How I describe connection in lindy hop

Someone on the facey asked ‘how do you describe/explain connection?’ and this is what I said.

I don’t often talk about connection in class. I usually use the word to include a whole bunch of stuff:

  • the human/social connection between partners (mutual respect and collaboration).
  • the physical contact (ie where we are actually touching each other)
  • the rhythmic connection (ie our shared relationship to the music, our shared sense of groove v two people just randomly grooving independently).

ie my three ‘rules’: take care of your partner, take care of the music, take care of yourself.

But my favourite description is: We are a team, and if partner X does something cool, it’s a win for both of us in the team. I also like the Jenny/Rikard description of lindy hop as a rally car: the lead is reading the map, and pointing out that there is a turn up ahead, but the follow decides whether to take the turn, how fast to turn, whether to stop and reverse, etc etc etc.

I don’t talk about all the technical body stuff in class if I can help it, as a one hour dance class is not the place to learn about turning on your pelvic floor – we go to pilates for that.

But if I want to improve the way two dancers are ‘connecting’, I will ask them to do a few things that have effects on their biomechanics:

– Look at each other (because the gaze actually affects the way we hold our heads on our necks, how we orient our torsos, and all the way to our feet. eg when the lead bows to the follow on the beginning of a swing out, if the lead looks at the follow, they won’t collapse their head and shoulders by looking at the ground, and they won’t create a strange off-set connection by looking to their right shoulder).

– Ask them to observe how they are touching their partner, and what messages this contact sends their partner (eg I ask the follows to observe their left hand on the lead’s shoulder – are the fingers making a claw? what message does that send their partner?) I don’t ask them to change what they’re doing, but to observe their own bodies. There’s nothing at all wrong with telling your partner you are freaking out by having your fingers clench into a claw on their shoulder; it’s important to communicate like this.* I also ask them to observe _themselves_ rather than their partner at first, because follows are often pressed to think of their bodies as a conduit for the lead’s ‘vision’ of a move, erasing their own sense of self and volition.

– Find a shared sense of groove with the music. So first we may do some grooving alone (usually with purpose in a game where groove is a side effect, not the stated goal), then we work on dancing _together_ and finding a shared sense of groove, where we don’t sacrifice our own sense of timing or rhythm, but we don’t ignore our partner’s. One of the consequences of this approach is that they really ‘listen’ to each other, using their sense of touch, and also their visual sense.

– Looking at each other, and doing lots of call and response work. I think that a lot of hardcore technical classes neglect the sense of sight. But we use our eyes for so much communication, it’s ridiculous to abandon it. And also we are social humans use rely on body cues and nonverbal visual communication all the time. Lindy hop is about visual communication with a partner too.
So I am quite against exercises where you close your eyes.

*This is why I am impatient with technical discussions of ‘connection’ that encourage us to adopt a ‘perfect’ physical connection via biomechanics. A ‘perfect’ connection prioritises ‘perfect’ leading and following, and suggests that a perfectly executed move is the end goal. I would much rather people reminded themselves that they know how to communicate with their bodies, and to trust their own physical reactions and accept them. So I want to see dancers smiling or laughing or frowning or jiggling with excitement or stopping dead or whatevs, _not_ maintaining a ‘perfect’ connection at all costs.

Going to Seoul to lindy hop

Hello! Do you love travelling and lindy hopping? Seoul is the city for you.

Here’s a note: I don’t know everything about Seoul or lindy hopping in Seoul; you should double check my observations with a local.
I’m also assuming that because you’re reading this post, you can read and speak english. That’s my only language.

First things first.

Where will you go?
South Korea.
South Korea has some pretty good cities, and you can lindy hop or attend lindy hop, blues, balboa, solo jazz events in most of them. But I like Seoul because it’s a fantastic city visit for other things besides dancing. I fly in to Incheon airport, the best airport in the world. It has on-site hotels, rest zones, showers, massage, endless restaurants and bars and shops, a roller skating rink, cinemas… it’s HUGE. And the train will take you directly to Seoul (it takes about 50-60 minutes, and you can buy a ticket at the airport).

