Thursday, August 31, 2017

Latin Dancing?

By Ramiro Sandoval, Brownsville, Texas
aka El Charlador

Drums were discovered about the same time throughout the world, about 6000 BC. The noise turned into rhythm and then people began jumping to the rhythm. The original steps in Latin America were of course the non-stop, no accent, just jumping up and down to the beat of the music. Much as you see in present day Africans on TV. Early on, four to five millenniums before the Christian Era, in Latin America the emerging Indian civilizations built huge pyramids, larger than the Egyptian pyramids and more of them. They also evolved professional musicians and dancers.

 "Social Dancers want to dance 'til the stars come down from the rafters."

Those chosen to be professional were the ones that developed the Rock Step and the Chassé from the Even step. After accents and measures developed in the music, one of the first "inventions" was the new movements that traveled to North America and South ever so slowly. And it also crossed into the Caribbean from Mexico to Cuba, only 90 miles away. It also went around the US to Florida and crossed over into Cuba, only 90 miles away. A much longer time and it went to South America and then up through the Antilles, only 90 miles away. But these professionals did it seven days a week.

"Sabor A Mi" por Luis Miguel

The Rock step and the Chasse have developed all over the world and in use in over 5000 different dances. And the first civilizations in South America began in Peru about a thousand years ago.  In the Caribbean they developed their own music and dances on the different islands and there was very little cross breeding before the arrival of the first Europeans. But with a small influence of the new arrivals, mostly sailors, the natives developed the Beguine, Bolero, Calypso, Danzon, Guajira, Guaracha, Son, and perhaps forty or fifty other versions in which most had the same basic.

"People around the world love to dance so dance music will always be around."

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Oahu Music and Dance

Phil Matsumoto, Enchanted Lake

Our kind of music on Oahu has evolved right after WWII mostly from run of the mill musical sources helped along by radio and TV. Rock and roll became synonymous with dance crazes - blink-and-you-missed-it fads that involved some wild new dance steps, usually accompanied by a hit single either before or after the fact. And it was definitely for the young. Anyone older than 30 just did not know anything about dancing, period.  The young could have a few drinks and dance with abandon. And don't even dare mention the Waltz. There ain't no such thing.

Blogger's Law, number 26C: "Nothing is ever so bad that it cannot get worse."

In the Fifties, rock dances were generally appropriated from other sources; the lindy hop and the jitterbug served as a basis for many of the fast dances. That all changed in the early Sixties, as the young on Oahu, desperate for fads and able to buy armloads of 45s discovered the thrill of making an idiot out of themselves, all by themselves, on the dance floor. If you were around then, you know the names by heart: The Twist. The Hully Gully. The Watusi. The Jerk. The Fly. There were dozens of others. And on Oahu, the first of the ballroom dance clubs for the more experienced dancers came into existence.

"Sh-Boom, (Life Could Be A Dream)" ... By the Chordettes

The arrival of the Beatles on American shores in 1964 didn't exactly kill off dance crazes. The Welsh Invasion even tried one of its own with the super-lame "Do The Freddie" - but the beatnik culture that mutated into hippiedom soon after did kill the fad. Latin music and dance was making a very slow creep into the scene. "Twist And Shout" could be arranged and danced to a Cha Cha Cha very nicely. Although disco would later bring line dancing to the masses, individual craziness never infected rock quite the same way again.

"Young At Heart" by Frank Sinatra

Though new dance fads by the young have not remained confined to R&B and hip-hop these days. They have diverged into dozens of other styles and the young will dance the way they want to, let them be. In this century, on Oahu, they have tried to revive that glorious age of the Fifties and Sixties but what they have done is established the "Oldies But Goodies" very nicely. Meanwhile have yourselves a ball and enjoy it to the fullest. The young are coming up with a new dance. The Latin sound and dance cannot be stopped and the social dance scene on Oahu will grow even more. - Madam, may I have the pleasure of this Waltz?

"Social Dancers believe there may be no greater feeling in the world than
moving to your favorite music and letting the rest of the world go by."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

September Blowout in Wahiawa

Received from Aunty Maile email

Aloha everyone! The WBDC Oktoberfest dance has been confirmed for Friday, September 15, 2017, the very first day of the Oktoberfest celebration! The Party Hearty Wahines will also be joining us at this dance! Come one, come all, and celebrate with dance! German /Oktoberfest attire / or their colors are suggested for fun!



Ok·to·ber·fest Note: Oktoberfest this year, is celebrated from September 15 – October 3, 2017 1. a traditional autumn festival held in Munich, Germany, every October that features beer-drinking and merrymaking. Regrettably ours is NON-ALCOHOLIC, So there is no truth to the rumor of a keg of beer.

