Visit me on Facebook Visit me on Twitter Visit me on YouTube

Bash or Organize

Raise your hands if you have the means to run your own event. It takes time, energy, financial resources, a dependable crew of people, a website, and more. It’s exhausting, stressful, and the payoff is much like climbing Long’s Peak.

Now it’s time to descend

Someone recently wrote: “If you want to see something better, then organize an event of your own and focus on bringing something great to the community rather than bashing someone else’s efforts.”

I think challenging people to create an event rather than complaining about one is a rather high bar to set for people speaking negatively about an event. It can take away these people’s voices especially when this opinion and plea comes from someone well-regarded within the dance community. One way to interpret this is that they’re trying to silence people that speak out when they might have good cause to and no other platform. This viewpoint also diminishes the thought that perhaps the people complaining have due cause.

Just because someone is providing something apparently good to the community, doesn’t mean they get a free pass from critique. Neither should people get a pass for showing effort.

As an organizer, you should be open to critique and strive to make improvements. Some ways we strive to receive feedback here is through surveys, inquiries via personal email or private conversation, and by keeping our ear to the ground. We want to do a great job and compare ourselves to great organizers outside our city and niche scene.


Do Bad Events Die

The other day a well-known dancer made a very public accusation that a dance event website was hacked. This person’s wording tied their accusation to individuals that don’t participate in nor support the event in any capacity. When faced with others surmising that it might be a database error (like a Google search showed) or a random hacker, this person still alleged suspicion for specific reasons they didn’t go into and then wrapped it up with a line which included “Good events will succeed, bad events will die out.”

If only that was the case. That is a gross simplification and works great as a hope but not a truism. If you’re like me, you’ve probably participated in a mismanaged event that you swore off yet is still running. I can think of several. Can you?

How can this be?

  • consistent fresh blood
  • participants just want to have fun
  • great financial resources whether through sponsors, grant money, donors, wealthy organizer(s), etc
  • the people that know about what makes it a bad event don’t use public platforms to take the event down or have low social capital which diminishes their voice
  • negative engagement can lead to repercussions
  • there are people still willing to take the money, favors, increased stature these events provide
  • And it’s easier to participate in a poorly run event that start your own.

Hashtag Proliferation

Joining double spaces after periods, misspelled words, I’d like to add hashtags within sentences as things I dislike reading on Facebook. It’s a surefire method for getting me to disengage. According to some studies, I’m not alone.

Here are my quick tips:

  • save hashtags for the end of your promotions
  • keep them pertinent so when people click on it, they get something related to your post
  • minimize or remove them for Facebook

Bigger the Bill

I was listening to Wiz Khalifa the other day and one of his songs had the repeating lyrics of “The bigger the bill, the harder you ball.” It struck as truth.

In Swingin’ Denver’s early stages, there was a part of me that was coasting. However, once my rent was increased, I started increasing my investment in advertisement and other forms of hustling. Now I’m thinking there’s still more to do. Naturally.

At ILHC, a professional instructor advised me to get out of the mud and find the bigger picture. That’s what I’m working on now – finding the big picture, gaining more vision, realizing that I gotta ball harder. Here’s to the future.

Creativity Explosion

Watching my students struggle slightly with a creativity exercise, made me reflect on one of my more influential private lessons with Jeanne DeGeyter in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One part consisted of watching regional pros compete and she pointed out that’s a whip, that’s a side pass, that’s an underarm passby, that’s a tuck turn, and other basic patterns. I wasn’t quick to recognize them for what they were because the handholds were all different! So we played with this concept.

The private lesson dialogue may have gone like this: “Lead a normal underarm passby. Ok. Now do it in right to left handhold. See how it feels different? What might you do after this that feels good? Now do it in right to right. Ok. Try a whip with a two-hand open-position hold. Interesting interpretation, but it worked.”

Try it out! See what you create and learn.

