Response to Bill Speidel's Facebook note: 2010/11/01: Are Exchanges losing their way?

First let me preface by saying that I love Lindy Exchanges and I think they're great. People who bemoan the 'good old days' aren't doing any good to themselves or others. Things change, some for better, some for worse. Hallelujah to life!

And here's what I realized about Exchanges.

<mini history lesson> If you look at *why* Lindy Exchanges were created, it was because of the *exchange* of dance knowledge, hence the name. At the time (1998) there was not as much transfer of knowledge happening outside of various dance camps. I remember that when I would travel to big camps I used to play the game of 'where is your swing out from' with new people I was dancing with. I could usually guess what city they were from within a few swingouts, if not the actual teacher they had learned from. Styles and opinions on the swingout varied greatly, and many emotional battles ensued over what the "correct" swingout was. (My swingout can kick your swingout's ass!)

It was at the same time an exciting period for the dance, but also a time of much wasted energy with everyone re-inventing the wheel.

Also at that time, SF was a powerhouse in the world of Lindy. A vast number of the best dancers were coming out of a scene that had *three* swing scenes which *each* had *multiple* venues to dance at every *night* of the week. Yes, you read that correctly.

Some Chicago dancers saw the dancing that was happening in SF, and they organized a trip. Those handful of Chicago dancers are somewhat responsible for all of us travelling around like this. Bless them for that.

They came out and we had a party, but there was also an *exchange* of information. Of dance information. Even of music, since each scene was playing different music back then. I remember first hearing Saffronia B and Switchin' In The Kitchen at an early exchange in the Northwest and then hearing it get played everywhere else soon after. </mini history lesson>

This exchange of information was the original raison d'etre for Lindy Exchanges, and hence the name.

But if we fast forward to the present, we find that things are very different in our scene. People don't argue (*as much*) about what constitutes a correct swingout. This is because the variations are mostly disappearing, and everyone has mostly converged on a similar dance style (which is, IMHO, very closely related to the SF swing out, but that's another discussion).

People generally agree - though there are some slight variations in tempo, basically the dance scene has finally "grown up" and figured out it's footing, so to speak. We see the same exact thing has been happening the last couple of years in the Blues scene, incidentally.

In some ways it's great, people stop arguing and we are all working towards a common goal, though I can certainly imagine there is value to variation as well. My personal opinion is that it's better we end up in the same place - the music is asking for it, after all.

So the *original reason* for Lindy Exchanges is basically gone.

It turns out, however, that Lindy Exchanges constitute (usually) a fantastic party. And so that's fun. What we don't see anymore is that people go to exchanges and come back as better dancers relative to their own scene.

Personally what I love about Exchanges at this point is that they are this wandering, nomad society of people in love with this dance. Sometimes I like to think that "Lindy Exchange" is one of the cities I live in. And I love the population of it, even if people come and go quite a bit, and the rent is pretty high.

So Lindy Exchanges may not have lost their footing, but they have certainly reinvented themselves into something new. - my narcissistic home page. It don't mean a thing..