If Lindy Hop is Pure Joy, What Are We? Part 3

I’ll be frank. Organizing, sucks. If you haven’t done it and you think you are going to change everything, sit down. This is common knowledge. What’s not as often said is that Organizing sucks because of dancers. There. I said it. To quote a friend,

“Organizing is cleaning your house and only to open your doors to toddlers, who put their muddy feet on the couch, color on your walls, scream and leave a huge mess. Then, they leave. And you, are left, to clean it all up and wait for them to return.”

My only issue with this analogy is that the “toddlers” in this situation are adults. It can be highly rewarding, but still hard. Non- Organizers, Let’s chat. I recently made a video about this which you can watch here, but I feel like this needs to be discussed in my main medium, text. You see, until rather recently I was an organizer. I loved my job, until I didn’t. It wasn’t the emails, or scheduling or classes or venue stuff that got to me, it was the expectations.

In other dances being an organizer is a big thing. Some people even support themselves by running events and their events are long term beloved. I think anyone who sticks with organizing in our scene for more than a few years is a saint. I think part of that comes down to the way that we treat our organizers as attendees, the expectations put upon them, and generally just how hard it is to organize large events.

Our scene has been unable to have organizers be able to support themselves by organizing dance events for community. I think there are a great number of factors that contribute to this and one is the expectations that come from the community towards are organizers. If I had the guess most people to sign up to become an organizer do so because they want to help. Maybe they have extra time in their life, or maybe they see a need to fix and can address, or it’s a passion they decide to throw their hat in the ring of organizing.

Most of us, think of these things as a part of the job of organizing.

  • Venues
  • Classes and teachers
  • Organizing music
  • Scheduling workshops and yearly events

What’s required of you to do these things is a lot of organization, emails and phone calls. You may have people to host a night as a face of your event but more often or not organizers also do that job. When it’s looked at that way, organizing in some ways, it’s just throwing a really good party. Recently I’ve seen an increase of organizer burnout. Occasionally it’s because they’re overworked in their personal lives, their life circumstances have changed, that they’re simply not as passionate about dance as they once were. More often than not the reasons that organizers quit is not that at all. They quit because they’re not able to do what they signed up to do because they are managing all of these unspoken expectations, that are often much harder than the common member of the community realizes.

Some unspoken things that patrons expect organizers to handle

  • Safer spaces
  • Accessibility
  • Musical training
  • Teacher training
  • Personal disputes
  • Outside the dance community events
  • Meeting community
  • Giving people what they want
  • Website and marketing
  • Cheapest pricing
  • Workshops
  • Community culture
  • And more

I’m going to say it. If you aren’t an organizer you need to realize that much of this actually is the COMMUNITIES responsibility not the organizers alone.

I have some questions for attendees.

Do you want a space that is welcoming to new people?

  • Have you welcomed anybody into your community lately?
  • Have you non begrudgingly danced with newer dancer?
  • Have you ever talked to them and got invested in them, cheered them on in comps, welcomed them to your group dinners, invited them out when you and your friends are going out dancing?

Community Safety

  • When you notice someone making someone else uncomfortable, or touching them inappropriately have you stepped in and asked them to stop?
  • Have you asked that person if they are ok?
  • Have you made sure that really drunk guy gets home safe and is safe while sick?
  • Have you ever cleaned up water on the floor when you’ve seen it?
  • Do you check on the random person who burst into tears?

Community Accessibility

  • Do you dance with differently abled people than yourself?
  • Have you welcomed those different than yourself?
  • Are you understanding when your organizer mentions some modifications are for accessibility?
  • Do you know basic sign language to communicate with Deaf and Hard of Hearing folks?
  • Are you mindful of those with mental health difference and willing to change behavior to help them feel safe/comfortable?

Respect for those who provide service to the community

  • When talking to the experts of your dance (be it music, organizing, or teaching) are you taking in consideration the amount of work they have done before offering critique?
  • Have you done your own homework in these areas?
  • Have you been keeping up with your own education?
  • If you are able to afford it, have you been investing in your own dancing? (You are that good dancer you love dancing with to someone else in the room)
  • Do you acknowledge that someone younger than you (as a dancer or chronologically) may have more knowledge than you?
  • Do you appreciate these people and also see them as more than just their job?
  • Are you willing to pay for experts time (be that cash, work, assistance ect)

Have you ever set up an event and invited the community?

  • Have you considered starting that activity you want (Meetups, Practicas, group lessons, Live music ect)
  • Do you include newer dancers in your after dance outings?
  • Do you make friends with the bands when seeing live bands?
  • Have you ever passed out/pinned up a flyer or business card at your favorite shop?
  • Do you share events when they are posted?
  • Do you like your dances page?
  • Do you ever personally reach out to that dancer you haven’t seen in a while, and invite them back out?

Marketing

  • Do you talk excitedly online about the events you are most excited about?
  • Do you you share videos of your own dance style?
  • Do you invite your friends out to less intimidating events, and show them around?
  • Do you take beginner lessons and be a warm kind face?

These are just the start of the little ways regulars affect their community and can take the pressure off of the organizer. I know not everyone wants to spend part of their night meeting new people, or listening to music outside of dance, or being the person to step into a conflict, and I get that. I don’t even always want to do all that. I am saying though if you want the community to be the best it can, some of that responsibility falls on you. Don’t wanna meet new people? Pass out flyers. Don’t want to flyer? Set up a chill meet up. Don’t want to put in effort outside of the dance? Attend a workshop/class. No money? Volunteer.

Even if there is a team of organizers they can’t do it all, particularly as scenes get bigger. Want something to change? Be the change you want to see because I bet you complaining to your organizer is only adding to a very full plate. They also have lives and are most likely volunteering for your chill night out. Show them you actually love your event by helping out a little. Or one day you’ll lose your event. For our dances to continue we must be humble in our appreciation of the fragile oasis we have created. The up and coming kids are excited, passionate, and ready to give for the community to keep going and be something special. If you are an elder dancer, let’s meet them where they are at and use our collective energy to create the spaces we want with the support of our organizers.

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