Swing Discussion Boards > Kicked out of class

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by hepcat, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    hepcat . . . all I can say is now . . . you have "no class."

    Just kidding.

    Seriously, someone needs a good talking to . . . and you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by talking to her. It was a her, yes?

    PS. You said you lost a response . . . sometimes, when you type long responses, and several individuals are are submitting at the ame time . . . every now and then . . . we lose one. Get in the habit of highlighting those big responses and "save" them before responding! You can paste them right back in if this happens.
  2. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Dancelf's First Law of Stratified Classes: everybody who is better than half their partners thinks they should move up.

    In my experience, nobody has a good solution to this problem - you only get to choose which tradeoffs you want to make.

    If you can give people a standard to compare themselves against, things may improve (example from my past. I had hopes of participating in an "no, we aren't kidding, this time we really mean it advanced" workshop, and checked with the promoter in question. He answered by listing some of the names of people he expected to sign up for the class (Chandra: first in the list was John Lindo.) Oh, I guess you do really mean it.

    [No, they didn't really mean it. A bunch of my peers came up to me the week after the workshop. "Dude, why weren't you there? You would have been perfect!" Um....]

    If you can't screen everybody enrolling, maybe you start by spotlighting some representative volunteers ("this couple shows what we expect the top half of the advanced class to be capable of; this couple shows what we expect from top half of the intermediate class, these are top beginners. Watch them dance for three minutes, and sort yourselves accordingly.")

    But I don't see anyway around the pressures that push somebody to dance up (prestige, gratification, and the social advantages of spending the day meeting good dancers).
  3. hepcat

    hepcat Member

    I like the idea of having couples demonstrate the levels. However I know when I see myself dancing in my head and then see it on video, I prefer the image in my head. ;) That's probably a common situation. I wonder. If you took a group and had them place themselves based on a demonstration versus place themselves based on a description, how it would vary. Do you think that people would see the couples dancing and compare it with their dancing self image and think "I'm better than that!" and subsequently misplace themselves? Perhaps if the demonstration included an example the moves being taught in the class... Then again, you'd have to deal with the "OOOooo! Look! I want to do that!" factor.

    I think a verbal description of what you need to know and what will be taught might allow people to consider nuances of their own skill as opposed to seeing the moves themselves.

    Probably a combination of demonstration and description is optimal. Sheesh, this is a tough issue. I suppose that's why I advocate minimal level enforcement and optimal up front information.
  4. normalized

    normalized New Member

    Yep, this is also being currently hased out in the San Diego Lindy forum swingorama.

    It's almost a no win situation, enforce the standards and cause some bad will (something Hepcat and I have experienced) or leave it open and risk alientating the advanced dancers.

    However, if again and again 1/3 of dancers who are in advanced classs are truely not qualified than the system dosen't work.
    And perhaps needs to be overhauled. I still think teachers/organizers should take more responsiblity in feedback, having more
    watertight level descriptions and maybe having realistic expectations for their class turnouts. If simply not enough advacned dancers are
    showing up because they're 1) uninterested 2) not enough of them, then is it realistic to expect true "advanced" classes? Is it even financially worthwhile for teachers to teach at this level. At this point, privates might be the best option.

    I also sense that many dancers are frustrated with maybe where they are, the qualitiy of classes and what it takes to truely move up. And they see more advanced dancers or beginning dancers as obstacles to that. My own personal epiphany is that you truely get advanced by totally immersing yourself in the basics and seeing what flows from that foundation. So, that's my justification now for signing up at a lower level. And also the ill will, politics and general bad vibes from advanced levels is something I just don't want to deal with.

    I'm going to a weekend workshop today far away, I signed up for the lower level, I'll let everyone know how it goes...
  5. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Wow, sounds scary. I just signed up for the top level of a workshop I'm going to in March. It's the first time I've ever done this, but I have always been modest, and sometimes suffered for it (see Herräng story above), so I think I've sort of earned the right this time.

