Blues Of Today - A short history
Years ago, blues was skyrocketing in the house party scene.
The house party scene didn't care about legitimizing actions
like workshops and contests. This didn't even occur to us.
Around this time, a bunch of dancers did some research
into the vintage roots of the dance we were doing. This
is a good thing.
Then those dancers (we will call them "vintage dancers" although
labels are a silly thing since we're all doing the same dance)
started holding workshops. Not a bad thing.
There were many "wars" back in those days over the disagreement of
who was doing "Blues Dancing" and who wasn't, and whether house party
blues was legit or not. What we didn't realize until retrospect is
that these wars were an attempt by the "few" (the vintage dancers) to
not only honor the vintage roots of the dance, but to attain legitimacy
and power from the "many" (the house dancers). There was a commercial
element to Blues that the house dancers didn't even see. We didn't
even notice because remember, we didn't care about legitimacy, power
The house party scene grew by leaps and bounds, and
the house party dancers started going to the workshops.
The commercialization of Blues benefitted massively, and
the dancers got to learn some amounts of what makes the dance
the dance. This is not a bad thing.
Soon thereafter, a number of other "legitimate dancers" from the
nearby Lindy Scene realized that Blues was taking off, and they
started teaching, holding contests and having workshops. This
was confusing to the "house blues" dancers and caused much anger
over who was winning these contests and teaching these classes
(usually not Blues dancers of any label) but we kept on going.
We didn't realize it, but while we didn't have any desire to
legitimate events, we craved
them. So we kept letting
other people create and define a dance, some of whom weren't
even doing Blues dancing of any sort.
Fast forward a year or two. Blues workshops are happening on a
regular basis, and 90% of the teachers at 100% of the workshops
are the same handful of people. There's no input from anyone outside
this hegemony of teachers, so we have inadvertantly stiffled the
voices of many a young talent, and this is our fault
, not theirs.
And there's a further problem with this. You see, the resurgance
of Blues dancing is still at a very young stage. Much like the
resurgance of Lindy when it was only a few years old,
there wasn't a clear understanding of what the dance was and
how to teach it beyond the basic fundamentals of the dance.
We see a very clear class schedule at all of these workshops
that gives us some fundamental classes as well as classes which
fit into one of two categories:
- Vintage dances that are done by nobody today (even after taking
the class, except in a few exceptions by advanced dancers who are
able to incorporate elements of the dance into their Blues)
- Attitude classes which are attempts to "rile" people up
into becoming better dancers.
Due to this "technology" gap, we have a Blues scene which now
- A small set of dancers with advanced skills from other
dances who have managed to help evolve the Blues dance as it is done.
- A massive contingency of Blues dancers with solid fundamentals
who are left wanting.
It is important to realize that while this has happened, even
though we have handed over the power of our scene to the interests
of a few, they have not been able to change the dance or take it
away from us.
It is also important to realize again here is that this is our fault
What's delightful about this is that it means it is in our power
to change it.
And this is exactly
what Blues Rising is.