Jive Junction You're not wrong Walter, you're just an asshole. -The Dude

16Apr/1212

Top 10 Lindy Hop Things I Just Don’t Get

Sandbox

So I spent yesterday afternoon working in my yard. I had fun clearing out space for my kid's new sandbox, getting it filled with sand (hence the picture of the sandbox from which I will now preach)... fixed an erosion issue with some nice pond rock... ripped out a palm to make way for a bigger turtle "pond" I installed. Seriously, my idea of a great afternoon, but at the same time I know many people would say, "I don't get it, how is all that work fun?" Well, same goes for me when it comes to some common trends among the Lindy Hop crowd... and it just so happens that's what I was thinking about while enjoying my afternoon of yard work, and for once I thought I'd type them out...

Click ‘continue reading’ below to read on.

1. Blogging about it.

I thought it best to start out my list with the most ironic item. Yeah, I have a blog, and it's mostly about Lindy Hop stuff. You'll notice however I don't post on it much, and I still have an open invite to others who might want to contribute. So yeah, every once in a while I like to rant about something, but I just don't get those who are constantly writing about it (similar items to follow.)

2. Getting excited to see it presented in "main stream" media.

It's never good. The entertainment business will always find a way to screw it up. It's never going to be Lindy Hop in its most pure, raw form. Until there is a reality show that follows couples that make regular rounds of the Lindy Hop event circuit (and man what a juicy show that would be) I don't care about seeing "Lindy Hop" on TV.

3. Being a traveling vagabond while doing it.

I need a home base. I need stability in my life. I need self-established structure. I just don't get people who want to go around crashing people's couches and/or hotel rooms so they can travel the world (while never actually seeing it because they never leave the event venues) and dance. I'll take a few well thought out vacations, that have nothing to do with dance, a year instead, thank you.

4. Wanting to teach it.

I love teaching. It's something I considered going into, and would have if not for the terrible pay. Thankfully it's something I get to do from time to time at work. Teaching dance on the other hand, what a nightmare. I hated it the few times I did it, and don't get those who love it... and I have many friends who fall in that bucket. I also don't get why so many people want to get into teaching, though considering a Lindy Hop teaching career ties back to other Lindy Hop things I don't get I suppose that's logical. 

5. Telling you how to run your business based on it.

This one ties back to number 1. It seems like a lot of Lindy bloggers what to tell you how to run your business. Why do they care? Are you even qualified to offer said advice? Let the people who make their living on Lindy Hop do their thing in peace. It's not that complicated... and when they do make massive screw-ups that go public it's all so very entertaining for the rest of us.

6. Building a "community" around it.

These next two kinda go together. Maybe I'm just clueless because I "grew-up" in one of the large scenes, but I don't get this push to build dance "communities." Okay, clearly that does go ahead and makes me clueless.... hence, I don't get it.

7. Making it beginner friendly.

Back in my day I had to walk up hill through two feet of snow to get to a dance. I had to do magic tricks to get anyone to dance with me. I had to, shudder, socialize. It's an exciting fun thing to do, I don't get why we need to pander to beginners to keep them interested in something that has a strong attraction to those with the natural affinity to be good at it. The rest will come and go no matter how hard you try to keep them interested.

8. Winning shit by doing it.

I have no need to validate my dancing in the form of a trophy. Sure I've jumped into a few contests in the past for the fun of it, and I know plenty of people who still do, and win regularly, for the fun of it. However I don't get people who are so focused on that "prize." You'll know who they are by their technically proficient but soulless performances. No thanks.

9. "Challenging" myself with it.

If I wanted a dance challenge I would have taken up Tango. I don't want a challenge, I want to have fun. Sure Lindy Hop can be tough to pick up at first, but once you've got your basics down you're free to just let go and not care. Boom, fun time. I don't need to think about it, I just do it. I don't get placing this weight of "challenge" on my shoulder when all I want to do is enjoy the music in the form of movement.

10. Over-analyzing it.

This is the last catch all category. This one's for the people who turn the music and dance into math equations. The people who write huge blog posts comparing multiple video clips from different events/different decades (sorry Jerry, though I do love the handy video links, haha.)  And then there are the people who get into pointless, solution-less online discussions about the latest hot Lindy Hop topic. Yeah, I used to be one of those people, until one day a little LED went off in my head and I realized how silly it all was.

So there you have it, the Lindy Hop things I just don't get. Maybe you agree, maybe you don't, that's cool. I’m sure we can still all agree that in the end it's just a dance, and we'll all enjoy it in the way that makes most sense to ourselves.

Posted by Reuben Brown

Comments (12) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I find myself constantly wondering why it seems lately that people are taking this whole “swing dancing” thing way too seriously…

  2. *sigh*

    I never had that LED go off in my head. Mine was one of those energy-wasting incandescents. That one epiphany sucked like five years of brainpower outta me.

  3. I do like the grumpy old man tone to this post. Personally, I find overly cheery self-help-book blog posts particularly craw-sticking. Other things that shit me: arse kissing comments on faceplant, declarations that we are ‘all one swing dancing family’ (*vomit*), a deficit of puns and a surfeit of stupid cross-dressing sight-gags, and people I don’t know or don’t particularly like trying to kiss or hug me at dances. Really, I think you’re aiming too low with your list. Here, I’ll explain why:

    1. I love to talk and think. Blogging is the next best thing to talking. If I could do even more of it, I would. More writing. More words. More thinking. Dancers could stand a bit more literacy, I reckon.

