundamental actions in the Samba are, the Samba Walks, Bota Fogos and Voltas. Each having many variations in their own right and loaded with tons of technical aspects to give them each an individual feeling of their own. There are lots to studies about these figures but for the purpose of this article I would like to focus on the third step which I often see being danced in a sloppy way.

"Social Dancers know that they can be nice to someone for no reason. They will never know when they will need someone to be nice to them, for no reason."

Many times dancers will dance this third step, the Voltas, as a replacement in all three figures. Probably because by the time they get to the third step they feel they’ve done all the body action they can squeeze out and this final step doesn’t really matter. But I think it does. Foot to floor pressure (more, less or none) is the enabler of body action and musicality. Each one of these figures should allow you the opportunity to express your body to the music differently.

"Brazil" por Placido Domingo

Over one bar of music and they are all the same basic timing of ”1 a 2”, but with "correct" technique and footwork they can be expressed quite differently. The American and International Samba was an invention of the teachers of dance in the US and Europe. And because of its complications it has lost a lot of ground. The music is still the greatest. Maybe 25% real Brazilian Samba, just a chassé done in twenty different ways. Somebody knows what they are doing but let's face it, definitely is not for us. Gawd! May we just use the KISS method?

"Courage is doing what you're afraid to do.
There can be no courage unless you're scared."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hawaii Mariachis

By Salvador Ramirez, Lihue

Not yet. But but the interest is picking up on the Neighbor Islands. The entire enchilada began to change many years ago, when the Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, founded by Gaspar Vargas in 1898, went from Jalisco to Mexico City. They were invited to play at the inauguration in 1934 of populist President Lázaro Cárdenas, one of whose great interests was to foster the native culture of Mexico. Catching the Presidents enthusiasm, urban sophisticates took the folk arts to their hearts, and the Mariachi Vargas instantly became the toast of the town.

"Social Dancers know that it is impossible to avoid the results of their deeds, 
so they try to do good deeds."

The initial success was only the beginning. Silvestre Vargas, who had taken over from his father as leader of the Mariachi Vargas in 1928, soon hired a trained musician, Rubín Fuentes, as musical director. Fuentes, was still actively involved with the Mariachi Vargas more than fifty years later, and remains as one of the towering figures in the development of the Mariachi. With the help of Silvestre Vargas, he standardized the arrangements of many of the traditional Sones  and composed many exceptional new Huapangos,

"Ay, Jalisco, No Te Rajes" por Jorge Negrete

He wrote arrangements for many of the legendary song writers and singers of his generation, including Pedro Infante, Miguel Aceves Mejía, Lola Beltrán, and José Alfredo Jiménez. By the 1950's he insisted that all his musicians read music. These innovations changed the way Mariachi music moved from one group to another. Gone was the total reliance of the musicians on their ears to pick up new songs, and techniques. And they went International, Central and South America, the Orient and Europe.

"Social Dancers will never miss a chance to dance."

Friday, August 11, 2017


By Federico Gutierrez, Hilo.

Latin Dancing, Known for its sensual hip action and sexy flair, Latin dance has been gaining popularity on dance floors throughout the world. Much of it in the Pacific Basin from Australia up to Korea and even Russia. In the Americas, from Alaska all the way down to Chile in South America. Hawaii? We doin' OK. Movies about Latin dancing, ones that portray the beauty of the art of Latin dancing, seem to be favorites among dancers and non-dancers alike.

"When you are through changing, you are through."

Besides being a staple in the ballroom, in the US, many Latin dances are also being taken to country-western dance floors. Learning Latin dances is fairly easy, as most of the dances are made up of the same basic foot steps. The most staple of all is the Even step. Then comes the Rock step followed by the Chassé. They are pretty simple social steps to be enjoyed moving to the music, and for the social dancer the music is it. Most the good Latin dancers will move very well and have a ball with less than forty steps in their repertoire.

