Lindy Hop - Is It Thriving or Dying?

Siggav

Active Member
#21
I think the lindy scene where I am is pretty healthy.

There are multiple societies running beginner and improver lessons and social dancing in lindy, balboa and blues with lindy being the most active one (up to 3x a week)

There's also a yearly exchange and several weekend workshops. I don't know how many people are involved in total, it's not a huge amount but still enough to support all that. Of the three dances, lindy is the most popular

ECS is pretty much unknown but I know there's a thing called modern jive that some people do but it doesn't have an overlap with the lindy scene. There's more of an overlap with argentine tango and the lindy/blues/balboa scenes here.

I think there's some WCS here but I've never seen it or been to classes or a social so have no idea.
 

bookish

Active Member
#22
The Lindy community is healthy and not going away, but it is also definitely a niche hobby. Well, partner dancing is a niche hobby, but Lindy is relatively more niche. Which is fine as long as local scenes and events have enough people to fill their venues. It might be fun to be a bit more mainstream though.

In my area the local venues are doing fine, but way more people do basic "swing" than Lindy, and this seems common. There are quite a few regional and national events. The ones I've been to have generally sold out and are thus doing OK, although selling out does not always mean breaking even, because people keep the prices for Lindy events so low, much lower than other dance events, to appeal to the younger demographic.

The thing that frustrates me about Lindy being so niche is not a lack of people, but a lack of information. There's very little quality written info about technique, relatively few quality instructional videos compared to other things, etc. Beyond which, of course, hardly anyone outside the community knows what we really even do. And while my small city has several resident ballroom pros who are actually pretty good, there are relatively fewer Lindy pros in the world and they travel most of the time, so taking regular high-level privates is tough even if you have the $$$. I've figured a lot out on my own.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#23
The thing that frustrates me about Lindy being so niche is not a lack of people, but a lack of information. There's very little quality written info about technique, relatively few quality instructional videos compared to other things, etc.
Hi, bookish.
This question is for everyone.

Why do you think the situation you describe exists?
 

bookish

Active Member
#24
Well, it's true to some extent of partner dancing in general. *Very* limited written material, somewhat more video material but a lot is left out.

Lindy perhaps has less than other dances because (a) the revival is still relatively young (since the 80s, "popular" since the 90s) compared to the amount of time other dances have been practiced, (b) there are relatively fewer top pros, (c) the top pros are overall still relatively young, (d) there is less money in it than glitzier dances with older demographics. It's a bit disappointing that there's not much active online technique-based discussion or collaborative projects (wiki anyone?).

Nevertheless, other partner dances also have limited "common" knowledge (outside of top dancers' heads). There is much more information generally available about other physical hobbies like sports, martial arts, music, etc. I mention those because I think they disprove the idea that the lack of written material is because dance is a physical activity. Even musical instruments that aren't the most popular ones (ocarina? theramin?) have way more useful, practical info available.

I think part of it might be that people who are dedicated to learning dance but not yet "experts" feel very reluctant to spread information, which is an extension of the culture of looking up to/idolizing pro dancers, never giving advice to other dancers socially, and competitive judging criteria often seeming inaccessible to mere mortal observers. Whereas someone who knows a dozen or two guitar chords and some tunes is "qualified" to set up a basic web site with some info, tips, etc., and then it goes upward from there.
 
#25
That's a good question, Steve.

I heard about Lindy from a co-worker of mine who mentioned going to this dance venue that had it. Ever since then, literally every single dance venue or exchange that I ever heard of, was by word of mouth or by checking out the postcard table which advertised lindy events. I mean, for crying out loud, the ILHC, which is one of the largest Lindy Hop events attracting competitors from all over the world, was being held every year literally only 20 minutes away from home and I never even heard of it before! You can only imagine my frustration!

And to comment on and agree with what bookish mentioned, all of the pros that I took classes or private lessons from don't stay or teach in any one location. They travel all over the world. I would have to travel by car, bus, or fly to another state in order to get lessons from them. We have pros in our local area, but, in my opinion, I feel that they only teach students for the purposes of having fun (nothing wrong with this), but not for those who want to enter the competitive arena, which is something I think the Lindy Hop world could use more of, like how ballroom dancing and other various sports have.
 
#27
Great comments on an topic very dear to my heart. In fact I've returned home here in Oklahoma for a 11 week vacation after my long excursion teaching lindy hop in England, Germany, New Zealand, and Ohio.

In my observation, there are some fundamental realities that are contributing to what I feel is a slight downward slop less detectable by the average swing dancer.

Americans as a whole tend to be the people of the "now." We are the one's who generally birthed most of the new sounds and dance forms in the last 100 years. Blues, Jazz, Rock n Roll, dewop, bebop, funk, hip hop rose primarily out of urban areas throughout our history, and eventually became "pop" after their transitions to the new underground "thing". We kept moving on to the new, and really never focus on preservation.

Generally in my teaching experience, the Europeans and Asians who both have longer histories than Americans tend to be naturally prone to preserving art that's been created and "replicating" it. The current types of dancers in America who do swing are not people generally who would be doing the current dance forms of today deemed artistic. (hip hop I'm looking at you.) Usually, swing tends to be dominated by IT professionals, engineers, and architects etc who wouldn't be caught jumping in a hip hop jam circle if their life depended on it:) I say that respectfully as a professional dancer living in both those worlds.

All that to say, swing is somewhat slightly declining in America by the vary nature of it being an "historic" art form, discovered briefly by many attending college, and suffering from underexposure to the masses.

