I’m currently reading a book called Practically Radical. A friend loaned it to me and just now an underlined sentence jumped out at me – “The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency,” a quote from Jim Collins. This comes from a paragraph illustrating that one issue that many organizations face is constantly changing, lunging from one idea to the next, trying to grasp the next big thing while forgetting what they did that was right and worked in the past.
It reminds me of a conversation that fizzled out between another organizer and myself. They asked for an opportunity to explain how their event had changed and improved in the hopes that I would support their event. I was looking forward to this meeting because it was regarding an event that continually changed, seemingly for the sake of change. You never knew what you were getting, so gradually as a potential participant, it seemed like a bad investment. Chronic inconsistency was their demise. Unfortunately, they never followed through with setting a meeting, so I’ll never know if their changes improved their event and if they had listened to their advice-givers over the years.
It’s certainly a cautionary tale, but good or bad, any lesson learned helps. As for the book, I look forward to what else it has in store for me as I strive to be consistent.
Kyle Smith is a person that I feel is an unheralded force within the Denver swing dance scene. He’s been dancing for years, is a well known and respected international swing DJ and emcee, and gives educational talks about social media and music history to name a few. He’s been a phenomenal resource for Swingin’ Denver’s social media work. He’s an incredible DJ for us, having DJ’ed two Count Basie nights. And he’s a great friend.
A couple weeks ago, we invited Kyle Smith to lead our team, The Ladies & Gentlemen, in a public speaking and mic handling workshop. I think he may have suggested this to me, but I strongly felt my team needed additional training in this skills. Many of our gigs involve some sort of professional speaking in front of small and large groups, sometimes mic’ed, sometimes not.
I nearly was scammed the other day. Swingin’ Denver was contacted by a Patrick Wolf asking if we did private dance lessons and if we accepted credit cards as payment. There was something off about his punctuation and sentence structure, but people have gotten lazier in this internet age, so I treated him as a potential student giving him information about our rates and asking about his specific needs.
Here’s one of the sections that should have raised my red flags and that you can easily Google: “I just had an ear surgery and I have been advised to stay off the phone till i’m fully recovered . That is why I am contacting you via email for now.” Again, we run across people with special needs that don’t quite know what they’re getting themselves into when they ask about private lessons. And him thinking we’d be a good fitness service for his three girls… well, we get odd requests.
A dancer we know was talking about hitting the reset button on their lindy hop. If I remember correctly, they weren’t expressing the music how they wanted and didn’t feel current with their vocabulary. They want to hit that lindy hop reset button and jump into some classes, though they’ve been dancing for years.
I find it extraordinary to hear this. I think many of us could use that reset button, but it’s discomforting to admit that we don’t know what we think we ought to know. It’s probably discomforting to attend a class with dancers that have been dancing less than you and treating them as your classroom peers.
Yes, anyone can be an organizer. It does take some valuable skills to be a good one, but anyone can be an organizer.
Why this topic? Within the past month, Swingin’ Denver teachers have received multiple requests for specialized topic classes and workshops. As much as we’d love to make every single request happen, we cannot. We’ve also discovered that sometimes requesters don’t even show up to the workshop they’ve requested.
Instead, we’ve encouraged these requesters to organize a class or workshop that’s special to them. Nothing’s happened yet, but we have hopes that a new organizer will pop up because they really want to learn whatever it is they’re asking for. Continue reading →
Before my YouTube ballooned into what it is today, it was sparsely filled with random recap videos from Tiffiny and I teaching at the Mercury Cafe. We had a student that was great about filming every single class recap from us, so there wasn’t a need for Tiff and I to do the same. I’d film the random class and upload it poorly titled and tagged. That was about it.
It started becoming more regular once I left Denver for Portugal. I saw the benefit of keeping a regular video log. It served to boost my memory, was a great resource for students, and my teacher partner, Abeth, was already doing this for her students.
I certainly don’t have all my Portugal classes up, but you can see the influence if you burrow deep enough into my channel. My balboa and advanced lindy classes with Heather were all filmed that summer and then once I returned to Europe everything was uploaded on YouTube.
Joshua Aughenbaugh asks: “Also, what exactly is inappropriate on the social dance floor? (I still haven’t really been taught.) I know I’m not supposed to throw a Lindy Flip. What about a K-dip? What about a frog jump? What about a toss out? What about Mop the Floor? Are all of these inappropriate on the social floor? ”
This is an excellent question. An easy mass way to answer this is to state: “No airstep is ever appropriate for the social dance floor. They should be reserved jam circles or practice on your own.” However, this isn’t the entire truth. It’s just the uncomplicated blanket method because I don’t want to get into the Choose Your Own Adventure decision making that sometimes happens for me on the social dance floor. So let’s get complicated, shall we? Continue reading →
Do you know how many times I screwed up in the Crossover Invitational Battle at Montreal Swing Riot? 4 out of 6 entrances. Count them:
1. Our introduction as the aerial couple. We botch our first aerial, the knicker. We recovered and nailed our Blue Outlaw. We were both angry. Afterward, we discussed it and we think Delilah’s right upper arm may have been at her side blocking my hand from a good hook on her. Regardless, I could have done better. I think it was a low throw also. Continue reading →
In response to my Airstep Safety Check post, someone on Facebook responded with: “How about….don’t. Before most of you were born, I hauled my 22 yo cutie dance partner off to Boulder Hospital–with a concussion–because some idiot kicked her in the back of the head. Just don’t ….. it is the *height* of inconsideration. Dancers are supposed to be highly considerate of others on the dance floor… no?”
Jacob Spinney writes: “Hey Kenny! As someone who throws air steps in crowded all-skates, I’m wondering if you happen to have a kind of list of safety checks in that environment that you’ve developed over time?”
That’s a really great question. I’ve mainly thrown air steps in crowded fields at Camp Hollywood and now Montreal Swing Riot. Just this past weekend, though, I bailed out of an aerial because I realized that I was too close to a soundboard. I mentally checked the proximity and decided to go for it. Then I had doubts since my back was turned to it and it was inanimate. That leads into my safety checks. Continue reading →