Swingin' For Breakfast

darkthoughtsandshinythingies asked: I got another question for you (and I am wondering why I seem to be like the only one not asking anonymous)! I'm somehow really fascinated by the idea of being ambidancetrous or even only following as a man. Would you suggest (for me as a former ballroom dancer) to start out as a lead and think again when I actually tried out Lindy Hop or already start practicing in both directions?

Some people just like the sunglasses. 

image

I strongly encourage everyone to learn both roles. The club at Yale teaches both roles right from the get-go. I also know several people, both guys and gals, who took a few lessons in their “expected” role, decided they didn’t like it, and switched. You do you. If you are interested in only following, then only follow. If you are interested in learning both, learn both. 

I enjoy dancing each role for entirely different reasons. Sometimes I have a night where I only lead, sometimes only follow, and sometimes I do both in the same night. 

And it’s not like you are locked into whatever you choose. If you decide right now to only follow, and then later decide that you do want to lead, then you will start leading with a greater understanding of the follow role, which will make your leading better. 

Anonymous asked: Hi there - I was wondering if I could have some advice. So, I've been learning Lindy Hop for about a year now, and am decent enough now to the point of returning to my beginner classes as a co-teacher, but I've never actually been out dancing. I get that it, in theory, is fun and great practice, but I'm scared that I'll either not find a partner to dance with and be a wallflower, or screw up if someone does ask me to dance. How do I get over this?

Of course you can! So, step one, if you are good enough to be teaching just from taking lessons, then you are already pretty boss. After the lesson, just do the first dance with your teaching partner. As long as you get out there a couple of times, people will probably jump at the chance to dance with someone “new.” Even if they don’t, just ask someone to dance. They will probably say yes. And if they say no, you didn’t want to dance with them anyway, right? Right! So just move on to the next person and ask them. 

If you’re too nervous to ask someone to dance, then you could always suggest to the organizers to make an “Ask Me to Dance Table.” (An idea that I shamelessly stole from this article.) 

Alternatively, you could always do solo jazz, and people will probably join you. Then at the end of the song, you can just sidle up to them and suggest that you dance. 

Once you are actually on the dance floor, don’t worry if you make a mistake. I make mistakes in every single dance I ever dance. You could also just say that there are no mistakes on the social dance floor, only opportunities to make something super cool. If you miss your partner’s hand, shorty-george or pimp walk back to them. Just move along with the rhythm of the music, and you’ll be fine.

In terms of “getting over this” nervousness, I only have one approach to my problems, personally. I throw myself in headlong. So if it works for me, it should work for you. Go out to a social and ask people to dance. Show that you love the dance, and people will want to dance with you!

Call to all Lindy Hoppers!

I am starting a new series, and it’s all about you! I want your stories. I want your dance histories. I want your DJ histories. I want your anecdotes. I want any and everything that you want to share with me. 

Some starter questions:

Feel free to answer any or all, or make up your own!, In addition, you do not have to format it in any particular way, you can make it all prose, or just answer each question in turn. Or write it as an epic poem. You know, just, you do you.

What got you into Lindy Hop?

What do you love the most about Lindy Hop?

What’s your favorite dance story (personal or historical)?

How long have you been dancing? 

Do you lead, follow, or are you ambidancetrous?

What is the most awesome event that you have been to?

What is your favorite dancing video?

Do you teach?

Do you DJ?

What is your favorite song?

What’s your favorite genre of swing music?

Who is your favorite band/musician?

Who do you consider to be your dance mentor?

Use my “Submit” button at the top of my blog to send it to me, or you can email it to <tyrelclayton92@gmail.com> . Feel free to include a picture. Also, not to worry, you will still get your song of the day! 

Fibre De Verre
Paris Combo / Attraction

"Fibre De Verre" by Paris Combo.

30 plays

Anonymous asked: I am afraid I will end up dropping lindy like everything else I have tried. I have a feeling I will get flustered and frustrated and just give up

I won’t lie to you. Lindy Hop is a very frustrating dance. There have been times when I just could not make my body move the way I wanted it to, and I got frustrated. But, in my opinion, the rewards of the dance outweigh the frustrations by so much. There are so many fantastic people in the swing dance community. (If you want proof, just look at the number of people who open up their homes to random dancers during exchanges.) You can make so many friends and have so many good memories. And the dance itself is just so much fun. And there are also so many ways to get involved in the community, whether it be housing people for events, taking pictures, DJing, starting a band, there is truly something for everybody. 

