Pay for Training, Training Pays

Seth Godin writes that training pays and I agree. Back in 2005 or 2006, I was hired to teach west coast swing in Des Moines and Omaha. I did a neat little loop, traveling to visit family in Kansas City, driving up to those two cities and returning to Denver. I was confident in my ability to teach a west coast swing workshop, but not in my ability to teach a valuable private lesson to all the women one organizer was booking. What’s a person to do? Continue reading

Educate not Negate

Have you ever complained or heard someone complain about bad dancing, a much-hated move (the pretzel or a neck roll comes to mind), aerials or bigger tricks on the social floor? Sometimes my first reaction is to be negative, but most of the time these dancers just aren’t aware or know any better. Sure, they may have just learned this from a teacher or from a YouTube clip, but they may have missed some finer detail or just not know when it’s appropriate to throw trick. The thing to realize? We’ve all been there. Continue reading

One Thing – Many Names

About a month ago, we received a video tutorial request for the “Oh Floor” aerial from a YouTube fan. She linked me to an awesome Swing Dancing/Aerials wiki. The description for this aerial is pretty good, though I’m not perfectly sure on the ending. It’s very similar to an aerial I know as the White Russian. If you travel and take from enough different instructors or work with people across the nation and world, you will soon learn that we have many names for the same aerial or swing steps.

The Lamp Post

Around the Back

The Frankie Flip

Lindy Flip

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On Photographers’ Rights, Proper Attribution & More

I recently had an email conversation with two scene leaders regarding using  a photographer’s image from my photoshoot for their commercial purposes. This led me down a fun rabbit hole on the internet and with photographers extraordinaire Jess Keener and Morgan Petroski.

Jessica Keener Photography (Facebook Business Page)
Jessica Keener Photography (Website)
Morgan Petroski Photography (Facebook Business Page)
Morgan Petroski Photography (Website)

Here’s our Q&A. I hope you read it all, like their pages, and consider buying an image from them. Continue reading

Our Safe Space Pledge

From our original “Our Pledge” post published February 4, 2015.

Swingin’ Denver’s Pledge and Expectations
We at Swingin’ Denver want you to have a good time learning from us and dancing at our venues. We believe that learning should be fun, that students should dance a lot in our classes to great swing music, that our dance venues are about showcasing our swing dance community, and that we should share America’s dance, the lindy hop, with the greater public.

Our dances and classes are a safe space where we respect our fellow dancers and students. With that goal in mind, no matter where we teach, learn and/or perform, Swingin’ Denver representatives and students pledge to follow this basic Code of Conduct: Treat each other with respect.

Our Expectations:
– Regardless of your age, conduct yourself well. Basically, try to be kind, give people the benefit of the doubt, and own your actions. Our expectations of this include:
-Arrive early to class. We love starting class on time with fun warmups.
– Please do not give unsolicited feedback to other dancers.
– Turn off or silence all mobile devices before class.
– Consider that all dance partnerships in class are for dancing only and be friendly and courteous with each. Classes are not designed for scoping out individuals to date.
– Please be respectful to venue staff. Without them, Swingin’ Denver would not be able to provide such high-quality, hip and interesting venues for you to enjoy swing dancing and time with friends.
– Please ask people to dance by using your words, such as “Would you like to dance?” instead of silently offering your hand.
– At dances, you may say “no” to a dance request. You do not have to say “yes,” but can politely decline when someone asks you to dance. Read more at Bobby White’s Swungover blog post called “Swing 101 — Etiquette & Floorcraft” or check out this awesome graphic by Holy Lindy Land.
– Please consider appropriate hygiene. Common recommendations are showering before the class or dance, wearing deodorant, brushing teeth, wearing clean clothes, bringing extra shirts to change into. Try to refrain from abundant use of pungent colognes or perfumes as some people have sensitive noses.

We condemn harassing and/or rude behavior:
Swingin’ Denver is dedicated to providing a harassment-free environment. This applies equally to every participant. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Assault of any kind has zero tolerance at Swingin’ Denver. We will not hesitate to remove offenders or ban them from future events we host, organize or are responsible for. If you see or experience any harassing behavior by students, observers or teachers, please find your Swingin’ Denver teacher or organizer or contact them here. We will take care of it in a discrete, yet firm and professional manner.

Alcohol Policy:
Alcohol is served at a few Swingin’ Denver venues. By attending The Arvada Tavern, The Infinite Monkey Theorem, The Big Wonderful, and/or any other future venues, it is understood that alcohol is available to adults 21 and older. You also agree never to drive a vehicle while under the influence. We are happy to call a cab for you. We do not support underage drinking or intoxication, and we particularly do not condone giving any minors alcohol (this falls under “uncoolness/harassment”). While we would like you to drink alcohol if you so desire, there is no pressure to do so. Alcohol-free options are always available (water, at the very least).

Our Neighborhoods:
Our venues are mostly situated inside some public venues such as The Arvada Tavern, The Infinite Monkey Theorem, The Savoy, and DADA Art Bar. When heading outside the dance space, please respect the venue’s patrons and staff members, and keep noise to a minimum. Generally, you can often find street parking, but if there are exceptions, we’ll try to post about it on our Facebook events. If you are leaving late at night and would like a walk to your car, talk to any staff member and we’d be happy to arrange it for you.

I Know Nothing

It seems the more I take I on, the more I learn how little I know. It helps to surround yourself with experts that you can call upon for their knowledge. Sometimes it’s difficult to admit I don’t know all the answers, but admitting this opens new pathways. I just hope that I can eventually return this gain in the future somehow. Even so, I know I enjoy helping knowledge seekers that do something with this information. Giving knowledge can be like making investments.

Practice with Odessa Rose

Yesterday marked our second dancer/band practice. This time we worked with Odessa Rose, a local band specializing in western swing, gypsy jazz, americana, and folk.

We met Odessa Rose for the first time in May, 2015. Their bassist, Alex, had discovered us when he heard music playing from The Savoy at Curtis Park during Rocky Mountain Girl Jam. He passed their card to Ash Helms who passed it to me and  I followed up. We went to their night at DADA Art Bar and had a blast.

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Staying Light

Seth Godin is dancing today. Seriously. Read today’s post.

I’ve been the person he talks about – wanting to take the weight away by not caring about the outcome. The dynamics of running a swing school and being a part of a scene can be tiring and wear you down. I’ve learned to accept and embrace the responsibility. The rewards are amazing and it keeps me light on my feet. Stay light.

Open Source – The Connector

Another important concept from our open source mission is to connect people to what they want. We recently received a request for a service we couldn’t easily provide and I admitted as such. When I asked my fellow organizers for suggestions, one suggestion was to fit what we offer into their request. Square hole, round peg.

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