The KISS Principle: the OASIS dj and more

A smooth sensual bachata song starts out and half way through the song the mood abruptly does a 180 shift change; given a hard edge to it, courtesy of mixing by the dj. One song, you might say, but this was one of the better examples typical of the night – diametrically opposite songs/rhythms being mixed together to make a “mish mash” with no coherent whole. It was yesterday night as someone was filling in at the last minute for the usual dj. He would have done better to just play songs from beginning to end rather than trying to go “all fancy” – Keep It Simple Stupid – the KISS principle. Jumping the gun serves no one well. The dj may have thought he was having fun, but I can tell you he is not going to get many more repeat gigs this way.

The KISS principle also applies to dancing; keeping it simple and working on the fundamentals is important no matter how advanced you become. You see master dancers moving and doing all those complex moves and it is tempting to copy the moves so that you can move like them. After all you have learned the basics already. But, what you often do not realize is that complicated moves rely on strong basics, just like how a well-built house rests on its’ foundations. Doing a spaghetti combination is not the same as doing the combination the way it should be done. Strip away the distracting nature of complex moves and you see it clearly. Observe wonderful dancers just doing the salsa basic with a newbie: deceptively simple elegance. The great dancers are not powering their partners through the basic and other movements. Instead they are using their hard-earned knowledge of physics learnt through years of working on the fundamentals of lead and follow. This is the foundation on which their dancing is based upon. What sort of dance foundation is yours? That is why the more I learn the less that I know, as I realize how much more there is to learn than what I already know.

Take my salsa journey as an example. I quickly thought I really knew the salsa basic, and jumped to doing/learning combinations, and then I discovered that I still couldn’t lead everyone. There definitely was something more to doing the same basic with everyone, in lead and follow. Working on that I eventually learned to lead even the salsa newbie who has never taken a lesson before. My salsa basic was even stronger smoother cleaner.

While on that journey of learning to lead people of all levels I started being asked by others to show them the basic. How do you explain the basic, breaking it down in a fashion to get the person doing the best possible footwork in a short time? What difference does it make when you vary the weight shifts, stepping a fraction early, or holding foot positions until the last possible moment? How does the feeling differ with stepping on every beat vs quick,quick,slow – which is easier to learn? How do you lead it? Or follow? How do you communicate to your partner what the next movement is using just the right amount of connection, no more no less? I experimented in order not to make any mistakes when sharing what I knew. In the process of learning to share, another permutation deepening understanding, giving a more confident basico.

While on my dance journey today and tomorrow I will still be working on keeping things simple, and working on my fundamentals of lead and follow.

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