Hopefully real soon, the dance will get more authentic exposure to non swing dancers in the American dance culture, throwing gasoline on a dimly lit idling firestorm. I do feel that the timing is almost right for an all out explosive resurgence to the masses. We will see:)


With regards to the traditional Lindy Hop movement which was going through a revival starting about six years ago; is it showing signs of declining or increasing?

I'm guessing that it depends on locality. I was reading a post on Yehoodi about six months ago expressing a concern that Lindy was loosing out to Salsa in New York.

What has happened here is that many of the Lindy Hoppers were students at the University of Arizona who have moved on after graduation and there are very few of them left and one of them expressed to me that he felt it would be dead here in a year's time.

While visiting Seattle in July I attended a dance at one of the big venues there and noticed a smaller crowd from what I saw last year and was told by someone that things had slowed down over the past year.

So how is it other areas of the country?
 
#29
Thanks for the compliment. Were you attending the event?! I won't be able to commit this year because of my European schedule, but I'll be performing at ESDC next Fall.
 

bookish

Active Member
#31
Can I get my husband to do this at our wedding?
Well, I can't answer that per se... but I would recommend looking for local teachers and asking if they do wedding-dance lessons. If you're in the DC/Baltimore area, I know there's Jam Cellar in DC and Mobtown Ballroom in Baltimore. I don't know the area well beyond that but hopefully if you look them up they could help.
 
#32
Lindy is non existent in the Phoenix area except for special venues. I think what has hindered it is that the music seems to be stuck in the big band era. For awhile there were a lot of college kids that got into big band as a fad, but there are only so many kids who are going to dance to that old fashioned music.

WCS, ECS, and Salsa have taken over. Perhaps if somebody starts doing Lindy to contemporary music the dance could make a comeback but I doubt that will happen.
 

bookish

Active Member
#33
If somebody starts? People did Lindy to neoswing and other stuff (a while ago), then gave up on it, for the most part.

I'm not familiar with your area. Looks like you have 1 or 2 swing organizations, a weekly dance, a monthly dance, regular classes, and some live-music events. Even an electroswing night earlier this month. By "nonexistent" do you mean it's not mainstream?
 
#34
Well, I can't answer that per se... but I would recommend looking for local teachers and asking if they do wedding-dance lessons. If you're in the DC/Baltimore area, I know there's Jam Cellar in DC and Mobtown Ballroom in Baltimore. I don't know the area well beyond that but hopefully if you look them up they could help.
Thanks for the reply! My DH is more into ballroom (so much better than me) so I was thinking something that we were both new at!
 
#35
If somebody starts? People did Lindy to neoswing and other stuff (a while ago), then gave up on it, for the most part.
To me neo-swing and big band music sound the same. OK, so I'm sure lots of people will jump on me for that statement but keep in mind that I didn't grow up with that genre so I never appreciated it or knew much about its nuances. I have been to lindy events where neoswing bands played. To me it sounds like 1940 era music. It seemed odd that young people were getting into that but of course we know how fashions come and go, and come back again.

I'm not familiar with your area. Looks like you have 1 or 2 swing organizations, a weekly dance, a monthly dance, regular classes, and some live-music events. Even an electroswing night earlier this month. By "nonexistent" do you mean it's not mainstream?
We have several swing organizations. The large ones are for WCS but there are smaller ECS and Lindy groups.

I do mean "not mainstream" because there are enclaves of Lindy dancers -- but Lindy music and the dance are not represented in any of the social ballroom events. In bars and clubs it's very rare to see Lindy. There are small venues where Lindy is danced so it is a niche dance. Sometimes you will see a live band and large numbers of Lindy dancers at Fatcat studio.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#36
One of the local libraries that I visit frequently has a librarian who taught Lindy in Seattle. She told me that she routinely attends a once a week event at the Bosa Nova Ballroom here in Portland. Although the Viscount Studios here offer one evening of different level "Vintage Swing," my informant tells me that the people who call themselvs Swing Time, and did the event I attended at the Crystal Ballroom (which was very well attended) about a month ago, found that they can't attract enough people to classes to pay for rented space.

Don't know if that's up or down as far as a trend.
 
#37
Thanks for the compliment. Were you attending the event?! I won't be able to commit this year because of my European schedule, but I'll be performing at ESDC next Fall.
Yes! Sorry for the late reply. I spoke with you once or twice at the event. Bummer you won't be able to make it this year. Maybe I'll have to come out to ESDC!
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#39
Well, Charleston is a pretty significant part of Lindy Hop, and I see that when I'm at the Secret Society. I took a few level 2 Lindy Hop lessons at Viscount Studio, and for various reasons din;t attend the next month long session on Charleston. So, I did the two hour long workshop yesterday.
It was Really fun!
There were familiar faces from Secret Society, just like there were in the Lindy Hop classes.
One thing I really noticed was how easy it was to phrase things with the music. I can;t remember what Melissa called the deal you do from a side by side position where you turn towards each other and land with feet apart in a semi squat, and a variation where you add a kick forward before going back to side by side. That was easy to hit at the end of phrases in the music, because Charleston seems to fit the four/eight count pattern.
"Cross overs" felt Really good with the music she used (not what I think of as "Charleston rhythm). Here again, getting out of those and back into a basic was easy to time with the end of a phrase.
I can see better now why people seem puzzled when they try to fit 6 count swings like East Coast and West Coast with the music.
Anyhow, the main point here was to share how much fun this workshop was. And, I should add that as the "follows" rotated, it seemed like they were all smiling, so it looked like other people were enjoying themselves, too.
 

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