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"Scene"
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Azeroth
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:12 am    Post subject: "Scene" Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

"Scene"

I've been dancing over 6 years now, managing MNLindy for 5, and hosting events for 4+. In that time I have watched our "scene" turn over time and time again. I've seen Lindy Hoppers leave Minnesota and go on to national, international caliber dancers - our 'scene' turning out fabulous follows year after year. Balboa's 'scene' moving from Mr Apollinax's apartment to regular instruction and practice groups. The Blues dance 'scene' emerging in a vernacular form.

As I have been going on I have always been fascinated by the social dynamics. There's always been "rich" and "poor", "cliques" and "groups", "door" and "alcove". I still stand by my interpretations associated with "identity" and "bond" (Identity is the thing that brings us together but bond is the interpersonal connections that bring us back), but they are just that ... interpretive. What I continually have trouble with is describing our "scene".

My view of what a "scene" is encompasses every dancer, teacher, promoter, venue, event, clique, circle, and website. I think we have sub-communities, or sub-scenes, if you will, in both persons venues and music styles. It is unfortunate that "scene" is a recursive term like that, for while the emerging balboa "scene" is independent of the college scene both are still members of the overall "scene". I prefer this view of us as members of the whole, it provides a connectedness that I feel is important.

Here, however, is the begins of my struggle. The "scene" is a static metaphor. It only carries with it a snapshot moment in time of our community. Many of us try to add to and change or improve this "scene", but like a painting, all we can do is apply our paint on top of what is already there -- using the dancers as our canvas. I'm looking for a better metaphor.

Our "scene" is forever changing. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes turbulent, sometimes smooth. We cut our way into habits until some drastic force changes our way. The smaller sub-scenes flow into the main channel as tributaries. Clearly my recent trip to the Grand Canyon is on my brain as this river metaphor seems to fit, but it is too fluid and the only way to describe those who affect great influence on the 'scene' is to refer to them as 'dams' and I just don't like that concept. (Who would you call Hoover or Glen Lake?)

One place the river metaphor does work well, I've been coming to realize, is that the "scene" just *is*. Yea, we (as a scene) host workshops and events and provide an "identity" to bring people together so they can "bond", but none of us here can really bend the scene to his or her will. We can't create it, but we can provide an environment that will allow it to flow its own course. Just as a river always flows downhill, the "scene" will always eventually become what it is meant to be.

Thanks must be given to Terry, Cindy, Shannon, Bill and everyone else who have provided an environment for our "scene" to exist and thrive. While our landscape keeps changing, these folks keep the land fertile.

As for the term "scene", well, I think it should be retired as a term of something we can control. For we cannot. As Theodore Roosevelt said of the Grand Canyon, "Leave it as it is. Man can only mar it." so I come to realize the same is true about our scene. It cannot be pushed to become anything, all that can be done is to provide care and foster a healthy environment.
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~ Shawn

Ask not what your scene can do for you;
Ask what you can do for your scene!





Last edited by Azeroth on Wed Aug 12, 2009 3:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:27 pm    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Shawn,

Well put, however, it is unclear what the point is. But that's okay, as I am often clueless about a lot of matters, and, besides, much of what I write turns into meandering free-association.

Still, "scene" is a widely used and understood word to describe what is going on (Lindy and associated dances-wise) in a general area. I always use it when I ask, and I most often do, of dancers from areas foreign to me. "What's the scene like in Blowhard (MT)? To me, the answer is satisfactory if I get an idea of how many Lindy hoppers there are and how often they can dance as a function of the size of the population in Blowhard. If I don't get that, I will usually follow-up with, "About how many 8 counters show up at your average dance, and how many regular nights a week can you dance?" And, "Is your scene growing and how many are college kids?" That generally gives me what I need to know.

I would change only one word of what you wrote, and that would be to change "ripe" to "fertile" as ripe often connotes "as good as it gets and ready to rot" while "fertile", to me, means "fostering growth."

While I have you attention, I want to compliment you on your remarkable efforts in behalf of all of us in our scene. Further, and more remarkable, you have done so without resorting power politics or divide and conquer tactics. What a blessing it is to be associated with a scene predominantly at peace with itself, and comfortable with sub-scene groups.

Allen
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Azeroth
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:54 pm    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Allen,
Your words are too kind. I appreciate and accept the correction -- fertile preserves my intention far better than ripe.

