(Thanks Kevin Sue for the picture. Note: this picture is not a picture from the lindy hop class).
Tomorrow will be the last class I will be filling in for Bees Knees beginner lindy hop class on Monday nights. Kathleen and I were temporarily filling in for May/June this summer and usually after the class we go through a post-mortem analysis of what happened and what we could do better. One of the key discoveries that we found was that the students who come to these beginner lindy hop classes were already excited about learning the dance. They didn’t need convincing. In fact, most likely they are looking for any reason to continue taking the dance class so that they can tell their friends to join in as well. When we figured this out, it made teaching the class flow more naturally and more importantly, we could just be ourselves. The pressure was off our shoulders to try to continue to get students for future classes and we could instead focus on providing a valuable lesson.
When you love the dance so much that it comes out of your pores, you do not need to convince students this is an awesome dance for x/y/z reasons. They will see it and feel it from you. Then, they will tell their friends ;-).
The more I teach, the more I recognize that compared to great teachers in Toronto like Mandi and Arthur, I flat out suck at it. I over analyze movement and often go a bit overboard on my explanations. I’m working on it though. :-)
So after the University of Toronto’s swing dance club’s beer and chicken wings night out, I had a great discussion with Alex M, Kathleen, and Brian G from Ottawa (previously somewhere not Ottawa) about, what else, the dance scene in Toronto. I won’t bore you with the specifics of that conversation but I remembered that I wanted to post up Brian’s awesome note about his experience dancing in Ottawa’s swing dance scene. So here it is. I highly recommend you give it a good read even if you are not from this scene/city/country because it gives a honest perspective from a dancer’s point of view. Enjoy.
Part 1: Something in the Air
Was there was something in the air?
It didn’t make sense. There were only 10 or 15 people in a large hall, DJ’d music, in a new city where I barely knew anybody – yet somehow it was one of the best dance nights I’d had in months.
Seattle has been one of my favorite cities to visit ever since the first time I placed foot there in my university years. In fact, the Seattle Lindy Exchange 2006 was the first out of town experience and holds a place in my heart.
Camp Jitterbug is an event held in Seattle with competitions, performances, social dances and workshops drawing a MASSIVE amount of people from all over the country all wanting to learn from the best. They have multiple track levels ranging from Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced, Advanced Plus (Advanced+), and Masters with the latter two requiring auditions. It touts itself as ‘The Awesomest Lindy Hop Event Ever!’ and I am inclined to agree with it.
Since moving back to the west coast, I have been anticipating about re-visiting Seattle to dance again; partially to benchmark myself with my first visit, as well as how I fair dancing with Seattle based dancers.
How did I do? I SUCKED… but it sure felt good.
After conducting an informal survey around our dance scene, it seems to me that our awesome DJs in Toronto are not actually being paid to provide music for “for-profit” events (the only exception is the Toronto Swing Dance Society). That’s crazy.
As a dance DJ myself, I have probably poured more time and money into this passion than I will ever make back actually dj’ing so I know how much any type of remuneration helps us continue truckin’ on. Then I thought about the DJs that I actually invite out to play for our Yonge & Bloor Blues dance and realized that we don’t actually pay them either. This will change starting July 2nd for our next blues dance. While we do not make a boat-load of profit from the actual dance itself, it’s only fair to pay DJs for their time and expertise.
My friend Kevin Sue keeps saying that the best ideas are the ones that pass the common-sense test. I truly believe that this is one of them. For things to change in the scene that I am a part of, I have to actually start doing it myself first. This will keep me grounded and honest. Hopefully it will also keep me motivated to push for ideas that I believe in and at the end of the day, also keep me excited about dancing. :-)
So let’s get on and start paying our hard working DJs. Everybody wins when the music for dancing gets better.