Forming a Pearl

Recently, I had interactions with two different people that reminded me of how pearls are formed. This analogy only holds so far, but I read that natural pearls form when an irritant works its way into a mussel, oyster or clam. For these two people, the irritants were, and I paraphrase, “my dancing sucks” (it really doesn’t) and “there’s nothing in Denver that compares to the big city where I’m originally from.”

What’s impressive is what these two people have created from their personal irritants. One has tremendously grown in their dancing – pursuing private lessons, traveling to workshops, entering many competitions, and constantly pushing themselves. The other took an empty lot and built something amazing; in the end, sparking ingenuity in other Denverites.

I applaud these people for taking an irritant and building a pearl with it.

Comparing Competitions – Videos

Camp Hollywood 2017 Amateur Lindy – 219bpm

Camp Hollywood 2017 Open Lindy – 252bpm

Lindy on the Rocks 2017 Hellzapoppin’ Strictly – 205bpm All-Skate at 6:53 -208bpm

Lindy on the Rocks 2017 Amateur Strictly – 195bpm All-Skate at 7:11 – 204bpm

Heartland Swing Festival 2017 Open Strictly Lindy – 197bpm (notice the energy contrast)

Heartland Swing Festival 2017 Fast Dance Battle – 212bpm and 269bpm

ILHC 2017 All-Star Strictly – 248bpm

Hellzapoppin’ – roughly 339bpm??

More Jazz Hands!

I had an epiphany recently after asking my chiropractor about my wrists that occasionally pop. He suggested that I give my hands the occasional self-massage and to spread them out like… Jazz Hands!

My wrists used to be much stronger through parkour. After damaging my right wrist from repeated poor technique on a swingout tossout, this was a good change. I had partially attributed this change to all the impact from parkour – vaults, qm, etc. Now, I think I was strengthening my wrists by being on my open palms so much and working those unused muscles – those I use when holding a dance partner’s hand, moving a mouse, or typing on a keyboard.

Food for thought. Enjoy this QM video.

Our Class Recap Values

With some questions being asked about recaps in a Facebook group, I thought I’d share some of our recap values learned from growing our YouTube channel.

-recaps strive to be under 1:50 due to viewership stats showing average viewer duration is 1:36
-1 person driving the recap with their awesome internal clock, pacing, and
awareness of what was taught and how to synthesize quickly, yet thoroughly

-The driver needs to be clear and enunciate well so the leader/follower knows
what is coming next and the viewer can watch easily

-There should be clear handoff moments so there is minimal bobbling. For example, when you and your partner will demonstrate your particular footwork or need to speak about your specific role

-1 person assigned with making sure multiple angles (at least 2) are provided

-acknowledgement that we have specific skills we’re best and who drives the recap isn’t always the person driving the class.

-fold the recap into the class or quickly after if scheduling allows

-if it’s an aerials recap, be thorough with down preps, up preps, spotting, and overs clearly demonstrated so you’ll have more successful students practicing afterward.

Sometimes we’re sneaky so we don’t interrupt class and can blend our Swing 1
students into the main dance.

DJ Audition – Hey Ya

Back in the day, the Mercury Cafe was the top spot to DJ swing music. It became one of my goals to be asked by Dan Newsome to DJ there. The main question was – how do you get asked when they’re never going to hear you play?

Well, the opportunity arrived later in 2005, the year I moved to Denver. I was still trying to run the occasional workshop in Kansas City and I asked Dan and Tiffiny to teach there. I was also going to DJ the Saturday dance at someone’s dance studio loft. Plan in motion.

I eventually ran into a problem; there were break-dancers attending the dance. How in the world was I supposed to get them onto the dance floor and still cater to the swing dancers? Also, I knew what the Merc’s DJ program was all about – solid swing music, very minimal novelty songs, strong DJs. I was concerned, but mentally said “screw it” and played “Hey Ya.”
Well, the break-dancers and swing dancers took the floor. If I recall properly, I think a cypher even occurred.  It worked and I even got a crack at DJing the Merc a month or two after this. Thanks, Outkast.

open source lindy hop