Monday, April 6, 2009

ATLX, Lindy, and a One Year Retrospective

As of this month, I’ve been dancing again for a whole year. I have a hard time believing both that it’s been a year already, and also that I ever went 3 years without dancing – I can’t imagine missing this huge, integral, amazing thing for so long. What was I thinking when I stopped? Well, I know what I was thinking, and it was along the lines of “dancing makes me an anxious, puking, fainting mess – maybe I should quit.” Luckily since coming back I’ve almost entirely kicked the anxiety, remarkably without too much trouble aside from a couple of incidents while dancing at Tech (no big surprise there, since tech is where I developed most of my dance-related performance anxiety).

So. I’m back, and I’m better than ever.

That said, I’m also coming to realize that I don’t really give a shit about lindy and swing anymore.

This weekend was the Atlanta Lindy Exchange (ATLX) which I, of course, signed up for and attended. It would be a shame to skip your home town exchange after all, right? But as I headed to the first dance on Friday night I realized something alarming – I hadn’t been out dancing lindy in months. Before Christmas, even. I hadn’t realized I’d let lindy fall so much by the wayside, but between my crappy work hours and my awful experience at the Hop Shop, I just had no interest. The last 4 months I’ve been focused entirely on blues, attending 2 blues workshop/exchange weekends and making it out social dancing almost every week.

I headed to the first dance of ATLX and got out on the floor and realized that… well… I hadn’t missed lindy at all. And I’m not at all passionate about it anymore. And I wasn’t having all that much fun dancing it.

There are a lot of contributing factors, I think. Part of it is that lindy is a lot harder on my knees, especially at high speeds. Part is that I really hate the music that a lot of lindy DJs play. “ChunkaChunkaChunka” at 250 BPM is not fun to dance to, and accounts for a huge chunk (no pun intended) of swing music. The final part is that I’ve hit a pretty serious plateau in my lindy – I’m a good dancer but not a great dancer, and the technical challenges facing me to get to the next level are abstract and hard and frustrating.

On the flip side, there’s blues. Any dancing is rough on my knees, but the more sedate pace of blues lets me be more mindful of the potential abuse, and the slower songs give me a bit of a break. I’m passionate about the music in a way that I never really expected to be – trance and breaks and progressive move me in a way that no other music ever has… except for blues. I walk into a bar and hear blues and it’s like my soul is soothed; it’s almost a physical sensation. As for the learning curve… this time last year I had never even heard of dancing blues. A year later I’m goddamn good at it, and I’ve had very little actual instruction. I have a huge potential for improving my dancing – every time I social dance with someone new I expand my repertoire and become familiar with new movements. There is just so much for me to learn, and so many ways that I can improve, even though my level of dancing is high already.

So the first evening dance of ATLX was pretty much a bust. I danced a couple of songs. It was fun-ish, but not thrilling. Luckily the late night had a blues room set up, so I ensconced myself there and had a great few hours. Saturday’s evening dance was a lather-rinse-repeat exercise: show up, dance a couple of songs, feel “meh” about the music, then give up until the late night. Saturday’s late night was absolutely stellar – the venue was Ambient Studios downtown, and the space was just gorgeous and amazing. The room they had set up for blues was perfect from an atmosphere perspective, and the quality of dancing was incredibly high (though it didn’t quite rival bluesalicious).

It’s Monday and my legs are demolished – knees achy and swollen, muscles sore that I didn’t know could be sore… but I’m happy. I think it’s a good thing that I finally addressed the grumpy feelings that had been brewing in regards to lindy. I’m no longer in denial about it, and I know where my dancing passion lies. I don’t need to waste money on lindy workshops and exchanges – I can dedicate all my learning power to blues. Maybe this time next year I’ll feel like re-evaluating that sentiment, but for now I’m pretty ok with it.

Now – I just have to figure out a more pertinent name for this blog, since 8 Springy Counts doesn’t apply to blues at all. Damn.