Humility

Benny Powell passed away this weekend just at a time when I’ve been considering the concept of humility quite a bit lately.

Benny played trombone for Count Basie through much of the New Testament period of that orchestra.  I had the pleasure of meeting him while working on Frankie95 last year.  He was one of the more prolific musicians during the weekend.  He co-led the band for Frankie’s memorial service.  Then the next night my man just showed up to play when he didn’t have to.  He confused the heck out of everyone because we thought he just got his nights mixed up since he was scheduled to play with Wycliff Gordon and Art Baron on Monday night.  But he heard of the three big bands playing on Saturday, and just wanted to be there.

He was just amazed at the energy of the people and the event.  And he was more than happy to give it back.  Hearing and watching him play that Monday with Wycliff Gordon was really one of the most inspiring nights of music that I’ve ever witnessed.  Benny’s sound felt like a soft cool breeze in comparison to Art Baron’s heat and Wycliffe’s sheer power.  He was just coolest cat on that stage in his hat, smiling at the 1200+ people in the ballroom.  Those guys were supposed to stop playing around 1 am, but they kept rollin along until the bitter end of the event at 2 am.  Their version of Ellington’s “Mood Indigo” still haunts my waking dreams to this day. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jump Session Videos

Not very many things surprise me these days in relation to Lindy Hop, but I’m more than a little shocked to see Jump Session videos online now.  Many of them by the event promoter, Tonya Morris.  It’s surprising because the Jump Session Show was the last major hold out of must see Lindy Hop performances that wasn’t previously available for free online. Read the rest of this entry »

A Year’s Worth of Wandering & Pondering in One Post

When I started my blog I read all kinds of nifty tips to make it awesome and get lots of people to read it.  Oddly enough, all of them fail to advise you to post something actually interesting.

This may sound a bit conceited, but I think most of the stuff I post here is pretty interesting to read.  Maybe not all of it.  Just 98%, give or take a couple percentage points.  I should know—I read it all the time, and I never get tired of me.

One fun tip talked about summarizing your blog’s content every once in awhile, so for all of you new readers here who keep searching for Skye’s non existent website or information on a certain convicted lindy hopper’s sentence*, here’s a handy dandy guide to all the other stuff you’re missing.  Or if you’ve already read them, here’s your opportunity to go back and relive the pain and/or the glory. Read the rest of this entry »

A Year of Wandering and Pondering

. . . more or less.

I started this blog because I wanted something interesting to read.  Seriously, there’s probably no one else out there that reads my blog more than I do.  Trust me, I see the statistics.  That’s right, I’m one of those self centered jerks that writes just so I can see what I wrote.  Besides, being a terrible editor, this is the only way I catch my mistakes, of which there can be many in any given post.

Until a year ago I was one of those people who always talked about having a blog, but never got around to starting one until Frankie95.  I posted a 30+ page overview/rant of the whole experience on Facebook and before I was done, I decided that writing on a semi-regular basis wasn’t as impossible as I thought it would be.

A friend of mine asked me if having the blog makes writing easier.  After doing this for a year, I don’t think so.  It just provides motivation to finish stuff.  It doesn’t necessarily mean its good when I hit the publish button, but at least it’s done.  Before this blog, I had (and still do) about 200 essays in various stages of incompletion because I didn’t have any place to publish them.  I still haven’t gotten around to posting any of those, but at least I have some stuff stockpiled in case I run out of ideas.

This also gave me the motivation to secretly decide to post at least twice a week.  I say secretly because on every new blog I read, the would be blogger pledges to some sort of schedule which they inevitably never keep.

Of course now that I’ve printed that, I probably won’t ever post again.  If that happens, then there at least 193 other posts you can amuse yourself with.

I didn’t intend for this to be primarily a Lindy Hop blog, but that’s where most of my writing interest have been lately.  It also provides yet another convenient reason to put off working on that hardened-but-lovable-group-of-misfits-in-a-world-out-to-get-them fantasy novel that’s been collecting virtual dust since I read Fellowship of the Ring back in the 7th grade.

It’s cool that a lot of people come here for the Lindy Hop stuff, if only to have a built in audience for my other interests which, let’s face it, you wouldn’t bother reading under any other circumstances.

But I write a lot about the Lindy Hop community because my ultimate interest is in how and why people create the things they do, and I think that the Lindy Hop scene provides a fascinating window on a creative community still in development.

But I’m not some unbiased observer.  I’m also a part of this community.  I’ve been criticized by a friend for censoring myself too much in terms of holding back my opinions.  Readers of this blog will note that I usually post videos of good dancing even though the opportunity to ridicule bad dancing should provide me with enough material to post several times a day.  And that’s not including the bullshit politics and general megalomania that pervades our dance on a local and international level.

I’m not naïve, but I am aware that my actions and words have consequences beyond my own reputation.  For instance, I’ve been posting data based on how many times various teachers are hired around the world for events.  I noted that there are 27 instructors that get hired more than everyone else.  I’m actually going to post those names eventually, but not in a way you would expect.  It certainly will not include a ranking of exactly how many times each individual person is hired.

Why?  It’s because the community is that small and I know quite a few of these people personally.  I don’t necessarily like them all, but I’m not going to get in their way of making a living or just pursuing their dreams; I think a ranked list would enforce a certain hierarchy in this scene which we all know exists, but I don’t necessarily think should be re-enforced.

That’s the just the way I roll.

No wait . . . This is how I roll.

But I write what I write because there isn’t a whole lot of intelligent discussion about Lindy Hop out there.  Sure it happens over a meal at the diner on your way over to the late night, but not a lot of people are willing or interested in  putting those thoughts into print.  Although that seems to be changing.