    I follow your idea, but I'm not sure how this will work out in reality. My epxerience with lower level classes are that they do not give a lot of new insight into the basics. So I figure that whatever i can focus on in a lower level class, I can focus on on the dance floor, dancing with beginners. And I do a lot of dancing with followers at all levels.

    Also I do attend local lower level classes as often as I have time, since there often is a need for extra guys. So when I spend time and money to go abroad, I want to dance with some good girls. And I find that those I dance with at the party very often are the same that I go to class with.

    But I do look forward to hearing what your experience was when you come back.
  6. normalized

    normalized New Member

    Y'know I've actually heard this viewpoint again and again from people I've talked to, the "I underestimated myself and now watch out world, I ain't doing that again". Perhaps you also underestimated what you picked up at the lower level as well. Sometimes we are so preoccupied on where we are as compared to others it blinds us to where we really should be. Flatshoes, I"m not saying you're not qualified to be in the highest level, you probably are, but that justification seems to come from maybe a "i'll get mine" standpoint.
    And really isn't that the same justification that newbies use to overestimate themselves? If everyone thinks that than you get the result that everyone feels they should be at the highest level. Before you accuse me of misunderstanding you, I don't, I know how you feel, I went through the exact same thing you did at the exact same camp. But for myself, it just made me aware of being responsible for my learning process and what's appropriate. And if that means taking privates then that will be what I'll do.

    And everyone accuses some nameless "beginner dancers" below them of keeping them down and not enabling your enjoyment of the dance, I propose that your learning and enjoyment is up to you no matter who you are paired with. It might not be the learning you expect, but life can be like that sometimes.

    And truth be told, I'm going to a bal camp, which I feel I've improved in but don't mind going down in level. And for bal, I'm not making the same mistake I did for lindy which is assuming I'm good enough to move up when I wasn't. And I love the dance enough that I owe it to do that for the dance not for my ego.
  7. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    I don't feel that I've underestimated myself. But I feel a lot of people overestimate themselves. ;)

    I rate myself as intermediate-advanced. I am advanced enough to know about a lot of techniques and variations I cannot do properly. (And my free spins still suck.)

    You are right about my standpoint. I've learned a lot in classes where I was one of the better dances. (At the aforementioned Herräng experience, Steven mitchell commented me in the mess tent afterwards. :) ) And that can be quite nice, since it's a good way to become popular with the followers. ;)

    However, I don't get to go to too many workshops, so this time I will be thinking about myself. And hopefully I won't be in over my head. I would probably thrive, and learn a lot, in the next highest level too. But this time I want to try the highest.

    Actually I was at the highest level in the same camp two years ago. I didn't apply for the highest, but ended up there anyway. And that went fairly okay. I am a better dancer now, but I am not sure that I am a better learner.

    And I think that is an interesting point too. Some people may be good dancers, but may still struggle keeping up with the tempo in an advanced class.

    Anyways, it will be interesting to see. And if I remember this thread one month from now, I'll post my experiences too. :)
  8. chandra

    chandra New Member

    Dancelf, are you gonna be at madjam?
  9. huey

    huey New Member

    I've followed most of this thread with interest. Hepcat - I'm sorry you had a bad experience, and it certainly seems that the person who kicked you out of the class might benefit from attending a beginners class in communication skills ;)

    From another angle, I went to a dance last night where a follower I know took part in the 'intermediate' lesson, and was clearly struggling. It was a new venue for her, and I heard that she complained at the attitude of some of the leaders in the classes. I don't take responsibility for her, but I did wonder about trying to a) help her, and b) protect her from critical leaders. I didn't say anything to her, as I always try to be positive rather than negative. Ironically, I nearly suffered an injury when the same follower gripped my arm in a dance :eek:
  10. d nice

    d nice New Member

    My $0.02. This is for ALL dancers, not Hepcat specifically, though obviousely some of it will apply. I don't know who Hepcat is, and I have no vested interest beyond being an instructor myself.

