During the last year I’ve noticed a trend within the Blues community that’s been happening on the back end of things. As we focus so much on all the things that we wish to see within the world, within ourselves, and within our community in general, we seem to have lost sight of the love and fun we all have for the things that we do. As our community goes through growing pains, we find ourselves focused mostly on what our values are and where we want to be going. Unfortunately though, I think many of us have lost sight of the things that got us into that to begin with.
There’s been a large amount of discussion about what is happening to the blues dance community, and how to get it to grow. I think a major factor is morale and apathy. Assuming you’ve been dancing for at least 2 years I want you to take a second and think to yourself when was the last time you posted something positive about blues dancing that wasn’t just post-exchange feelings. If you’re like most people, you can’t really think of anything. You’re way more likely to post about things that upset you, the injustice of something, perhaps even your frustration with your own dancing or with your scene. I think this is one of the major points that we strongly need to fix. Many of us spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars doing this hobby or profession and yet it’s only the youngest dancers that post about the amazing dance they had in their local community. It’s only our youngest dancers who have yet to become jaded and still acknowledge all the good that is in our community. It’s our youngest dancers who reach out to everyone and invite them in to their new world. As we become older dancers, we become jaded, and in the middle of our shift community-wise it’s easy to get caught up in all the drama, the discussion, and the pain. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t talk about serious topics, but what happened to the joy?
Take another second and think about the last time you shared a video of what we do that didn’t include yourself. And then think about a time that you shared a video that wasn’t a competition. Or, about the last time you and some friends got together and recorded an amazing social dance and posted it just for funsies. When was the last time that happened? For most of us I fear it was years ago. Other dance communities are constantly sharing videos of things that are excited about that their community accomplished. They share things that may inspire them, they share the things that they’re working on, and they most definitely share the silly moment that happened and their joy of dance was on video. Well our community almost fetishizes other dances. Most of our community only shares videos of other styles of dance. As if, we have nothing to offer…
Then we look down upon ourselves for not being “good enough” to be on video. In our pursuit of clarifying what is or isn’t blues, we’ve lost our desire to share what we do currently. For fear of making mistakes, we’ve made the choice to do nothing. We’ve chosen to hide ourselves and what we do from the world, because we are afraid of making mistakes. So then our only representation of what it is that we do is videos from 5+ years ago and competition videos which are hard for non-members and members alike to watch. Personally, I hate watching online competition. When I say this as a judge and competitor, I can only imagine what a person who doesn’t have any interest in competition feels about these videos. Why would they watch them? What happened to the confident and joyful Blues videos of old? Maybe they aren’t Blues by today standard, but people were confident enough to share their dancing with the world. Many of those videos have tens of thousands if not a million views. Where are those videos of today? There are things worth sharing.
When I first started dance, not very long ago, the feel of the Blues Community was different. Sure, the dancing was really different, and that’s the thing I don’t miss so much. I like having the distinction between the communities and being able to get my Fusion fix or my Blues fix depending on what community I walk into. But to be honest one of the things I miss the most is the casual nature of events back then. Perhaps it’s just nostalgia, and if it is, I’ll own up to that, but it feels like things just used to be a bit more fun. My first exchange had a pool and hot tub party and some type of grill out at its end of the weekend of dance. The feeling was relaxed and it was easy to meet people, even for an anxious mess like me. Late night dinners were a great time to meet people between venues. I felt welcomed into a community versus just welcomed as customer. And some of them still do these type of things, but generally they don’t have classes.
When did the expectation become that having classes at the event had to be high class and serious? When did the events become so expensive, and yet somehow less fun. As an organizer I’m not complaining about the expense, things are expensive, and honestly many events don’t make enough money to really continue them except for a passion project. And yet I do find myself saddened by the fact that most of it feel very sterile nowadays. Nothing in particular wrong is occurring, but nothing in particular exciting is happening. The thing that draws me to events is more often the people that are going on the event itself, and I find myself finding them all to be a bit to interchangeable.
I understand why most of the events tend to follow a very similar formula. It’s because of the fear of losing money and the reality of that. And yeah, I wonder if there are ways that events can still draw people in that isn’t always just trying to be the same event as every other event. If you think that’s a call to action where I’m suggesting that organizers add more work to their plate, that’s not exactly what I’m getting at. So many things that make an event special can be done by people that are not in particular control of the event. Things may have to go through the event, but it shouldn’t be more work for them and should increase the fun for the attendees. The kizomba community likes to have themed nights. The themes are not generally difficult to pull off for attendees, but definitely create an excitement and energy around the event. The themes are additionally not generally cheesy as it’s being advertised to the adult crowd. Being grown and sexy and having excitement around showing off your new outfit is an easy way to engage entities and get them in the door.
Ultimately this post it’s just about and getting back to the heart of the matter. We should love the thing that we do and desire to share that with everyone that we know, even if there are areas of growth. By putting all of our energy into solving problems, we’ve lost sight of the community of our community and of our joy of thing that we do. I think it’s time we get back to that. For the Love of Blues!
- Add your dancing to youtube
- Share videos of people you admire
- Spend time with dancers not dancing
- If you love something, say it!
- Invite your friends and talk up your hobby
- Get involved in the blues community
- Take classes
- Set up fun activities/themes within your community
- Set up cool things for newcomers and invite them in
- Thank your organizer