Lindy Hop is a social dance. If you are only in it to become the best at it that there has ever been or will ever be, you’re going to get very frustrated very fast. But if you make friends with the other people who are learning right along with you, then you can share that frustration, but also push each other to learn. And you end up with a group of friends out of the bargain. 

I obviously cannot control whether you stay or leave. But I can tell you that, for me, Lindy Hop has been one of the greatest experiences in my life, and I really encourage you to stick with it. 

Anonymous asked: Is 16 too young to lindy?

There is no such thing as too young or too old to lindy.

At Lindy Focus, one of the organizers has a daughter who’s maybe six, but even at my first Focus (2011), she was out there doing badass swingouts. If she can do them, why not you?

On the other end of the spectrum (I know you didn’t ask about this, but I’m going to tell you anyway), Frankie Manning was dancing until he was 94 years old. In addition, the oldest Lindy Hopper in the world (his name was Bert Nelin, he passed about 2 years ago at 82, I believe) lived here in Gainesville. 

I will say that you should always be conscious of your surroundings, whether you are 6, 60, or anything in between. I’ve never heard of a serious problem at a dance event, but I would hate for the first one to be you.

So go take a lesson and do the thing!

Anonymous asked: I can't lindy until I am skinny. That is my though process. I am partially overweight and not light on my feet. I don't think I can lindy hop until I am skinny enough

What is “skinny enough”? I do not understand the concept. I know so many fabulous dancers with so many different body types. There is a lead who lives here in Florida, for instance, who is one of the best dancers I have ever met (he’s not a pro or anything, but he blows me away every single time I watch him dance), and he’s a big guy. But he has really wonderful technique, and a genuinely infectious smile, and everyone who knows him loves him. 

There is no ideal body type for dancing or for life. You rock whatever you got, and just share joy and be happy. After all, I don’t have much milk to shake, but my milkshake still brings all the boys to the yard. 

 asked:

[Ask 1/2] This is bothering me… Im a Lindy newby and wanted to make an interval playlist like you told that anon. Right when it was finished I looked up the regular music tempo for Lindy and Google said it’s 120-180 bpm. Alright, that’s cool, I can deal with that. But, watching a championship video and looking at other playlists, there are many songs way above 200 bpm - and the dancers aren’t dancing halftime at all! So could you please help me? What is the regular dancing tempo for Lindy?

[Ask 2/2] Another thing driving me crazy: I’m watching these videos on LindyHopMoves and reading a few threads and somehow they manage to be contradictory in the most fundamental things. For example: It seems Lindy Hop should be danced with a bounce. But this morning I read someone complaining about themselves dancing triple steps bouncy (or was it “too” bouncy?). Additionally, everyone you ask seems to have a different posture… It’d be great if you could explain your view on these things. Thanks!

Combining these because reasons. 

That’s awesome that you made an interval playlist! The main thing that’s important to think about with tempos is that no two scenes/events/dances are the same. The tempos that Google turned up are pretty accurate on a national level, but there can be a ton of variation in individual scenes.

My scene tends to average from 120-200, although we do play the occasional song that is faster or slower, but even our best dancers start to get sloppy at about 240 BPM. For comparison, I am told that Seattle doesn’t play anything slower than 165. (Disclaimer: I have never been to Seattle, but I know a guy who makes this claim. Can anyone back up his story?) 

The people in those competitions have spent a lot of time building up their endurance and technique so that they can dance at those tempos. (My roommate is actually a jazz musician, and he sometimes has trouble playing at some of those tempos.)

So for now, just put dancing at crazy fast tempos on a back burner, and work on building up your speed with good technique. Think about it like going to the gym. You don’t pick up the 25 pound weight until the 20 pound weight starts to get easy. You want to slowly build up the tempos that you can dance to with good technique. Don’t just throw on a 240 BPM song and expect to be able to dance to it, because you will end up with really bad habits. 

The most important thing about interval playlists is that you should constantly be monitoring how well you’re doing with it. Once it starts to get easy, make a new one and go from there. In addition, I have several different interval playlists, depending on what I am practicing. My turning is still not fantastic, so that playlist is slower on average than the playlist that I have for solo jazz. So just focus on where you are, and always work to be improving. 

Now, on the contradictory opinions and things. Yeah, that tends to happen a lot. Part of the problem is that we use a lot of the same words for totally different things, or different words for the same thing. There is very little uniform terminology. See image.

So, to hopefully clear some of this up. There is definitely a rhythmic up and down body movement to the dance. I am going to call it a “chug,” because that’s the word I like. The main thing about the chug is that it is a kind of sinking feeling. You should be trying to kind of dig into the floor, as if the floor were two inches below where it actually is. If someone tells you that you are being bouncy, or too bouncy, that usually means that you are hopping up, out of the floor. Which just looks silly.