    Too many people have their egos wrapped up in their dancing, this is as true about instructors and promoters as it is about students. It is hard to be told that someone thinks less of you than you do of yourself. It is hard to be told publicly that you aren't good enough in something you love.

    Part of being an advanced dancer is not just being able to do complicated moves. It is being able to do the basics not just clean but with flair even on off days. An intermediate dancer who trys hard should be able to do any step in an advanced class. Focusing on advanced moves however takes the focus away from the important things, posture, frame, rhythm, momentum. These are things that should be mastered before one starts playing with more esoteric and frankly useless things like fancy moves.

    Advanced dancers should crave feedback... negative feedback. That criticism which will point out their flaws and allow them to improve even more. If you dance because it is fun, it is social, it is a good work out, stay with intermediate classes.

    If you dance because you HAVE to, because it is a form of genuine self-expression, because it is your chosen medium/art-form then advanced classes are for you... the question is, is it right for you now?

    There was a time when you took advanced classes because the teachers asked you to or moved you up themselves. If a teacher hasn't asked a student to move up then they should ask the teacher.
  11. thorn

    thorn New Member

    hepcat - In your first post you mentioned that one of your buddies took first in a competition, then you later go on to complain about lack of local teaching resources where you live. Was that in the same dance style that you are discussing?

    Question - Can't your buddy help teach you? And furthermore, how did he/she learn? Can his/her instructor teach you? etc. Although i'm not an instructor, I have been dancing for several years now and agree with d_nice's comments that advanced classes aren't necessarily about moves. I recently "got" all the moves in an advanced class that I took but recognize that a lot of the subtleties escaped me.

    If the organizer came to such a decision so quickly, it might even be the case that there is a very fundamental issue with your dance that should be fixed, perhaps even with your dance basic, that permits you to do all the moves but without the look of the dance? Follows clearly get the feel, but may not get the look. For example, I have a friend who is quite a good dancer but whose ECS basic has a great big giant huge rock step that doesn't really affect his partner, but sure creates a look that shouts beginner. You might use your buddy as a resource and ask him/her if there is such an issue with your dance.

    I don't mean to be insulting or rude, and these are just possible suggestions since I obviously don't really know the situation beyond what you wrote.

  12. hepcat

    hepcat Member

    I didn't respond to dnice because I agree with most of what (he?) says in principal and my intent is not to seek sympathy or justification. I'm simply contesting the concept of kicking people out of classes and how its done based on the fundamental princpal that swing dance is about fun and that I think for the most part people choose their level accurately when given enough information. For the small percentage who do misplace themselves, their impact on the class can be mitigated by frequent rotations.

    I don't want this post to focus too much on my specific situation. It did at first because it had recently happened and was heavy on my mind. I very much appreciated the support I received. I could continue to describe the degree of my skill (my strengths and weaknesses) and what I believe to be extenuating circumstances (although I'd be repeating myself) or what the opinions of others who were there thought about it, but I'd like to try and keep this post focussed on the broader issues. I'm personally past it and it no longer bothers me. If from this thread you think I should have been kicked out, then I'm not going to argue the point. I respect your opinion, but I disagree.

    I will address your question however about my buddy who won the competition because I haven't directly addressed it. He lives down in Albuquerque. He learned from a couple who lives down there, but in order for me to make it to a class, I have to come straight from work in Los Alamos (a 2 hour drive). Then it's over an hour back to my place in Santa Fe. So it's just inconvenient. Even though he started learning from a particular couple, he's way surpassed them by an order of magnitude or more and from then on, he's learned the same way I have: from workshops, videos, and practicing. I've asked him and his partner about privates, but our schedules don't coincide. Besides, he thinks I'm good. When I first told him about the incident, his first response was "Who were you dancing with?!?". I dismissed what he implied by admitting I just wasn't "feeling it" that morning. Although, he has a regular partner who's as into it as he is. I haven't had that. Partners I've worked with aren't as interested as I am. They're content with our current skill level and don't come to the practices I organize. I know what conclusions you might draw from that, but it's not what you think: I have to beat those partners away with a stick at the dances and they agreed with the compliment I received from the one woman at the dance: that my basic skills are on par with those of the instructors who were at the workshop.

