Building The Local Community in Spite of Travel
I have a bit of a confession to make. The last six months I have barely danced in what is considered my “local” scene compared to my dancing weekends on the road. I may pop in and teach a lesson, but most of the social dance portion I end up practicing things in front of a mirror or chatting with friends.
Part of it is I fall into the trap of comparing my scene to other scenes, I can even provide a small list of thoughts that sometimes go through my head:
I wish (my local scene)…
- is competitive like Southern California.
- is crazy and fun-loving like Baltimore.
- encouraged solo dancing (and is conveniently located next to an amazing BBQ restaurant) like Rochester, New York.
Three things I came across online challenged my dance lifestyle and way I viewed things:
1. Michael Seguin’s post on the Mobtown Blog titled, “Competitions, Events, The Cult of the Amateur, and a Coda on the Slow Dance Smackdown“.
The quote that relates the most of the topic at hand is,
The best and most committed dancers in a particular scene sometimes aspire to national rather than local glory. Instead of building their own community, recruiting students, and making the sexiest dance scene possible, they join the ranks of the regular event-hoppers. There is nothing wrong with this in principle, but the trend isn’t sustainable. Events feed off of the legions of dancers who cut their teeth in small scenes and are looking for a special experience. If no one is developing and maintaining local and regional dancing, events have no pool of dancers from which to draw. – Michael Seguin
2. Hamfats.ca video interview titled “Words for Lindy Hoppers” featuring Kelly Porter
3. Jamin Jackson’s blog post titled “Scene Drama: “Un”Divide and Conquer” which goes over improving the relationships between local scene leadership and traveling dancers.
While there were small similarities in each of the three things brought up, the one unifying theme is while traveling is important it is also equally if not more important to foster growth in ones’ local scene.
Personally I have resolved to try to help out my local scene/area and foster growth. However it isn’t as easy as pie, there are definitely days where I get bogged down by what Jamin refers to as “event blues”. But have gotten better at handling it by having the rationalization that carrying the attitude of comparing my weekly dances to what happened the previous weekend is a determent to my local scene and myself because it creates a negative atmosphere for individuals who interact with me and for myself.
One thing that has helped carry out this “fostering local community growth” attitude is like with my personal development with dancing I set concrete goals for myself. It can be a little thing such as having a goal of giving one sincere compliment to someone I have not danced with before to as big as agreeing to help judge a local competition or set up for a dance.
I invite you to share any thoughts or comments you have about this topic. I have had friends from all over the United States talk about it, but it is always in online or private conversations that are out of the eyes of their respective local organizers.
Otherwise I leave you with this insightful quote from Jamin,
Recognize that many people you do not know played a critical part in leading you throughout all the various scenarios and odds into the swing dance community. If there is ever a point where you are angry at someone in your scene, know that the feeling of anger is not necessarily bad. In fact it is an opportunity if mixed with love to create powerful solutions that can benefit your scene. However, when you do something bad with that feeling, it hurts everyone. Instead of taking a brick and throwing it through a window, use it to build something that will last. – Jamin Jackson