Taipei Lindy Fest was an absolute blast. More on that later, I promise.
After my fabulous falilure in the prelims of the JnJ there, I wanted to share my thoughts about the whole process. As a disclaimer, I want to say I completely agree with the judges that I should not have been in the finals. I have been dancing inconsistently since coming to Taiwan, the local scene is an hour away, I have not been vigilant on RhythmJuice. Obviously, not ready for competition season. However, the treatment at this particular prelim? It seems a bit personal after that.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought the organizers here did an absolute brilliant job. I just have a few issues about the execution of judging and the treatment of participating dancers. Sometimes, a little courtesy goes a long way.
How to Judge like a Pro, not a Jerk
- First off, do not wait behind specific dancers to tap them out immediately. That’s incredibly inconsiderate, even if you believe that dancer should be tapped out as soon as possible, because, my word, what are they even doing on the floor? (Just playing. But for real though, that is so freakin’ mean.) Give them the common decency to at least start from one end of the line. Also, it’s tap out not grab out. Who said you could push/move/shove people out of line? You might be a renowned swing dancer, but that’s just plain rude. Also, don’t do any of this until you look me in the eye. None of the judges had to make eye contact with the dancers during this whole process. Good for anonymity, but bad for the groove, man.
- Unless this is a JnJ final, I’ve not really seen teachers stand at one particular location without circulating around. Logically, it appears inefficient and difficult to see different sides of the dance. I mean, really? At the beginning of the first round, the judges were all lined up on stage. Not that they don’t have expertise or finesse, but can the couples in the back be seen at all? It seems rather unfair to give one couple priority. (This actually wasn’t a problem of mine, as I was seen in the front, but I imagine this to be a problem for some further down the line.)
- One song, one shuffle for first tap out. Yep, you read that correctly. No warm up, no further swaps, no more than one partner. I’m not going to be a lead-blamer, so you can count me out on this one. Yes, follows have difficulty with leads of a different style. I would say I had problems with pulse matching and being dragged a bit. However, I’ve been trained and equipped to deal with these issues myself, so I should have learned to compensate. No, my issue with this is simply that it allows for very little observation. One judge sees an incrementally small part of the dancer’s abilities, even less if the lead is inconsiderate and not doing enough basics (Ahem, ahem, cough cough. C’mon, guys. Give a girl a swingout.) THIS IS NOT A SOLO COMP. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. Show off a bit, but show off the follow too.
image via blog.7pmanywhere.com
- We all saw the finals. I’m not going to say anything until the video comes out, but I will say this. You can tell a lot about how the prelims were judged based on the finals. When five out of five swing dancers see something out of place, something is out of place. Were the finals fantastic, exciting and marvelous? Absolutely. Was there one glaring spot we all saw? Absolutely.
- Did I mention the nil eye-contact between judge and judged? I think this was the worst for me. Whether you are partnered in a dance, or watching someone, you acknowledge them. Even if you don’t give them a wristband or you tap them out, you make sure to let them know you saw them. I see you. I may not be feeling you, but I see you.
Am I bitter? More frustrated than anything. I long for the perfection that is Lindy Focus tryouts. Thank you, auditions team in Asheville, NC, how I miss thee. Dancers go in 10-15 size heats, judges watch from every angle and walk around, your level is placed at an alternate time, away from prying eyes. Same goes for JnJ, thank you very much.
Was it fair? Probably. Was it done quickly and efficiently? Probably. Do the participating dancers feel good about it? Not really. And that’s really what matters. Would your competitors want to try the JnJ again? As a very novice organizer and semi-regular JnJ participant, this is what matters if you want your competitions to continue over time.
With all this being said, I believe every single couple who placed at the finals completely deserved it. You guys ROCK. Shout out to Mimi in first place, you killed it. Way to swingout, lady.
Perhaps these are just the ramblings of a swing dancer in progress. My opinion probably doesn’t carry all that much weight, if any at all. However, I do believe this might help a lot in creating a more even playing field. Asking judges to walk around a bit and make eye contact is not asking too much. At least, create smaller heats. Or, post the results later. At least we know you thought about us. It doesn’t even have to stop the dance if you have prelims in a separate room.
Fantastic dancers will always be fantastic. It’s the competition itself that might not always be so.
Taipei Lindy Festival was amazing. I’m so thankful for all the memories, friends and dances. Please don’t misunderstand my analytic yet ridiculous venting, I only wanted to share my POV. Yours might be different, and that’s okay. We’re different dancers.
Anways, post on the whole event coming soon (Frankie 100 before that, because it’s long overdue.)
Three swingouts and a circle & it’s all going to be alright,