Quote of the Day
A man has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.
Where Did She Go?
Over the Labor Day weekend, readers took it upon themselves, for whatever reason... most for self-promotion, from what I hear, to share our work with others. I suppose that is their right and freedom.
As a result, I received a flood of emails from all of those who had been shared to (remember, these are people I know), and unfortunately, they didn't just share their new knowledge with me. They played the game. And the violence kicked up again.
But I think my readers forgot: I have freedom too. I am free to walk away.
After all, I have thousands of readers, and a great many of them are on the council, are pros that say they love swing or are event directors who say we are losing this dance.
But notice how many of them have actually taken action.
There is what a person says...
and there is what a person does.
So I have moved on. DVD's and authoring books... this is my life now. I will keep you posted. You will have more soon to arm you, enlighten you and to encourage you... but as the journalist Walter Lippmann once said, "The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on."
I have kept your names private, I have never given them to other leaders and I doubt any of you will have a PI hired to find where you live at home. I suppose I should consider such actions on behalf of our little "mob bosses" an honor and a tribute to my work. Because no one would care to touch me if I spun tales that weren't true... truth has always hurt those who have warped it to stay in power. History has proven that again and again.
And as I've always said, I believe you can handle the truth... I believe you can see the truth, and figure the truth out on your own.
I recently saw a workshop where two of the ten were teaching... supposedly the international super star champions of our sport... holding a slurpee and making everyone flap their arms in their air like "chickens."
And no one in the room thought this was odd or unprofessional for a dance class. Even the event directors, council members and "adults" over 50. Their hands were high, high in the air too.
And that is the choice that you have always been faced with: to be in your own power... or to be in theirs.
I tip my hat to you in adeiu, for I, as you know, already made that choice long ago.
And my life has never been sweeter, never been brighter, never been more exhilarating, adventurous or loving ever since.
I've never regretted my choice.
Consider the cost when you make your own.
I have to say, I've been having a rather good time. Josh & I had probably our most rockin' performance ever at the Hall of Fame Gala, I started on the Weekly Notes Book (first five notes? 25 pages long... oh dear! those were my short notes!) and I'm still getting awesome feedback over the Jason Creel video from readers around the globe (my husband called it his 'early Christmas present').
Add to that my very first "improvement" in test results (a concussion IS serious... don't let the media fool you!) and I'd call it a pretty good month. Eh, there's been some bad stuff and you can read about some of that down below. But in general, the future is looking rather fantastic!
A little while ago I mentioned my confusion over BBB's choice to go with DJ's who play even more 'boom boom' music than last year, despite all the complaints to the contrary.
Two Different Dances
Upon seeing this year's list of teachers however, I finally understood. More than 80% of their instructors this year teach Abstract, walking, stretching, 'dirty it up,' etc. which fits that droning 'boom boom' check-out scene perfectly. (If you already have a ticket and want some swing, I'd highly recommend some of the lindy & balboa workshops... Sylvia Sykes is a superstar on every swing scene.)
So they've made their choice. Even the US Open has re-done their headlining photos, and they are all of the upper body... no shots of 'dancing feet' anywhere... but arching and raised shoulders a-plenty. I miss the previous photos, and it makes me wonder what new dancers, or dancers from other arenas, must think when they visit the site. But nonetheless, considering the Tenets of Swing, they too have made their choice.
The evidence I bring to you today, however, relates more to the 'D is for Demographic' article I wrote back in June. I talked of how each kind of dance on this planet attracts their own 'demographic.' Just as Macy's has a different demographic than Bergdorf's, and horror flicks have a different demographic that period pieces, salsa has a different demographic from waltz and swing has a different demographic from abstract improvisation.
These two videos provide a perfect example- a swing demographic will love and want to dance by watching this video:
|Dawn Hampton with John Dokes|
But an abstract crowd will love and want to dance like this video:
Both crowds had young people, but one laughed at great swing music and the other jammed to it. One had incredible timing and teamwork, and the other one looked big and seamless, but was based more "suggest and fill" rather than lead and follow, leaving timing, footwork and play behind and replacing it with walking, posing and holding in order to mimic the exact and precise style of other dancers, down to their shoes and dress, instead of being unique to themselves.