Where should you stay in Seoul?
That depends on what you’re doing while you’re in the city. If you’re attending a particular event to take classes as well as party, then you’ll probably want to stay near the event venues. But if you’re planning to spend a week in the city (I recommend!), then you needn’t be tied to just one place. There are dance ‘bars’ all over the city, so it doesn’t really matter where you stay, though most visitors like to stay near a green line train station. This line of the excellent subway captures a few loops of the river and the CBD within it. You can catch it from Hongik University down to Bangbae (home to swing bars like Big Apple).

I like Hongdae. Hongdae isn’t technically a suburb or district; it’s the abbreviation of two words – Hongik Daehakgyo (Hongik University). Ask google translate for pronounciation tips. It’s an artsy/indy/studenty sort of area – lots of shops and arts centres and teeny little places to explore. And it’s well serviced by trains and buses, and it’s easy to find something to eat at any time of day.


link

If you look at that map above, you can see there’s a yellow squigly circle on the Hongik University train station. This is an epic big station, and you should always double check the station entrance you need before you try to exit :D I like to use this station as my base for accommodation when I’m staying in this area.
There’s also a red pointer, which is centred on an address: 29 Donggyo-ro 46-gil, Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu. Mapo-gu is the district (which is a loose part of ‘hongdae’). Yeonnam-dong is a ‘dong’ – a neighbourhood inside the Mapo-gu district. Donggyo-ro is Donggyo Road.

If you zoom in as close as you can, you’ll see this:

Note the scale: you’re at about 20m:1cm. This should give you an idea of the density of this part of Seoul. You can’t get to it with google maps, because the road barely fits a car. But the shop looks like this:

As you can see, this makes areas like Mapo-gu very walkable, and wonderful for exploring. A tiny little shop like this will often be in a three of four story building with lots of things to explore on each level.

This is how I like to spend my days.

General Seoul tips

Internet and your phone.
The internet is huge in Korea. Like, so big you will not be able to fit their kittens into your little phone. And everyone uses a big phone to talk to their friends and family, watch tv on the train, get around the city. Public use of phones is a way to politely ‘make space’ and not crowd other people, but it’s also important for finding out what’s cool in this huge, cosmopolitan city.
You can hire a wifi ‘egg’ at the airport, or most airbnb hosts provide them free of charge (check when you register).

Buy a selfie-stick and use it with abandon. It’s cool.
Take photos of everything – your meal, your drink, your friends. That’s also cool, and it’s a way to show your host that you appreciate what they’ve done. And go nuts with tags. BUT don’t take photos inside boutique shops, or in designer outlets or places where artists work and display. Especially when it comes to handmade or indy clothes. That’s not cool – that’s a bit like stealing ideas.

Use google maps and google translate.
Everyone in Seoul, even locals, use maps to find new things in tiny little dense areas. It’s totally ok to use your phone to navigate, especially if you are looking for that super chic bar/restaurant that’s just opened.

Learn some basic Korean.
Hello, goodbye, yes, no, thank you, I’m sorry, cool, delicious. A lot of people don’t speak english, so you should get some basic words. And use them! Trains, stations, and most signage use english (and chinese, japanese, and korean), and people are helpful, but you will need to use your words.

Use the underground and buses.
Cheap, clean, easy. Charge up your reuseable metcard and enjoy! BUT stay out of the train at peakhour, noob!
Note for westerners: you are bigger than most Koreans, so you will take up too much space. Make yourself small. Take off your backpack, hunch your shoulders, and keep your feet and arms close to your body. Lower your voice, and don’t make eye contact with strangers!

Eat everything.

Seoul is a city of foodies, and there are endless places to eat and drink, from traditional Korean food to the latest in gastro-porn. Learn a little bit about Korean food before you go, so you know what to expect.
Vegetarians and vegans: learn to eat some meat :D Soz, but while there are vegetarian and vegan restaurants (esp in Buddhist families or areas), they are few and far between.
Chilli eaters, get ready for FUN. Koreans like things spicy and delicious. If something looks red, it’s spicy. And there are lots of ways to add more chilli to your food! kimchee, chilli paste, etc etc.

