Time for a Lindy Hop blog carnival?

Jerry Almonte has another interesting post on Wandering & Pondering about The State of the Lindy Online Disunion which is well worth a read for those who read and comment on Lindy blogs. Jerry comments:

“I’ve found that very few people are interested or willing to write about larger issues in our scene with any kind of depth. It all seems geared towards newer dancers, even blogs written by the more experienced dancers. There’s a lot of: “here’s a video I like” or “this is an event I went to.” There isn’t that much writing about the dynamics of the scene outside of why the good dancers seem like snobs or the occasional technical dance geekery.”

Guilty as charged! This blog was created as a place to store and keep track of ‘stuff’ rather than a critical thinking outlet. I do occasionally pass comment on other people’s posts but in general I stay away from anything too controversial because:

  1. I rarely feel qualified to comment
  2. I really don’t have time/energy to respond to comments
  3. Dancing Lindy Hop is an enjoyable hobby but entering into a possibly hostile online debate about Lindy Hop isn’t my idea of fun
  4. I don’t feel as if I have the words get my point of view across

Thinking about Jerry’s post today it dawned on me that I have no idea what the larger issues are within the Lindy Scene. Perhaps there isn’t much discussion about these issues because they don’t impinge much on people who blog? Most Lindy bloggers aren’t scene leaders, event organizers, top flight instructors and haven’t been around long enough to comment on 15 years’ worth of changes within the community.

My favourite blogs deal with dancing technique, Dance Advantage is a favourite, check out their recent post about balance. I would like more instructors to comment about technique and why they choose to teach their basics in a certain way.

I would also like to see more discussion about professionalism, teaching and role of workshops. I’ve been disappointed with the last few workshops I’ve been to. My gripes range from plagiarized material, poor teaching, questionable value for money, wildly unbalanced classes to something more fundamental about how useful it is for beginner/intermediate (balboa in this case) dancers to spend 2 days learning from 4 couples who ask the students to try completely different techniques for exactly same moves.

More discussion about injuries from the extreme of broken bones in aerials practice to the much more common repetitive strain shoulder injuries, the Lindy induced foot and knee operations, the bad backs and the scars from being stabbed by stiletto heels also wouldn’t go a miss. I don’t think my own scene is particularly unusual in mocking people who want to warm up or stretch after a dance but elevates those who dance in vintage clobber, especially footwear, even if it means they can’t walk for days afterwards.

Of course, like most dancers geeky enough to read blogs, I love discussion about the more philosophical aspects of the dance and wish there was more. What does it mean to lead and follow? How to do we adapt a 1930s/40s dance to fit meet the needs of modern dancers? Should the dance evolve or stay true to its roots? What sort of music should be played at a Lindy Hop dance?

Blog carnivals seem like a very old fashioned concept to me but perhaps there are enough Lindy bloggers around to make something like this work now. I suspect if Jerry picked a topic for discussion many of the Lindy bloggers would respond.

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9 responses to “Time for a Lindy Hop blog carnival?”

  1. Snookie says :

    I’ve been thinking a lot about Jerry’s post too, and I agree that there should be a centralized place for swing blogs. I read a lot of vintage and historical sewing blogs, and those are much easier to find those than swing blogs!

    I’ve never read a blog carnival before (I’ve been plugged into the blog world for less than a year) and the only drawback I see is that it looks like a lot of work for the editor, so it might be hard to keep up a regular/frequent publication schedule.

    There’s a site I read called SewRetro where once a blogger has been authorized as a member they can post a quick write up of their recent post and a link back to their full blog post. This seems like a less labor-intensive method of aggregating blogs, and it’s also voluntary contributions (unlike the site that republishes without the author’s consent). Perhaps there could be themes suggested by the management to promote critical thinking about swing, but once bloggers are more in touch with each other that should happen naturally. The only negative I’ve found as a reader is that I frequently get posts from both SewRetro and the original blog – but I don’t mind the double posts, since the ones from SewRetro are quick little things.