That’s the kind of stuff that I want to read.  I’d like to write about other stuff, and in the future I’m sure I will, but to be honest there are tons of other knowledgeable and eloquent writers out there that fulfill that need for me.

So I’ll keep posting videos and talking about the Lindy Hop and yammer on about events I go to and even the ones I help run.  Hopefully we’ll all learn something new along the way.  At the very least I hope you find this a good place to keep procrastinating.

Thanks to everyone for supporting the site especially with your helpful and informative comments both on line and off.  Also to those of you who have spread the word on Facebook and other sites.

Thanks especially to Ramona Staffeld and Skye Humphries for their contributions to the conversation.

Thank you reading!

Sincerely,

Jerry S. Almonte

Weekend Video Highlights: Sylvia Sykes Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Perusing the interwebs and I found the greatest swing video ever.  Before there was Mad Dog, there was Team USA

Seriously, I’ve been hoping for the rest of the world to see this ever since I saw it on a friends copy of the 1991 US Open Swing Dance Championships.  It’s just full of sparkly patriotic awesome from the worlds of Lindy Hop, Balboa, West Coast Swing and Carolina Shag.  It’s pretty all star line up for back then, and even today actually featuring Sylvia Sykes, rare footage of her old partner Johnathan Bixby alongside old school Lindy Hopper, Lance Shermoen, West Coast Swing All Star Mario Robau, Jr. and Carolina Shag legends Jackie McGee and Charlie Womble.  One day I have to find out the back story for this performance. Read the rest of this entry »

ILHC 2010 Update

I met with ILHC co-director Tena Morales a couple of weeks ago who was in town too nail down some details for this rapidly approaching event.  Just being in the hotel with the rest of the DC based ILHC staff was enough to get me psyched for August.

I visited the hotel for the first time a couple of months ago and this place is so nice that I had to call Tena to make sure I was in the right place.  This place is swanky.  From the artsy clock in the foyer to the pimp board room where we met.  Honestly, it almost feels a little too nice for a Lindy Hop event, but never let it be said that we don’t at least try to class up the proceedings. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Video Highlights: The Eye of the Beholder

It’s been awhile.  It’s not for lack of videos.  In fact I feel a little bad because a lot of good stuff has come out in the past couple of months.  I’ve just been a little busy between my real job work and my pretend job helping with The Big Big Benefit in July and ILHC in August.  In fact, expect an ILHC update this week right here on this very blog.  Really.

I haven’t done a Random Links post in awhile too, but I did want to highlight this post by Madeline of the blog “Behind The Madness.”  I hope to talk about it in depth in a future post, but I just want to say that I agree wholeheartedly.

It reminded me of why I’ve been watching the following two videos over and over since they came out.  They’re honestly the most beautiful examples of Lindy Hop I’ve seen all year.  No gimmicks (unless you count Todd in a fetal position and spotlighted by every light in that theater).  Just great dancing. Read the rest of this entry »

Body Roles: Lindy Hop Gender Statistics Magnified

[Note:  This post was updated since it was first put up earlier today.]

Looking at all the numbers I compiled for my statistical pornography post , I noticed something rather peculiar about the numbers when broken down by gender.

NA EU AS AUS SA Total
Female 218 295 26 17 8 564
Male 221 295 26 22 10 574
  • NA=North America
  • EU=Europe
  • AS=Asia
  • AUS=Australia/New Zealand
  • SA=South America

Upon first glance, there isn’t much of a surprise in terms of the gender break down.  Lindy Hop is a partner dance after all so there should be parity between the sexes.  But then I remembered that in North America there are a number of follow (female) centric events that only hire female instructors. Three are included in this survey:  Followloogie 2009 in Montreal and Northeast Girl Jam 2010 and The Southern Belle Bash 2010 in the US. If anything, the numbers should be imbalanced in their favor, but they’re not. Read the rest of this entry »

Event Data

This is a simple list of all the events I surveyed to come up with the numbers I used in my statistical pornography post.*

I noticed a couple of interesting things in terms of scheduling.  July is a pretty dead month in terms of big.  There are a few small ones, but Herrang is the 5000 pound gorilla that draws everyone that’s anyone in the community.  Even people who don’t teach there or are too advanced to take classes plan time to be there if only to have the opportunity to hang out.  December is also another slow month until the year end events like Lindy Focus and The Snowball. Read the rest of this entry »

Lindy Hop Instructor Statistical Pornography

So this is the big project I’ve been working on.  I’ll be posting follow up posts with nifty charts and graphs in the following weeks, so sit back and enjoy the geekery.

Introduction

Stalking a lot of people at the same time is hard.  Although stalking for academic purposes can be called research.  Try that one on the judge next time someone files a restraining order on you.  Let me know how it goes.

Not too long ago I was in the mood to make one of those lists of top dancers.  No particular reason.  Just one of those lists I was just curious to see written out in front of me.

What?  Don’t you ever research something just to see the information in front of you?  No?  Well, I do.  Don’t judge.

I jotted down what I could off the top of my head, looked at a relatively short list and thought to myself that this couldn’t be it.  There had to be more people I wasn’t thinking of; probably around Europe, since I don’t feel I’m as familiar with what’s going on over there.  That’s what led me to checking out the Herrang teachers awhile ago since I consider Herrang the center of the European Lindy-verse.

I still wasn’t satisfied after I was done with that, so I decided to check a few more event web sites around Europe to see if I could find any more unfamiliar names.  Along the way I just started recording who was teaching where.  I kept clicking and clicking until I had the instructor line ups for 120 events in front of me. Read the rest of this entry »

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