Easy things to eat that don’t have too much chilli: kimbap (a korean version of sushi), bibimbap (a hot stone bowl with rice, some veggies, meat, and an egg sizzling inside, accompanied by kimchee and sides), bulgogi with rice (just beef with rice). I also like BBQ, but it’s not really a meal for one person :( :(

There are also a lot of places in Seoul that specialise in western foods. As in, the best croissants you will ever eat. The best bagels.

Take Out Food
You know uber eats and deliveroo? Those things will never take off in Seoul, because Seoulites have been delivering food locally forever. Motorbikes zip around the streets, weaving in and out of crowds, and doods in helmets crowd into apartment building lifts with bags full of delicious smelling food.

Coffee.
It is the best. Iced in summer, hot in winter. Pour over, cold drip, brewed. Seoul is THE place for coffee. So don’t just settle for a chain store like Starbucks. Use a guide.

Tea.
Seoul is very very very good for tea and tea houses. Treat yoself.

Mangoplate is a great app, but I find it’s often a bit out of date, as things change quickly in Seoul. I also use Time Out Seoul.

Where should you dance in Seoul?
That depends entirely on the day of the week, and whether there’s a big event on. Though it’s a little out of date, I still use Swing Dance In Korea (run by Adamas (KIM, Kang Seok)). This lists 15 different swing ‘bars’, and which days of the week are the ‘best’ for social dancing. Because Seoul is so high density, and there are relatively few big spaces for dancing, each of these ‘bars’ is essentially a dance studio devoted to lindy hop. Yes, there are at least 15 studios in Seoul alone where you can dance every day of the week.
These bars do look like dance studios, but they are incredibly well laid out. There are changing rooms, toilets, shoe and bag storage, heaters, air-con, great sound systems, and room for beer on tap and food. Yes, parties in Seoul include beer and snacks.

Note: not everyone who works in or runs these bars speaks English (or any language other than Korean), so you’ll need to learn some Korean words!

What night should you dance where?
Ah, that’s a tricky one. Adamas’ site does give you pretty reliable tips for which venues are ‘best’ for which nights. And by ‘best’ I mean have lots of people to dance with and a good DJ. But there are occasionally other things on – special band nights (!!!), classes with guest teachers, etc – which will change the ‘bestness’ of venues. For that you’ll need a) local contacts to ask, or b) post in the Fun Swing Dance In Korea facebook group. The latter is pretty good, but having a local contact is even better.
Yes, just as anywhere else in the world, you’ll have to make some local friends to get the most out of the local dance scene. YAY!

What is it like dancing in Seoul?
FUN.
The bars are crowded, and the music is good. Solid, swinging classic jazz. And the dancers are very, very good. There are, as per any scene, local politics and hierarchies which affect how people arrange themselves in the room, and who dances with who or asks who to dance. But as an out of towner, you can just ask anyone to dance, and they’ll probably say yes. If they say no, it’s usually because they feel very scared of dancing with someone they perceive as a ‘better’ dancer, or because they are just plain shy.

General stuff:

  • Dance one dance with each partner.
    You can ask for a second, but most people don’t. Say thanks and move on to your next victim! Ask anyone. As an out of towner, peeps will politely say yes, or even seek you out for a dance because you’re new and interesting. But as per usual, be cool with refusals, and be respectful.
  • Floor craft.
    Get it. Get it NOW. This is a big deal in Seoul, as floors are very crowded, and people are very good at not hurting each other. It’s not only good etiquette to be floor-safe, but also very socially important to respect other people’s dance space. Visiting leads, this means you: keep your rock steps tiny, and keep one eye open at all times. If you do stand on someone, hurt someone, touch someone, say sorry immediately. If it’s bad, you need to bow and check they’re ok. If you make contact with more than one person per dance, it’s you. It’s YOU. So you need to take yourself to the edge of the floor immediately.

    Important: how to say sorry in Korean.
    I use KWOW.