    2. Swing dance in mainstream media = brilliant PR for classes, = more people to dance with. I am utterly selfish in that I relish the thought of new people to meet and dance with. But I HATE the way most swing dance stories in the mainstream present it as a lame, ‘letting women be women and men be men’ bullshit story with a Jive Bunny sound track and coy upskirt shots of girls’ knickers. How fucking DULL.

    3. Vagabond dancing. Not for me. But I do support it: see earlier point about more people for me to meet and dance with. I think this is more important when you live sixty zillion billion kilometres away from most of the other lindy hoppers in the world.

    4. Teaching. I used to lecture and tutor and mark in a university context. I fucking love teaching. Teaching dance is like teaching at uni but where the worst thing that can happen in a class is no one laughs at your jokes. No one’s education gets fucked up, no one wastes more than $15. It’s fucking gold. Love. Love.

    5. I’m not really sure what your point is here beyond “Get offa my lawn!” I am 100% in favour of giving a shit and of interfering in other people’s businesses. Mostly because I’m interested in the labour movement and in the way power works in capitalism. Also, I love to interfere, so I will comment on other people’s business models. If only to declare “You’re doing it wrong!” I mean, ffs, it’s not that hard to treat people well _and_ make money. Y U NO GET IT RIGHT?

    6. Community. I hate all that ‘building a community’ talk. Smacks of cults to me. Forced communities = scary arse. But I am a big fan of ‘treat people decently, you arse’ approaches to community development. I’m also interested in sustainable community practice – where ‘treat people decently’ merges into ‘price your events realistically’ and ‘don’t make me go to some shitty echoey run down church hall to dance’. Get it together, yo.

    7. Beginner friendliness. Now I really can hear you yelling ‘get offa my lawn!’ and also ‘HEY YOU KIDS – turn that music down!’ I dunno why people target beginners for friendliness – more cult stuff I guess. I prefer ‘treat people decently’, and if friendliness is part of that, so be it. If peeps can’t manage being friendly at a social dance, then maybe _social_ dancing isn’t the place for them.

    8. Winning shit. I’m totally 100% in favour of my winning shit. Particularly if winning involves cash prizes. Is there a cash prize for talking and writing about dance? Why the fuck not?

    9. Challenging myself. I admit, I do like this part. If I wanted simple and easy, I’d go for crazy lounge room dancing every time. I like it that lindy hop makes me work my arse off. But I think of it as ‘keeping me interested for longer’. Have brain, want use.

    10. I dunno, I kind of like the idea of living a world where hoomans actually do a bit of thinking. In my experience, if a guy says to me ‘you think too much’, it’s because he doesn’t like what I’m thinking. Or the fact that I _am_ thinking – or questioning – rather than just accepting what he’s saying. My usual response is ‘dood, you obviously don’t think _enough_.’ Thinking, it’s cool. Also, thinking leads to better jokes.

    …I’m really serious about that kissing and hugging thing. Stop goddamn touching me. I don’t even like dancing with you; why you think I want to kiss you?

  4. Intriguing post – I’m guessing different people will agree/disagree with different points. I like teaching and encouraging beginners, personally; not everybody was fortunate enough (or, given your “uphill-both-ways” comment, perhaps “unfortunate” enough) to have started ten-plus years ago. If it weren’t for people breaking it down and analyzing the dance, we’d all still think Sliding Doors is a pretty neat move… But even when I see high school kids doing “I touch your back, you touch mine” (or worse: the Golden Arches thing… You know what I mean, where the guy brings both of the lady’s hands up, then drapes one arm over her head, and one behind his) I at least applaud them for being out there, doing SOMETHING, rather that sitting at home in front of “So You Think You Can WATCH Dancing on TV”.

    And finally, IMHO, the old “Those who can…” yarn is missing a line; it should be: “Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can’t… *LEARN!* And Those Who Learn… Teach.”

  5. I feel like most of these are just a couple of main points subdivided. If you don’t like analyzing dance (see the swungover blog for a reply to the “just have fun” concept), you’re probably not going to like teaching it or blogging about it or being “challenged” by it (and while I have no idea how good a dancer you are, I’ve found that in general people who say Lindy can be learned quickly and then there’s nothing left to learn usually aren’t very good). And if you don’t care about growing the scene, and thus the pool of dancers you have to choose from, then you’re not going to care about Lindy on TV or growing the community or making things beginner friendly.

    And yeah, I totally don’t get enjoying yard work or wanting children, so we’re clearly coming from very different places.

  6. I don’t get why you folks are reading so much into things that aren’t even there. :) …and missing my last sentance: “I’m sure we can still all agree that in the end it’s just a dance, and we’ll all enjoy it in the way that makes most sense to ourselves.”

    And Charles, I’ve been doing this dance and involved in the scene for over 16 years now, so I have no qualms with kicking modesty to the curb and just coming out and saying that I’m not only a good dancer, I’m a great dancer.

  7. I over-analyze dancing because I over-analyze everything else.

    Also, you lack any empathy whatsoever, and I totally aspire to that.

  8. I wish I would have said that…

  9. RUBY!!!!! Yay!!! Well, the whole thing used to be a blast and I went on for a while thinking it could be like that again…wrong. We were part of a special time.

  10. I don’t get why it’s (besides Balboa) the only dance Lindy hoppers do. I call them dance #1 and dance #2. I’ve seen people try to LH to a waltz. It’s 3/4 time for Christ sake. Learn what dances go with what music. Waltz, fox-trot, one-step, salsa, rumba, two-step, etc etc etc.

  11. I think what you really don’t get is that different people have different motivations for doing things; and many of them will not be the same as yours.


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