    As the class was described by the instructor, the prerequisite skills were pretty basic and low level. He didn't make it sound like it was a big deal. Then the organizer stepped in and told a completely different story - about how the class was really advanced and high level. It was discontiguous with what the instructor described and I got the impression from the shrug / hand wave / eye roll that the instructor dismissed her comments as unnecessary.

    Now whether or not my and my friends' perception of this interaction was accurate, I propose the broader issue: it's possible that some local organizers are elitist and want something more along the lines of a "club class" where only they and their advanced dancer friends participate. I have this impression more now than before after talking with a Santa Fean who used to live in the same area as the organizer. She said that the girl is a "mean bitch" (her words - not mine) and that she's extremely clique-ish/exclusive. Also, other friends of mine mentioned at a recent dance we had in Santa Fe that the advanced local dancers at the workshop would not dance with anyone else other than those in their clique. I had not noticed this because I hadn't asked any of them to dance, but my friends had watched them turn down person after person after getting turned down themselves. I assume they must have also discussed it with some of the locals. Whether or not this was true, I propse that this type of thing exists in some scenes and that any exclusive class they might want to have should not be advertised to everyone - but separate from the workshop.

    There was another couple I watched the organizer approach after me and the guy got really upset and argued with her (not my style, but I don't blame him). I personally didn't think the couple was very advanced, but based on the instructor's description of the class, I didn't think their presence in rotation would have detracted from the class at all. I think the organizer was trying to make the class into something it wasn't or else the instructor did not taylor the class as the organizer requested. It was simply a difference of opinion between the instructor and the organizer. However even after the instructor advertised basic prerequisite skills, the organizer imposed her own higher level skill requirements when deciding who to kick out.

    Unfortunately, I don't think there's anything that can be done to prevent this type of situation. People are going to do what they want. All we can do is talk about it to raise awareness and discuss what we think about it. If we understand the motivations involved, we can better deal with it from either side we're on when it happens again.

  13. thorn

    thorn New Member

    hepcat - in your first paragraph you say swing is about fun. Well that's why i mostly do ECS. I've taken some lindy lessons, and i am not too bad at lindy, but its a lot harder and I just don't have as much fun. And the instructors spend a lot of time talking about little things. something else I learned not too long ago at a workshop is that I dont like balboa! That seems even less about fun. The workshop instructors were from somewhare in southern calif and kept talking about precise placement of your feet and precision of movement and subtlity of movement and yeech. I felt like they wanted to put me inside a swiss watch and just dont see the fun in that. So ya i took the one hour class, and can sorta do a basic and some moves i forgot but give me my ECS for fun.

    Maybe later i'll think lindy is for fun, but not now.
  14. hepcat

    hepcat Member

    I know where you're coming from thorn. I danced only jitterbug for about 4 years until I seriously started doing anything else (specifically lindy). The only reason I got into lindy was because a friend wanted to learn it, so I agreed to take privates with her over the summer of 2002. I wasn't enjoying it and kept doing only jitterbug at the dances. Then one day I was doing jitterbug and suddenly realized I'd subconsciously switched to lindy. That's when I started enjoying it. I did it more and more until now I rarely do jitterbug at all unless it's with a beginner. It had taken me awhile to get comfortable with lindy (as comapred to jitterbug). It was awkward at first and yes, there were a lot of technical details to think about, but even though it requires effort and work, I still think swing is all about fun. Learning it can be fun too if you don't take it too seriously. The guy who teaches lindy here is a riot. He's not a stickler either. In fact, I think he tends to gloss over some things that he should explain in more detail, although I'm sure it's all part of his teaching strategy. He's a very good teacher.