    “Mi ahn hae” is a casual way to say sorry to your peers or friends.
    BUT
    you don’t use this if you bump an aunty on the train! Then you add the ‘yo’ suffix: “mi ahn hae yo.”
    I like to add stop, say sorry, check in with the other person, add a little bow if I feel bad.

  • Music is fast.
    So get used to it. It’s only one song with each partner, but it’s crowded. My tips:
    – take small goddamm steps;
    – stay close to your partner;
    – hydrate regularly (you usually get a free drink card with entry price to parties);
    – change your shirt (everyone does) or dress (if you’re wearing them), especially in summer;
    – use deoderant.
    These last two are important in a culture where mutual respect is important. So don’t slack on this if you want to be polite.
  • Drinking and eating.
    There are little paper envelopes near big water tanks at most venues.


    For parties, there is often a keg of beer, paper cups (write your name on yours with pen), and lots of snacks, ranging from chips to fried chicken. Koreans can really hold their drinks, so be prepared. And don’t embarrass your mum. The snack room or table is a good place to meet people and make friends. Use your rubbishy beginner Korean and people will be charmed :D I find Korean dancers super friendly and nice, so it’s worth making an effort.
  • What to wear.
    Look, just wear what you’d usually dance in. For a regularly weekly dance, neat casual will work (eg jeans and tshirt, or dress pants and short sleeved shirt, nice dress or dress and blouse), but for a proper party or event, do it nice. Chloe Hong lives in Seoul, so you know the standards are high. You’ll see Korean men, for example, changing out of their gorgeous suits for the train ride home, to keep them safe. Men: avoid bare shoulders (ie no singlets/vests), and women, you can generally get away with everything, but be aware that Korean women are more likely to show leg than boob.
    Shoes.
    Do not wear your street shoes onto the dance floor. Do NOT.
    Koreans take their shoes off when entering a home or traditional restaurant, so this + respect for the floor = no street shoes on the floor.
  • Getting there.
    Catch a train! Most studios are near a train station. But be aware of a few things:
    – The last train usually leaves between 11.30pm and midnight;
    – Be sure you know which exit to use to get to the venue. The stations sprawl across levels and kilometres underground, but exits are clearly signed in english and korean;
    – use a multi-use train pass (like a metpass – called Tmoney), and keep it charged up with money. The train is crazy cheap, and not having the right money on your card is a bit shameful, as the gate will lock, then sing a loud song of shame :D;
    – missed the last train? Catch a cab. It’s very cheap. But remember what your address is in Korean, as most drivers don’t speak english. I usually memorise my closest station’s name in Korean pronounciation then add the suffix ‘yeog’ which sounds a bit like ‘yo’. Btw, you don’t tip in Soul.

Are you a DJ who’d like to DJ in Seoul?
Ok, this isn’t something I know a huge amount about. I do DJ when I go to Seoul, but usually only at bigger events. When I’m there for regular nights, I just want to DANCE!
Because there’re so many venues, and so much competition for crowds, DJing is pretty serious in Seoul, and I’ve no doubt the usual competition, rivalry, and professional networking and manoeuvering goes on.
So if I were you, I wouldn’t just jump in and ‘ask’ for a set. Because of language barriers (if you don’t speak Korean) and Korean manners (people will try to avoid being rude or shaming you), it can be very difficult for people to say ‘no’. Your asking for a set, then pushing the point will upset local balances and really make you looke like a jerk. So don’t be a jerk and put organisers and managers in awkward situations.

tbc…

Seoul Fashion Report, final

Neutral tones and natural fibres are de rigueur for the chic in Seoul this season. Straw hats and bags, leather sandals. Loose smock dresses, wide-legged cotton trousers. This most urban of urban cities is embracing a pastoral aesthetic, and they won’t let a little rain (and the threat of transparency!) dissuade them.

Seoul Fashion Report

The Sport Sandal. One of our favourites, because nothing says athleticism like exposed toes. Soles are thick and bouncy, colours are bright and diachromatic, straps are fat and ready for action. Ready, steady, go!

