This post will analyze why some people choose to compete in their Lindy Hop journey, why some people choose to exclusively social dance, and why some people choose to do both.
A key assumption for this post is understanding that traveling to dance at events is a key goal and unique experience for many people who "do" Lindy Hop.
I recently attended the LA Labor Day weekend event called Camp Hollywood. Which is where these musings arose.
This year at an event in LA called Camp Hollywood, I competed in more competitions than in any previous years I attended.
While I personally LOVE to compete. I found myself missing two entire nights of social dancing. Because I fell asleep and never got back up. Sat and Monday I didn't dance at ALL. This made me quite sad, but I was not sure why it made me sad at the time. I had competed, I had social danced. What was missing?
What are your values?
I LOVE social dancing. And I also love competing. Here is where I think I went wrong at CH.
I also happen to love volunteering for these big events because I like being "behind the scenes" if you will, and watching the flow of everything unfold from my unique perspective as a volunteer. I also love relaxing by a pool with a good book. Or enjoying deep conversations with distant living friends in the hot tub. I think this right here is MY problem. I haven't decided what my values are properly. I split my time up between too many things and then I don't actually get to enjoy any of them. I need to decide what Camp Hollywood is to me from now on otherwise I won't have enough energy to be present and experience the weekend as well as I could have if I made specific intentional choices with my time during and prior to the weekend. I want to compete again, but I also want to be able to social dance more next time. I think I want these things more than volunteering. And I think relaxing is going to be critical to recovering from the nights of social dancing and the days competing.
Can I have all of these values together?
Saying NO is key to experiencing the present moment
I believe it is true that I cannot truly enjoy being present if I have split my attention in so many different directions. A skill I have not honed is saying no to demands on my limited time and energy. To say no would be to decide that my attention is better directed in one way rather than another. And my inability to decide which is better is MY core problem. In my silly brain, I think all paths are equally valuable.
Don't be like me, and learn to say no better than I can.
Why do some people compete and others do not
Understand this dear reader. Lindy Hop competitions are largely NON-objective. Because Lindy Hop is different than other styles of partner dancing, there aren't really objective standards by which competitors are judged. Which, is itself part of the frustration many people have with Lindy Hop competitions. But, it is also what makes Lindy Hop extremely appealing to others.
Timing, Technique, Teamwork.
"The three T's" that judges are generally looking out for during competitions. Personal preferences are heavily influencing the outcomes of competitions because so many people believe Lindy Hop is one thing rather than another. Those who do like competing believe there is more objectivity in judging than those who do not like competing.
While I'm critical of the level of objectivity in Lindy Hop, others are more so. I, however, believe there is MORE uniformity in the dance itself nowadays than in previous iterations of Lindy Hop throughout the decades.
There are also territorially determined regional dance aesthetic preferences exemplified in certain competitions and not others, and these regional differences are more popular in different parts of the country, and not others. You see the problem?
These are some of the big-picture differences that affect the whole country or planet.
There are perhaps dozens more elements at play for why some compete and some do not.
I will only focus on a few below.
Why do some people compete in Lindy Hop?
DISCLAIMER: This is not an exhaustive list!
A somewhat innate personal preference for competition - it makes them excited and happy to feel a sense of friendly battle between themselves and their friends or strangers
A desire to perform for an audience
A personal desire to have their dancing validated by a "win"
Why people do not compete?
DISCLAIMER: This is not an exhaustive list!
Little to no sense of competition between themselves and others
The belief that dancing cannot be objectively judged
The desire to be social and vibe with someone rather than perform for an audience
Ask yourself: why do you want to do Lindy Hop?
If you are new to Lindy Hop then it might behoove you to start asking yourself this question. There is no need to rush an answer for yourself. But, as you explore certain reasons you will eventually start to develop a rationale for whether you will compete or not in the future. And, nothing is set in stone either.
Competing and losing does not invalidate your Lindy Hop journey. Competing and winning do not validate your dancing either. Just like only social dancing on occasion, or all the time doesn't make you any less of a Lindy Hopper. "Doing" Lindy Hop means many things for anyone who does "it".
"Doing" Lindy Hop isn't about gaining a certain status one way or another. It is a social pastime, not intended for achievement. It's meant to bring people together. To experience the joy of being with others, to move and be in sync with other people. It is meant to fill your soul with joy, put movement into your body, and synchronicity and rhythm in your nervous system.
While it might be hard for many people to accept. There isn't a wrong reason to dance. There also isn't a singular "right" reason. Any reason or no reason is good enough to justify however you "do" Lindy Hop!
It might sound obvious. But, do not judge people for only doing Lindy Hop a certain way. Even if it irritates you. You are not more right just because you like to do Lindy Hop socially and not competitively. Or even if you are a certain kind of competitive and not another kind of competitive. It doesn't matter, as long as you like to do Lindy Hop.
Judging people for doing Lindy Hop a certain way that you don't like doesn't make you right. It just makes you an ass.
Tell me below what YOU think.