Quote of the Week
"The right of revolution (or right of rebellion) is the right or duty... of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests."
-Wikipedia on The Right of Revolution
To Write, or Not to Write?
I received an email a while back from a dancer in New York. "I keep thinking of things to write," they wrote. "But everything I think of, I realize you've already written about it!"
You know what I said in response, "WRITE ANYWAY!" Please, please, pretty please... if you are a writer, please write for your community. Write for your club. Write your own blog. Write your own notes, emails or newsletters. Just... WRITE.
Eons ago, it feels like now, I wrote about how our community used to have writers in every corner of the community. We had magazines filled with pages from different writers, not just a handful of teachers.
If you have something to say, or if you are a writer, there is somebody out there who needs to hear your words.
Agree with a lot of what I say? Say it again in your own words.
Even better, tell your own STORIES! Stories, stories, stories... you've got a million of them. You send a lot of them to me, and I love them because they make me feel like I've done the right thing.
But I swear, people really need to know they are not alone. They really need to hear from you. Just tell your story. Mirror what others are thinking.
They healing for you, and for them, will be tremendous! I promise.
Please, triple please, write!!!
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Camarillo, CA 93011
I'm quite excited about this week's Note.
Today I'm going to share with you three people who have, in my opinion, been brave and enough and willing enough to speak their minds... albeit online.
You see, speaking your mind about any topic I've touched on, even if I'm never mentioned (like Michael Kiehm's post I sent you a few weeks back), on the social networks is considered treason.
That sounds dramatic, I know, but if you read Setting Dancers Free, you'll remember that I talk in length about what's been happening "behind the scenes" to people that question the judging, the points, the music, the drugs... just about anything I've ever talked about... online - especially on Facebook.
When one does so, it gets scary. And I mean really scary. So much, in fact, that one famous WCS personality online who happens to agree with me on a lot of things, has taken to giving these freedom writers a heads up as soon as they post. As this person so eloquently put it, "[certain politicians] are on the HUNT!"
How right they are. Thinkers will be attacked privately and personally. It's just a fact.
Yet these dancers stood up anyhow.
Let's applaud them together, shall we? And let's start speaking our own opinions online. The more we speak, the more we can be heard. We have a right to be heard. Everyone does.
PS- as for those on the hunt? That's exactly what "blocking" is for... it's a beautiful thing. No one is your King unless you allow them to be. Let them go. Enjoy your community on your own terms, always.
The Revolution is at Hand
|Freedom Writers - Those Who Have Posted in Freedom|
San Diego, CA
In regards to late night music after SwingDiego 2013.
"Please keep the discussion civil and constructive if you choose to comment on this post. It's not my intent to point fingers or to say that anyone is right or wrong in the matter. It may be that I'm overly prudish and this will fall on deaf ears. However, if you agree on some level, sharing your thoughts on the matter with a deejay or event director might go a long way to making a more comfortable, positive environment for everyone who loves the dance.
With that said, my question to the community is, "Where do we draw the line with explicit lyrics?"
Last year, I left the ballroom one night after not one or two songs, but a good 30+ minutes worth of music that I found too offensive to dance to. This year, I stuck it out and continued to dance after a similar set played. I talked to several other people who were awake at the time, each of whom were in agreement about the poor taste in music selection.
This is NOT a point of disliking a particular genre. Though I have my own tastes, I prefer that a wide variety of music gets played to please a broader audience. The more people that are dancing, the better.
There will be a fair number of people who say, "Anything goes after (insert time) a.m.!" but considering social dancing didn't start until 1:30 am one night, it's not a fair argument to say it was the middle of the night and that makes it okay.
The most offensive song that played was probably "Pull My Hair" by the Yin Yang Twins. I've attached links for audio and lyrics.
I want to know if anyone in the community can justify playing this song in any venue, let alone at Swing Diego with many minors in attendance. I could see playing it at Sin City Swing in Las Vegas, but even there I personally would find it disrespectful.
There are several songs that I LOVE dancing to that have a bit of coarse language here or there, but the songs themselves are good enough to ignore a few words that wouldn't make it to the radio. Also, the context and meaning of a song is important in determining whether or not it's likely to offend people. Is the rhythm of "Pull My Hair" THAT good that people consider it excusable? Was there not a better choice that just as many people would have danced to, but fewer people would have been offended by?
Deejays take cues from the number of people who dance to a song, but for many die-hard dancers who stay up all night, they already have another partner and are ready to dance before the next song even begins or at least before they're realized what they've got themselves into. Despite feeling embarrassed, many people will continue to dance because it would be terribly rude to leave the floor mid-song.
Some of us will dance to almost anything, so the fact that the floor isn't empty doesn't mean that a song is a keeper. Thank you for the hours and hours of music that kept so many of us dancing through exhaustion all weekend, but please, if you've read this and you play at a local or national event, think carefully about your selections before playing an explicit late-night set.
