I know a lot of people who don’t like blogs on principle. I have quite a few friends who don’t like dance blogs in particular. I usually just nod and smile because I don’t need to ask them why. After all, I see most of them on a daily basis. Notice I don’t say “read.” There are a ton of them not counting my non-dancing related reading, and there just isn’t enough time in the day to keep up with them all.
Still, culling this year’s list of active to semi active blogs was a little sad because of the number of blogs that have fallen by the wayside within the last year. However, without doing any statistical comparisons, I think it’s about typical for the average lifespan of any blog, dance related or not.
I think criticisms of blogs are the same reasons why I enjoy them, which is basically that anyone can have one. It’s not hard to garner a following if you blog enough and sound like you know what you’re talking about. I’m a perfect example of that. Who the hell am I? I had a solid year of constant blogging, and despite my severe drop off in productivity here, this site still gets an average of 100 hits a day. My friends like to make fun of me for being well known in a dance for reasons not related to my dancing.
The really funny thing is that what irks people is not the criticism, which is few and far between, but actually what gets praised and passed around. Once you get to a certain level or age, you pretty much know what you like or what you look for in certain things. So it annoys people when the masses get enthralled by a performance or dancer that they think, for a lack of a better term, is bullshit.
Sometimes it’s about skills and fundamentals. Other times it’s about substance. Julius Yang has a nice description of the issue dance-wise. (This is why I like blogs, or at least the ones that articulate ideas so I don’t have to). I think debating is a good analogy. I suppose that one can theoretically present a cogent defense of the Holocaust and win an argument based on rhetorical skills. That still wouldn’t keep me from beating you with a flaming barbed wire baseball bat in the back parking lot afterwards.
Fortunately, we don’t have to deal with anything nearly as severe. That some people like what I would consider a crappy dance or blog is a small price to pay for being able to connect a relatively small community across the world. Here are a few good examples from the past year.
Firstly, it’s hard to miss a person that dubs their own blog as “The Queen of Swing.” At least she has the cred to get away with it in our scene. This is such an interesting development; for someone from the original generation to be talking online like this. I hope she’s able to keep up with it because she can be brutally honest in person sometimes. She just lets it all hang out as you can read in her last post on her visit to Harlem. What starts out as a reminiscence of the old days turns into a melancholic realization that those days are gone.
On the other end of the spectrum, as I noted last year, a younger set of Lindy Hoppers is connecting through Tumblr, and you can find them uniting in Voltron like fashion under Tumblr Hoppers. We also have voices from the neo-Swing era, with Mamazilla talking about all the instructors that passed the flame to us in the late 90’s. Bobby White got to have a super interesting interview with one of them, Paul Overton. Paul, also followed up the multitude of comments with this nugget of wisdom.
Challenge and Community
Paul brought that up as a response to the many conflicts we periodically find ourselves embroiled in simply because this dance attracts different people for different reasons. Rebecca Brightly talked about the inherent challenge of learning while Cari Westbrook emphasized the community appeal of the dance. Summer Solstice Girl was able to illustrate how those two aspects can complement each other in dance competitions.
Cat Foley took that to another level by documenting her preparation for her rookie performance at this year’s European Swing Dance Championships, and in the process, rallied the European continent behind her and her partner Alex Parker.
Climbing the Ladder
Getting to that point is not easy. Cheryl Crow posted a very popular blog about teaching beginners utilizing her occupational therapy background. While Julius Yang talked about some of the subtleties of getting to that next level.
Meanwhile an anonymous blogger told an amusing story of how applying your other interests to dance can go awesomely wrong. It doesn’t always have to be that way as an artist demonstrates in the blog Lines where the blogger offers to do a hand drawing of dance pictures submitted to them. If I gave out an award for most novel dance related blog, this blog would get it.
Sermons on The Mount (of Doom)
As part of their multi-prong plan for world domination, the Mobtown Ballroom spawned a blog penned under the pseudonym of Michael Seguin, which roughly translates into “Satan’s Nipple, The Devourer of Souls.” Using his advanced degree in dead languages, Seguin talked about all these subjects and more, bestowing nuggets such as “In this glorious year 2012 AD, the average beginner improves 3 times as fast, largely because they have access to multiple different instructors and because the internet (which I will consider a form of witchcraft until the day I die) can deliver you free footage of some seriously hairy shit”
With the blog, Seguin is able to whip the cult of Mobtown into a frenzy for events and also tell the world what they’re about. Writing about their first year of glory:
“This place is not about the cool people. Any establishment that intends to stay alive must gird up its loins and fight against coolness, and here we try particularly hard to mix people up. We have dentists, doctors, and lawyers; we have students, dropouts, and unemployed artists. We even have some employed artists. Everyone deserves a good time, and everyone who walks through our doors and behaves with a modicum of decency, deserves to be given a fair shake. Our regulars are responsible for Baltimore’s friendly, goofy, and charming reputation. Don’t sit on your laurels — help us keep it that way.”
