3.1 On The Count In Hustle

Many nationally known teachers (Torres, Kiehm, Schwimmer, Montez,..), some who have been teaching Hustle since it evolved in the early 80's, prefer to count it as "&1 2 3" (quick-slow-slow-quick) Be careful with this, as at least two very reputable Hustle teachers of the &123 school verbalize this rhythm as quick-*quick*-slow-slow. The second quick (the '1') is taken twice as long as the first (the '&'). Why on earth they use the same word for two different timing concepts (first Q = Q, second Q = S) is unexplainable!

Here's another common incorrect way of teaching the rhythm: I have seen it counted out loud "one two and THREE", but a voice print would show the rhythm:
1 2 a 3 <- dance count
step step hopstep

(1/16 notes are written 1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a...)

In an effort to accent the 3, the "and" yell is 1/4 beat from the 3 instead of the proper 1/2 beat, rushing the together-fwd without adequate time to make the steps smooth. Consequently, people typically "hop" on the "and three" and either rock or do not take a proper step on count 3. The whole 1/2 beat is needed to change the motion and start moving forward. (When done wrong, it looks funny. Since there is not time to change the body motion, people hop in the air so their feet can do the step forward, but their body does not move.)

Reasons for the &123 count: If we use the convention that 1-2 is where FORWARD motion starts, then it becomes immediately clear that:

The &123 school says that by the same logic, Hustle should be &123. One might be inclined to say that "1" is the first forward step, so the count should be 1 2 3&. The only problem is that this makes the man start on his right and the woman on her left, and this is just _too_ out of touch with the rest of social dancing. So we put the "&" at the start so the man can start on his left and the woman on her right. So then the &1 is where the forward motion starts. The end points of "&1 2 3 " have little velocity, but do have potential energy (the lean). The end points of "12&3" have near peak velocity (kinetic energy), but less potential energy (lean). Since the woman should be in motion between the "3" and the "1" of the "12&3 12&3" count, "3" is not a natural stopping point in *walk-though* mode (the only place where names and numbers are important - when actually dancing, all communication comes through the lead and follow; whether your partner counts base-2 in Swahili or learned Venusian names for dance figures, should matter not at all.). When *talking about* and demonstrating named patterns in Hustle, it's nice to have the patterns start and end near the natural points of non-movement. That means when standing and talking, you get to stand still between patterns at spots where you're supposed to be standing still. (OK, everybody hop up, but don't land yet, because I want to explain the foot position your supposed to use to start next figure :-) Both counts have problems with freezing between patterns, but it seems clearer for beginners to stop near a minimum velocity point. The beginning and ends of figures counted "&1 2 3" are much closer to natural stopping points (still not perfect, but closer.) Maria Torres, one of the founding members of Hustle USA, a national Hustle organization, says: Regarding count: "It's &1 2 3."

Reasons for the 12&3 count: The &123 school says that their count has historical precedence. However one poster writes: First, I have a bit of a problem with those who characterize the &123 count as 'traditional'. I learned Hustle ten years ago, in 1985, and I learned it with the 12&3 count, which was considered the 'traditional' count in my circles at that time.

It is useful to be able to demonstrate figures starting on count '1'. It is also true that the end points of "&1 2 3 " have little velocity, but do have potential energy (the lean). The end points of "12&3" have near peak velocity (kinetic energy), but less potential energy.

However, 13&3 is a better count and the break point is more appropriate for teaching beginners. It's easier to add the correct velocity at the beginning of a figure than it is to add the correct lean. This is consistent with the way figures are broken down in other dances, as well. Starting on the & in Hustle is like starting on the & in the middle of the coaster step in west coast swing. Instead, WCS figures are generally accepted to start on the second beat following, which matches the 12&3 timing. There's also a high potential energy foot closure in waltz, just like the '&' of Hustle. It comes at the end of the figure, on the 3, not at the beginning of the figure. Finally, there's the lady's quarter turn in quickstep (or the gent's chasse finish), which has the same dynamic exchange between kinetic and potential energy as the lady's Hustle basic. It's counted SQQS, corresponding to the 12&3 timing.

There are many of the top dance teachers in the country using the "&1 2 3" approach, but that still doesn't explain how one justifies turns ending on half beats. I have taught many different forms of dance for many years and I have yet to find one where a complete step pattern ends on a half beat, other than the "&1 2 3" approach to Hustle.

There are many of the top dance teachers in the country using the "&1 2 3" approach, but that still doesn't explain how one justifies turns ending on half beats. I have taught many different forms of dance for many years and I have yet to find one where a complete step pattern ends on a half beat, other than the "&1 2 3" approach to Hustle.


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