One of the most interesting aspects of the swing and blues community is the concept of the “jam”. A “jam” is a special kind of dance that generally highlights a few individuals, while the rest of the dancers form a circle around them and clap in time with the music. The most common form of this dance is the “birthday jam”, with the birthday person(s) dancing in the middle, and different partners cutting in throughout the song. Check out this video to see what I mean:
It’s, in my opinion, a great way to honor and celebrate people who have special occasions, be them birthdays, graduations, etc. Of course, nobody has to be jammed if they don’t want to be. I myself have been the subject of one jam, a blues jam, on my birthday. I may get another when I graduate in a few weeks; we’ll see. 🙂
Another form of jam that I learned relatively recently is the “snowball jam”. It starts the same as a normal jam, with one couple in the middle of a circle with everyone dancing. But a few seconds into the dance, instead of people cutting in, the DJ (or whoever has a microphone) says, “Snowball.” The two people dancing each find a new partner, and start dancing with them. So now, four people are dancing. This pattern continues until everyone in the room is dancing. And then it works its way back down to the couple that was originally dancing in the middle of the circle.
These dances are a great way to celebrate special occasions within the dance community, or to honor a special individual/group. It’s always fun to watch people getting birthday jammed, as the more experienced and skilled dancers tend to put on quite a show.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or experiences of your own you’d like to share, feel free to post a comment! I’d love to hear what you have to say!