I’m really kicking butt at my New Years Resolutions. I am writing this on the plane back from Hawkeye Swing Festival. The weekend before that I was at 505 Stomp. I can now say that I’ve traveled for lindy hop two weekends in a row. That feels a little crazy. Crazy awesome.
Not traveling for a while and being stuck in LA put me in a little rut and I don’t think I even realized it. It wasn’t necessarily a dancing rut, but more of a people rut. I became too focused on the people around me and a lot of the issues that really bother me in the LA dance scene. I began to feel like things would never change, because people don’t change, and everything is just at a stalemate. I slowly began to feel like Han Solo frozen in carbonite. But, like a frog in cold water that warmed up slowly to boiling, I almost didn’t realize that my soul was being slowly murdered.
Then I went to 505 Stomp. First of all, an incredible event that everyone should go to. It is run by two of the most fun, kind, good people I have ever met, Rachel and Brett. Now having the chance to have had a conversation or two with them, perhaps after a drink or two, I feel extremely lucky to have met them. And everyone should feel extremely lucky to have such joyous, hardworking, and profoundly kind people in our lindy hop community!
Then I went to Hawkeye and got to chat with Carl Nelson for a bit. He offered some amazing, inspiring, and kind of stupidly obvious advice to help some stuff here in LA. I also got to meet and chat with Jenny and Christian from St. Louis over some bomb crepes. Meeting really amazing dancers that also happen to be genuinely kind and not douche-y people is clearly not as hard as it seems. You just have to be ANYWHERE outside of LA.
Talking to Rachel and Brett, and Carl, and Jenny and Christian really shattered the carbonite around my little lindy hop soul. It invigorated me. There are good people out there, and they do exist, and not only that, they thrive and excel. Living in LA it always feels like the nice guy finishes last. Or better, doesn’t finish at all. Or better yet, doesn’t even enter the race. This kind of mentality is death. A very slow death of your soul in that you don’t even realize that you’re becoming more and more like Marvin, the paranoid android.
So LA dancers! This is a call to action! We need to remember what lindy hop is all about. We need to remember why we love it so much. We need to remember Frankie’s message and keep it alive in our lindy hop souls. Frankie wanted more than anything to spread lindy hop. Not to make money, not to be popular or famous, not to impress his friends and family, but to have other people know the joy that it brought him. This is the key and we need to always remember to never lose it. Keep that flame lit, not matter how hard it is, never let it blow out. Sometimes it might be a raging flame, other times a small flickering candle, but the most important thing is to keep it alive. Put that idea, that key, that flame into everything you do for this community and I guarantee it will come back to you ten fold in the most unexpected of ways.
I want to end this post with my favorite Frankie story I heard from Silvia Sykes. She used to bring him out to Santa Barbara to teach people there how to dance and after years of him teaching there Silvia and Frankie were watching people social dance. Silvia looks around seeing people stumble through the steps, constantly messing up their footwork, and just generally be terrible at lindy hop. She turns to Frankie and asks him if he’s proud of his life’s work, genuinely being concerned that Frankie might be disappointed watching these people he has been teaching butcher everything. So Frankie turns to Silvia and says with his infallible wisdom “Of course! Look! They are all smiling!” **and that is when I start crying like a baby.