Thoughts on swing dancing and Lindy Hop, one word at a time…

Tumblr and Swing Dance

Tumblr

To quote wikipedia,

Tumblr is a blogging platform that allows users to post text, images, videos, links, quotes and audio to their tumblelog, a short-form blog. Users can follow other users, or choose to make their tumblelog private. The service emphasizes ease of use.

My first impression was it existed as a place to make “livejournalesque” types of posts with pictures, collect tons of pictures one likes in a single place, or like many people on facebook just spend all day liking reposting things. However the last few months I have been following the #lindyhop and #swingdance tags on Tumblr to see its relevance to the swing dancing community.

Relevance

I will say after months of sorting through posts I can tell you that most Tumblr posts are just:

  1. Their views on what they liked or didn’t like about a particular event/dance.
  2. Re-posting of a popular youtube video of swing dance.
  3. Thoughts on the journey to improving their dancing.
  4. Comments on advanced dancers/dancers that inspire them.
  5. Links to online swing dance media they enjoyed.
My issue with most Tumblr posts is they fall into the description in this quote from Wandering and Pondering’s blog post on The State of the Online Lindy Disunion,
I’ve found that very few people are interested or willing to write about larger issues in our scene with any kind of depth.  It all seems geared towards newer dancers, even blogs written by the more experienced dancers. There’s a lot of: “here’s a video I like” or “this is an event I went to.”  There isn’t that much writing about the dynamics of the scene outside of why the good dancers seem like snobs or the occasional technical dance geekery.

In spite of this, one can stumble across the occasional insightful pieces of writing like this post. In the Tumblr post, the author is critical of a competition description due to implications of a leader being described as masculine and a follower described as feminine.

The advantage a Tumblr account has over a typical blog or facebook is through the hashtags someone on day one can write something relevant to the Lindy Hop community and it can be noticed and re-posted, and eventually through word of mouth/facebook make it to the community as a whole. A post like this, which could be lost and unnoticed on a wordpress blog or a facebook note has more of a chance of hitting a wider audience. To get to the point where it wouldn’t be unnoticed on a blog one would have to build up a decent readership with influential members of the community as part of it or have an article of high caliber(or drama inciting).

However this can also backfire as well, a personal post that has descriptions of (or in some cases names) certain dancers can get spread around quickly. I’ve stumbled across posts about my friends (in multiple states) or myself that were probably unintended for our eyes. As a warning to Tumblr users if your account isn’t private, it is a good fact to remember that the swing dance community is tight knit and word travels fast.

Tumblr to those who are trying to see what is going on in the swing dance community as a whole though has some advantages. One of big reason is it allows one to clearly notice which showcases and dancers are popular. After Camp Hollywood the #swingdance hashtag was getting flooded with re-postings of Emily Wigger and Morgan Day’s Camp Hollywood 2011 Mario Showcase routine.  Likewise, after ILHC many Tumblr users were quick to re-post performances of the dancers they admired in the Pro-Lindy and Showcase divisions.

Another advantage is honest feedback for events/performances. When people are behind the veil of anonymity, they feel not so shy about saying if your event was not worth their money or if they thought a performance didn’t take any risks or was the same old vanilla material. If someone thinks your scene is full of Lindy snobs or that the DJ you had for the exchange last weekend was garbage, where is the first place you find out? Tumblr.

While it would be nice if there was more quality material on Tumblr, I understand that many of the accounts are oriented mainly for the Tumblr users themselves and their Tumblr followers. This contrasts many traditional blogs/websites which the focus is the visitors to the site. Regardless of some of the superficial material I have to wade through, it is a good way to pass the spare time and get occasional insights about the swing dance community. If you have time to kill, i’d recommend the same.

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