A Gentleman-like Manner

Dear boys who open doors for me*, boys who wait for me to walk in front of you, boys who grab that thing I need to carry on top of all the other things I’m carrying, or who ask if they can carry that heavy thing I’m carrying just because they’re not carrying anything… boys who act like the gentlemen their grandfathers were:

Thank you. You have no idea how nice that little moment is in my day; when I realize that there’s someone else who notices me and wants to help make it a little bit easier. And you’re not doing it because you want to get in my pants or something; often times you’re a stranger who I’ll never see again, or a friend who’s not into me like that. You should know that no matter how much it seems like I don’t notice, I do. And with every little nicety that society has told you women don’t really want or need, you melt my heart just a little, and make me feel just a tiny bit safer in this world, just a tiny bit joyful, and just a tiny bit more relaxed than I was before.

In addition I’m sorry for that awkward moment when I wait for you, who’s waiting for me, to go in the door, so it all takes a little bit too long. Or when I reach to open the door that you’re trying to open for me, or when I accidentally trip over my feet after you open the door for me, because I wasn’t planning on you opening the door for me (true story). See, I’m not used to guys doing these things: most men your age (my age) don’t. But I’m glad that you do; I’m glad that you really do exist, oh polite and helpful young men.

And even though “the good old days” feel like they must have been so amazing [men in suits every day, and a gentlemen every one!] I’m actually sort of glad that you’re so rare that each and every moment like this is a special gem in my day, and something of a cheat-sheet for knowing a little bit about the guy you’re walking next to.

*For a much longer take on this exact issue, read this article from The Art of Manliness; an article with many fantastic points, but not all fantastic points…

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Day 5: Your favorite non-Lindy Hop swing dance (charleston, balboa, shag, etc).

Balboa, hands down!

From the bonny shores of southern California...

I actually learned balboa before I learned lindy hop, weirdly enough. I had been taking “swing” (ECS) classes for a while here at my college scene, and we had a workshop that was part Balboa and part Charleston, so it was accessible to me as a non-Lindyer. I got the basic step, and did some things like lollys and I think something called a Dragon Kick which I haven’t seen since, and then pretty much forgot most of it until about a year later when I took more classes, went to Twin Cities Balboa, and the rest is history.


Fresh off the presses Balboa JnJ from Lindy Focus X, happening right now in Asheville, NC. Lots of fun partner switching going on, for a finals round…

I love balboa. I don’t think you can understand how lovely balboa is until you’ve gotten it yourself enough, and you’re dancing with a good partner, and you just get into that amazing groove. It can be so smooth, so connected, so relaxed and just right. It’s also got a lot of fun flashy footwork aspects that appeal to my inner tap dancer. I’ve heard it described as a “dancer’s dance” because, I guess, it’s more fun to dance than to watch, but I think the more recent competitions in balboa are pretty fun to watch. I’m a little biased though 🙂


Still one of my favorite Balboa videos!

Of course I love lindy hop; it’s the essence, the beginning, it is swing dancing. But I think I personally respond to balboa almost more than I do to lindy hop… there’s just something so sassy and subtle and cozy about it! As someone once described it, balboa is a three minute hug (and I love hugs!)

[I suppose it could partly be that I’ve gotten to the stage in my lindy where I know exactly how not-good I am, and have tons of stuff to work on, while my balboa stays at a constant sort of good beginner level… so it’s just the joy of the thing I’m still in. Well, time will tell!!]

One thing I recently remembered (at a large beginners bal class) is that bad balboa is really bad (bad lindy hop has nothing on it, imho). But the thing is, good balboa is so much fun! It’s worth it to push through to get to.

Now, this isn’t the place to dive into a discussion of the midwestern balboa scene, but I certainly have things to say. More to come, I suppose…

Day 4: Your favorite live [swing] band.

I think I need to stick to “live bands I’ve seen” or this will get silly, so I’m gonna go with the admittedly popular:

Meschiya Lake and Dem Little Big Horns !

They really are fantastic. And so lovely to dance to! Meschiya is just every bit as much as you think she is.

However, if they were still together, I would be saying The Cangelosi Cards. They were fantastic, and such great people! Tamar’s voice is like no other’s.

(And I am dying to see & dance to Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three, live. We’ll see if they inch their way up this list…)

“Day” 3: A description of your favorite partner (and why they’re your favorite).

LOOK! I am now re-starting my 30 Day Lindy Hop Challenge. Woot.

So, this is a tough one, because I’m not good at absolute favorites… As such, I am going to separate it into a few categories.

Local – Tie
One of the best leads at our little local scene also happens to be one of my best friends in the scene, and we were swing babies together (we started about the same time, and learned basically everything together). He just got a lot better a lot faster than me! 🙂 haha, which I’m fine with. Aaron Raiff, you know I’m talking about you! Aaron is a fantastic leader (especially considering how long he’s been dancing) and he’s fun and inventive and really lets you have a strong voice in the dance, if you want it. He also happens to be at least a head shorter than me (I am tall, have I mentioned this? 5′ 11” barefoot), but we have amazing connection and always have, even in Balboa. It’s partly because we learned with each other, so we learned to deal with partners who were not your average lead-follow ratios. Aaron has proved to me that very few height differences are any kind of an excuse; it’s really about learning how to deal with the differences.

Baaron and I, getting 2nd Place in the Nevermore Jazz Ball Jack 'n Jill!! I was never more shocked.