Seoul Fashion Report

Summer is for sandals, and this season Seoul is saying Hola! to the huarache. Complex braids or simple straps, leather to suit the natural fibre trend, or black and manmade fibres for an urban edge. However you choose to style this look, hurry, because they are flying off the shelves!

Seoul Fashion Report

Couples in matching ensembles is one of our favourite trends. Most usually the purview of the younger set, attention to detail is key. Matching shorts, heavy sandals, and wide-striped tshirts are trending, and after all, when one has a chic look, why not double it?

Seoul fashion report

Linen linen linen.
Summer is hot and humid in Seoul, and nothing’s quite as nice as an open weave on overheated skin. Wear it loose and relaxed; drifting open silhouettes for dresses, untucked and open-necked for shirts. And if you can’t find a neutral shade to suit, go wild with colourful jungle prints.

Gendered language in class

I’m ok with talking about gender and using gendered pronouns in class. I just like to be sure I’m not just using the same two boring pronouns all the time, and that I’m using people’s preferred pronouns.

I’m not ok with gendering leading and following, or skills related to leading and following.

This is partly why I’m not ok with some elements of the ambidance movement: I don’t want to do away with all gender.
But I do want to do away with the essentialist coupling of skills and ideas with two gender ‘norms’.

How then do I work to deconstruct gender in lindy hop when I’m teaching?

1. Use the words ‘leads’ and ‘follows’ (or the role name, and I’m with Dan when it comes to avoiding leader/follower) rather than ‘ladies and gentlemen’, ‘men and women’, ‘she/her/he/him’ etc etc.

2. Use people’s actual names rather than the role. It’s nicer generally, but it also encourages us to think of people as individuals, not roles. I try to use my teaching partner’s name.

3. Rather than talking about or around your teaching partner (eg “The follow will do this,”) speak to your teaching partner, asking them to describe what they’re doing (eg “How do you know I’m asking you to move forward, Alice?”).

Then there are trickier, less obvious things.
1. Always ask permission before you touch someone. It’s quite common for leaders to simply ‘grab’ a follow in class/their partner to demonstrate on them as though they were an object. I always try to ask them if I can touch/demonstrate. And I always apologise if I’ve just thoughtlessly grabbed them.
I started doing this after we started asking students to always introduce themselves and ask someone to dance before touching a new partner. It rubbed off on me :D
This stops us treating our partners like objects/just ‘the follower’. And this issue happens more with leaders grabbing follows than vice versa.

2. Conceptualising lindy hop as something other than ‘leader says, follow does’.
We are currently using ‘call and response’ and both partners can do it. We also use ‘leader invites follow to do X, follow decides whether to do X, how fast to do X,’ etc etc etc.

3. Don’t use words that position follows as objects.
eg never using words like ‘push’ to describe what leads do: ‘the leader pushes the follow’. No. This a) not technically accurate, and b) disrespectful.

4. Always try to talk about and think about your partner as a human with feelings and emotions.
When we get really technical, it’s easy to reduce our partner to an object force/momentum happens to, or a subject who generates force/momentum. We are real people with real feelings. So while physics is at work, our feelings and emotions are much more important. So we use language that describes what’s happening from that POV first. In nerd terms, this means using ‘external cues’ rather than ‘internal cues’.
eg. I ask Alice if she’d like to go to the snack table, then I take her hand and go with her to the snack table. vs ‘I hold her hand with my fingers in X position, then I engage my core, prepare, and then lift my left foot, swing it back 20*, place it back behind me, and then she engages her core and activates her frame…..’
The technical jargon encourages us to talk about our bodies and partners as technical objects, not as real live humans. It also slows down learning :D

5. Speak and act as though your partner and other dancers have opinions, and that these opinions may differ from yours.
We often try to hide the way we ‘make the sausages’, but it’s more useful for learners to see us discuss things, perhaps disagree, share different ideas. So ask your partner and students what they think and feel. Allow yourself to learn from your students and be surprised and delighted by this new information.

-> all this stuff is about deconstructing not just a gender binary, but a hierarchy of gendered power with straight white bro at the top.