"Social Dancers in West Oahu, do not worry too much why someone hates them. They ask themselves why they even give a damn."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Makua Alii

Nice day, Thursday, busy and some deals were cancelled. But I thought I would peek in and see what has doin' at Makua Alii Ballroom Dancers. I decided to take the bus which is fairly easy. I take the #53 bus right close by and get in town and transfer to the #2 which gets me close to Makua Alii on Kalakaua.

Our very good dancers say:
"Don't dance like no one is watching, Dance like everyone is watching,
Show them how it is done."

Got there a little after seven and they were hot and heavy in the free dance lesson by Tad Fukomoto and Kathy Uyehara. Nice crowd though not very many people. With just ten more it would be jumping. As per usual there is a shortage of men. And if they got five more men, they would certainly get more than five more ladies. Those are the rules.

"Maui Waltz" by Loyal Garner

Couldn't find anyone to operate the other camera.
I stayed till the very end because I want to see that. It was just after 8:30. Not bad. I went my usual route to get out and found the gate closes at 8:30. Live and Learn. Went around the long ways and got to the Ala Moana bus stop by 9:10 and the last #53 leaves at 9:20. Had my wine flask and drank nice and casually as I did on the bus too. Plenty room, didn't bother anyone and got home before 10.

"Heart Aching Blues" by Willie K

Seems like the Dance Pavilion at the Patsy Mink Recreation Center has been definitely postponed. The money is needed for the Rail. When Caldwell's fat cats found out about the easy money, they knew it would never be built on the 5 billion dollar total cost.

"Tiny Bubbles" by Don Ho

The newer estimates have gone to 8, 10 and now at 13 billion dollars. Most people believe that it will go to over 15 billion, there are big bucks to be made by the Fat Cats. And more of them want to get in on this, many are making millions daily. And they are not going to let anyone know who is getting it. The Mayor has cut back on the bus buying and public transportation is in a shambles and more people are standing on the buses and planning on buying a car.

Beautiful, to be built in Waipio, but vetoed by the Present Rail Party.

They will not permit any trials of driver-less buses which are going on all over the world. The Rail Tragedy is absolete, the Chinese have proven that anything less than 200 miles is not efficient, but we all know it's the bread, Fred. And of course, the most efficient of all is the business parks in Kapolei, the Waianae Coast and the North Shore. The residents can really live in paradise, working and playing in their own kuleana. And "I coulda been home in 20 minutes."

"Social Dancers dance because there is no greater feeling in the world than
moving to your favorite music and letting the rest of the world go bye."

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."


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


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

West Oahu

We are fortunate that Monday I received additional posters of the Dance Appeal Studio from Aunty Maile, prominent member of the Wahiawa Ballroom Dance Club. Seems to me that Social Media is definitely on its way in West Oahu. So we cannot forget that on Friday, August 4th, Wahiawa is going to be jumping. Terrific Poster.

No truth to the rumor of a case of Champagne
With so many good developing social dancers in West Oahu there will be another studio on the Waianae Coast. Kapolei will miss it because the Present Rail Party is against Second City. They want every one to go Honolulu and get into bigger traffic jams. And the Present Rail Party has a very good reason to name it the "Gravy Train" and everyone in Honolulu Hale calls it, "Easy Money." They are making millions and millions of dollars daily.

"Fly Me To The Moon" by Lisa Ono

Someone could open a dance studio in Waianae that provides formal training for the serious dance student in addition to one that provides less formal instruction for recreational dancers as well as for all types of customers.

The dance scene in Waipahu is really shaping up nicely and on Saturday, August 5th, we have the Social at the newly formed Dance Appeal Studio, that has been named the Jewel of Waipahu by Marie Laderta. She and husband Paul have been patrons of the dancing arts for a long time. With Marie and Aunty Maile, we are getting some terrific information contributors willing to share our dance information to our fellow dancers. The hits on Platinum Horseshoe will go through the roof.

"Tiny Bubbles" by Don Ho

For beginners and even intermediates, don’t expect flashy and skimpy costumes and dazzling lights all the time. Most of us learn to dance strictly for social reasons. If you want the celebrities, lights, and the flashy costumes, you may be good enough to get into competitive dancing. A good social dancer can dance anywhere to any song on any surface, with or without dance shoes. A good social dancer can dance with anyone of any ability and still have a good time.

"What A Wonderful World" by Bruddah Iz

Most social dancers understand that American Tango is just as beautiful, though different, as Argentine Tango. They understand that East Coast Swing is just as good as West Coast Swing. Good technique can make a social dancer stand out on the dance floor, or just comfortable to dance with, but not completely necessary if they follow the 3 rules of social dancing: have fun, have good timing, and don’t do anything that emotionally or physically hurts your partner.

"Social Dancers know that it isn't hard to find injustice in our dance world,
but we do not let injustice smear the good deeds that do occur everyday."