ARTICLES
 
Growing a Lindy Scene That Rocks :.
Herrang 2005 Week 4 Discussion


**The notes in bold are suggestions that I would recommend paying close attention to and the italics are notes that I added that were not necessarily in the discussion.**

The following notes are by Haidee Bishop. Thanks Haidee! The notes in bold are suggestions that I would recommend paying close attention to and the italics are notes that I added that were not necessarily in the discussion.

These are my notes from this excellent discussion in the cafe- thanks Andrew and all you guys, I felt encouraged in many ways by this really positive international discussion! Health Warning: these are just my notes, if I have mis-quoted you, or got your name wrong I apologise, I’m sure I’ve missed loads out, but these were the points that I felt I should write down for my own reference. I’ve just written guy or girl in my own simplistic but unpatronising fashion where I didn’t get the name. AS is Andrew Sutton. HB is me.

love,
Haidee Bishop
(Norwich, UK)


How To Grow A Lindy Scene That Rocks

The discussion was kept (so successfully!) to these 3 points;
1: Generating interest and attracting people

Ron (Sacramento) – Flyer, flyer, flyer. College campuses in the US allow for a tremendous amount of advertising. Explore businesses, CD stores, guitar stores, Jamba Juice, etc to find places that will let you put up flyers. Have a good, professionally designed and printed flyer. Combined flyer and web advertising have allowed us to maintain close to 100 students/week in our lessons at Midtown Stomp this month. When we stop focusing on one form of advertising or the other, the new student numbers drop almost immediately. The best flyering method for college campuses is to stake out a space with a full-page (8.5x11”) flyer and put up postcard flyers either next to or on top of the large flyer, that way interested people can remove a postcard and take it with them. We’ve been developing Midtownstomp.com for close to two years, and developments and improvements are a constant process.

guy from US - Do lots of dancing in bars, people ask where they can learn...

girl from germany - Dancing in public places to get interest was successful, putting ads in paper didn’t work

AS - ‘Lindy Bombing’ take a group dancing in unexpected places, often outside Hold a regular night in a bar where people can watch and get to know you’re there weekly.

girl Hamburg - Started by organising nights with dancers performing flashy moves, but was a mistake as they were ‘too good’ and people were put off as they thought this was beyond their ability. Need more modest exhibitions, must look achieveable. Now they have persuaded clubs to play swing and they dance there, always making it look fun. - I think it is important after any performance to teach a short 15 minute lesson to show the people how easy it is and make them believe that they could do this too!

Jo -London- Student Union groups have prob getting enough guys...

Luke(?) from Amsterdam -got national TV airtime, Frankie appeared , got 4-5 mins prime teatime, resulted in 150 extra dancers! - it is easier than you might think it is to get the media involved and supporting your special events for free

Jessica from Dublin - Get to know who you have in your scene to help you, eg who has marketing skills, involve people. - don't be afraid to ask others for help, find volunteers, many people want to help

Eden / Chris from NYC- NY has a huge but divisive scene and they don’t seem to want to develop, eg incredibly, world class teachers’ classes not well attended. (...but Eden says you’re welcome at her place!!)

guy from Amsterdam- Venues with more than one room that host different dances on the same night encourage crossover, people come over to see what’s going on in the other hall.

Isgard from Hamburg - Get funding for targeting young people. - funding is available from the govt

Patrick from Lund - Youth funding - got a lot, young people don’t have much money so able to charge them less.

Chris from NYC - Was able to get good teachers as supported by funding (eg Frankie!) Dancing in retirement homes can be very rewarding, get to hear a lot of history about dancing in the 30s etc and bring lot of pleasure to old folks. - give as much as you can and more, it is very rewarding Was an older scene (50s) but theyhelped kids organise their own scene with their friends. Established scenes should help new ones get going.

Novelty of teachers coming in from a distance or abroad - efforts to do this are usually recognised by dancers.