"Abrazame" por Julio Iglesias

A favorite of the social dancers for decades
There are over 600 documented steps in Cha Cha Cha.  Gawd! Does any one person know all of them? Doubtful! But each dance can certainly be cleaned up and brought down to less than 40 of the most basic. A "Universal bronze" that can be used in most Latin dances and you have a perfect social dancer. But nowadays the loss of dancers for fun is because of a different form of dance. The International Style, that is very strict in what it considers "correct." That is a dance style that is to be "seen" either for exhibitions (judged by the audience) or competitions which are judged by qualified judges and that certainly is a good reason. It just isn't us.

"Social Dancers seem to understand that they don't have to attend
to every argument that they are invited to."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Wahiawa Ballroom Dance Club

This year, a couple months back they celebrated their 48th Anniversary dance at Helemano Plantation - a beautiful affair, naturally. This year the same dance schedules seem to be on track, and I think they are going to be getting more people that live in the territory. People that have been accustomed to attending functions in town where most of the dancing has been. Now with the Rail Catastrophe coming up, this going to town, is going to slow down. And West Oahu is starting to jump.

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow" by Bruddah Iz

The dance was in the Hookipa Room at the famous Wahiawa Recreation Center, beautiful atmosphere and quiet area. Small but big enough to accommodate the happy attendees. I already made one write up of the shindig in the Platinum Horseshoe blog with enough photos for three nine photo collages. Now I get some terrific pictures from Aunty Maile and they are just asking for a special blog for them. I thought to give Blogging Hawaii readers a treat.

"Fly Me To The Moon" by Jimmy Borges

Blogging Hawaii started out for all the Hawaiian Islands but we have had very little from the Neighbor Islands. So it seems to be simmering around the island of Oahu. I just let it roll and see where it wants to go. The comments will be crucial but few are willing to comment publicly. Many that live in town have heard of WBDC but never attended. They might just take the ride some day. They will meet some of the nicest people on this island.

"Walk Through Paradise With Me" by Melveen Leed

At one time this blog had a very good Guest Blogger and the hits were riding right up there. Then I started more blogs just to see, no body knows even today. I deleted over ten blogs in the last 15 years. I just reduced the Magnificent Seven down the Swinging Six. And my best one is going to go first.

"Social Dancers are never sure if the happier they are, the more they dance or
if the more they dance, the happier they are."

Monday, August 7, 2017

Tejano music and dance

One of the biggest influences on the Mexican music and dance scene has been the Tejano Music. For some reason, everyone was interested in talking about the whole Tejano – yes with a “J” instead of an “X” – movement that took place in the Lone Star State, and across the rest of the nation really, a few decades ago now. The fad started about 1965 and ran for 30 years culminating with the death of Selena in 1995. Both in real life and across the social media spectrum, people were asking. What is Tejano?  Not many in Hawaii know. Remember such and such artist?  Whatever happened to? Did you like Tejano music?

"To expand and to grow intellectually is an open door
to a road that has no end." 

The remnants are still in evident in up to date Mexican music and a little exists in Hawaii. Many any from the US remember lots of evening Tejano dances at their high school’s cafeteria – when they’d pull back all the foldable tables, bring in a radio deejay, dim down the lights and turn on a disco ball to illuminate the room, as they would dance the night away… or the early evening, more accurately.  They had school the next day! So in honor of those great memories of so many not only in Texas but in the entire Southwest: here a few Tejano essentials… from days gone by.

Un buen par de Ropers, The Boots: Ropers – they were simple and light, easy to wear, without being picudas (pointed toe,) and you could find them in just about any color, both for men and women. You from Texas, Pard?

Con una Tejana, La Tejana: The Hat – especially for Tejano credibility, the hat was one of the most important accessories for guys… and girls and women always looked "caliente," with their Tejanas on. Women always find a way.

Pasito tun, tun ... Knowing How To Dance – family members would invest several hours to teaching their friends and fellow students how to dance.  It was pretty simple, just a couple of steps, this way and that way, and they were ready to go.  Of course, some would still managed to struggle with learning, but the memories they made together were priceless. Then the Dance Teachers came in with their "heel, toe, toe heel" and goofed up the entire enchilada.