As far as posture goes, I change my posture a bit depending on the song, my connection with my partner, and what kind of mood I’m in. Generally speaking, your goal is to have your knees bent, with your weight just slightly forward on your feet (as Peter Strom says, “Dance on your balls!”). After that, keep your shoulders above your hips above your knees above your feet. You should almost never be leaning forward or back. It is most commonly described as “an athletic stance.” The easiest way to get into the position is to jump, and when you land, allow your knees to bend as they absorb your weight, and then don’t stand up. 

Hopefully this cleared up your questions? 

babybluestocking asked: What's your dance story, kind sir? How long have you been lindy hopping? What got you started? How has it impacted your life? What got you into DJing? Etc. (I guess these are the type of questions you'd get asked at a social.)

Ooh an autobiography. I’m going to be particularly detailed. Sorry I’m not sorry at all.

When I was in high school, I was superbly awkward. I was terribly introverted, to the point that I didn’t even like physical contact. I’m from an extremely small town, and I didn’t have a ton of friends (I hung out with the people in my classes, because I was in the AP program and we had all of the same classes together). But as I say, I had no really close friends. 

When I got to college, I wanted to change that. I figured that if I was at college to get a purely academic education, I could just stay at home and do it all online. I viewed my transition to college as a chance to get what I termed a “social education” : a chance to become more open, make friends, and specifically, to become okay with physical contact. (I prefer to just throw myself at problems until they aren’t problems anymore.)

So when a couple of the people in my dorm were looking for clubs to join (as freshmen do), and suggested learning to dance, I joined them. This was like the second week of freshmen year. So we went out and took a swing dancing lesson. I still remember the date: September 1, 2010, a Wednesday. It was on campus, and after the lesson, we just kind of stood around awkwardly and watched people dance. 

We heard that there was another dance and lesson that Friday, so we decided to go to that. But then we found out that it was not in the same location. So we googled the club and found out that they met at a place about 5 blocks off campus. By the time we got there, the lesson was over, but we stuck around and did the, “Hey will you dance with my friend over there?” thing. 

We all kept going for the next couple of weeks, until they stopped coming. But by then I was hooked. I loved the music, and I had started to meet some of the people, and I liked them.

When they announced that they were holding a workshop, I signed up immediately. (This was in late September, I don’t remember the exact date.) It was at that workshop that I made my first swing friend. We had a break for lunch, and one of the girls invited me to go to lunch with her.

We started hanging out, and started to collect some of the other beginners into our group over the next few weeks. I am honored to say that I am still friends with all of the people in that group, although some of them have moved away. 

At the end of that semester, several of the DJs of the time were graduating, and the officers put out a call looking for new DJs. I knew next to nothing about the music, except that I liked it, but I signed up.

My first set was on January 26, 2011. It was awful. All of the music was way too fast, and I am ashamed to say that Cherry Poppin’ Daddies’ “Zoot Suit Riot” made an appearance. But the then DJ coordinator kind of took me under his wing, both as a DJ and a dancer, and helped me to start working on building my library to be more lindy hop based. To this day, he is one of the people that I am proud to call a mentor, and I owe so much of the person I am today to him. 

After that, I started DJing a bit more heavily, and when elections came around, I ran for and won the Public Relations Chair position. I didn’t really do much relating to the public, but I did get much more heavily involved with the club after that. 

I went to Orlando Lindy Exchange that same year (March 2011).  My favorite memory about that exchange was when I got back, I danced with the then President and she looked at me, flabbergasted, and said, “When did you get this good?” Seriously, my dancing got so much better at that event. 

I also helped to plan the first ever Gainesville Lindy Exchange that fall. (At that point, my DJing was still not very good, so I was in charge of looking for venues.) 

During all of this time my library was still expanding. I spent a period of about 3 months at the College of Music’s library. I checked out CD after CD (you could only get one at a time), ripping them to my library. (A side note, I do not recommend this. My library grew far too fast for me to go through it, and I still have music from this period that I have not even listened to.)

I also started really getting into swing culture, reading up on the pros and watching YouTube videos of them and the old-timers dancing. 

The next year, I ran for and won President of the club. My heart was still in DJing, though, and I spent a great deal of time working with my DJ Coordinator to make the music better. 

The main highlight from my Presidency (aside from GLX 2) is that the sound equipment in our venue literally just died. One week, it just stopped working. We spent several weeks using any sound system we could get our hands on while fundraising for our own system. Eight hundred dollars later, we bought a pretty good system, and we still use it today. 