Another one of our local fabulous leads, Bradley Smith, is tied for favorite for me.Ok so yes: they are our best two leads; but I’m putting them here mostly because I just have so much fun dancing with them! (They’re also two of the guys I know best in the scene, which really affects this question, I think.) Bradley and I get really silly when we’re dancing together, and we also have a lovely habit of lazy/tired dancing, which is oh so fun. See, I’m a very tall follower, and when I dance with Bradley, he’s just the right height to rest my head against his, and fall asleep a little. It’s so relaxing!

Bradley + me

National
Anthony Chen! He is my favorite leader that I’ve danced with from the wider US scene. And it’s not just because he’s crazy sweet (every time I’ve danced with him HE asked ME, which is crazy considering our relative positions in the Cool Swing Dancer Social Hierarchy), or that he’s an amazing leader, or that he makes you move like you’re Ginger; it’s also because he just has SO much fun! And invites you into that. Even though he’s really good, he’s not the least bit judgey.

Instructors
I’ve danced with a few of the international-level leaders, and I loooved dancing Balboa with Bobby White. He’s tall, I’m tall, he’s AMAZING, and we have virtually no balboa leaders here at my scene, so it was pretty dreamy. Peter Strom is probably my overall [lindy hop] favorite, though, because he’s (again, tall, and) such a sweetheart. He really loves to give his follower a fantastic dance, and he can often be found asking all levels of dancers to dance. Actually come to think of it, Bobby’s the same way (asks all sorts of followers) too! What can I say, I like the heroic ones.

The One That Got Away
At Camp Jitterbug, there was this one teacher who I REALLY wanted to dance with; going into the weekend, and then after I’d been in some of their classes even more. I did my darndest, and the cool thing was he actually was dancing with a lot of random follows (good on him!). But of course (as any follow who’s been to a large-scale packed event like CJ knows) getting one of the best leaders is a tricky game of maneuvering, and pouncing at the right time. And since he was dancing with a lot of random followers; lots of girls were sort of mobbing him. They were literally lining up to grab him after dances… and it seemed like he could only take so long of this, before he had to flee the dancefloor (understandably).

Alas, I never got to dance with him! [And for the record, I’m not talking about Skye. Not that THAT wouldn’t be such fun, of course!] I’d still like to know if it would be awesome, or if I would just end up feeling like a bad follower… But either way, I am convinced it would be great. That’s the best part about dancing; even if the dance sucked, you were still dancing with* a handsome and well dressed man, who smiled at you.

*Thought of writing “being held by”, because that’s just the honest truth. We do a lot of holding each other in swing dancing, and it’s pretty dreamy.

Two-Thousand-Twelve

New Year’s Resolution: Blog more about swing dancing.

(my favorite red heels)

That’s one of the reasons I started this blog, and I have gotten way behind (CRAZY behind!) on it. I really enjoy the swing dancing blog/tumblr/facebook community, and I’d love to be a contributor to this thing that I get a lot out of. And I do have THINGS TO SAY, I just haven’t been saying them.

So: this year I will blog more, and specifically blog more about lindy hop/swing/everything therein. I don’t think anyone’s actually reading this, tbh, and if you are, and you’re a design friend of mine, or a church friend of mine, or a reading friend, etc, all the dancing stuff might be a little foreign to you, but it’s cool. We’ll have fun together.

If I also manage to blog more about other aspects of my life: yay! I’ve just got one semester left of college, and then it’s on to big life decisions and exciting life happenings… so it’s a good time to get thoughts out, and record my various (hopefully interesting) thoughts.

First up: finish that blogging challenge I started eons ago, and then dropped like third period french.

(And this is coming from a GoT/ASOIAF fan…)

The instinct that convinced someone to commit the image of Starks and direwolf puppies to film was a very good one.

The thing that bugs me about people who talk up George RR Martin to high heavens, is not that he’s bad (I enjoy A Song of Ice and Fire!), but that it’s often quite obvious that he’s the only epic fantasy author they’ve ever read. Yes, he’s good, but he’s not the only person to ever write AMAZING, beautiful, detailed fantasy worlds; with heroic and engrossing plots.

I want to say to them: “That’s not just GRRM! Welcome to fantasy.”

I hope that the popularity of Game of Thrones will create more room for fantasy as a genre to be taken seriously/let more people find the beautiful books that are out there for them, but I fear it will just serve to prove to people that SOME fantasy is NOT geeky, while the majority of it is.

/end of rant

The real question: is he *trying* to look like a hobbit?

On Music Videos, part 1

So this beautiful Swedish hiphop/swing band called Movits! just released a new video, and I think it’s such a sweet example of process. It’ll make more sense once you’ve watched the videos, so let’s just do that!

The first video I’m talking about was released back in February of this year, as the first single off their new album: (Notice Pontus Persson, and then I think Sakarias Larsson and Jessica Lennartsson? Awesome Swedish Lindy Hoppers, all of them…)

And here’s the second video, which they just released not even a month ago:

On their blog they call it “a little ‘behind the scenes’ video”, which is true, but I think also just a little humble! I love that they managed to shoot TWO fabulously cool, mind-bending* videos on the same set, at the same time. Terribly efficient.

Both videos are off the same album, “Ut ur min skalle”, or “Out of My Head”, which came out in April. I just finally downloaded the whole thing, and I am loving it!

*I spent the whole first half of “Na Na Nah!” thinking that the flannel guys were other people, and wondering if Sweden is just full of attractive hipster-like, well-dressed men. I eventually figured out it was them TWICE, but I’m still suspicious that Sweden is full of attractive men.

Postscript
After having just enjoyed all of their tour vlogs, I have to say that that second video is remarkably true to life as a behind-the-scenes! Look how adorable (the bear dance is my fave):