    So when I say it's all about fun, I'm referring to the spirit of the dance. It's a grand scheme sort of idea. It's like a game. Games are fun, but first you have to learn the rules. Some games are more challenging than others and I'd say the more the challenge, the more potential for fun. My point is only that one shouldn't focus too seriously on the challenge lest you want to scare away the players. If you take the fun out of it and stress people out, they'll be less likely to play again. People will want to learn more and challenge themselves when they become bored. Some may reach a contented plateau. Some may have a thirst for becoming the best. That's up to them, but regardless - we should all be allowed to play. That's why I believe in these concepts:

    never say no to the offer of a dance
    help everyone out every chance you get
    have fun, even with beginners (when you're not)
    go out of your way to dance with everyone
    sink or swim
    rotate into beginner classes to help out and meet new people
    find something about every dancer to compliment them on
    dance every dance as if it was the best dance of your life
    don't take no for an answer when the reason is "I've never danced before" or "I'm not good enough"

  15. luh

    luh Active Member

    I've never been to a workshop in the usa - but here it's very common to have a 4-6 line conclusion what you need for certain levels. including most of the time (i.e. -"in this level you know that swingout is more than one move, you can vary it - 6-8 count switches are a piece of cake for you, and you enjoy dancing all 2^n forms of lindy hop ;) - You are dancing 3 or more years")
    I just made this up, but this is usually what would be a normal considered description of the course level. (this would probably advanced).
    Often camp people say if you are unsure you can give a mail. i did this at the workshop before the last one. (darmstadt) - because it was the first time advanced looked right to me. They told me that i was probably ok. When i arrived for the greeting party - katja - one of the teachers asked me to dance, and told me right afterwards that level 3 (advanced) will be just perfect. this way i had no problem.
    but than i was kind of p*ss*d in class when we had a bunch of followers that just were definetly NOT advanced. that happens if they are good in there scene, but the scene s*cks.

    Every Workshop i'm going to i have to reconsider what level. (we have the problem that obviously the levels are not standardized), - so the last workshop (with andrew) - i signed in as intermediate, and jenn (teaching with andrew) told us that intermediates with partners (not rotating with the others) would be okay - andrew will focus on the advanced ones so that they are not bored. and i think everyone was happy in the end.
    (by the way - that class was actually not really hard - i was kind of disappointed )

    At the eauze camp in france this summer, i signed in to the second lowest. i got told that levels are harder there. but what i think is good - they will try to get a dance with everyone and if they think that we decided way off we are moved up or down
  16. hepcat

    hepcat Member

    I just had a nervous thought. What if I run into this girl at another workshop during rotation? I really do not want to dance with her, but that would be inconsistent with my effort to be easy going and take things in stride. My flight instincts are tempting me to skip her if I encounter her in rotation, i.e. ask a partner to stick with me for one more rotation and let her pass by... but I know I'd feel horrible if I did that. But then if I were to dance with her, I'd be terribly self conscious and not dance well just because of nerves - thereby justifying to her, her actions at the workshop. It seems like a no win scenario.

    I've encountered follows in rotation who have managed some clever ways to avoid specific leads in rotation. They've sat out for three or four rotations, feigning fatigue or a full bladder when they get near the guy they're trying to avoid, and then get back in. But I'd still feel bad about that.

    I suppose if it was a big class and I knew which direction the rotation was going to be, I could choose a position in the circle that might prevent her from ever getting to me or vice versa.

    *sigh* I should just dance with her and forget about it. Yes, I'll be nervous and self conscious and she may interpret that however she wishes. I should just not care. Still, I just wish I could avoid it. I suppose if there were multiple classes to choose from, I could just take a different class but I wouldn't want this girl to dictate what I learn.