Another highlight from that year is that at Lindy Focus I attended a talk about online media. It featured Rebecca Brightly, Jerry Almonte, and Michael Seguin. I started this blog shortly after that.

After my presidency, I ran for the DJ Coordinator position, and have spent a ton of time working with the DJs here to make them awesome. And they have come such a long way. Some of the people who started during my tenure at that post are ready to start DJing at exchanges. I am so genuinely proud of them and how far they have come. 

In late June 2013, I got my first out-of-state DJ gig. It was GVLX 3. It is one of the most fabulous events that I have ever been to (seriously, they put on a fantastic event, and if you ever get the chance, you should definitely go. Maybe I’ll see you this year?) 

My DJing there was apparently really good, because I was contacted on the Monday after about DJing for KLX (another really superb event). Since then, I’ve had some money troubles and have not been able to travel too much, aside from Lindy Focus. 

More recently, (and by this I mean in just the last couple of months), I have become really interested in teaching the dance. I’ve been teaching for years now, but we’ve always had a pretty solid base of teachers, so I’ve never really had to think about how we teach the dance. But now we’re losing quite a few of our experienced teachers, so we’ve got to start training up new ones. And that has caused me to start thinking about why we teach the dance the way we do, and the different methods of actually teaching it that I have seen. So this year, although I can no longer be an officer (silly SG rules about being a student), I intend to work really heavily with the Teaching Coordinators to restructure the way that we teach. 

The other thing that I have become really interested in is the roots of the dance. While I’ve had a pretty good working history of the dance for quite some time now, most of it is secondhand (someone who read this book or went to that lecture, etc.). So I’m really diving into the history right now. I’m reading Frankie’s autobiography, Norma Miller’s memoirs, and watching as many interviews and old documentaries as I can find. (Feel free to send me any that you may find! Dancers, musicians, whatever.)

In terms of how dancing has affected my life, I am a completely different person than I was four years ago. I come from a small southern town, and I will willingly admit that I used to be a bit racist, definitely sexist, and quite homophobic. I am so much more open to everything and everyone now. I have met so many wonderful people who have totally changed my outlook on so many different things.

I also have become quite a bit less introverted. In high school I took a Myers-Briggs test. On a scale from 60 being extremely introverted, to 0 being balanced, to 60 being extremely extroverted, I scored a 56 towards introverted. I now score a 12 towards introverted. I also have so many friends now, many of whom I consider to be extremely close. 

On a less serious note, I can no longer listen to a new song without considering whether or not I could dance to it. 

This is probably a lot more detail than you wanted, but hey, I’m really open now.

So what about you? What’s your story? 

humansaregreat asked: Assuming you're not done with the "talk all night about dancing" (and if you are that's cool), what are you currently working on as a lead and what are you working on as a follow? What are you working on as a dancer overall? (And are they even different aswers?)

My inbox is always open to talk about dancing! Or non-dancing. Whatever you want. Even totally random things like Community, ATMs, or Pokemon. Especially Pokemon. Send me Pokemon things. 

So, there is some overlap in what I am working on, but I can also break them down into different categories. 

As a lead, I am working on incorporating more moves into my dancing (I know a bunch of moves, but I tend to fall into the trap of doing only a few of them in every single dance [which is not really a bad thing, except that it can get boring]). I also have the bad habit of making a small circle with my hand (a “reset”) at the end of my swingout. I’m not sure where I picked that one up, but it only started in the last couple of months. 

As a follow, I am currently working on some of the overall fundamental things, like staying on the line (surprisingly difficult if you’ve never had to do it), turning technique, and some of the basic stylizations. However, I feel like my swivels are pretty boss, if I do say so myself.

Overall, I am working on my solo jazz, including working my solo jazz into my partnered dancing. I am also working on my musicality, both macro and micro. Lastly (and embarassingly), I’m working on actually asking people to dance. About a year and a half ago, I reached a point where everyone was constantly asking me to dance, to the point that I rarely got a break, and I fell out of the habit of asking people to dance. Now, I’m told, many of the beginners (who make up the majority of our dancers), are actually intimidated by the fact that I’m good, and they don’t ask me. So I’m working on making sure that I ask people to dance. (HashtagIntrovertProblems)

Also, as always, I am working on my DJing. But I’m also working on my teaching (as well as teaching people to teach, which is actually a rather different skillset), as well as doing everything I can to learn about sound equipment (and acquire my own personal equipment).