The Destroyer of Worlds
The List, 2012 Style
This next part is a listing of the interesting and active sites as of this week. If I missed anything, let me know. Similarly, if you want your blog off this list, do the same.
My Personal Online Empire
My stuff which has it’s own category because 1) this is my backyard, and 2) I forgot to include them when compiling the other lists. True story.
- Wandering & Pondering-You’re here.
- Wandering & Pondering Facebook Page-Where I post videos and links like the ones in this post. Note that FB has been messing with the visibility of FB fan pages so if you want to see regular updates, go to the page and adjust the settings on or next to the “Like” button.
- New Old School Swing -Tumblr blog focusing on old videos of modern Lindy Hoppers.
- A Word on Swing-My video blog done in conjunction with Bobby White of Swungover.
Stuff you should keep booked marked for future reference.
- Bug’s Question of The Day
- Lindy Hop History courtesy of KC Lindy Hop
- Rhythm Results
- Swing Dancing on Reddit
- Voices of The Jazz Era Ballroom
A reliable stream of commentary on swing related stuff.
- Dance World Takeover
- Home of the Tumblr Hoppers
- It’s The Way That You Do It (also on tumblr at Bon Vivant)
- Lindy Hop Variations for Followers
- Veit Talks
- Vernacular Jazz Dance
Keep an Eye on These Blogs
Stuff to watch
Music stuff. Includes blogs by musicians, DJs, and the only active old school message boards.
- DJ Ryan Swift
- Euclid’s Fifth
- Jonathan Stout’s Swing Guitar Blog
- My Jazz Can Beat Up Your Jazz
- Shuffle Projects
- Swing DJs
- Swing DJ Resources
- Swing Shift Shuffle
Dance Event Videos
Video stuff by recorded by dancers for dancers. Where you at Lindy Library?
Words about stuff to wear.
Dance Venues and Organizations
Some of the more interesting blogs by people who run regular local dances and big national events. They mostly want you to come to their stuff, but they’ll also post the odd, interesting, or entertaining as well. The ones denoted with countries after them are not in English, but will regularly post videos or pictures.
- Atomic Ballroom
- Boston Swing Central
- Empire of Swing Era Style (Poland)
- Generation: Swing
- Girl Jam London
- Jazz Inc
- Jazz Up Your Life Singapore
- Lindy Hop & Swing Dances (Latvia)
- Lindy Hop (Russia)
- Lindy Hop Weekly
- Manputo Afro Swing
- Mobtown Ballroom
- Mound City Stomp
- New School Swing
- Rhythm Junction
- Sweethearts of Rhythm
- Swing Dynamite
- Swing Out South Florida
- The Rhythm Company
- The Sydney Swing Katz Blog
- The Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown
- Toe Tappin’ Swing
- Toronto Lindy Hop
- Week in Swing
- Wichita Swing Dance
The Lindy-verse Blog-o-sphere
Stuff by dancers who don’t always talk about dance.
- Abigail Browning
- All The Cats Join In
- Art and Dancing
- Casey Schneider
- Dance With Me 2
- Dancing Past The Godzilla Threshold
- Engineering, as I see it…
- Got the Blues – The Diary of a Depressive Blues Dancer
- Jamin Jackson
- Jazz It Up with Jo
- Jered Morin
- Jive Junction
- Kevin & Jo
- Laura Windley
- Let’s Swing (Swing in Cinema)
- Lindy Groove Technique
- Mandi Gould
- Megan Rose Damon
- Mike Legett
- Mike Thibault
- Mikey Pedroza
- My Swing Archives
- Nick Williams
- Parrot Cat
- Rhythmic Rambling
- Ruby’s Life
- Sharon Davis
- Sing Me a Swing Song (And Let Me Dance)
- Spank The Baby
- Summer Solstice Musings
- Sw[ivel]ing Movement
- Swing Long and Prosper
- Swishy Swing Skirts
- The Click Heard Round The World
- The Dancing Bug
- The Enthusiastic Life
- The Jass Dancer
- The Swing Daily
- Tuck turn