    I'm going to a workshop fairly soon. I bet that she'll be there. I had originally selected the int/adv level (although I was on the fence between int/adv and advanced) and am sure I wouldn't have encountered her in rotation at that level. I would have stayed at that level, but the organizer asked if some people would like to move up because he needed to balance the lead/follow ratio at the various levels. I responded, not to say that I really wanted to change levels, but rather to say that if there was no one else, that I would swap up only to help out if he needed it. I'd done int/adv the previous year and told him that I felt I could still get something out of that level, but that I felt I could at least stay afloat in advanced if my being there would help out. He did end up putting me in the advanced level. I'm hoping that I'll do OK at that level.

    Although I felt OK taking that advanced class at the workshop I've been talking about in this thread, that was mainly because the only other option was a beginner class. If there had been something in the middle, I'd have probably taken that.

    So anyway, I guess I'd like some advice. What should I do if I encounter this girl in rotation? Should I try to avoid her? If I don't avoid her and just suffer through it, what sort of things can I think to psych myself out of being in a mood that will effect my performance? Should I just blank out my head and go for a detatched sort of mindset, and thereby just get through it? Or should I try to convince myself that she's just wrong and establish an "I'll show her" sort of attitude? I don't even know how I would get that sort of mindset. I'm just too self conscious of a person. Or should I not worry about performance and adopt an attitude that says "Well, she's just a bitch and I don't care what she thinks."? That way I would just be polite and make it more about her as a person as opposed to it being about skill. I mean - I don't really care about skill (mine or anyone else's). I'm just there to have fun and enjoy learning cool new stuff.

    Any thoughts? Does anyone have any scenarios they've been in where they've managed to get through similar situations? I've never had to deal with something like this before. In the past, I've found some follows to be eccentric, inappropriately flirtatious, rude, smelly, annoying, or just plain weird, but none of those things phase me. Sure it's a little unpleasant for awhile, but I don't let it bother me. It's when someone is mean to me or has embarrassed me when I have a problem. Even if they're just a little mean, I can usually excuse it and chalk it up to someone just having a bad day, but there are people who's whole attitude is just antagonistic and mean spirited. If someone is mean sometimes, but nice other times, I can be very patient with them. However in this instance, I have a very strong urge to avoid this girl and it would unsettle me to have to dance with her in rotation. God forbid she says anything to me, although given previous experiences with her, I doubt she would say anything. How have other people dealt with this?

  17. luh

    luh Active Member

    luckily enough, i've never had such a bad experience like you.

    I guess even though it's hard, i'd try to just keep normal. i wouldn't avoid her. You can still do that at the party. (that's what i usually try if I have the strong desire to NOT dance with somebody - though this happens not very often, just if i feel intimidated,..)

    Keep doing what you do. focus on the materia. think about the steps.

    Now - usually i hate it when people do this, but now it'd probably be really a good idea:

    dance without the follower. MEANING: care about YOU not the follower. (normally i'd consider that very bad style / rude), but if she says so, or other people, you can still say - you needed to focus on your steps, because this was obviously a class, so you wanted to learn, - make the followers look good is what you try to achieve at parties....

    how do you like the ideas?
  18. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    In the words of Etta James: "You better roll with it Henry"

    Suck it up, it's a few minutes of your life, not a two hour one-on-one dinner. You don't even need to talk to her.
  19. luh

    luh Active Member

    if she is kind of normal - she will be really ashamed, and feel bad. - see that as an excuse.


    p.s. there is a really embarrasing story that just pops into my mind. i was so wrong (this does not apply to your case, or anything else in this thread)

    When i came to germany about a year ago, i went to the dances here, and there was one female i asked about 5 times, on 5 different nights, and she always rejected. I never asked her again, and than she disappeared for a while. Than someday i realized that she had been pregnant and i was just a too wild dancer for her. Now i really enjoy dancing with her. - i don't know why i actually write this, :confused:
  20. alemana

    alemana New Member

    it will make you a better person to confront it. tactics-wise, i would say "kill it with kindness."

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