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What is Lindy Hop for?

This post will analyze why some people choose to compete a lot in Lindy Hop and why some people choose to 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 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 come from.

This year at CH (Camp Hollywood) I competed in more competitions than in previous years. 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 am not sure why it made me sad in the moment.

What are your values?

I LOVE social dancing. And I also love competing. I also love volunteering because I like being behind the scenes and watching the events happen because of my efforts. I also love relaxing by a pool with a good book. Or enjoying deep conversations with distant 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 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 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. How do I decide?

Saying NO is key to experiencing the present moment

Lots of backstory could be included here. But, at the end of the day I believe it is true that I cannot truly enjoy being present if I have split my attention in so many directions. A skill I have not honed is saying no. 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. I think all paths are valuable.

Don't be like me, and learn to say no better than I.

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. 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. As one example of the differences. While I'm critical of the level of objectivity in Lindy Hop, I believe there is MORE uniformity nowadays than in previous iterations of Lindy Hop.

There are also regional preferences for different types of competitions. There are perhaps dozens more elements at play for why some compete and some do not. I will only focus on a few.

Why people compete: not exhaustive!

  1. A somewhat innate personal preference for competition - it makes them excited and happy to feel a sense of battle between themselves and their friends

  2. A desire to perform

  3. A personal desire to have their dancing validated by a "win"

Why people do not compete: not exhaustive!

  1. Little to no sense of competition between themselves and others

  2. The belief that dancing cannot be objectively judged

  3. 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. But, as you explore certain reasons you will eventually start to develop a rationale for whether you will compete or not in the future.

Competing and losing does not invalidate your dancing. Competing and winning do not validate your dancing. Just like only social dancing on occasion, or all the time doesn't make you any less of a Lindy Hopper. 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. It is meant to fill your soul with joy, put movement into your muscles and bones, 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 right reason. Any reason or no reason is good enough to justify your love of Lindy Hop.

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 just a certain kind of competitive and not another kind of competitive.

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.

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