The Tag and the Buildup

West Coast Swing Online Musicality

We’re continuing to identify layers in the Maroon 5 song Maps. We’ve made it through the intro, and now we get the first really obvious contrast in the song. Let’s figure out how to dance to this new level of energy.

As you listen to the song, focus on the tag that occurs right before the first chorus. As the lead singer goes, “I was there for you…,” what do you notice about the music?

The bass line is driving the song by indicating a build of energy into the chorus. So, our dancing needs to follow this transition.

The tag and buildup is a short section (16 beats), so this is a great place to deviate from the standard WCS rhythm. You can show a different rhythm deliberately for musical reasons, but the song will shift soon enough that you won’t look like you are ignoring the WCS rhythm structure.

In this case, we’re going to take out the triple rhythms. The bass and snare are pounding away on a double rhythm, so our dancing will match that.

Practice dancing this section of the song with only double rhythms. You will be on the wrong foot during the middle of most patterns, so play with what you need to adjust within your body in order to make the movement still work. For instance: leaders normally step across the slot on 4 of a whip with their left foot. Now, that will be your right foot moving on 4. Experiment to discover how you can step across on 4 without stepping into the follower or pulling her forward too soon. It’s tricky—but possible!

Followers: you can do this on your own, but there is a caveat. WCS is built to prep your body in specific ways based on what foot you are on, and the turns occur in specific places because of what foot you normally would be over at that point. When you start replacing triple rhythms with double rhythms, those assumptions behind the dance are no longer working in your favor. You have two ways to respond:

  • Own your own prep and rotation. You are now responsible for prepping and spinning yourself, even when you are spinning the wrong way over the wrong foot. This is a great skill to build, and for common spins such as a left side inside roll, being able to execute the spin on the wrong feet will open a ton of options for you in styling and play.
  • Be ready to abort. Sometimes, the movement being led just plain requires a triple. When that occurs, don’t fight it. Your responsibility is to embellish within the dance being led, so if the leader is taking away this option, give up on the footwork and find a different method to accent the dance. In this case, you could bring back the staccato weight transfers from the previous phrase, or add more body isolations (like a ribcage pop) to the bass line.
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