In the name of not letting the perfect blog post be the enemy of the good (existent!) blog post:
- It’s been just over a year since I started going to swing dance festivals! I gave myself a year to be ridiculous and fiscally foolhardy and go to as many as I wanted. I am not-so-secretly very pleased to look back and see how far I’ve come both in terms of dancing and, you know, being a social human being of slightly less awkwardness. I mean, the road goes ever on and on, of course…
- In my bit of the London scene, it feels like there’s been an absolute explosion in people getting into ambidancing and switch dances — feels like most of my friends are trying it out! Makes me so effing happy! ALL THE SWITCHING. (And also I’m a bit proud & more than a bit meepy that someone told me that I was their ambidancing inspiration. I’m only a wee baby dancer, I don’t really think I have much scope to inspire people?! So that’s super thrilling to me.)
- My right hamstring has been jacked up most of the year. I finally got it mostly sorted, and now my left foot is injured. A lot of (entirely smart and sensible) people are tutting at me to rest more. I just think of all the times I limped my way to classes at festivals and everything was fiiiiiine, surely it’ll be the same with my foot? Also I’m having a lot of thoughts about ableism and impatience and the uncoolness of admitting that you’re in pain. And, I guess, instant gratification versus playing the long game.
- Can you just fucking step up and do something GOOD, for once, lindy hopping men? Yeah, this. And in addition to men stepping up for the big stuff, I personally really want to see more men around me doing the little bits of work on the ground: calling out your friends when they make dodgy comments, offering help to your women friends (& women strangers!) if you think they need it.
One of my best lindy hopper pals here started talking to some of us about the dynamics of men’s behavior on the street, with an eye to his own. Out of that conversation, I asked him if he’d walk me to the train the next time we’re at a certain social together. It’s not a long walk and it’s always been fine, but it’s quiet and isolated and I hate doing it every time.
And it wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask, because: who wants to be a baby; do I expect someone to walk with me everywhere; low-level fear in public is such a part of life as a non-dude that I wasn’t even fully conscious of how much I really hate that walk; it’s only a short walk, just pay attention, just be ready to yell/run/fight, right? But at the end of the day, I’ll feel a little bit safer, so yay for being able to ask and yay for dudes who make me feel safe asking (after this conversation, I have asked on at least one other occasion for an escort when I felt I needed one).
- Here are a few links about lindy hop and — great justice? Fighting the good fight? Not burning ourselves out? Something like that:
How gentle classes can fight the power
Why I Need Lindy Hop, and You Might Too
Dancing the Body Politic
And a bonus sixth item (my blog, my rules, amirite?): In some things I don’t see myself as hugely American in manner or mindset, but in some things I definitely do. I can be kinda loud sometimes; I’m emotionally loud in ways that are looked at askance here more. Living here — it’s been nine years this time around — has changed me in many ways for the better and I don’t regret anything. But at the same time, it’s put a bit of a shell around my heart; it’s made me more cautious and reticent and less likely to reach out to others. I mean, I’m surrounded by people who routinely and automatically hide themselves behind sarcasm and self-deprecation. (And who says I’m an unassimilable immigrant…)
But sometimes to find openness in other people, you just have to bite the bullet and open yourself up first, right? After my recent post about depression in our dance communities, a fair number of people responded, either to just let me know they read it and heard me, or to tentatively start to speak their own truths about this.
So, yeah. Sometimes when you hold your hand out, other people respond with theirs, and there you are, both of you with hearts in hand and it’s freakin’ scary. But this is where we have to start. So — thanks, lovely ones, dear ones, brave ones. Let’s keep talking, for reals. ♥