I'm really interested in dance jam / cypher culture across dance styles. It's a way of creating ephemeral stages for each other that is always fascinating and fun.
At Lindy Focus this December, I got this huge insight into how to get a solo jazz jam started. It's really simple, and yet kind of blows my mind.
Say you want to get a solo jazz jam started? How would you do it? Let me illustrate it for you with my expert artwork.
To get a jam started, you could try dancing by yourself, and hope that others join in. But generally this just gets ignored at a lindy hop event, since people are focused on partner dancing… or other things.
You could find a friend and dance solo jazz with that person. But people don't automatically view that as a jam, since you both are dancing at the same time.
No, what you need is three people to get a solo jazz jam started. Specifically, you need one person to dance and two other people to (1) not dance and (2) clap and cheer for the person dancing.
What this does is it creates… a circle. Well, a triangle, I guess. It creates a middle space that the two non-dancers are focused on, and one person is dancing in.
Then of course you switch off dancing in "the middle" you just created.
After a couple of rounds, other people start to notice, and wonder what is the big deal. Clearly something is happening if people are not dancing and clapping and cheering.
Once you have created this dance circle, and put positive energy into it, people naturally want to participate.
I did this several times at Lindy Focus and it never failed to get a jam started.
It's also a good solution when the dance floor is really crowded. The two non-dancers serve as barriers creating space so the solo-ist can do their thing.
Of course this doesn't just apply to lindy hop. I've seen the same thing happen at dance clubs playing hip-hop, house or pop music.
Give it a try at your local dance and tell me how it goes!