Definitions

Note: Words are arranged in roughly the order that they appear in the book.

MUSIC

beat – the underlying beat; the pulse of the music, which usually comes from the drums

tempo – the speed of the music, usually stated in beats per minute (BPM)

on time – a weight change occurring precisely on the beat is on time; if you’re early or late, it’s off time

set of 8 – eight beats of music, which, thematically, sound like a “sentence” of music; virtually all dance music is structured in sets of 8 (waltz, the exception, is structured in sets of 6); counting sets of 8 is the only way to confirm you found the beat; two four-beat measures are naturally paired to create a set of 8; a set of 8 is also called a mini-phrase

counting music – counting the beats in the sets of 8 (sets of 6 for waltz)

count 1 – the first beat of a set of 8; also called “the 1” for short; the second beat is count 2, the third beat is count 3, and so on

downbeat and upbeat – when dealing with sets of 8, beats are naturally paired, a downbeat followed by an upbeat (waltz is structured in threes, downbeat upbeat upbeat); the downbeats are counts 1, 3, 5 and 7 and the upbeats are counts 2, 4, 6 and 8

RHYTHM

verbal call – the language used to call a step pattern as you dance,which varies from teacher to teacher; the same step pattern can have different verbal calls, which can get confusing; in this book, STEP and TOUCH are the two verbal calls used most often (see other definitions in this section)

step – a weight change; note that a weight change can be done in place; step is a common word, and the meaning needs to be taken in context; also see next entry, STEP

STEP – a verbal call that indicates a weight change; a STEP is the instant the weight changes and not the process of taking a step

TOUCH – a verbal call that indicates a beat of music with no weight change; instead of transferring your weight to the unweighted foot, simply touch the unweighted foot to the floor—an action with no weight chang—which gives you something to do on the beat of music to help you stay connected to the beat

HOLD – another verbal call that indicates a beat of music with no weight change (that is, it’s similar to a TOUCH)

QUICK and SLOW – extremely common verbal calls but not used in this book because of limitations (see box on page 53); when used correctly, a QUICK QUICK is two beats of music and is usually interchangeable with a STEP STEP (a double rhythm); a SLOW is also two beats of music and is usually interchangeable with a STEP TOUCH or a STEP HOLD (a single rhythm)

dance rhythm – the number of weight changes in two beats of music (except waltz, see pages 74 and 121), for example, single rhythm, double rhythm

single rhythm – one weight change in two beats of music; common verbal calls are STEP TOUCH and STEP HOLD; looking at just the first two beats of music, the pattern count
would be: 1 hold–2

double rhythm – two weight changes in two beats of music; a common verbal call is STEP STEP; looking at just the first two beats of music, the pattern count would be: 1 2

triple rhythm – three weight changes in two beats of music; common verbal calls are STEP-THREE-TIMES and TRIPLE-STEP; looking at just the first two beats of music, the pattern count would be: 1&2

blank rhythm – no weight changes in two beats of music (HOLD HOLD); see more on pages 66 and 123; looking at just the first two beats of music, the pattern count would be: hold–1 hold–2

rhythm pattern – a combination of two or more dance rhythms; for example, salsa and rumba, which share the same rhythm pattern, is double—single—double—single

step pattern – a combination of the rhythm pattern and the direction

direction – direction of movement, which includes foot positions (feet together, feet shoulder width apart, and so on)

counting step patterns – identifying the sequence of weight changes in a step pattern by counting only the beats that have weight changes; counting a step pattern creates the pattern count

pattern count – counting a step pattern, which identifies the sequence of weight changes, creates the pattern count; also referred to as the count for short; for example, the count for East Coast swing and West Coast swing is, 1 2—3&4—5&6

& count – a point between two beats of music; every beat of music has an & count, for example, &1, &2, &3; the & count is vocalized only if there’s a weight change or action on that particular & count; for example, starting on count 1, the pattern count for dancing a triple rhythm, which is three weight changes, would be, 1&2

mark – doing weight changes in place; marking rhythm patterns is the best way to learn them

DANCE

dance frame – your stature, how you hold your arms in relation to your body, including the tone necessary to create a dance connection (page 94); think of tone as an energy level in your arms that’s enough to keep them extended without falling down

closed position – the familiar-looking embrace that’s used in the basic step pattern of most social dances; this is the dance position used for survival dancing

lead and follow – the primary way dancing couples communicate; a lead is an indication of direction; following is a reaction to a lead; traditionally men lead and women follow

survival dancing – doing single and double rhythm in the closed position; the three rhythm patterns that will get you through most situations are: all single rhythm, all double rhythm, double—single—double—single; a side step (page 103) is an easy and versatile step pattern for survival; fall back on a sway (page 119) if nothing else seems to work

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