Swing Discussion Boards > Okay to attend a lindy exchange without knowing lindy hop?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by RoyHarper, Apr 4, 2011.

  1. RoyHarper

    RoyHarper Member

    In recent months, some friends of mine have complained about people who attend lindy exchanges without ever knowing the lindy basics. They find this frustrating and rather annoying. One gal, for example, didn't know how to dance lindy but she tagged along during a lindy exchange weekend anyway. She did this because she knew there'd be some blues dancing as well.

    I've heard a few other folks voice the opposite opinion, though. They say that everyone should feel free to come, and that people need to lighten up. "As long as you're having fun," they say, "that's what matters."

    So what do you think? What is your opinion on this matter?
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Roy. Welcome to DF.
    I always walk on eggs when I write anything about Lindy, but here goes, just a sentence or two.
    This is from a recent event here in Portland.

    Welcome to PLX 2011 – Battle of the Bands! We're thrilled to show you what makes Portland great, and to let you help us show the world what makes lindy great.

    From this you would think that newbies would be welcomed, but the organizers can't control everyone's attitude. Maybe there's a difference between "being welcome" and having people dance with you to "just have fun".
  3. Martel

    Martel New Member

    I would say, feel free to come, but if you don't know the style and there are no classes... expect to not dance much. It does bug me when people show up to a major event without knowing anything about the dance and not trying learn it except on the floor. I don't want to teach. I want to dance.

    Now if it was a workshop weekend even with no beginner class, then it might be more acceptable because everyone is there to learn.

    An exchange weekend is all about at least knowing the basics and just having fun dancing with other people that are serious enough about dancing to come to a weekend long event. And maybe learning a move or two by watching someone else.
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Newbie, Martel, meet newbie Roy, and welcome to DF.
  5. TemptressToo

    TemptressToo Member

    I'm totally hyjacking, but what in the heck is "Blues" dancing? I've seen video clips of it, but what is it? (coming from a ballroom person)
  6. kpm

    kpm New Member

    That's kind of hard to answer. One instructor in the L.A. area described it as swing dancing's evil cousin. As the name implies, it's often danced to blues music, particularly with a slow, powerful, and earthy beat. The dance is more concerned with partner connection and musicality than a list of steps, and is often danced in closed position or a close embrace. You're probably better off trying to get a feel for it by watch Youtube clips than trying to nail down a formal definition.
  7. Martel

    Martel New Member

    Google Damon Stone for a good technical definition and some good videos.

    I am primarily a blues dancer, although I also do a lot of East Coast swing and some Lindy Hop.

    It is basically a very relaxed partner dance with an extremely simple basic step that allows a lot of room for improvisation and interpretation. I like it because the basic structure is simple enough to encourage a lot more creativity than Lindy Hop.

    One thing I've heard said is "engineers like Lindy Hop and artists like blues dancing." There is a fair amount of crossover between the 2 dances but on average it seems to stay true that creative types tend to go for blues more than Lindy Hop and people who like structure focus on Lindy.

    Its one of the African based street dances that were the precursers to Hip Hop and modern street dancing.

    p.s. Hiya everybody!
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    OKaaaaaaay, here we go.

    In all the vast riches of sub Saharan African dance heritage there seems to be no evidence for sustained one on one male female partnering anywhere before the late colonial era, when it was apparently considered in distinctly poor taste.

    Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake. A Social and Popular Dance Reader. Edited by Julie Malnig. page 132. ISBN 978-0-252-03363-6 978-0-252-07565-0

    For the Yoruba people to give a specific example, touching while dancing is not common except in special circumstances.

    ''Yoruba Dance - The Semiotics of Movement and Body Attitude in a Nigerian Culture''. Omofolabo S. Ajayi. 1998. African World Press. page 34. ISBN 0-86542-562-6 ISBN 0-86543-563-4

    PS I kinda miss Damon aka d nice
  9. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    If classes are given there's no reason for them not to attend. After all, isn't part of the reason for holding such events is so people can learn and further promote the dance?
  10. RoyHarper

    RoyHarper Member

    If beginner classes were offered? Sure. I don't think anyone would deny that.

    Typically though, classes aren't offered at lindy exchanges. At workshops, yes, but not at exchanges. In fact, I've never heard of an exchange which included lessons for absolute beginners, though I wouldn't be surprised if there were some.
  11. RoyHarper

    RoyHarper Member

    Thank you for your welcome and response, Steve. You too, Martel.

    I think that newbies should be welcome at a lindy exchange. However, I also think that people should at least know the lindy basics. There's a big difference between being a newbie and not knowing the dance at all.

    In short, I'm with you, Martel. When people attend a lindy exchange, they want to dance and maybe practice a bit. They generally don't want to go around teaching others the absolute basics. That's what beginner lessons are for.

    As I said, my friends were irritated at this one companion who only tagged along for the sake of dancing blues. Everyone was gracious toward her, but a few folks were annoyed. I can't blame them; after all, if one only wants to go blues dancing... well, that's what blues exchanges are for.

    Some people say, "Well, what's the big deal? Surely you can be gracious for just three minutes of your life." I think it's a two-way street, though. Yes, we can afford to be gracious for a few minutes. At the same time though, I think that if you attend a lindy exchange, then you should at least know the basics, even if your technique is a bit rough.

    Things are totally different at a community dance, precisely because they typically offer lessons to beginners. This means that total newbies have at least some foundation on which to build. This is not at all like going to an exchange without knowing the style of dance that people will be using.
  12. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    And welcome to the forum Roy. Is Lindy your only dance or do you do other dances as well?
  13. Apache

    Apache Member

    According to wikipedia: ""A lindy exchange is a gathering of lindy hop dancers in one city for several days to experience the dance venues and styles of that local community and to dance with visitors and locals alike."