My posting here is merely to reflect my latest thoughts on "scene". I keep "Scene" as a great descriptive tool, but I no longer think on it as a simple noun.

It is not something on which one can exert influence upon to return an expected result. It is what it is, and while we all influence it, we cannot mold, manufacture, nor harvest it. I find it greater than the sum of us and less than the least of us.
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~ Shawn

Ask not what your scene can do for you;
Ask what you can do for your scene!



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Cyrano de Maniac
Master of the Smile


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:33 pm    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

That's it Shawn. You don't get to take vacations anymore. Obviously you had way too much free time and energy if you spent it thinking about this stuff. Next year I'll go in your stead. Very Happy

Brent
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kitkat
Lindyhop Calendar Czaressa


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:23 am    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Shorter Shawn:
Wow! People's emotions, actions, etc. sure are complicated. Kinda keeps anyone from easily making a group do what they want. Hey, do you think we need to change our use of English?
(Despite the fact that it totally wouldn't work, given the above realization.)

Wink (just ribbin ya, Shawn)
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Trace
Phrase


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:55 am    Post subject: Missing Hometown Scene Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Yes, and just when someone thought I had died I show up again. Or, else nobobdy noticed I was gone which is alright too. At times being invisible is just the place I kind of like to be and make those choices myself.

Still, at times I visit your site and from another 'scene' in about as large a metropolis as T.C. I can't help but compare and find a 'gourmet brunch' (if you will allow the metaphor) of opportunities for folks to get out and Swing Dance. And, all the variations thereof, from Basic, Lindy, Bal, and Blues. I would expect there are some Shag events to attend as well.

Being a 'homeboy' raised in Minneapolis and at times active at Swing Events within the last 5 years I find myself missing the atmosphere and the chance to pick up on somewhere to go and dance almost every night of the week.

Well, maybe I can get hooked up with Sving du Nord this year. I'll have to check out the TC Swing site and see what the costs are.

Just givin' an outsider's kind of perspective on this thread because, man, it sure seems like the TC area has stayed in the groove with Swing Dance and anyone that loves Swing knows how much they love to be in the groove when out dancing.

Expressed with affection to my MN kin by birth and always in my heart,

Trace

P.S. Kind of an interesting link I posted on this site with a photo of yours truly at age 20.
http://westbankboogie.com/share.php?story=46

Now break out the hankies since I know this will likely have a few folks getting misty on me. Ha, Ha! Laughing Rolling Eyes
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Azeroth
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 3:51 pm    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

kitkat wrote:
Shorter Shawn:
Wow! People's emotions, actions, etc. sure are complicated. Kinda keeps anyone from easily making a group do what they want. Hey, do you think we need to change our use of English?
(Despite the fact that it totally wouldn't work, given the above realization.)

Wink (just ribbin ya, Shawn)


That's not really what I was saying, Katie. In short Katie form:
Often we talk about trying to improve our scene, even my own quote asks "Ask not what your scene can do for you, but what you can do for your scene". I and others host many an event designed to 'improve' or 'expand' our scene. Others have attempted to bring more leaders (or followers) in over the years. My realization, which I'm trying to impart, is that "scene" isn't a valid term or metaphor for this. The shift here, is in the interpretation and understanding of "scene".

That is, "scene" as descriptive is valid. "Scene" as something we can change or alter is not. Not because we lack sufficient understanding or awareness of others but because it's akin to changing the weather. It just is what it is: barely predictable and often best accepted as is. Which is, alas, not a perfect metaphor.
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~ Shawn

Ask not what your scene can do for you;
Ask what you can do for your scene!



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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:57 pm    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

While promotion is the answer to most problems, Shawn, you nailed it with the Weather-Lindy Scene comparison. This not to say we should all quit and let it coast, but rather, to be prepared to move indoors when it rains.

Allen
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FairLadyStar
Spotlight Dance


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:48 pm    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

While I can understand the connotation of the word "scene" as applied from the image of landscape might be less than fitting, I checked out the many definitions of "scene" in the dictionary and a handful of them seem quite appropriate descriptors for the "dance" scene:

    - "a division of a play or of an act of a play, usually representing what passes between certain of the actors in one place."
    - "a unit of action or a segment of a story in a play, motion picture, or television show."
    - "the place in which the action of a play or part of a play is supposed to occur."
    - "an area or sphere of activity, current interest, etc.: the rock music scene; the fashion scene" (and I will add, the dance scene)

