The summary: I want to start a free (or super-beyond-cheap) lindy hop practica in Atlanta. Now you can either humor me while I give my more involved reasoning…OR you can skip further down to get to the good part, where I tell you when / where it will be. Your choice.
Atlanta is widely accepted as one of the dance “hubs” of the southeast. With its large population, large airport, and lack of large surrounding dance scenes, it is able to sustain 5+ events a year (for 2010, we had: ETB: DIY, ATLX, Hop Shop, ETIB 4, Southern Belle, AVS, and Swing and Soul — that’s 7, and those are just the ones I remember off the top of my head). But honestly, the level of dancing in Atlanta is not as high as I would expect it to be considering its role in the SE hosting so many dances.
Let me be honest: as much as I love Atlanta, it is hard to get past the “intermediate” level (as someone who has just broken into the lower levels of intermediate-advanced at best, I feel I can say this with accuracy). Though DSS hosts a wide array of beginner and beginner-intermediate dances, there are comparatively few outlets at which to transition from beginning-intermediate and intermediate into that coveted intermediate-advanced stage.* More importantly, there are almost no affordable and constructive environments in which to mutually work on personal improvement. I mean, a dancer could go spend $40 – $60 an hour on private lessons, and then another $100 – $200 a month on travelling to workshops and exchanges, but most people just don’t have those funds. And of course, when social dancing, it is often tacky to ask for help — so where does that leave the intermediate dancer, yearning to get even just the tiniest bit of advice?
While much of the improvement that it takes to reach that arbitrary and yet coveted intermediate-advanced level of dancing depends on personal dedication and desire, I do think there is something we can do by providing a space to work on dancing while still managing to stay within budget. At least, that’s what I want to try to do.
Therefore: I want to start (or help start) a lindy hop practica. Here are my thoughts:
- It will be free.
- This will be a location where anyone (beginning, intermediate, or advanced — or anywhere on that spectrum) can show up and work on dancing.
- It will be a place of constructive criticism and a general will to help: want to learn Charleston Swingouts? Okay. Let’s do it.
These are the limitations:
- I am not an instructor, and unless an actual instructor decides to help, there is only so much we can improve on. But assuming I’m the most advanced dancer who shows up — which will hopefully not be the case — there will still be massive amounts we can learn. Anyone attending who views me as an instructor should, instead, view me as a peer hoping to improve my own dancing as well.
- Space. I have wood floors, but a small space; thus, the only potential cost if the group is larger is a general donation for an hour or two of studio space
- Attendance. Though I believe there are a lot of people who want to do this / would benefit from this…there is no guarantee that anyone will show up.
Why I’m going to try anyway:
- I want to work on my own dancing. And though, as of this moment, I don’t know how that will work unless I beg a more advanced dancer than I to attend…well, I’m sure I will improve just by force of having a space to work on it.
- I do want to learn to teach. And I want to learn how to discuss dancing — use my words to describe some miniscule concept to someone. And this would be a good environment for anyone to try learning to talk about and think about dancing in a more critical manner.
- Finally, for the first time in four years, I have some semblance of free time in my schedule.
So, here are my suggestions:
When: Tuesdays, time to be determined.
Where: My house (please send me an email or facebook message if you want the address: firstname.lastname@example.org). Depending on the level of attendence, though, this could change.
What do we start with: I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, and there’s one thing that many I’ve talked to want to work on. The Big Apple. At least five people I know have expressed a desire to learn the routine, but it can be a challenge to learn — it’s long, and sometimes tricky, and who wants to pay $10 a week for a month to attempt to learn it? The whole idea here is FREE. I know it well enough that I could teach the basic movements to a few people, while also learning a lot myself in the process. This will start everyone off learning some basic jazz moves in a constructive environment…and then we can go practice them at the local dances! WHOOO!!!
Facebook v. email: I am willing to maintain both a facebook group and an email list…but I would rather just one. Let me know which you are more likely to check.
FINALLY, WHAT I NEED FROM YOU:
Before I ask time off from work, I need to know that people are interested. That if I ask for every Tuesday night off, some people will show up. I’m thinking of starting the first or second week of February, and we’ll see where to go from there. If you’re interested or have friends who would be interested, you can tell me any variety of ways — comments, emails, facebook messages, phone calls, and sky-writing. Mostly, I just want to know that people will show up.
If Tuesday doesn’t work, let me know — I can do just about any night of the week and am 100% willing to help host / lead this on the night when the majority of people can attend. However, I do think that, considering the regular and irregular dances in Atlanta, that Tuesday is the best option.
In conclusion: Let’s do this!
*I know those are vague categories, but the concept is simple: there is this certain arbitrary and undefined “level” of dancing that many people want to reach — a level where others recognize you as a comparatively competent dancer, and where you are relatively confident in what you’re doing. And it is really, really hard to get there.