Can’t Stop The Signal: Notes on Swing Dance Video Developments in 2012

ILHC 3656

This was originally going to be part of my wrap up of 2012 noteworthy news, but there are so many video related developments that I decided to break this section out into its own post.

A columnist for at the Washington Post recently made the case for forgetfulness in an age where technology doesn’t allow us to forget. The gist of his thesis is that we naturally forget things so we only remember enough to distill important lessons from life experiences. That way you don’t stab your cousin during the holidays every time you flashback to that wedgie they gave you at the prom. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, theoretically you’ll be able to remember every tiny detail of your life that you commit to the ether. He argues that this isn’t necessarily a good thing because it could hinder our ability to not dwell on the past and move on with our lives. We would be better off if sites created some sort of algorithm that automatically deleted status updates and tweets and such over time.

I was with him until he brought up that last suggestion. As someone loves reading about history, the idea of purposefully throwing away visceral reactions to events great and small sounds criminal. Maybe the vast majority of these posts are too self absorbed, tedious, or ironic to be of any academic use, but they are all valuable in their own way.

I just found out about Darlene Gist earlier this year when she posted a video of herself performing a Lindy Hop routine on Dance Fever in 1986. Dance Fever was the “So You Think You Can Dance?” of the 80’s.  This was before the internet and cable TV was still in its early stages. Millions upon millions of people probably saw this performance. Yet hardly anyone in the current Lindy Hop scene knows about Darlene. Compare that to now when you only need a few thousand views on a YouTube video to be considered “Lindy Famous.”

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Lindy Hop News and Noteworthy 2012 Edition

Stuff happens a lot in the Lindy scene these days. As much as I post on the FB page for this blog, I still miss quite a few things. Thankfully there’s a multi-headed beast trying to keep on top of it all. Even if you can’t follow 100 blogs or so, then at least Dance World Takeover has been posting things to get your learn on while Yehoodi has been staying on top of the more “mainstream” swing news.

Despite that, there’s still quite a few things that don’t get as much publicity as it should. I know simply because a lot of it is just sitting in my queue right now. I don’t get to them mostly because of time. Having a full time job can be a pain in terms of keeping up with vernacular jazz dance. During Hurricane Sandy, while the whole East Coast of the US was locked down, I tried to post links every 30 minutes just to break the monotony of being stuck in my apartment. Even with all the time in the day, I found myself barely keeping pace with the volume of links to sort through, review, write short copy for and post.

I’ve had dreams of a full scale swing news site, but now more than ever, I’m certain such a thing would require full time involvement of at least one person, maybe more. Even an army of volunteers would require someone to keep on top of them all. Anyone interested in stepping up?

So with all that in mind, here are a few selected highlights from this past year. Read the rest of this entry »

2012 Swing Music Mix Tape

BMJB Mobtown 061

I’ve assembled some of my favorite musical moments into this handy dandy playlist that you can use as a soundtrack for your life. Consider this an alternative to all the holiday music you will be (or already are being) bombarded with in the next few weeks.

We have come to that season where I compile my favorite videos from the past year. I already got the blogs out of the way with the last post.  I’m discovering that the dance videos is going to be a bit more problematic since there were so many great highlights in the past year, and it’s not even over yet. Anyone who tells you that Lindy Hop is in any sort of decline, isn’t paying attention.

Since the dance videos will take awhile, I’ll start off by giving you a little mix tape for 2012. In picking out these performances I realized that I am heavily biased towards those I experienced in person. Video isn’t a completely fair representation of a performance, especially since live audio recording has yet to catch up with the leaps and bounds that video recording has made in the last few years. However, it’s still good enough to relive moments, or at least get a taste for those that you missed.

It’s interesting to hear how some musicians have a love/hate relationship with YouTube videos. Aside from the never ending entanglement of intellectual property issues, it’s surprising to hear their criticisms or even outright embarrassment about some performances, particularly ones that people rave about. Read the rest of this entry »

2012 Blog highlights and the List O’Blogs

Note: This post compliments my previous compilations of dance blogs done in 2009 and 2011.

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Occupying Lindy Hop: The Gap Ad to Twenty-four Robbers and Forward

I didn’t love Frida & Skye’s “24 Robbers” routine when I first saw it. I liked it well enough, but to be honest I was a bit shocked to find out that it won at The Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown in 2007. Although no one was more surprised than Skye & Frida. Read the rest of this entry »

ILHC 2012 Scores Are Up

Full placements and scores are now up on the ILHC website. Every year, people have questions about how it works, so I thought I’d do a little preemptive strike with a quick and dirty explanation.

