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.

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.

101 men are hired 221 times in North America.  95 women are hired 218 times.  This includes the 16 women hired for Followloogie (8),  Northest Girl Jam (4), and Sothern Belle Swing Bash (4).

So I looked at each event, and in total there are 15 events with a male:female imbalance.  11 events have an imbalance skewed towards men.  Seven of them are only by one or two people.

As of the end of March when I first did this analysis, three events, Quebec Swing Rendezvous 2009Lindy on the Rocks 2010; and Lindy & Party Dance Weekend 2010 have an excess of three men each.  But according to the event web sites of the latter two events, they are still formalizing their line ups.  I’m sure a classy event called LAP Dance weekend is probably looking for more women anyway.  [Note: as of June after I was done crunching numbers , Lindy on the Rocks now has a parity of instructors while LAP only has an excess of two men.]

The event with the biggest imbalance is last year’s American Lindy Hop Championships which hired seven more men than it did women.

Evita Arce Nathan Bugh
Carol Fraser Tony Fraser
Nathalie Gomes Yuval Hod
Laura Jeffers Matt Bedell
Genevieve Kerouac Benjamin Ricard
Maryse LeBeau Zack Richard
Laura Keat David Rehm
Valerie Salstrom Joel Plys
Charlie Wyler
Chester Whitmore
Dan Amores
David Graybill
Didier Jean-Francois
Manu Smith
Skip Cunningham

In case you are curious, four events hired more women than men.  Masters of Lindy Hop & Tap, Swing Camp Telluride, The Hawkeye Swing Festival, each hired one extra woman while Lindy Focus hired two more women than men.

Then I took a look at the numbers of just the Americans teaching worldwide and they’re even more skewed in favor of men.

Female 168 86 9 5 3 271
Male 182 108 13 7 4 314

Hard to say why this is so without doing an event by event breakdown of which instructors teach with whom.  Although the overall numbers in the first table are closer to even and seem to indicate that a good number of American men teach with non-American women, particularly European women who are hired more than American men as noted in this table.

Female 18 190 9 1 1 219
Male 15 168 6 1 1 191

Frida Segerdahl (from Sweden) and Skye Humphries (from the US) are a good example of why the numbers might turn out like this, but I can’t name many other American/European partnerships that are hired as much as them.

Veteran dancers don’t seem to provide an answer.   Steven Mitchell has been teaching without a partner more often outside of the US since his partner Virginie Jensen gave birth to her child last year.  Chazz Young, Chester Whitmore and Skip Cunningham are also hired quite a bit sans partner.  On the female side there are dancers like Sugar Sullivan, Dawn HamptonNorma Miller, Jeni LeGon, and Barbara Billups.   However, if you total up all these dancers that teach without partners, they all even out even though they are not all invited to the same events.

For more grist, here are the total number of teachers hired in North American and Europe (not number of times they are hired) for comparison.

Female 95 85
Male 101 71
Name NA EU AS AUS SA Total
Female 168 86 9 5 3 271
Male 182 108 13 7 4 314


  1. Katie said,

    August 30, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    From chit-chat I heard (albeit a few years ago), hiring is even more skewed towards men in that they’re far more often hired and asked, “Whom would you like us to fly in as your partner?” Though I imagine that could never be verified from public data, since both partners would likely be advertised once the names are solid.

  2. Kelly Porter said,

    December 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    These are some interesting stats to be sure. I think what Katie says above is spot-on about hiring: because men typically lead they are often (and incorrectly) seen as the “essential” part of a teaching duo, and so they are frequently hired first, then asked who they would like to teach with if they do not always come standard with the same female dance partner. Of course, that has happened to me plenty of times, too (somebody calling and asking me to both teach and requisition “a partner” to teach with), so I wouldn’t claim this is utterly one-sided, but I do frankly see it in a lot of event-planning meetings: “let’s hire so-and-so and whoever he wants to dance with . . .” Likewise I have been floored occasionally by being openly offered less than a male partner to teach the same class because it is assumed that followers are some brand of teaching assistant that just demonstrate the steps that the leader teaches (wacko!). So there are a variety of organizers and attitudes, some more appalling than others.

    I think 2 things can go a long way towards fixing this imbalance: 1.) More women (especially those who teach!) learning to lead, lead well, and lead as part of their normal social dance habit. 2.) A serous reexamination of the community-values imbedded in our dance-teaching. I feel like partnered dances in general, and dances that focus on specific social and cultural histories in particular (like ours), often get stuck with or “stuck on” the many ways in which contemporary gender and race complicate the cultural history of a dance. I generally feel like we do not very good job of simultaneously revering history and understanding how to relate to it through the lens of 2011 (or I suppose soon to be 2012).

  3. dogpossum said,

    December 20, 2011 at 5:26 am

    I think I just fell in love with Kelly.

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