And what of historical accuracy in all this?
I think it’s important to talk about gender in a historical context when we talk about lindy hop. So while a gender neutral pronoun is very much something white, middle class Australian teachers are experimenting with, that’s not how black dancers might have spoken of each other in the 30s.

Again, though, I like to take care about generalising. While some dancers today would have us believe that the 30s were a time of rigid gender norms, that’s not entirely true:
– There were women leads and men follows (and every gender ID ever) in the olden days,
– There were queer dancers and musicians (I’m currently reading about queer culture in NY in the 20s-40s… helllooooo genderflex ID and jazz dance!) and genderflex lindy hoppers fucking up the patriarchy then. Lester Young, anyone?
– Some of the most supportive teachers I’ve had have been black OGs, who’ve used gender neutral language and openly said they support women leads/male follows/genderflex dance IDs.

So when we talk about ‘ungendering’ lindy hop, that’s perhaps not helpful. It’s more that I want to widen my understanding of gender (and sexuality) in dance to more than just straight men leading and straight women following. The world is huge, and jazz asks us to improvise and innovate.

I have written about this many times before:

Selling dance products by promoting self-doubt

I see this ad about a bit on fb, and it makes me so sad.

“If you want to improve your dancing, you need to know where your weak points are. If you don’t take the time to evaluate your skills, then you might not be advancing as fast as you could.”

This is classic provoking anxiety to stimulate consumption advertising. Make people doubt themselves, feel bad, then offer them a solution.

This is everything I don’t want to be as a teacher.
Why not take the time to remind yourself that you enjoy dancing, that you have strength and skills and abilities? We know that happy, confident students learn faster and more thoroughly. But we also know that anxious, self-doubting consumers spend more money on luxury items to boost their self esteem.

Boo to this. Boo.

Moving away from gender essentialism in teaching talk

In a recent facebook talk about teaching and gender in lindy hop we took the next few steps past not using gendered pronouns to describe leading and following. We then went on to look at how people gender particular dance styles or movements in essentialist ways.
Here are some comments from that discussion.

I’ve had teachers ostensibly ok with non-binary/non-bro peeps leading, then unable to even look at me when we split into lead/follow groups in class.
But there are definitely teachers around who are good at dealing with their own errors and then fixing them. eg Georgia and Kieran.
I am definitely on board with the goals of uncoupling leading and following from gendered archetypes. I’m personally not interested in switching roles mid-dance, but I do lead and follow, and think of the two roles as functioning in very different ways.

I was interested at a recent weekend workshop to hear/see Kieran talking about ‘attacking’ a rhythm to make the lead/follow element work. This is often a word associated with masculine archetypes. But he was asking leads _and_ follows to try this. Which effectively asks all peeps to try on this masculinised characteristic, ‘even’ while following. Which then reconstructs following as involving stuff outside archetypal femininity.
Even more interestingly, Georgia asked us at later point while we were playing a game where you copy your partner’smovements/rhythms without touching, to ‘not hesitate’. She asked not to pause and worry about being right, but to continue through.
Same concept as with Kieran’s comments, but different language: confidence, continuing despite lacking certainty. This is particularly important for women, who are trained to self-doubt or try desperately to ‘please’ their partner.

I think this approach – describing one skill in a range of ways – helps deconstruct the gender norms at work in our ideas about leading and following.

And I think ethnicity and class are key in this. Eg white, m/c, younger women are trained to self-doubt and not ‘attack’ movements. So we might also look at the dancing of Anne whatsit from Whitey’s as an example of a woman who really attacked rhythms.

Alex asked:

Have you seen the opposite? Teachers asking all students to try on feminized characteristics? With anything like the same frequency? I’m not sure I’ve ever considered this topic in this context, but I’m aware of the phenomenon of attempting to address gender inequity simply by offering masculinity to women and girls but not doing the same with femininity and men and boys.

And I replied:

yerp, marie n’diaye talked sbout it explicitly in the chirus line stream at herrang last year: asking people try ‘masc’ and ‘fem’ styling.