    As for the topics you suggested, I would love to read more posts on all of those! It’s incredibly hard to write about dance technique, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be attempted. And constructive comments about workshops can come from any level of dancer. All considered, swing isn’t a huge scene, but as it’s big enough to support many people financially full-time I think “consumer reviews” would be great.

    • sleepingglitter says :

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      Honest workshop/event reviews would be a brave step. I think most people take the view if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. Although as a follower, I would appreciate the sort of advice about which venues are single follower friendly, places to only go to in a group and so on.

      My personal quest is for a Balboa workshop that features a whole weekend taught by the same couple. I need time to try things out and work on them. Constantly jumping between teachers and styles is, at this stage in my dancing, confusing rather than inspiring.

      • Snookie says :

        Event reviews are definitely only for the brave – that’s why I wanted you to do it instead of me! 😉

        I find it really interesting that you’d rather have a whole weekend workshop from one couple – most promoters think that more instructors is better, and it might draw higher numbers, but it also costs more and may not be the best learning experience. Food for thought…

        When I was a beginner I was fortunate to live where lots of good locals dancers would put on 1 day workshops, with just the one couple teaching. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a cohesive learning experience. At bigger events I’d also follow around my favorite instructors, whether they were teaching beginner or advanced classes. (This was after I’d been dancing for a few years, and camps weren’t such sticklers about staying in your level back then.) I got WAY more out of a beg/int. class from my favorite instructor than an advanced class from someone else.

      • Lauren says :

        The “All Jazzed Up” crowd, in Reading, runs Balboa workshops like this (one teaching couple for the whole weekend). I’ve only ever been to one, and found it excellent, but have heard similarly glowing reports from others. I don’t know where you are located, but hope you might be able to get to one some day?

  2. Lindy Shopper says :

    Methinks Yehoodi is working on something of this sort…

    • sleepingglitter says :

      It will be interesting to see what Yehoodi come up with. I’ve always viewed the site as a hostile environment for discussing ideas so I would be extremely hesitant about posting anything there.

  3. smallramblingdancer says :

    I am in complete agreement with many of your points here. I started a blog about a month ago; mostly with the intention of using it to keep track of my own rambling thoughts regarding all things Lindy Hop, but reading some of the dancing blogs out there has made me realise that there is a lot I don’t know, or haven’t had enough exposure to to write a worthwhile post about. As much as I like to have my 2 cents about most things, I usually struggle to find the words to articulate myself in a reader-friendly way.
    Perhaps this is because my home town is pretty isolated (a 3 hour, usually not cheap, plane ride from the nearest city with a dance scene), so I have had very limited exposure to other scenes or events other than my own. I find this has made it hard for me to get the confidence to argue my point about a particular dance issue. This probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much if my blog had remained hidden away in the blogosphere, but two shared posts later and it’s now appeared on multiple blogrolls so now I feel like I need to put more thought and effort into future blogs!
    I like the idea of a blog carnival; I think it could be a great way for those new to, and interested in, blogging to start out. I really enjoyed reading all the posts in response to Sarah Brecks “Why women should wear Heels”, although hopefully not all topics in a blog carnival would be that controversial!

    And I am also in complete agreement regarding your comment about the beginner balboa workshops. I experienced that last year, and it made it very difficult for me to work out how I should be doing my basic!

  4. sleepingglitter says :

    If you’re interested in this topic please read the post on Vernacular jazz dance called Tumblr, Anonymity and Lindy Hop.

    I agree with so much of this post especially this bit:

    “It would probably be possible to find out who I am if only you stalked me enough even though I’m trying to remain anonymous. Please don’t – my friends would never let it go, they think I’m obsessed enough as it is. Also, even if you’ve only been involved in the scene for a short time, everyone knows how awful dance politics can be, and I wouldn’t want to show up somewhere I’ve never danced before only for people to shun me because of what they thought was a personal attack.”

  5. Cari says :

    I don’t know how much I’d say, but I’d participate in a blog carnival. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the knowledge out there — to put forth my measly two cents is intimidating. But to have a topic of conversation with which to discuss? That makes it much more realistic.

    More importantly, I would read the blog which resulted.

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