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Engineering a Friendlier Dance Scene

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Interesting thoughts on a topic I have spent much time grappling with myself.

Jason Sager

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while, and based on a recent discussion on Facebook, I figured I should go ahead and do this.

First off, I will say I see it thrown around a lot that a given scene or venue or event is more or less welcoming.  I’m not really convinced that it is an inherent trait of a scene so much as something very malleable.  Over the past 2 years, I have, on various nights at our Thursday night dance, received comments that people felt like it was the most welcoming dance they had ever been to but also seen people walk out within 20-30 minutes having barely danced or engaged with anyone at all.  I think the experience can be awfully subjective and all one can really do is try to improve on the overall experience.

I have been running the primary Lindy night…

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Swing dancing 101 tips

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http://swungover.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/introducing-chickta-boom-swing-101-website/

I Feel Like Dancing

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Hello, everyone, I’m back!  I know it’s been a while, and I’m sorry for that.

Truth be told, I fell into a but of a dance slump.  I didn’t feel like going out, I didn’t have the motivation to get out and just do it.  I’m going to place part of the blame on the fact that it takes so much effort for me to just get to the dancing.  45 minutes one way is kind of a hike.  Plus another 45 minutes to get home; all on a night when I have to be up early for work the next morning.  I know, I know, woe is me.  But it really takes some effort and makes waking up the next morning difficult, and I had reached a point where I didn’t want to make that sacrifice of time and effort.

I also graduate college, moved across the state, started a new job, quit said job, started another new job and am preparing to move again.  That’s quite a lot to happen in a very short span of time.  And on top that, I left the only dance scene I had really ever know.  Sure, when people ask, I tell them I’m from Cincinnati, but I have never spent any real time dancing here.  Athens has been my dance home since I first set foot on a dance floor.

If I sound like I’m complaining, I’m don’t mean to.  I only want to give you some context as to why I dropped of the face of dancing earth.music

But I have had one seriously exciting development that has sparked a fire in me.  I joined a choir.  For those of you who know me, that is less than surprising.  But for those of you who don’t know me, just know that I love to sing.  I do it in the shower, in the car, when I’m home alone (even when I’m not, I don’t really care).

How does this relate to my dancing, you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.

The long and short of it is: I love music.  I love being involved in every part of it; from making it to moving to it.  I’ve even written it (Once.  In high school.  It was awful.  Don’t ask.).  But joining this choir has put me back in the position of being immersed in music from all angles.

I see it like constructing a house.  At the foundation are the notes on the staff, the time signatures, the key.  You know, the real nitty-gritty of it all. The structure is the song you get, the sound you make when you tie all of those things together.  It’s belting it out Broadway style or getting in the groove with a saxophone, the part everyone sees and what they tend to remember most.  But what really polishes it all off and makes it something remarkable is dance.  It’s the paint on the walls and decorations you choose.  This is what makes my music my own.  It turns a house into a home.

Without any one of these things, I’m not complete.  There is something so powerful about owning something so fully.  The music I make is something that is truly mine and something that no one can take away.

The moral of the story is, I found the spark I needed to rekindle my passion to dance.

So while I’m still living 45 minutes away, working even further away, and I’m exhausted the next morning, I’m going to dance more.  I mean it. I’m back.

How to Not Be a Dance Snob {& other semi-dance-truths}

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I’ve run across the occasional upturned nose at a dance because I’m not a professional dancer. I’ve even been that upturned nose from time to time, but after having been in a place where I had to work hard to grow my dance scene and where that dance scene was mostly beginners, I learned that there’s no need to be picky about who you dance with. There is something fun and new and exciting in every dance, you just have to look for it.

This lovely lady makes some interesting points in this post, so I hope you all take a read.

Swing of Things

Hello, folks. 

I’m home after a delightful weekend at Swing IN hosted by the lovely lindyhoppers just a hop and a skip away in Indianapolis. I was so humbled by the dancers there –most everybody presented themselves with a great attitude and a willingness to share the love of dancing.

So…without further ado…a comprehensive list on how not to become a dance snob. Because let’s face it. Anyone who dances, from the beginner who just learned to swing out to the pro in their 10th year of competitions, needs to learn that the world doesn’t swivel around them. Myself, especially. Sheesh, the ego definitely took a much needed beat down this weekend. So…remember:

1. Just Smile. Seriously. Swing dancing is supposed to be fun, correct? You were fun once. I think. All joking aside, swing dance is such a cheerful dance. Do you really want to be that one Debbie…

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Events & Scenes That Have Great Market Segementation

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This satisfies both the dancer and the marketer inside me.

This is also a wonderful blog. You should definitely read more stuff.

It's The Way That You Do It

In my last post Market Segmentation for Swing Dancing I promised I would write a future post going into a few venues and events that I think are good examples of businesses that have properly segmented their market.

