Loving ’till it Hurts

(Yes, that’s what she said.)

Today I was reminded of a post in Naomi Uyama’s old MySpace blog.  Even though this was written 4 years ago, it is still so very very true today.

“When I started dancing almost 10 years ago I didn’t have a goal to get where I’m at now really. I don’t know what I would have said if you’d told me then I’d be making a living from it. I just enjoyed it so much I wanted to do it as much as I could, I soaked up any and all information like a little sponge, and my greatest dream was to someday be in a jam. I see some newbies with these goals of winning big contests and becoming big names and I wonder how much they genuinely enjoy lindy hop itself. Like they could substitute squash, or tiddly winks, or tetris for it if those could give them the same returns they believe they can get from the dance world.”

I feel like more and more nowadays people are becoming obsessed with winning and titles and social status. Are they trying to find validation for themselves? For their dancing? Is this how they think they will feel fulfilled? If so, what they seek is futile. They won’t find their fulfillment in these places. In fact they probably won’t ever find fulfillment.

For me, fulfillment comes from just dancing. Every second I get to dance I value and cherish deeply. Fulfillment for me is loving the dance so much you can barely stand it, till it hurts. And it’s frustrating, and lovely, and fantastic, and heartbreaking, and exhilarating, and addicting, and enthralling, and life sucking, and so many more other things you feel all at once.

For me dancing is communicating. Communicating how much I love this dance, what my ideas are about the dance, about the music being played at that moment. And I’m not just communicating these things to my partner, I’m communicating these things to anyone who glances at me as the pass by, or whoever happens to catch a glimpse of me in a jack and jill prelim. That is why competitions are such powerful experiences for me.

Naomi writes that her ability to make a living from this dance is just a bonus of her loving the dance so much. It’s just a side benefit, it’s not something she’s climbing towards. She’s happy just to be able to dance. And that’s one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read.

Another quote from Naomi for the road which has also affected me deeply:

“I am a lover of analogies, it can get a little ridiculous, but here is one of my faves. Imagine that all the lindy hoppers out there are people running in a pack. There are all kinds of runners, some faster, some slower. Though they move together they are running for different reasons. Some run like it is a race, they are moving forward to be first, to be faster than others, to win. Others run towards the horizon, a distant, beautiful, point that cannot be reached. They move forward so that we all may move forward, they know the secret lies in the exhilaration of running itself.

So here is the funny thing about “racers”. They stare at the backs of the people in front of them and and toil to beat them, but if they ever did pull ahead to the very front of the pack guess what would happen- they would stop dead in their tracks. Their goal would be achieved, they would stop running, the dance would stop moving forward. It is the ones who see the horizon, the runners who are in for the journey and not the destination that will always continue. They feel less the work of it and more the joy in it. Those are the dancers that inspire me.”

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7 thoughts on “Loving ’till it Hurts

  1. Lacey says:


  2. […] Loving 'till it Hurts « The Rantings of a Lindy Hopper […]

  3. Odysseus says:

    I agree completely with this! Truthfully, even though I’ve been dancing for almost 12 years, I’ve been wary of the competition circuit, and except for the random J&J, I don’t compete. If I were to compete, I’d change my focus to winning versus creating art with my body, and I’m a little afraid that would cause me to lose my joy-joy-joy in the expression of dance. But there’s the flip side in that if you don’t compete, some other dancers will treat you like you’re worth less than the champions or the “names” everyone knows. I wish that didn’t bother me, but it does.

    • Alice Pye says:

      Well, I think it’s just the way you think about competitions. Since Lindy Hop is not very widely known, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for Lindy Hoppers to just perform without a competitive aspect. I think of competitions as just that. Just a performance to show people what Lindy Hop is to me. I could go on and on forever… 🙂
      The flip side you’re talking about is what I’m trying to ward off. A noble mission, however, quite impossible. 😦
      Thank you so much for you comment! I love to hear from people that have been dancing way longer than me! 😀

  4. Alex Dupler says:

    I’m going to talk about running for a while, but I promise it gets to the dancing, and more importantly, its all about loving till it hurts.
    Before I found lindy hop, I ran cross country and track. For three years, I ran 5, 6, 7 days a week, usually adding up to 40, 50, or on a few occasions 60 miles in a week. In running, the thing that is hard isn’t the races, its the trainning. Getting up early to run before class, going out and pushing your self every day, while knowing when to rein it in to avoid injury. The Trial of Miles some call it. But, a several weekends in the spring and fall, there is another thing, the race. When you run a distance race, you put all of your strength and spirit into less than 5 minutes, or less than 20 minutes and you hope you didn’t put so much in you don’t make it all the way to the end. See you aren’t racing the other people, they are just there to help you race yourself. It hurts like hell at the end, but thats how you know you beat yourself. Now I wasn’t always good at racing myself, but I had a few good ones. The one that I remember best is a mile a ran my senior year of high school. Its the metro league meet, to see who gets to race at districts: top eight get to race next week, and the rest are done. Myself, I’m the 16th seed of 16, but i’ve been preparing for this meet all week, indeed I’ve been preparing for this meet for exactly three years since I decided to take on the trial of miles while watching this very meet my sophomore year (I may have been trying to impress a girl). In those few years, I had come a long way, from solidly off the JV squad, to captain of the the varsity cross country team. The previous year I had placed 5th in the metro half mile (surely a weak field). I still have my running logs from those summers and winters, and I work my butt off, but this was it, possibly the last race of high school.

    And so the race begins, and with the first step of the race the spike plate flies off my racing shoe, so now on one foot I am running on piece of plastic. I do my best to stay in contact with the main pack, and 8th place. The first lap is over in a heart beat, the second so after. The third lap however is an eternity, where races are lost, but at the end I’m still there, so with 400 meters left, its time to go and lay it all on the line. I make my move with about 250 meters left. As I round the last turn I look up to see that girl I’m still trying to impress (unsuccessfully still: in fact quite the opposite, but thats another story), and I find the energy to drive home. And then its all over. I can’t stand up, but I’m done. after four minutes and thirty six seconds I had placed 7th, besting many more talented runners. More importantly, I had improved my best time by nine seconds, more than I had done all year. I run another race that afternoon, and run the mile the following week, but they are not as successful. Still I had done it. This is one of the most memorable moments of my life and I did loved every minute of it, especially when it hurt.

    When I found lindy hop, it turned out that I loved dancing every night more than I loved the Trial, so I gave it up, and now I dance every chance I get. But for me, a lindy hop competition isn’t so different from going out and running the mile. You get all of your love for the dance and all of your energy and you put it into five minutes and most and hope that you get someone’s attention and then say something meaningful to them. You aren’t trying to beat the other competitors, You just want to do better than you have before. When I dance a lindy hop competition I think about that race in the middle of may 2007. I put my all into that dance and hope that someone sees how much I love it. every once in a while, it works, even if i’m not the most skilled dancer (yet). At ULHS after the J&J prelims, I couldn’t stand I had danced so hard, but someone noticed (not just anyone: thigpen), and I got some of the most meaningful compliments I’ve ever gotten about my dancing.
    So this is why I love to competitions. They take all that you would normally say over the course of an evening and make you distill it to a few short minutes, because thats all the time you get (something this post could use).

  5. […] Pye from The Rantings of a Lindy Hopper, wrote about some old blogs that Naomi Uyama had written several years ago. Naomi was and still is my favorite Lindy Hop blogger even if she […]

  6. […] and just wanted to share it with all of you.  I think it goes hand in hand with a previous post, Loving ’till it Hurts. Take what you’d like from it. so you want to be a […]

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