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A Word on Swing #3: On The Porch With Nina Gilkenson Part 2

And the next part of our interview with Nina Gilkenson. We have an interesting talk juxtaposing her fear of competing with her role as co-director of the biggest Lindy Hop competition in the world. Then we move on to what makes her tick creatively and why Baltimore is the perfect place for such a person.

Thanks to Andrew Fritz for letting us use some of his great shots from last year’s International Lindy Hop Championships. Check out ore of his work at http://www.fritztech.com/

Thanks again for sticking with us through the Baltimore atmosphere in the background. You’ll be rewarded in the next part when that noise will be almost completely gone. Until then, check out part one here.

A Word on Swing #3: On The Porch With Nina Gilkenson Part 1

Here is the long awaited interview with the lovely and lascivious Nina Gilkenson. Or at least the first part. Theoretically, if you follow this blog, you may already know who she is, but if you don’t, this is a good way to get to know this self described “forth grade drop out.”

I do feel the need to apologize profusely for the background noise. We really wanted to chat Nina in her native environment of Baltimore, but it can get intense. Please bear with us, it will only last through the first two parts, and will mostly go away after that. Or you can be like me and listen to it a few hundred times and just get used to it. If you can deal with it, you’ll be rewarded with an interesting perspective into the modern Lindy scene.

Don’t forget to subscribe to A Word on Swing’s YouTube channel to get future updates. I’m still not finished editing the other parts, but now that I have most of the background materials assembled from the first part, it should make the other ones easier to get done.

Also a shout out to everyone who allowed us to use their photos in this interview including:

All the uncredited photos were taken by me.

All the filming and editing has been  and continues to be an interesting challenge for me to learn on the fly, and I hope to get better and better with each episode. I hope that none of of those flaws distract you from one of the most interesting women in our dance scene.

On Lindy YouTube Statistics

(Updated Note: I forgot to mention that all these numbers were taken from the YouTube videos the week of July 9-13, 2012.)

First bit of business: check out my new blog, New Old School Swing which will feature old videos of familiar dancers. Now on to the show!

In my last post, I compiled this list of most viewed Lindy related videos. It was a relatively straight forward process of figuring out what videos uploaded since the start of the year had garnered the most views. Tena Morales then asked me in the comment section if my 2011 list accounted for events that happened earlier in the year, and if they had an advantage of getting on the list since they’ve been online longer.

It makes sense. In fact, if you look at the most viewed modern videos of Lindy Hop, Blues Dance and Balboa, you’ll notice that they’re all from 3-6 years ago.

4,991,700views Fast Swing Dancing – ULHS 2006, Oct 3, 2006
2,146,200 views Lindy Hop Showdown, Nov 9, 2006
1,612,700 views Koop – Come to me (OFFICIAL VIDEO) HQ, Jan 28, 2009
1,597,100 views Denver Airport Holiday Flash Mob, Nov 22, 2011
1,017,900 views Lindy Hop Dance, Nov 14, 2007
64,600 views Balboa Rendezvous 2006 Bernard and AnneHelene, Mar 13, 2007
38,900 views ABW 2008 – 1st Place ACBC – Mickey & Kelly, Jun 17, 2008
34,500 views ACBC 2007, Jun 18, 2007
34,200 views ILHC 2008 :: 1st Place Balboa, Oct 12, 2008
32,200 views Marcus & Barbl – Swing balboa, Sep 1, 2007
137,500 views Blues dancing demo at Cellspace, Aug 2, 2007
84,100 views Damon & Heidi Blues Dance, Mar 25, 2007
80,100 views Blues Dance Lesson: Ways to Connect, Aug 18, 2008
75,100 views Portland Blues Dance Competition 2009 v1, Aug 25, 2009
63,500 views Karen R. Smith & Mihai blues dance, Jan 10, 2007

Note: All numbers were rounded off.

However, I noticed something interesting when I tallied up the numbers for the Champions Strictly Lindy Hop division for the International Lindy Hop Championships. Read the rest of this entry »

Most Popular Lindy Videos of 2012: Halftime Report

Major edit: Thanks to Jim Thorp who caught a major error and noted that I missed The Black Swamp Village video. In the process of verifying that, I noticed that I also missed the Carsie Blanton as well as the I Charleston Tel Aviv and Montpellier Swingjammerz videos. Much apologies from me for my lazy journalistic standards. At least, this still supports my conclusion that you need to make friends with an indy musician or better yet, be one.

While procrastinating on so many other things, I wondered what were the most popular Lindy Hop related videos so far in 2012 since we’re just past the half way point of the year. I thought you may be curious too, so I thought I’d share. That’s the kind of guy I am.

The most viewed Lindy Hop video so far this year with 64,500 views is . . .

Carsie Blanton’s Baby Can Dance – OFFICIAL VIDEO

And the rest as of Monday, July 9, 2012: Read the rest of this entry »

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