The Soapbox Archives:
Regarding what you said in your editorial regarding Blues Union "stomping on Stomp" (my play on your words), I have been to Blues Union and danced with dancers I also frequently see at Johnny D's weekly Sunday afternoon blues jams. I do not believe that they are doing swing dancing or lindy hop there in any way, shape, or form and I think they'd agree. They teach and practice weekly Thursday night *Blues* dancing at Blues Union in Somerville. I don't see that as competition for Stomp's monthly lindy hop dances on one Thursday a month in Arlington.
By the way, there's plenty that you've had to say recently that I do agree with.
A faithful reader and devoted dancer,
Bonnie (who refers to herself as an "swing dance old-timer")
Many thanks to Bonnie who took the time to write in. It probably the first such reply to the last two weeks' worth of editorials. After much rewriting, though, I don't think there was anything for anyone to be offended so I shouldn't be surprised that I haven't heard from anyone else. Actually, a lot of people wanted to hear what others had to say.
To be honest, many people are very happy to share their opinion of the swing dance community, but not all are willing to see their viewpoint in the written medium. Note, though, I do take everything with a grain of salt and much of what I hear never makes into this editorial space.
I have my own understanding of what the term "competition" means in this case. I don't think that anyone thinks that "Lindy Hop" and "Blues" dancing are the same thing and that the respective venues are actually "competing" in that sense.
The mostly likely issue with the Blues Union is that they're going after the same target audience or pool of customers. Sure, I don't think that some people would go to one venue if the other venue weren't around. Some dancers presume that the Lindy Hop and the Blues communities are separate (which doesn't explain all the people who were dancing in the same venues during the recent BIX). However, those people *are* in the same overall community, and therefore, in the same customer base. Anyone who's spent a lot of blood, sweat and tears over the years to run what basically a what-the-hell-is-a-profit activity is going to be wary of anyone who threatens to take away *any* existing or potential customers.
This is official: Kerrin is *not* retiring from teaching dance. She's taking a "break" since her teaching partner is moving away. She says she's too young to be "retiring". :-P
So, please, write in. Give me your reasoned opinion on the state of the swing dance community in Boston. Offer some suggestions. Please note that you're more likely to get posted if you take some time to think about what you're writing. Thoughtful insight that make people *think* is what I'm looking for. I'm a graduate of the Boston Latin School so good grammar and prose *will* impress me. Of course, if you write in just to make personal attacks, I reserve the right to rip you a new one.
Never mind...I wrote up something here, but it could get me in trouble with my neighbors. :D
Someone sent in their class information at 9:00 pm on Sunday...for classes Monday evening. I wrote back:
"Hmmm.....you have classes starting on Monday....you sent this email at 9:00 pm Sunday and I'm reading this at 3::15 am on Monday....do you think I'm going to get around to posting your Monday classes on *Monday*? "
Why is there a dance studio called "Danceprints by the Sea"....in the middle of *Arizona*?
I suspect that the person intended for this "advice" is either not going to see it or won't realize that I'm talking about him.
A young lady came over to me after dancing with someone and started frothing at the mouth about some guy who *obviously* didn't brush his teeth after eating before going out to dance. She spent the entire song avoiding his breath; otherwise she was going to toss her cookies on him.
So, guy (and ladies), while many of us are probably okay, it's always better to be safe than sorry. When the ladies run into a bad experience like that, they often run off and tell all their friends about the guys to avoid. Don't be the one they talk about.
I thought I'd make a few observations:
I can't FTP the website files while at the Endicott campus so I have to wait until I get home to update the website.
It was funny meeting "Not Deb" (Jennifer Kain) who bears a close resemblance to Deb Hall. Their physical appearance is close enough that many people got them confused, even when dancing with them. Since I knew Deb, I eventually figured out that Jennifer was a separate person. Jennifer said that she was going to make a t-shirt that said "Not Deb" for next year's Beantown.
Don't expect to lose weight just because you're dancing all week. I'm six pounds heavier when I got home than when I got there. I suppose I shouldn't have ice cream at every meal.
I think that Sylvia Sykes has achieved Goddess status, or at least a demi-goddess level. When she speaks, the room becomes hushed as everyone strains to hear her every word. No one else has that power. All other teachers should use the headsets to make sure they can be heard.
In a classroom, the students shouldn't ever say "Can we rotate (the leaders or followers)?". That just makes their current dance partner think they're a bad dancer and that the speaker is trying to get away from them (desperately). When the dance teachers tell you to dance, perhaps the correct thing to say (if you haven't rotated in a while) is "With the current partner? Or a new partner?" or maybe "should we rotate?".
Peter Strom's "Soul Train" party is worth hanging around for. A lot of people left on Monday. I myself was going to leave camp around 10 pm that night. I didn't get home until 4 am. This party is good because all dancers were equal; you could try swing dance moves but everyone had to figure out how to dance to non-swing music. (For this, I would recommend Michael & Evita's "The Man Behind The Mask" class).
I had to go back home for something on Saturday and I brought back a good blanket and my pillow. I'll tell you: I slept better that one night than I did the previous nights. Even then, the institutional bedsheets take a while to warm up so I might bring up my own sheets next year. Being within driving distance of camp is great because I can bring whatever I want. I had my own bath towels and several towels for dancing so I always have dry ones while the wet towels were drying. Maybe next year I'll bring everything up when I help set up the floor so I'll have room to transport the teachers from the airport.
I danced with more beginners at camp than I have in recent times. I tried to encourage them all to go around and ask guys to dance. I did mention to them that if it weren't for some nice women asking me to dance at the first few dances I had attended, I might still be holding up a wall or be totally out of dancing. Guys need to remember that too.
The usual "teacher showcase" was anything but that. If there was any question about the qualifications of the instructors, the instructors' "show" put that to rest. This year's event was in the Rose Auditorium where the event organizers were able to create a *production* with Ryan Francois directing the lighting, the sound, and the movements of everyone on the stage. All of them can dance and sing...including other types of dancing that we might not expect from them.
My most memoriable moment? I got to dance with the absolutely fantastic Sylvia Sykes! I bet you're all saying, "Yeah? So did I". However, in this case, she led *me*. :-) I think this will be the only thing I'll remember from this year's Beantown Lindy Hop Camp!
PS: I like talking to some of the women...because they talk about guys' bad habits and they give me good examples...of what to avoid.
I ended up with one comment of my own:
Guys, underwear is a good idea. Most of the early pictures of Elvis always showed him from the waist up. There's a good reason for that.