Category Archives: The Rhythm Project

Keeping The Rhythm Querque

In a few weeks (actually the weekend of 505 Stomp) will be the 1 year anniversary of Rhythm. In addition to it being 1 year since Albuquerque lindyhoppers found a permanent home, it will also be 1 year since we decided to  do a complete overhaul of the scene; we started consistent, progressive classes with The Rhythm Project, and within The Rhythm Project we gave our weekly swing dance a face lift. Our dances have more than doubled in size over the past year, our classes are growing, and we’re retaining students. We have more dancers involved in running the dance, teaching the drop-in lesson and DJing. We’ve made a point to either have a snowball or a jam every week, even if the jams aren’t always created in an organic way, and we encourage and cheer on newbies who go into the jam. We spend more time investing in individual newbies, inviting them out for food after the dances or to go to parties with us. For the first time, I feel like I can honestly say that not only is our scene really growing, but it’s progressing and becoming more than just the infant stages of a dance scene. It’s legit.

We don’t have the best dancers, or the biggest scene, or even quazi-decent live music to dance to, but we don’t care about that, because that’s not what makes a dance scene great. It’s the people, the attitude and the personality of the scene. We have each other to learn and grow from. We don’t care about winning competitions or being the best. It’s not about fame or glory or money. It’s about fun, about finding a sanctuary to be ourselves, to give our all to something wonderful. It’s about changing your bad day around, bonding together as a community and having a great time. We do it because we have to it. We’re obsessed. There’s nothing else any of us could even begin to think of doing instead of Lindy Hop. And, in all honesty, why would we?

We dance because we love it. And we love it because of each other. I couldn’t ask to be in a better dance scene than this.


The Lindy Hop Mating Call: The Story Behind The Silly Sound

So, I’ll just go ahead and make my shameless plug now to get it out of the way. If you haven’t signed up 505 Stomp yet, you should. Seriously, it’s going to be really awesome. I’m super excited about it, I know the instructors are really excited about it, and you should be too.

Today I’m telling you the story that led up to this:

It all started about a year ago when I was hanging out with some friends, when Dani Easley and I created this noise randomly to annoy Kevin Clark. It succeeded gloriously. It rapidly began to be used for other situations too, like cheering Brett Dahlenburg up when he was being a grouchy pants, or making each other laugh by seeing how loud we could make the noise.

It wasn’t until we had a lindy bomb in the early spring and made the noise that someone said that it sounds like a mating call for lindyhoppers. And so that’s what we called it. The point of the mating call is to make the noise when you don’t have anyone to dance with, and someone will be attracted to you and immediately run up and start dancing with you. In non-dancing environments, it can also be used as a call of distress or to find others in large crowds. We swore at that moment we’d make a video of it. Someday. Somehow.

Fast forward to July, we’re at The Rhythm Is Jumpin’, and after a few people hear this noise, I promise them I’d do it during the finals of a contest. And thus I did at about 1:09:

I’m pretty sure one of the judges broke his clipboard from pounding it on the ground from laughing so hard.

Fast forward to September. I had no idea about this until yesterday, actually, but Sarah Carney created this in inspiration of TRIJ 2011.

It’s spreading. And before you know you’ll be making the noise too. It’ll start in your home, by yourself as to not embarass yourself. You’ll tell your friends about it, make the noise for them. They’ll make it too. See how fast it spreads? It’ll be a thing. Just wait.

Oh, and don’t forget. 505 Stomp. The whole reason that video was made.


The Plight Of The Lindy Hop Follower

When you’re first learning Lindy Hop, there’s definitely a learning curve. Lindy Hop is probably one of the hardest partner dances out there, since not only is the swing out your basic and arguably the most difficult move in Lindy Hop at the same time, but there aren’t really any hard and fast rules to the dance. So much of it can’t be shown or explained fully, it just has to experienced.

The learning curve is also different for leads and follows. Initially, I think it’s a lot more difficult for leads. They have to think about the footwork, the beat, which move they’re doing next and leading their follow at the same time. It’s enough for anyone’s head to pretty much explode all over the dance floor. Eventually, things ease up a lot for leads as all of those different aspects begin to work for the leads instead of against them.

