What is Mile High Blues?
Mile High Blues is a Blues dancing festival, and it happens each year at the end of March. Yes, we have lots of music, including lots of live music. But our focus is on the dancing. All our venues have large, wood floors for dancing. Many of our venues are used for partnered dancing events on a regular basis, including swing, salsa, and tango.
What is Blues Dancing?
Like blues music, blues dancing finds its origins in African rhythm and movement. It emerged from 19th century dances like the Cake Walk, which was one of the earliest combinations of European and African dance traditions, just as blues music emerged from work-songs and gospel music, which were a combination of African and European musical traditions.
Early blues dances were very simple and open to musical interpretation. They were often a simple one-step or two-step and never became a focus for popular culture the way that dances like Lindy Hop and Charleston did. As a result, blues dance has retained the intimacy from it’s early days and continues to focus on the interaction between dance partners, whereas the more popular dances often became quite showy and more focused, to a degree, on the spectators. While Lindy Hop and Charleston were seen in the most prestigious ballrooms and night-clubs of the era, blues dancing remained the purview of the house party, the Juke Joint, and the smoky little hole in the wall bar.
Because the spectrum of blues music is so large, there are many different interpretations and styles of traditional blues dance. “The Gut Bucket,” “The Fish Tail,” “Jookin’ “and “The Slow Drag” are only a few of the dances that history passes down to us with this wide variety of music. Unfortunately, the history of these dances is incomplete. We do not have the vast archive of film and writing, along with the living archive of the dancers from the era, that the more popular dances of the day, like Lindy Hop, produced. As a result, blues dance today incorporates those historical elements we do have with more modern elements of dance, but keeps the focus on the music and your partner.
This focus has given some the impression that a successful blues dance must be both sensual and intense. However, anyone who has listened to a fair amount of blues music will have heard songs that are lonely, longing, sad, angry, and joyful, as well as songs that are loving, lustful, and bawdy. Blues music is about common experiences. It is a sharing of human conditions that everyone can access on some level, and should include the spectrum of human emotions. (From www.ibluestudios.com. Another description can be found at www.blues-dance.com. Also check out the Wikipedia page en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues_dance.)
Can I come even if I don’t know how to dance?
Of course! There will be plenty of seating so you can sit and watch the band. In addition, the Denver Turnverein has a bar! And we are going to have an introductory blues dance class each night before the band sets up, so you can get a taste for dancing. And if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can take the workshops on Saturday and Sunday which do include beginner-friendly classes.
I really want to attend, but I just can’t afford it. Are there any discounts? Can I volunteer for partial or full admission?
We offer discounts for full-time students and Denver Turnverein members. Email email@example.com for more information.
We are always in need of volunteers! We use many volunteers to man the registers, help set up food, drive instructors around town, and many other easy tasks. If you’re interested in volunteering, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.