Other than Marie, nope. I know lots of men/non-woman-IDing peeps who dance femme, but no teachers asking all students to try.
Ask men to dance femme? Their penises would fall off, right?

Alex then made some more really good points:

And I guess that wasn’t quite what I was asking. If I understand correctly, the teacher you referenced above didn’t ask students explicitly to try something masculine, but he asked students to attack the rhythm and you picked up on the gender association. My guess is that it’s more common for teachers to ask students to so things or adopt characteristics associated with masculinity (attack the rhythm, be assertive, take over) than it is to ask them explicitly to “do this masc.” So I’m wondering about the presence and frequency of calls for students to take on feminine characteristics or engage in feminine activities, rather than being asked to “do this femme.”

Now that I’m thinking of it (and talking with Samantha) we do this a little. Telling our students to pretend that their partner is a terrified newbie and to take care of them is an example. I’d like to think about this more and see where else we can do this. For instance, I see plenty of people attack the rhythm. I’d like to see them treat it gentle more. Nurture the rhythm.

And like… How far can we take this? Gestate the dance. We’re just out of the intro, if you try to birth it now it won’t make it. And don’t feel like it needs to be big. You’ll tear.

Then Magnus chimed in with a good comment:

Yes, Marie N’diaye showed us examples of dancing “feminine” and “masculine”, and we tried dancing the different styles. She also talked about how some famous dancers back in the day would dance feminine or masculine opposite of gender, although they wouldn’t call it that (Cab Calloway for instance).

To me, I don’t connect these styles with feminine or masculine, these words are just cultural constructs. But it feels good to dance in a style that some people may deem feminine.

I think this is what’s key for me: these characteristics are just characteristics or qualities. They only become ‘masculinised’ or ‘feminised’ in a wester cultural setting that uses gender binaries.
I keep thinking about other cultures where there are more than two gender roles, and how these variations offer us so much more creative room than a boring old gender binary.

I also agree, Alex, that we tend to see masculinised qualities prioritised/valued in an anglo-celtic western culture. That’s pretty much the definition of patriarchy right there.

Other ways of describing stuff that isn’t masculinised that I’ve heard teachers used:

  • Lennart has described having clear rhythm as ‘eating the rhythm’. With our students, we say “eat the rhythm, swallow it down, and now it is in your belly, right in your belly.” It’s a very useful image, because it also encourages groundedness, a physical vs cerebral understanding of rhythm, an idea that the core/our pelvis is the birthplace of rhythm (how’s that for gynocentrism? :D ) and is just nice.
  • Rikard and Jenny and peeps like Ramona talk about it as ‘taking care of the rhythm’, and Lennart talks about ‘taking care of the music’. I like to say ‘make friends with the music’ and ‘take care of the rhythm’. This idea of ‘taking care’ and congeniality is really nice because it’s a nice contrast to that ‘attack the rhythm’ model. _But_ the attack the rhythm image does give you an impetus and energy that ‘take care’ does not.
  • I like to talk about dancing every rhythm or every step as though I’m teaching it to my partner, or demonstrating it so well that they can pick it up and then dance/steal it too. This of course grew from my own teaching guiding my dance practice, but we found games like i-go, you-go reinforced this model. If you are dancing as clearly as you can, as though you are showing someone, you dance really clearly, _and_ you connect with a partner. This makes dancing a way of connecting with a human (reciprocity) rather than just artistic self-expression (individualism).

I’d be super curious and really excited to see how people from different cultures describe and imagine dancing clear rhythms. I mean, the whole shift from ‘doing footwork’ or ‘good technique’ or ‘clarity of movement’ TO talk about rhythm, call-and-response, etc etc, in American/Anglo/Australian/Canadian lindy hop discourse is evidence of a clear ideological shift. A shift away from a very antiseptic lindy-as-science, towards lindy-as-art, lindy-as-social-connection. I know that it’s very tempting to see this shift as proof of a shift towards positioning lindy hop as vernacular dance (again), but I’m not convinced. All this _talk_ about dancing in class is simply another way of doing what middle class, white capitalism has been doing with dance for a century or more: commodifying dance with particular words and discourse.