? from Amsterdam - Find out what useful links you have in your area? Big Bands? Jazz? Hendrik from Uppsala - Organised a cultural evening, portable floor, live band followed by short intro lesson (HB - I think this was successful - not sure I got this right - sorry Hendrik??!)

AS - Do something visual, Get people to help out, don’t be afraid to ask for stuff, but make sure you’re generous yourself first,

HB - nice to hear - you might not get back what you give right away but give it anyway and try and create the environment you want. Test No 1. If people won’t put out your flyers will you put out theirs? I hope so!!! It will only hurt you if you don't!

» back to top

2: What to teach them when they come &
3: How to keep them coming and having fun


We’re talking here about something like a 6-week course rather than a one-off taster session;

Ron (Sacramento) – We’ve found the best success always offering an East Coast Swing lesson every single Friday included in the price of admission. This gets new dancers out on the floor for the first time their first night. We have recently started offering Lindy Hop as a series class only since it’s more complicated and really requires more commitment to learn. We charge significantly more money for the Lindy Hop series class and have had great response to this new format. We offer free notebook videos at Midtownstomp.com for students to review what they learned in the series classes and have had very positive feedback.

? from Germany - They want to learn something that looks like Lindy (HB - this may be a comment related to the common practice of starting by teaching 6-count when people have watched and been inspired by 8-count) Lotte from Germany - 6-count is good if people completely new to dancing, but need to make it fun.

Tom from London - Commented on the English reserve! getting guys dancing not easy, agreement from some other nationalities!

Gina from Atlanta - Get them going straight away, shim sham can be good as not partnered, then 6-beat/ east coast steps to get them dancing then show them some things they’ll be able to do if they keep coming. -Be careful about teaching a line dance to beginners, my introduction to Swing dancing was a line dance and I thought "this is swing dancing... this sucks!" I wanted to learn a partner dance.

girl from Germany - Use interesting teachers, with street cred.

guy from Amsterdam - Good to explain a bit about Big Band music and where they can learn more - show them the resources. - but don't go overboard.

Find ways to convince guys that it’s cool to dance. (HB - I’d like to hear more about this, also young people...). I often tell guys that Lindy Hop is the closest to a sport as dancing gets. It is very active and it is also a way that you can easily meet people in a fun environment, plus girls love guys who can dance and it is REALLY easy to learn!!!!

AS - Keep it simple, fun, and give them some technique (but don't overload them). Some beginner classes get stuck doing the same thing each week, AS suggests; rotate 6 count, 8 count, charleston, balboa, and other basic steps.or - do the same thing for a few weeks but focus on a different aspect each week, eg. week 1 connection of lead’s left arm/ follow’s right, week 2 other arm!, week 3 work on the follow’s momentum, etc... Keep things new, new teachers, new dancers visiting, steal jam, big apple... I think this is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT

Larry from US- Build relationships & friendships, build a Yahoo group. - first and foremost, you must care about your students!

AS - If an event bombs, make sure the people that do come have a good time, play games.... they’ll still enjoy it, talk good about it, come again and bring more. - Talk to your people like they are your friends, ask them how to improve things, ask for their help

Line dances can be a good thing to get the group together but make sure you encourage folk to join in and make it clear it’s ok to get it wrong, otherwise it can be divisive instead, those that know it/ those that don’t.
Steal dances - good to encourage involvement.


AS - Have Taxi dancers at your event (Taina and Simon do this in London) .

HB - Ceroc (modern jive) have used taxi dancers for many years, and it works very well. A couple of guys and a couple of girls have ‘TAXI’ on their t-shirts, the beginners know that they can ask them to dance. The taxi dancers also look out to see if there are any newcomers not getting dances or having bad dances, and if they notice this happen, they immediately ask them to dance and try to give them a good dance to ensure they are having a good time.

Christiana from Berlin - Good to make contact with musicians to open opportunities, they are usually ‘neutral’ and cross many dance and other organisations.

Closing comments around the subject of Dance politics; don’t do it.

» back to top





Dance Ninjas

JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUPS! Dance Ninjas | Dance Teachers Learning