I’m home after a delightful weekend at Swing IN hosted by the lovely lindyhoppers just a hop and a skip away in Indianapolis. I was so humbled by the dancers there –most everybody presented themselves with a great attitude and a willingness to share the love of dancing.
So…without further ado…a comprehensive list on how not to become a dance snob. Because let’s face it. Anyone who dances, from the beginner who just learned to swing out to the pro in their 10th year of competitions, needs to learn that the world doesn’t swivel around them. Myself, especially. Sheesh, the ego definitely took a much needed beat down this weekend. So…remember:
1. Just Smile. Seriously. Swing dancing is supposed to be fun, correct? You were fun once. I think. All joking aside, swing dance is such a cheerful dance. Do you really want to be that one Debbie Downer or Sad Sam who brings down the atmosphere with their dark and stormy frowns? No, I didn’t think so. Smile, & the whole world will smile too. (Well, maybe not, but nice thought, right?)
2. You were a beginner once too. And you were terrified to dance with people, let alone choose who to dance with. Every dance was something simultaneously new and terrible and terrific, all at once. It was lovely and unbelievably harrowing to jump around from partner to partner, most of whom knew more than you did. Don’t forget your roots. Everyone starts as a beginner. Frankly, as we all get rickety and our knees give out, we all end as beginners too. Love your newbies because they love you. 🙂
3. Dance with Everyone. I mean it. Unless you are on the verge of a life-changing epiphany or have some strange illness that makes you break into hives every time you touch someone that is not an advanced dancer, I don’t want to hear any excuses. (Okay, also if your partner is kinda sorta a creep. You are totally allowed to sit one out.) One of THE most frustrating things as an unknown or beginner dancer is hovering by the fans or chairs, looking lonely. Ask someone new to dance. Better yet, ask someone who doesn’t even know how to dance. This is how a community is built. I’ve been that sad follow that no one wants, but I’ve also been the dancer that wants to dance with everyone. The first is lose:lose; the second is all win, baby.
4. One Day They Might Be Famous. Yeah…you have no idea what God has in store for that beginner dancer you just partnered up with. Perhaps they will be inspired to travel the world developing their dance skills and become world famous. If you encouraged them or completely ignored them, they will remember you. In the future, they might even teach you a thing or two. Scary, eh? Or not so scary, depending on how you treat your beginners.
5. Dance is a Love Affair. It is not always a competition, though it can be. Frankie Manning said it best, as dance is a shared tension between you, your partner and the music. Can you choose who you fall in love with? Sometimes. But…sometimes it happens sponateously, and that’s pretty amazing too. Don’t shorthand a dancer just because they “look” a certain way or don’t have that magic star on their belly that says “I AM A PRO DANCER.” Love is blind and it knows only to follow that 8 count beat, sometimes 6.
A disclaimer: I’m not saying this to criticize anyone. It’s more of a future reminder to myself. No matter how much I improve, I want to remember how fun and scary it is to be a beginner. I sometimes judge people by how they dance, and I don’t want to do that anymore. Dance is freedom, and anyone can do it. That’s why I started in the first place, that’s the way I want to always want it to be.
Step into someone else’s dance shoes…you’ll be humbled.
❤ & Lindy,