Practicing What We Preach

swing-riot-lindy-flipI think it was Dan Newsome that may have influenced my lindy flip the most. We were at the Mercury Cafe during a lull (practice, class, I don’t remember) and he stepped in to give me some aerial pointers. I definitely remember chest up. It’s likely we talked about stance, driving leg and more, but it’s been far too long ago.

Anyway, this picture illustrates the technique that I advocate when teaching lindy flips.

  • My stance features a narrow track, one foot clearly in front of the other.
  • You can see that I launched off the back leg due to its extension.
  • I shared space with Delilah by how the chest is rotated.
  • I’m also quite upright due to powering the initial momentum from my legs.
  • Based on how high my hair is, I’d also say that a tremendous amount of force was generated and that this picture perhaps captures the peak force.
  • I wish that my left leg was pointed more forward rather than inward, though. At least it appears that my knees are in alignment with my feet.
  • The palm is more open for my partner to use and for us to rotate hands for the perfect landing to dance out of.
  • And our mouths are open which hopefully means we’re not holding our breath.

A word from Delilah:

My legs look crazy because I direct my energy differently than a traditional tuck, and I jump and drive my weight off of one foot out of the chase. With a tuck straight out of the chase, I was still adding too much height and landing too close so kicked then tucked as I went around.

Big thanks to Braden Nesin at American Vernacular for capturing this moment. I think it really shows the hours and years we put into this one aerial.

Song Lyrics Matter

Recently, Jive Junction, a SoCal swing Facebook group had a thread erupt regarding racist lyrics in a jazz song. Team Sweden’s routine performed at ILHC¬†featured the lyrics “corny jigaboos,” which is a racial slur used to disparage black people. This online discussion may still be ongoing and is worth reading.

I decided to call attention to it after I saw a swing dance group share this video. It’s certainly great dancing and Sweden killed it at ILHC, but I think we should be mindful about what we celebrate and the larger conversations that circulate within our international scene. After all, us teachers and scene leaders are curators of this information. If we share¬†these videos or perhaps DJ these songs, are we stating these lyrics are ok? We might even be missing important historical and racial context.

Kelly Porter writes: “It’s also the weirdest thing to me that so many instructors and really talented performers have so much encyclopedic knowledge about the dance and music of that era without any comparable understanding of its social context– that’s how you wind up with foot-in-mouth decisions like this Swedish debacle, or adorable Russian women performing in blackface in the 21st century.”

As we find out, though, the Swedish dancers did not know about their song having racist language. So things get missed across language and culture. Felix Berghall from Sweden writes “On behalf of Team Sweden we sincerely apologize for our selection of music in the Team routine at ILHC 2016. We had no idea the meaning of the lyrics. If we have offended anybody, we greatly apologize and thank you for letting us know. We have learned from this experience and we will not let this happen again.”