So. Some like it hot, and some like it cold. That's just the way it is. And both BBB, the Open, Swingdiego and the council have all chosen video #2.
That's their freedom, yes, even though it damages untold amounts of people by using the word "swing" when they advertise their events. Every single dancer, teacher and studio teaching "swing" would tank their business sending their students to such places.
So if you feel like your teacher is teaching video #1, or if you feel like the dancers in video #1 are having a much higher level of enjoyment of themselves, the music and each other (like I do) and you LIKE that kind of thing... you love it.... you love checking IN and watching close and jamming along, then this is evidence, once more, that you can save your money and enjoy 'jamming' at the real swing joints, wherever they may be.
Cody Melin and wife Tracey
I wrote the following on the day Cody Melin passed away:
Cody Melin has left this world.
I know what that means, but do you know what that means? I'm sure you're watching and wondering at the outpouring of love for Cody's life and his family all over the social networks. And that's because Cody's story started so long ago, that those of us who were there remember it extremely well, but have a difficult time putting it into words for you and today's world.
I hope my words and my story will help you understand what we have lost, and why we will miss him so much. It's just my story- it's the best I can do. I hope others will share their stories too...
Cody Melin during
his Country Western Days
This is the Cody I first met. No, he didn't have a cowboy hat on at the time, but he still stood out in a crowd. Oh my, did he ever stand out. I remember it as if it were yesterday.
It was my very first dance convention. A Tom Mattox convention actually. My parents were crazy crazy into CW dancing and I had picked it up, I think, out of pure survival in that house. But it was summer and my best friend and I were curious about all these "dance conventions" we kept hearing about, so we drove all the way out together and walked into the lobby to take a look.
As we hesitantly stood in line at my very first registration desk, Cody walked by and stopped at the table next to us. If I remember correctly, I just stared. I might have even dropped my jaw a little. It was like seeing Baryshnikov walk by up close and in person. I remember instantly nudging my friend and whispering, "Now THAT is a dancer!" I didn't know much about this competition world, but I knew one thing... I would give anything, anything, to dance with this man before I died.
So I bought a ticket.
And the rest is history.
Did I ever dance with Cody? Absolutely. I'll never forget that first dance. I was a total nobody at the time, and pretty darn shy about asking other men to dance, but I believe he was the first teacher I ever asked to dance. And I chose, oh-so wisely.
Because his rap sheet is long. A trained master of 30 or more dances, he's been a multiple champion of almost every one:
- Break dance/Lock & Pop Champion
That's right. I told you it was like watching Baryshnikov walk by! Looking back, I realize that I had no clue of what I was looking at. I didn't know how much technique was in action by his simple act of walking and standing... I just knew it was... stunning. I look back now and think- "wow, he was doing this, and he was doing this and dang... he was even doing this!" And that just goes to show you that, untrained eye or not, newbies know good dancers when they see it.
Cody has lived three lives since that one day so long ago. As have I. But needless to say, a dancer like that does nothing short of leaving a huge impact upon those lives he touched.
I am so grateful I knew him. I am so grateful you were ever able to see him dance. And I hope you can understand why those of us who have been around a while are feeling the incredible loss so deeply. Our champions of dance leave us too quickly... Cody Melin, Jason Colacino, Wayne Bott... they are leaving us and we are hit hard. So think of Cody along with us... and may our prayers and thoughts reach the family he has left behind as well.
With love & memory,
A video of Cody long after I met him...notice the speed, the quick and perfect stops, the control and the extremely difficult moves that they made look easy... we haven't seen the likes in many years... enjoy!
A Champion dancer who fell in love with West Coast Swing long ago,
Katherine is currently writes for the global dance community and serves as a Director for the CA Swing Dance Hall of Fame. She has owned her highly successful ballroom and swing studio, is a decorated competitor at the US Open, has written articles for numerous magazines in the community, including 'In the Swing' and "5-6-7-8,' has choreographed top 5 routines, served on the board for Boogie by the Bay and has traveled to over 42 states.
She is not afraid. She loves beauty. She loves truth. And she believes it's knowledge that can bring a dancer more joy than they can imagine on the floor.
She writes "for the people" and has, and will always, listen. Drop her a line with your own story anytime.