As far as the followers go, I think the process can sometimes be a little more painful to endure. The beginning stages of learning to dance seem to come to followers more easily, but it’s once their leads start to improve more that their learning curve punches them in the face. Suddenly, after dancing for 6 months or a year, followers realize that  they’re pretty much relearning how to do everything in order to dance with well with others. And not only is it a complete mind bend, but it’s also a blow to their ego. It’s almost like they’ve been tricked. All this time they’re feeling like they’re improving, until they crash right into this brick wall and they realize that they don’t know anything about dancing. Ouch.

At least for leads, they can get a lot of that out of the way early on when they’re still brand new to dancing.

There are a couple of followers in our scene who are going through this right now, which is what made me decide to write about it. They’ve both been dancing for about a year or so now. They’re trying hard in classes, obviously concentrating a lot on the social dance floor, and not only look so lost in thought that they aren’t having that much fun, but they’re frustrated with themselves at the same time. I think for anyone, lead or follow, who’s going through this stage, can feel really disheartened, often times more so than you feel it should (as most of us just do this for fun). But don’t let it get you down. It’ll pass with time as long as you persevere through it.

Here are perhaps a few things to remember:

-Anything that you want to be good at, requires practice. And just because you want to be good at something, doesn’t mean that you will be right away. Besides, compared to the rest of the world, you’re probably pretty good at dancing.

-Being positive about your dancing is the best thing you can do for yourself. There’s a difference between understanding what you need to work on and being too critical of yourself. There will always be something that you’re working on in your dancing, so if something doesn’t come to you right away, don’t sweat it.

-There’s definitely an aspect of Lindy Hop that makes it more fun as you gain more skill, and let’s face it, it’s a competitve world out there, but skill isn’t everything. Having a great attitude and a smile on your face goes a long way in the social dance world.

 

 


Lovin’ The Lindy Hop

When people ask me to describe what Lindy hop is, I always tell them that it’s a dance of celebration. Obviously, that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways, and I think it should be.

Honestly though, I haven’t been feeling very celebretory lately. My dancing has felt like absolute crap, I haven’t been feeling inspired at any of the dances lately, and overall I’ve been in a dance slump. I’ve rarely felt eager to go out dancing, I’ve been feeling lazy and haven’t wanted to focus on improving my dancing, and I haven’t been going to any of my dance classes lately. And just the fact that I haven’t been feeling celebretory has made me feel yucky.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been in a funk over my dancing, but somehow it doesn’t seem to get any easier to deal with. Lately, I’ve just been desperately searching for that single moment that changes everything: a great dance, an inspirational student or class, an awesome event (which is hard to come by when you don’t have any money to travel). But between those middle school classes we were teaching (which, just as a quick aside, we spoke with the teacher not long ago when she came to our dance, and she said she transferred schools because those kids were making her hair fall out she was so miserable) and having a rough and perhaps somewhat embarassing weekend dance-wise at ILHC, things just haven’t been super exciting in my personal dance world.

I wrote everything above over a month ago. As you can see, with a lack of inspiration also came a complete inability to write anything worthwhile reading. I didn’t know how to conclude what I was saying, and it was largely because I wasn’t done feeling crappy. But something happened at our Saturday dance that changed everything.

I received a card from a few students who are in The Rhythm Project. There’s 3 or 4 of them that are always hanging out together, they come to every class religiously, even the drop-in class on Saturday (which is the exact same lesson every week). Every Saturday they go across the street to the gas station and get one of those giant slushies. They’re really adorable. And they’re all in their mid 30’s or older.

And it was just a card that completely changed my attitude. All they did was thank me for introducing them to Lindy Hop. They said it’s changed their lives and now they’re happier people. It was so touching that I had a glistening tear.

And that’s when I realized that they’re the reason why I do what I do. I think it’s pretty safe to say that everyone who’s been dancing consistently for while has felt that Lindy hop has changed their lives in one way or another. How can it not? The addiction of fun, the excitement of watching a jam, a competition, dancing late into the night and eating breakfast even later at diners with friends from all over the world that you’ve just met. It makes everyone feel young, no matter how old you are. It’s refreshing and invigorating.

This group of new Lindy hoppers are the kind of people that make going out dancing worthwhile. They’re the content of the scene, the new bread and butter that goes with every meal. They’re crazy obsessed, energetic, and essential. They’re the reason why every dance scene in this world exists. They’re all the things that I love about Lindy hop.

Since I started organizing and scene building, the one thing that I wanted more than anything was for people to be absolutely insane about Lindy hop. Well, here they are. Crazier and more dedicated than ever.