Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why Lindy Hop Weekly?

On an upbeat Sunday evening at the Zenda Grotto I recently posed a simple question to some friends. 

"How do we develop better Lindy Hop leads in the Tampa Bay swing scene?"

A mix of replies peppered the half-serious, half-comedic conversation.  "Get hotter girls to come out dancing," a female friend said.  "You should gather up some of the newer guys and charge for lessons," a male friend replied.  

After opening up this conversation to various groups over the course of the night two common threads seemed to appear pointing to two main needs:

1) More Information - Everyone, and I mean everyone, every guy, every girl, everybody at every level wanted to learn more.  There is a hunger in our scene right now and it's for more information (not cowbell) about Lindy Hop.  People feel like they are personally hitting a ceiling and want more knowledge but don't always know how or where to find it.

2) Identifying Leads Dancers with Interest and Potential - How do we reach out to leads and follows who hunger for more information?  How do we identify them?  How do we create an atmosphere where they feel comfortable to seek new knowledge and to socialize with those of us who have simply been around longer?

So this crazy idea popped in my head.  It may not solve all of the problems, but I'm hoping it's a first step.

Every week I will post a video that I find informative, educational, or inspirational about Lindy Hop.

That's it.  It's that simple.  

I'm by no means a professional dancer and I've been doing this long enough to know that there are more things I don't know than I do know, but hopefully you will find something useful in the videos and information I post.  Hopefully you'll feel comfortable enough to comment and share your own thoughts or pull me aside at a dance just for some conversation or to ask a question.

Hopefully this will help focus our scene in a direction and give everyone one more means of finding some information, some inspiration, and connecting with other people.

Please share this link with your friends and the new people you meet and please sign up for the weekly reminders.  And please, please, please feel free to contact me at any time, seriously.

I hope you enjoy it,

Tom Blair


Patrick said...

You may not consider yourself a professional dancer, Tom, but you are one of the ones that kept me coming out when I was a beginner.. Best of luck to you and the Tampa scene. You'll always have people to dance with up here in Pittsburgh!

Tom Blair said...

Thanks for the kind words, Patrick. Hopefully I'll make it up there sometime and you can show me around.

Patrick said...

Oh, another thing! While I think it's very important to seek out new (future) lindy hoppers, it's equally important to keep coming out and inspiring the new people that come for the first time every week; even if the music is iffy, even if the crowds wax and wane, even if your favorite partner isn't coming.

Tom Blair said...

Agreed. You started me thinking down a path and my mind went from the importance of coming out regularly to why I continue to come out dancing to a thesis idea called "On Ethics and The Lindy Hop".

I promise it'll make more sense once I write it.

Pamela0284 said...

Hey Tom,

Just happened across this whilst perusing facebook. I'm actually in the process of building a multimedia blog for my new website, If you would like to contribute, please let me know. The website represents all dances. You should create a profile too I'm busy busy trying to get content on the site right now :)

Pamela0284 said...

Also, this is a really awesome idea. You should put biz cards out at the local dances or let me help you promote it through our hit that jive and my dancehappens website

Tom Blair said...

Great ideas, Pam. I hope to see you out soon so we can talk.

cindiasaurus said...

Tom! I was thinking about the conversation last night, and the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that the best way to get more people involved in dancing and to create better leads and follows is to give them emotional incentive to dance.
People want to spend more time doing things that they are emotionally invested in.
I started dancing because it was fun, but I kept dancing because I made friends and dancing became more than just dancing, it became a social/emotional outlet. I stopped dancing because I lost my friends, ie my emotional investment.
So then the question becomes, how do experienced dancers get new or uninvolved dancers emotionally invested enough to make them WANT to be better dancers?
The good dancers have to become emotionally invested in the novice dancers.
Most of the people that I know that are good dancers became better because they learned from a friend who WANTED to help them get better. I heard the term "protege" a lot when I was learning to dance - a good dancer would make friends with a novice dancer and then "take them under their wing" and teach them how to dance. The novice dancer received more than just encouragement to get better - he received personal lessons, which were probably offered, not asked for, and were given with care rather than obligation.
An experienced dancer can social dance all day long and never be obliged to help less experienced dancers. I felt that way a lot, I'd think "I paid to come out to this dance - I just want to enjoy myself. I don't want to have to 'waste' dances on beginners or take my personal time to teach them new things." And I think that's fair. But if that's always the case, then I can't just expect good leads or follows to magically pop up in the dance scene. If I want dancers to get better, I have to help them. I have to WANT to help them.
This is where it comes back to what we were talking about last night - in order for the good dancers to want to work with the novice dancers, they need an emotional investment, ie a friendship. So I think the biggest thing that needs to happen in the dance scene is a social overhaul. Re-initiate village in dinners every week after Grotto dances, or dinners beforehand if you have to get up early on Monday. Invite new dancer friends over for dance practices at your house. Have more house dance parties that aren't just limited to experience dancers. Go out and do things with other dancers that isn't just dancing. Offer more theoretical classes or discussions, rather than lessons that just teach moves.
Your quest for knowledge is exactly the right idea - leads and follows will get better if they understand what dancing is and why it works the way it does. If they can understand the physics, fundamentals, and social aspects of dancing, they will get better, because they will be able to better understand how to improve and why they need to improve.
I think a good supplement to this blog would be an in-person discussion group that worked through and practiced the ideas and concepts that you post here, where novice and experienced dancers were encouraged to attend. If that idea interests you at all, let me know and I can set up a regular meeting place through the Tampa Free Skool.
Anywho, sorry is this is long and rambling and all stuff that you've thought about before. But yeah. yay dancing!