Since dance is movement, a dance scene by its very nature is also moving, dynamic, fluid. It can't be static. And also, any one dance scene isn't the whole picture or the whole story, it is a unit of the whole narrative. A place where action and interests intersect. So the language-lover in me says that "scene" should stay. Wink

There was one definition that I'll just throw out there for fun, since it could never apply to any dance scene, anywhere, and especially not in the land of Minnesota Nice and Hospitality:
    "an embarrassing outbreak or display of anger, strong feeling, or bad manners" Wink

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Azeroth
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:13 am    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

For many years, Jenny, I would have agreed with you. But as you've used the metaphor as dance and movement, it is still merely descriptive. Just as you cannot rewrite a script you have already seen, nor re-choreograph a performance you have already witnessed, the "scene" is what you have already experienced to this point.

Which extends to the added limitations of this metaphor -- it's only what one individual has experienced. Those who attend Lee's have seen a different aspect as those who go to Tapestry as those who frequent Abetto's or Hell's Kitchen. It's a performance too intricate to be observed in a "scene" under the dance metaphor.

I reiterate that "scene" is great as a descriptive term, but as a tool for discussions about 'better' and 'improvement' its utility declines rapidly. It is precisely this definition "an area or sphere of activity, current interest, etc.: the rock music scene; the fashion scene[; the dance scene]" that I find insufficient a metaphor.
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~ Shawn

Ask not what your scene can do for you;
Ask what you can do for your scene!



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Toots
Spotlight Dance


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:44 pm    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Shawn, thanks for the nod. I am happy that I have the opportunity to contribute to the community that has given me so much enjoyment over the years.
Anda big "thank you" to you for your many contributions to our scene, and to the many others who help the community to thrive.

I too have seen many changes in our community over the years.

I'm diggin' your river metaphor.
It interesting that we look at this community in a similar fashion.

For years now, when people would ask "how is the "scene" at Lee's, or how is the "scene" in the TC?", my standard response would be "It ebbs and flows" but overall it's pretty ____(fill in the blank)____ good/strong (whatever).

I've always seen the scene as cyclical and everchanging likening it to the ocean and it's currents, always ebbing & flowing. The langage of the metaphor is rich with examples... Tides turning (think: Savoy vs. Hollywood), currents changing (think: of group of dancers starting to frequent a new venue) high tide (rise in popularity of other vintage dance forms like Balboa, Shag etc), low tide, rip tide (infighting), tidal wave (Gap-Ad era), slack water. While one may channel either the scene or the ocean, one cannot destroy it, it is greater than any single member and for the use of all equally.
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Allen Hall
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:00 pm    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

To try to put our scene in perspective. Many MN LHers have not experienced LH scenes in other cities. I can tell you from considerable experience, that we have a very benign scene. Oh! there have been rough spots and divisiveness, but nothing like the wars and bitter emnity Rudy and I have witnessed elsewhere.

A man who originated and promoted a very successful swing dance scene (Bop) in Cincy saw his scene reduced to rubble in a rancorous split, When I asked him "How did that happen?", He replied without a hint of needed onfession, "It's either power, ego or money." And those, I believe, have proven to be the root causes in all of the swing scene catastrophic disassemblies.

Paraphasing that great bruised American, Rodney King, "I guess we all, here in Minnesota, somehow, just get along."

Allen Hall
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lindychick
Spotlight Dance


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:50 pm    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Shawn, thanks for the kind words. I think each of us that's taken on some kind of leadership role in our sc*ne is motivated by our passion for the dance and the music. That's the best possible motivation.

Regarding leadership, one of my favorite quotes comes from Benjamin Disraeli:
"I must follow the people. Am I not their leader? "

Have a great week. Wink
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Vidal
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:16 am    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

I and others host many an event designed to 'improve' or 'expand' our scene.

interesting.
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Azeroth
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:46 am    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

That is the antithesis of the thought process I espoused, indeed. After having been at and hosted many of these efforts to "improve" and "expand" our "scene", it is those efforts that create environments to sustain growth that payout the biggest dividends.

Events are more like fertilizer than sowed soil. They help immensely for a short amount of time. Case in point -- I don't think Balboa would sustain itself here without all of Krista's efforts that culminated last year in the Abetto's practice. The single-shot of TCBalFest provides an annual boost, but it is the regularity of Krista/Pazaz and now Abetto's that provides the true foundation for growth.
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~ Shawn

Ask not what your scene can do for you;
Ask what you can do for your scene!



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