The Back Story
I love this blog, which I’ve actually only recently found. It has some great inspirational tips and ideas to push myself harder; it also comments on a lot of Lindy Hop ideas and challenges that come up in the social scene. On this most recent post, the author states that the hidden reason we become Lindy Hoppers is for the challenge. I believe she does have some very good points about the challenge of Lindy Hop and how it can bring motivation and inspiration. I agree with her in that challenge is a huge part of the fun of Lindy Hop.
However, the challenge of Lindy Hop is not for everyone. In my opinion, the reason we love Lindy Hop is made of something much more complex.
I have two scenarios for you:
The first is a lead in the Lindy Hop community who has not improved in the last three years. You know exactly who he is – he might have trouble staying on beat, or maybe he always forgets the rock step; most frustratingly, you’re always afraid he’ll hurt you. Still, you dance with him almost every week because he clearly enjoys the dance, despite the fact that he’ll never get past starting his swingout on the wrong beat. So why does he keep coming out, if he won’t ever get past this speed bump in his own dancing?
The second is a follow I personally brought into the Lindy Hop community from the Contra community. I thought she would absolutely love it, and that would be that. She would come Lindy Hopping with me and we could rekindle our friendship over a new love of the best dance there is out there. But…she didn’t like it. She went back to Contra Dancing. For a while, I was afraid I didn’t help her enough. I didn’t teach her the basic well enough, or I didn’t tell enough leads to go dance with her to make sure she had a good time. But over the past year, I’ve realized something: she loves something else about Contra Dancing more than she ever enjoyed Lindy Hop.
What the above dancers have in common is a love for the communities which they respectively frequent. To me, dancers of all age, gender, nationality, and belief system come to Lindy Hop because it fosters a kinship and identity that fits our needs and desires. We like the people we dance with.
The reason the Never-Improving-Lead still comes out dancing? To me, it is because that’s where he has friends. The reason my friend goes Contra Dancing instead of Swing Dancing? She enjoys the community more: in fact, they are her community, and they are just as important to her as the Lindy Hop Community is to me.
I think that this is the same reason many Lindy Hoppers drop out: whether it’s school, family, or some unidentified reason: you might not realize or understand it, but they probably have other things in their lives which engender more of a community feeling, even if it’s as simple as taking a regular cooking class.
I also believe this is one of the biggest reasons we all love dance event weekends. It is a time where we all get together and share inside jokes, go to lunch or dancing between dancing, and offer up our homes to people we’ve only just met. I have never lived in the same city as two of my absolute best friends, but that doesn’t change the fact that I speak to them on an almost daily basis.
Where else do you get a community like that?
I do believe that the essence of challenge is an incredibly important part of Lindy Hop. Without it, we would not have rock stars: we are inspired by incredible dancers, and that often pushes us to keep going and get better. For some people, the challenge does become necessary – because theoretically, we could find a community anywhere, but it might not have the added benefit of pushing us both physically and mentally.
But you know what I see more? People posting these videos on facebook. Having discussions. Everyone clapping at that one part in the routine for “Jump through the Window” where Skye and Frida clap (you know exactly which routine I’m talking about, but here’s the link anyway). Think about it: those videos give us something to talk about. Something for our community to drool over, at the very least.
I believe that challenge drives many of the upper echelon of dancers – as well as those who wish to be in the upper echelon, at the very least. In fact, I am one of the many who is constantly thinking up ways to work on my dancing, and I am more than excited about the challenge which Hop Shop offers at the end of the month. I also love that the author admits the following:
Accepting and navigating challenge is one of the recurring themes on Dance World Takeover.
That is the purpose of her blog, and it is one of the reasons I enjoy her writing so much.
However, I believe challenge inspires us to improve, but I do not necessarily believe it inspires us to Lindy Hop. There are so many of us who are just out to dance and be with friends.
So to all those who come out just to dance: I totally get you. At one point in the future, I will probably be you. Whether or not I ever place in a competition, I have my Lindy Hop friends to keep me company. We share inside jokes, cuddle on the floor of dance events, and share amazing awkward-pelvis moments. I love the challenge of Lindy Hop, but you are the real reason I dance.
Of course, this is just my opinion, just as the motivation of challenge is the opinion of the author of the original post. We’re all driven by different things. I just think that Lindy Hop would be significantly less fun without my friends.