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Family Ties .... Really? Part 2 regarding "Alive and Kicking"

The Family Life in the Real



a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children,considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not.... collectively...

of, relating to, or characteristic of a family...
One of my friends was at the Harlem viewing and was impressed by the sense of family among enthusiasts.  Well here I will expound and muse quite a bit :>)
For the most part dancers around the world into Lindy Hop/Swing and other Jazz dances do share a camaradarie among them: The love and appreciation for the art form of the Lindy Hop. Many would say this is mainly experienced and observed when it comes to the social dancing, certain dance moves, contests, dance camps and more.  If you are regular on the greater Lindy Hop scene wherever you are and stay in touch with select people this would in effect make sense.

Within the film Alive and Kicking this "family" term was expressed especially when a few dancers featured got seriously ill.  What was truly amazing and exceptional what they experienced from others  - their friends - around the world from  the dance "family".  Needless to say that was a great testimony to true caring friendships within a dance community.

But the universal Lindy Hop and/or swing dance "family" in that same manner  simply doesn't exist. 

If you believe that it does you have now entered - or have always been in - greater "Lindy Hop Land"... or the illusion of inclusion.


Some might say ... in a family way using the adjective... that we are a collective group with Harlem's historic dance uniting us. This is the simplest form of the unity. The film showed most of the current scene and depending where you are you have that close knit family (or clique) that keeps in touch on the regular. When it gets into other fractions or levels of Lindy Hoppers/Swing Dancers it is clear some are welcome some are not.  You know it, are told this...  or you sense this.  Many in Harlem sensed this during the viewing on April 5th...

To be honest when certain black dancers are within "the realms"(and there ain't many of us in comparison) the "family" welcoming spirit or atmosphere is not always there.  This truly depends on where you are at and what circle of dancers you may know. You can feel like a stranger...

Note that this piece  is especially a validation to what many females of color experience: In many shades and hues of the Black race and that identify with being Black. (This seldom goes for Black  guys but they tell me at times their harsh realities too). Also there are some shady sliders on both ends within the dance scene who use their blackness when its convenient... and use their brown nose selectively :>)  With very few Black folks into this part of their heritage its telling if you are "in" as it is, but alas I am privy to some honest feedback (at least within part of the east coast).  

Of late because of the film theres been some open dialogue on social media with this topic due to the film - so that was a very good point thats now being used for good discussion. To try to begin this process of discussion in good earnest can be a great test but a worthy feat in itself.

Heres a scenario that is pretty common, yet its kind of funny: Black men who are new learners get swooped up and asked to dance ten times more by white women versus new Black women being asked to dance by while males and other races.  With Black women sometimes "their men" even forsake them, they can almost become "invisible" women to all present unless they take on a bit of some "aggression" or "boldness" asking for a dance.   And its sad because many want to get back into the culture, have the fortitude and make time to take the lessons.... and then get labeled desperate because they ask men to dance nicely and/or in the same manner as some white dancers  do.  

Its like a movie seeing some white woman rush and elbow to get to a popular Black dancer... or when the Black male already does have a Black female he wants to dance with and these chicks still try to bully their way in.  Many a time I have gotten looks that can kill because they wanted to dance with this guy and he chose to dance with me!  This is what you can observe and experience.  Some Black female newbies wonder  "Why did I even bother to take lessons".... but thankfully most of them persevere and eventually get a few regulars they can "count on" to a degree.  

So so much for the family feeling once you are near the dance floor area... Till the elbow match resumes.

Now if this can be observed locally in NYC can you imagine on the larger scene, after paying 3 figures for a dance camp or weekend?  Thus the reason select Black dancers have been encouraging others of color to attend these weekend excursions... and all of the reasons and intentions of going and being asked are varied.  Well there are pluses and minuses to that (to be discussed in another post). 

We are in no way discouraging venturing out and exploring  other dances elsewhere (not just NYC).  We are just being honest about the realities or probabilities being faced.  The Harlem Swing Dance Society (THSDS) is concentrating on home base within the NYC area.  Truthfully we prep our female dancers of color for the "games" out here, because we know a white female is more than likely to ask a new Black male to dance before he asks them - or a Black female.  And a Black female will be overlooked or just not desired to be danced with as readily - unless perhaps she's in the loop.  We are just being honest about some of the realities you can face, and THSDS preps their female students of color...

So if people of color want more of a "family"  sense (versus the current probabilities) a solid dance community and regular dance home must be built up. Most likely in a place that would have or be able to draw more folks of color. So one may want to join those who are seeking to truly build in Harlem if they are in the NYC area.  If this is you get with The Harlem Swing Dance Society and see how you can help. 

Enthusiasm with Enthusiasts



a person who is filled with enthusiasm for some principle, pursuit, etc.;a person of ardent zeal:
a sports enthusiast.
Principles, pursuits, zeal...

Those who consider themselves a Enthusiast for Harlem's famed dance culture are universally doing one great thing: Keeping the culture alive.  Whether its writing, dancing, performing, speaking.... these many forms are helping.
The method and the motives of folks may be called into question, but thats another issue not being delved into here.  For now we can honestly state that the above categories can be singular or plural for an Enthusiast. Overlapped or one sole mission. We also have to recognize and respect that many Enthusiasts are only in this for the "fun" of the dance - nothing more.  They don't want to get too deep into the culture, politics, Harlem, etc.  Just like if some of us are into salsa dancing; no we don't want to get all into it - just wanna dance  :>)

So where are Harlem's Enthusiasts?  Good question; they are there in the area (perhaps far and inbetween).  Getting them more "Alive and Kicking" is a search and discovery process and the real challenge for The Harlem Swing Dance Society :>).  At least three to four generations have been deficient in some manner with this dance history and culture.  But the "search and discovery process and current growth has been rewarding.  You'll read about these efforts and experiences soon enough.

The Family Ties that can Bind....

So its all good, and we are encouraging all of color who we feel "are ready" to see the documentary.  However this film must be prefaced a bit for a tried and true Harlem audience that has been out of the loop for years (Lindy Hop Land translation = eons).  Thats the breaks, challenge and all in all revealing experience thats worth the effort on our end here.

So is it truly a Family Affair out there?  You know your local scene, be honest!  And if folks are doing this and that from purely a business aspect guess what?  Their favorite color is green  :>)

Stay tuned for Part 3 sometime this month - we're just getting into it here :>D



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