Link to Pull Your Hair Lyrics: Click here
Video of Pull Your Hair:
|Ying Yang Twins - Pull your hair|
#1 - I'm REALLY sorry for this pic above for the video. But he included it and, well, it really does make the point now, doesn't it? And notice how he says he's not the only one? I love this post. I respect this post. It's needed.
Now, for those of you who were there, I wrote about explicit lyrics in the music a year ago. It was Note #20: Facing the Music
, and you can read all of it in book #2, Setting Dancers Free
. I made a specific video for it and everything. This debate started long ago, but now THE PEOPLE are speaking out. And loudly. Like never before.
"...I wouldn't use the same words as Katherine (mostly because I don't have the legitimacy that she has . However, "special" or not, I just happen to agree with her! Just read her excellent text titled "April's Fool" in her blog. You can replace "April" and "May" with MANY names of people we all know, leaders and followers from various divisions (please note that I've written divisions, not levels - divisions do NOT accurately reflect dance levels anymore IMHO).
There are lots of things that can/should be improved in today's WSDC comps:
1. The fact that judges push towards a very precise style of dancing (which as Katherine points out doesn't seem to be compatible with "pure WCS" - I think I see her point but I'll leave that to the real experts),
2. The fact that judges can only judge the visual and not the "feel" of a dance (take a look at ***'*s interesting experiments to better evaluate dancers on a "felt" basis),
3. The fact that comps in crowded divisions have become WAY too random for reasons we all know (and I really mean "random" - pretending that all the best dancers always end up making their way to the finals is simply NOT TRUE, and I have soooo many examples I could fill pages and pages of text with them - but I can't disclose any names),
4. The fact that judges themselves, great as they may be, do still not all judge on harmonized criteria (this has been acknowledged by some judges),
5. The fact that the scoring system itself (Relative Placement) has its (theoretical) advantages BUT also some (very real) flaws that have been pointed out many times...
All this usually leads to endless debates, between people who want a change for the best, and people who are towards immobilism. I DON'T intend to create a new debate here anyway. Hopefully, History shows us that immobilism is never a good thing, and more importantly, that it can't last forever.
As some of you know, I have tried WSDC comps some times (mostly because of the social pressure). Oddly enough, my best results were years ago, when my WCS was about 1.000 times worse than it is now (hmm... maybe 2.000 times ? lol). I'm not the only one in that case BTW (take a look at J****'s story for instance, it's amazing). Also, when I made a final @ London's NYSF (Heather, remember ? ), I did it with a broken toe. So according to the judges, I dance better either with a broken toe, or back in my beginner's days. Well, that's really good to know. Somebody's got a hammer ?... ^^"
Quite an "on center" thinker this guy is, isn't he? I cringe at some of the information he's been fed by a number of false "experts" on Facebook. We have a few floating around posting about everything on WCS on Facebook, which has driven nearly every true professional from ever posting on those conversations again. Sometimes I wish they could meet some of these "experts" in person. It would end their credibility in a heartbeat.
ANYhow, I still love this post. Of course I don't agree with everything 100% - I love Relative Placement when it's used correctly. Unfortunately, it's very easy to manipulate as a judge, and the judges have been manipulating it for years, so... I get it. I love love love this person's honesty and openess, and dang! Does he hit a lot of nails on the head or What!?! Love it!
In response to another false "expert"'s comment on FB.
"She spoke the truth though. [Katherine] - rock it girl. When I was given my first WSDC # year 2000 we had no clue where this was going... it's all about $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$...
When I started in mid 90s it was totally different. My idea when I go out there when I first started jack and jill is to have as many dances after the contest. That's just the adrenaline warm up back then. I learned WCS in High Heel shoes and dressed just like the same way most Hustle Dancers dance. We all blended it as far as dressing... All I know is that it requires more $$$ to travel and keep up with points. I see kids more stressed about making the points the status... Oh wow. How about having fun while you're at it!!! I just want to dance."
There are two things that make this post extra extra special. 1) A women posted this. 2) They not only mentioned my name, but they tagged it! Ooooohhhh... very daring indeed!!! Unless you are on the social networks, you may have no idea at all what all this means, but basically, this lady had guts. A million guts! I about fell of my seat when I read it!
Yeah. This post is amazing. Totally devoid of all fear. Maybe she'd just had enough (I mean, look at the first post - women are NOT exactly equals in this community unless they have a sociopathic personality), or maybe she knew that she was not alone. Not by a long shot. Or maybe she just wasn't afraid anymore.
Either way, SHE rocks. Just sayin'.
Love to you all,
A standing ovation to the lovelies above,
And a HUGE huge... AMEN!
Freedom writers rock.
An author and Champion dancer who fell in love with West Coast Swing in the early 1990's, Katherine has owned her highly successful studio, served on the board for the Swing Dance Hall of Fame, is a finalist in both Classic and Strictly at the US Open, has written articles for numerous magazines in the community for more than a decade, has choreographed for numerous top 5 routines, has served on the board for Boogie by the Bay and has traveled to over 42 states.
She has written two books for her West Coast Swing Revolution Series:Telling the Truth and Setting Dancers Free.
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.