For many those were the happy days that never shall return.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Club Dancing

Club Music:
A DJ is less expensive than live music and they usually have a big library of music, But of course, for some people, something is missing and we hear it all the time. Live music has much more of the music that are familiar favorites of the more experienced dance crowd and they somehow seem to connect one on one with a band. But most places cannot afford a band of five or six good players, and they usually are good players. And in West Oahu we have been thinking about it because the Latin band will be coming soon. Ideal would be a keyboard player and a Guitar man. They must have the percussion instruments played electronically in the background, the Conga, the Bongos and perhaps a little cowbell.

"Happiness is like the penny candy of our youth:
we got a lot more for our money back when we had no money."

There was a dance group a while back with the melodies electronically in the background and they just provided the different drum percussion's. These drums sounds are of course are so essential and have been lacking in much of the music played as "Latin." The only set back would be that the background would be the same in every measure from beginning to end. Whereas in live music, the Conga man would get a few extra licks whenever he felt like it. The same would occur with the Bongos man and especially the Timbales. I can accept the cowbell banging all the way from beginning to end, that's easy.

"Echame A Mi La Culpa" por Javier Solis

Dancing a rumba with the good music coming through, and good rhythmic percussion in the background is very much appreciated by the social dancers. Though many still do not know much about Latin music and dance. About 20 years ago I had a lady dance teacher of West Coast Swing listen to a beautiful Cha Cha Cha by Rene Touzet. She immediately recognized it and said, "Salsa." With such conviction of her long years of being involved in dancing, that I could not say anything. I left it at that and accept the fact that she just would never ever know. Most musicians understand that the pause between notes is just as important as the notes. By the same token, the pause or silence in between songs is also very important to increase the appreciation of the music when it comes on.

"Mas Alla" por Luis Miguel 

"Social Dancers try not to be so focused on steps that they forget to dance."

Email: nikaawa9@juno.com

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Latin Beat

Yes, it is true, some Bands are missing more and more what makes Latin music, - Latin Music. The percussion instruments of the advanced Mexican Indian Empires of 2000 years ago.

"Life is a dance, you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead
and sometimes you follow."

Maracas have been found as metal maracas in early Mayan culture, 2000 years ago. So it is reasonable to suppose that the later Toltec civilizations had them too a thousand years later. These had evolved  by the Aztecs very nicely 800 years ago into two rattle like gourds (tuned) with the right amount of seeds to give the right sound. The Maraca player fronts the band with maracas in hand in animated motion moving the hips. In Central America they are sometimes made out of small metal juice cans, filled with sand that is not fine, welded three or four and painted with vivid colors. They like to pass them out to aficionados which find them heavy rather quickly.

"Tangerine" By Jimmy Dorsey

The Cowbell, which is just that, and the player just strikes it with a stick. The cowbell came into use six or seven decades after the arrival of the first illegal aliens. There had been no cattle in the Western Hemisphere until brought in by the newcomers. This is also played in American Country music.

"Ojos Verdes" por Placido Domingo

The Guiro, normally, a long notched gourd. The player makes scratching sounds, scraping it with a round stick. It can be scraped with an even count sound or it can quick, quick, slow as in Rumba or Mambo. No rules, the player can scratch it any way he wishes. It was used in the Mayan culture, long before the Toltecs took over and then went to Cuba and the Caribbean. It attained more popularity in the Dominican Republic than anywhere else and it is generally accepted as Dominican.

"Abrazame" por Julio Iglesias

The Claves, are a usually two round pieces of mahogany about an inch in diameter and about five inches long. They are played by holding one loosely in one hand and struck by the other five times in two measures. A holdover from the Mayan five count measure, where each clave "Palito" was hit in every other beat. Very easy there. One, three and five in the first measure and two and four in the next. Not so when trying to do this in a four count measure. Not easy and yet many profess to do this "correctly."

"Sobre Las Olas" por Juventino Rosas

These are now being omitted more and more in the music that passes for Latin or Mestizo. It helps to know that the Mexican empires from the Mayan to the Aztec had professional dancers and musicians and very proficient in many percussion instruments in addition to the drums. The drums came into existence right after the appearance of Agriculture throughout the world.

"Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world." ~Voltaire

Email: nikaawa9@juno.com