(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.
Pictures from the June 04, 2010 blues dance :)
Heard at Toronto’s Saturday night lindy hop dance at the Dovercourt House. Yeahhhhhhh.
Hung out with Gen, Kathleen, and Jaclyn last Sunday and shot a flamenco show at Club Hispano. I played it safe and left the flash and multiple lenses at home and just took my trusty fifty with me. For these kinds of intimate shows, it is a bit of a faux-pas to blind the performers with flash photography and the last thing I wanted to do was draw the ire attention of the performer’s parents. Down-low and out-of-the-way was my modus operandi for this impromptu shoot.
Wasn’t too careful on my shutter speed unfortunately during the shoot and most of the shots of the fast spins and turns of the dancers turned out a bit blurred, but hopefully i’ll be able to salvage them. Live and learn I guess.
On an unrelated note, I have Spain taking the world cup in my Fifa Worldcup pool. Go La Furia Roja!
Which picture doesn’t fit? I’ll give you one guess.
Last Saturday, Toronto and Dovercourt House held a fundraiser for the Frankie Fund (or was it the Frankie headstone?) in celebration of the joy Frankie Manning left for the world. There were bake sales, raffle draws, silent auctions, performances, and taxi dancers for “rent”. Being not really useful in any multi-organizational dance coordination capacity, I volunteered to be one of the taxi dancers whom you can purchase for $3 per dance. Awkward… let me explain.
First, it’s awkward to think that someone will pay money to dance one song with anybody, let alone me. All I want to do is dance with you and I’ll happily dance with you for free. Second, what do you do as a taxi dancer while waiting for someone to hand you a ticket to indicate that they have purchased you for a dance? Awkwardly stand around and scan the room to see if anyone is coming towards you a ticket. Granted, I have epic skills when it comes to social awkwardness but this definitely was a memorable type of awkwardness.
A special shout goes to the wonderful Vicky for being so diligent in organizing all the taxi dancers and a big THANKS to all the great ladies (and one dude) who donated to the Frankie fund (or headstone?). I’ll make sure to find each and everyone who bought tickets for future dances (so you get your money’s worth).