Bobby White is writing a five part essay on the old timers and comparing them to the current dance scene. Infinitely informing, thoroughly thoughtful, and never-ending-ly knowledgeable (dang, do I love alliteration!), it is essential reading for every lindy hopper. Unlike me (contrary to what James might think), Mr. White is an exceptionally talented writer.
“Of course, the modern dance scene, especially a lot of competitors, don’t seem to have much of a problem with wanting to show off. But I think there are several important problems with the way many of the modern dancers choose to show off . (For instance, I think it’s easy for many competitors to choose the form of showing off where you say “Here’s what I can do, can you do it?”, whereas a more difficult, and more artistic, way to show off is “This is who I am, who are you?” That’s what I see so clearly when I see Al and Leon dance next to each other. Of course, an up-and-coming swing modern competitor should not be expected to have reached the level of self-expression of veterans like Al and Leon.) But that’s something we’ll talk about later. …
In discussing this essay, my partner Kate pointed out something that struck home. If you look at a lot of advanced swing dance competitors today, they seem to compete for the end product, rather than the means to that product. They dance to be thought of as a badass, to get the recognition. There dancing asks “Will this get people thinking highly of me?” rather than says something like, “This is who I am,” or “I’m really loving this song,” or even “Check out this great move I’m really excited about.” which is, as we mentioned, an important component to the way the Old Timers showed off.”
Food for thought. Oh, and also, go start some jam circles!
Read the entire essay “The Old Timers” here:
Others to come sooner than later hopefully…
You can also check out his equally brilliant post “Al Minns: A Dancer’s Dancer”, if you haven’t already.