A long, long time ago, in a Balboa Scene far far away…

Actually, it was a decade ago. The growing Balboa scene was full of young, hopeful and enthusiastic…(well let’s face it)…dance geeks. Through a combination of home movie footage from Bobby McGee’s, old movies such as “Start Cheering” and the Venice Beach Clip, combined with the DaVinci Code advice from the old timers, we were piecing together the dances (Balboa and Bal-Swing). Needless to say, our early versions from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s were way off. I blame the public school system.

The new generation started off missing the mark on both Balboa and Bal-Swing. However, we were not satisfied until we truly understood both dances. Decent progress was being made with pure Balboa regarding the incredibly ginormous basics, but there was something terribly wrong with Bal-Swing. What the new generation was doing and what the old timers did appeared to be completely different. The new generation looked like they were doing Lindy Hop without triple steps. There was something missing. Then it dawned on me that there was an “away and together” motion in Bal-Swing that the older timers were doing.

The only place where we had been using this technique previously was in Crossovers, but that was just viewed as a pattern and not a concept. We adopted the term “Out and In”, which both Maxie Dorf and Willie Desatoff used frequently. It took some trial and error, but we were able to get a handle on the concept which changed Bal-Swing completely. It was the key piece of information that had been unknown to us. This was the start of the Out and In revolution. Finally the Bal-Swing scene was on the right track. It took a long time for the entire scene to adapt to this new idea, but it was ultimately successful.

I’d also like to note that Sylvia Sykes, Jonathan Bixby and Dwight Lupardis already knew these concepts since the mid 1980’s, having learned them directly from Maxie and Willie. Had we youngsters listened a bit more, we probably could have saved a bit of time. Well, live and learn.  Again, I blame the public school system.

The “Out and In” is a flowing stretch and release technique where the leader and the follower flow away from each other for two counts and back in for another two counts while taking 3 steps for every 4 beats. It gives the dance a constant and continuous breathing motion that gives both the leader and follower the ability to style within that dynamic. It’s the heart of Bal-Swing. If you know the term “Crossovers”, the Out and In is a fully encompassed fundamental concept in which Crossovers are merely a small part of.  This is a very different feel than Charleston, which generally has a sharper and more rapid movement with the out being in only one count.  Relaxation, fluidity and flow is key to Bal-Swing.

This technique also allows for a great deal of improvisation and styling. Looking at dancers such as Maxie Dorf, Willie Desatoff, Anne Mills and Natalie Esparza, you can see there is a great variety in styles using this technique. In recent years even more styles have emerged.

Today, the Out and In is still used, but it has been overshadowed by complex spins and turns. Out and In is now just a placeholder for the fancy patterns. This dynamic is quite different from how the old timers danced. It has also become very choppy and Charleston-esque. In order to make an attempt to keep the flowing and beautiful dynamic of the Out and In alive in the scene, I’ve included footage of Maxie Dorf doing the Out and In, Mess Around, as well as a mix of other variations. Keep in mind that these are advanced version of Out and In, but hopefully it can inspire you. Watch the ease, flow and variety used by Maxie. This is from rare private lesson footage from Sylvia and Dwight. Also note that the context of this footage is not social dancing but teaching lessons, so there are occasional exaggerated movement.