    To be honest it would depend on what exchange you were talking about, each one has a different atmosphere & flavor.

    I would say an exchange like Pittstop (Pittsburgh's Lindy Exchange) would be a lot more newbie friendly then in comparison to DCLX (DC Lindy Exchange) which is known for having extremely high quality dancers attend and having amazing swing bands that place at the faster ends of tempos.

    Perfect example is while some exchanges/events offer late night blues dancing at a swing dance event, other cities would lynch a DJ that attempted to play blues at a "swing dance" event.

    Personally, I don't mind a completely newbie showing up to a swing dance exchange. (The more the merrier) However they shouldn't expect a free lesson at an event that is dedicated to purely social dancing.
  14. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Yes, I think more dance weekend events (whether lindy, swing, salsa, ballroom, whatever) should hold beginner classes. Think of how many dancers have friends or s/o's who do not dance. This would be a way to have them come along, enjoy themselves, and learn something, instead of having to be left out. Plus, they'd still be able to enjoy watching performances and competitions.

    At the very least, maybe have some options for spectactors? When I've attended weekend swing dance events at hotels, there are usually some people who are at the hotel for other events (business trip, vacation, etc.) and they peer into the ballroom out of curiosity. Yet they can't come in and at least be a spectator because the event (and event pass prices) cater only to dancers. Not sure how it would work logistically, though. Maybe a different entrance or seating section?
  15. megeliz

    megeliz Member

    Agreed. I'm glad that more of the New England WCS events are offering beginner tracks now. And I definitely think it would be beneficial to the dance community as a whole if spectators were allowed in for free/very inexpensively, to allow people that are at the hotel for other reasons to be exposed to the dance, and then hey, here's where you can actually learn the dance!

    As far as whether people who don't know lindy basics attending lindy exchanges - I don't see why not - esp if there is, as one example was shared, late night blues dancing and that person does blues. Should they expect to do much lindy dancing? Probably not, but I don't see the harm in attending an exchange to be exposed to the dance.
  16. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    This is what's good about holding demonstations in shopping malls. People notice and they inquire and in those places are quite free to be spectators.
  17. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    That's a good idea, too. What's cool about the hotel events, though, is that people can take the classes right there, as well as see champion-level dancers perform. Might be worth considering to combine the two ideas - have a shopping-mall demo to promote a nearby dance weekend, maybe hold it at the start of the event, or right before the event, such as on a Thursday. Have flyers to hand out, and let people know they can drop in, and pay at the door.
  18. quixotedlm

    quixotedlm New Member

    (This probably could be a General Dance Discussion, since the theme of this conversation is quite agnostic of swing/lindy. Just my 2c).

    Having attended one lindy event (Camp Jitterbug), and several salsa congresses and festivals (that have and haven't offered workshops), I'd say that a novice/beginner is generally welcome at dance events, and that someone who is a pre-novice (i.e., doesn't know the basics of that dance) is generally unpopular and avoided (i.e., experiences un-welcomeness) at such events. If someone knows the basics, and is somewhat competent as a beginner, I'd think that they will have a good experience (assuming they have good interpersonal awareness and dance with the right partners).
  19. RoyHarper

    RoyHarper Member

    If there's a special period that's reserved for blues dancing, if somebody knows how to dance blues, and if someone only wants to attend that part... then I think that's clearly okay. I doubt that many would disagree.

    However, if someone jumps into the lindy dancing itself without knowing any lindy hop whatsoever -- again, without the benefit of beginner lessons -- I think it will irritate a considerable number of people. As I've said, I've seen this first-hand. The charitable approach means that we should be friendly toward this person nonetheless. However, I also think that it's unwise to attend a lindy dance without at least knowing the basics. It's one thing to be charitable toward the uninformed; it's another thing to be uninformed yourself and expect to take advantage of other people's charity.

    As I said, it's a two-way street, and considerate behavior should flow both ways. Experienced folks should be nice to the unlearned, and the unlearned should avoid imposing too much on the more experienced. The best results happen when a happy medium between the two is found.

    Having said that, I think there are ways for a total newbie to get involved without irritating the more seasoned dancers. As jennyisdancing said, beginner classes can be helpful. Also, I remember seeing one dancer at an exchange who wore a colorful nametag, stating "I'm new at this, but I'm learning!" That way, she tastefully forewarned folks that she was a neophyte, while also inviting people to come help her learn... and we all know that many swing dancers are happy to help newcomers out. (I was eager to dance with her myself, but honestly, she did not lack for dance partners!)

    I can imagine someone having a similarly tasteful nametag that says, "I don't know lindy hop yet, but I'm willing to learn!" I'd wager that a lot of seasoned dancers would be happy to spare a few minutes to dance with this person and offer a few pointers... and people with less patience or inclination to help can simply move on.
  20. RoyHarper

    RoyHarper Member

    I think that's a very fair and reasonable assessment, quixotedlm. I think you're exactly right.

    And really... if you're a pre-novice, then you shouldn't feel surprised if you feel somewhat unwelcome at a dance event of any kind. Most social dancers understand the need to be nice toward beginners, but they (quite reasonably!) expect that you'll have made some effort at learning the basics.

    This isn't a matter of cruelty or rudeness. Rather, people recognize that there's a time and place for learning the basic steps, and it's not fair to expect total strangers to teach us these things on the spot. Heck, even our dear friends would probably find that a bit annoying.

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