Atomic Ballroom

Located in Southern California, Atomic Ballroom clearly defines it’s market segment in it’s mission statement on their website,

ATOMIC Ballroom’s mission is to create a dance community of all ages in Orange County by providing affordable, high-quality social dance instruction and events, where people will feel welcome and safe to learn the skill of dancing and to socialize with others who also value that skill.

It’s easy to infer from that statement that they have created a segment of individuals who prefer a family friendly and welcoming atmosphere in the Orange County area. This is important because they have zeroed in on a reasonable geographic location to draw their customer base for a local venue. In addition…

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I’ve Got a Penny in my Pocket and a Song in my Heart

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I’ve Got a Penny in my Pocket and a Song in my Heart

There are few things I like better than discovering new music.  And, even though my dancing has taken a bit of a backseat lately, I’ve been digging around for new music to DJ.  And me being the broke college kid (or college grad, now) that I am, the one thing I like better than new music is cheap new music.

I’ve found some pretty amazing resources in my quest for new music.  I’ve compiled a list of my favourite resources.

1) Your local public library.  Seriously. Can you say free music?  Free is my favourite part, someone purchased the CD, so the artist still gets the profits, which is wonderful.  But there’s usually a great selection from some of the more famous artists, like Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman and Etta James.  If your local branch doesn’t have much in the way of music (like mine), pop on down to the main branch, they’ll have a better selection.

2) CDbaby.com– There’s a great selection of jazz music here (and plenty of other music, too) by some less well-known artists.  What I like about this site is the ability to preview and purchase each song individually, that way you can pick and choose the ones  you want.  I also love the way they divide into endless subgenres.

3) Bandcamp.com– Bandcamp isn’t the best place to find jazz and swing music, but the site hosts some great indie bands and soundtracks (i.e. A Very Potter Musical (if you haven’t watched this, do it now)).  There’s also this nice feature that gives artists the option to let consumers name their own price.

4) Noisetrade.com– this site is great because you can “tip” the artists.  They suggest a price, but you can raise or lower it , depending on how you’re feeling.  They’ve got a decent selection of swing/jazz/blues and I’m a particular fan of their folk and country sections.

5) Jazz-on-line.com– this is a great place to get free music from the 20s up through the 50s, just don’t go looking for the greatest hits selections.  If you’re looking for lesser-known songs by famous artists like Cab Calloway, you’re golden.  The other downside to this site is the inability to preview songs before you download them.  With music this old, you can never be too certain of the quality of the recording.  You’ve been warned.

6) iTunes, Spotify, Amazon– of course, these are pretty standard and don’t always have the lowest prices.  But iTunes does a “Free Single of the Week” and I’ve scored a couple of good dance tunes there.  You have to check it regularly, and not all of the music is good, but you can end up with some real gems this way.

7) Artists’ Websites many times, artists will give you a free download for visiting their site or signing up for their email list.  I know we all get enough email, but you can always unsubscribe later.  But there’s no better way to keep track of the artists you like than having them email you!

Now, I know acquiring a vast music collection is an expensive endeavor, but please, please, please NEVER pirate your music.  The quality can be shoddy, files can go missing and worst of all, the  musicians don’t get paid.  Music is how these people make their living and pirating their music is no better than stealing.

The Lindy Focus Saga Episode Two: The Choosing

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In the midst of the scramble to register, there is one other super-duper important thing to think about; your roommates.

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You might not believe me, but it’s true.  Roommates can make or break an event like this. A week in a hotel is a long time when you’re stuck with someone you don’t like.

166996_1585411400944_2764739_nBut fear not!  I’m here to give you a few things to think about before you go choosing roommates all willy-nilly.

The first you’ve got to know about Lindy Focus is that your hotel room is basically just a place for you to store you stuff and sleep.  You won’t be spending a ton of time there, there are simply too many other things to do.  So, bearing that in mind, you don’t necessarily need to fill the room with your best friends.

The first step in the roommate-selection process is knowing what you want.  There are going to be things that you are willing to compromise on and things that you absolutely have to have (or not have).  What are they?  Do you like the room cold when you sleep?  Are you a light sleeper?  Do you like to stay up late?

Things you shouldn’t have to (or can’t) compromise on: 1) the gender of the people in your room, some times people are downright uncomfortable sleeping in a room with the opposite sex. 2)  Perfume.  If you’re like me, you can have a hard time handling things like body spray and perfume.  My nose goes haywire and starts sneezing and that makes for a crappy day.  So I make sure I don’t stay with any middle school boys and their Axe.  3) how you sleep.  It’s nigh impossible to control where you move while you sleep, so if you’re prone to “lobserting” or the flailing of arms and legs during sleep, then you either need to find someone who’s ok with having your body parts in their personal space or volunteer to sleep on the floor.  It sucks for two people to get no sleep.

The absolute key to getting along with  your roommates no matter what is just to be courteous.  If you wouldn’t want someone traipsing around at 6am throwing clothes out of their suitcase while you’re trying to sleep, then don’t do it to someone else.

This is what I find important roommate-wise, but I’m sure there some stuff that I’m missing.  So, what is most important to you in a roommate?  What makes for an ideal stay?

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