So the Atlanta scene has been getting more and more drama-filled and colorful in recent years. We’ve had several Alphas (males and females, but mostly females) move into the scene. We’ve had incompetent leaders rise to the highest level of their incompetence, do little to help advance the organization, and (perhaps worst of all) work to undermine the efforts of those who would work hard to help make dancing in Atlanta more enjoyable. We’ve had new organizations develop and/or shift focus in a way that focuses NOT on what is best for the scene, but on what these organizations want to do most. We have organizers that are in it to make money, and only want to impress their agenda/dance style on the dance scene. We have grown adults who, in short, SUCK at working/playing/dancing well with others.
It’s almost as though a few years ago someone said “Hey! There’s not enough confusion, back-biting, bitching, and toe-stepping-on going on in Atlanta. We can’t grow a scene without these things! We should create more organizations with similar, yet slightly antagonistic agendas so that there is stuff to fight over.”
And thus it was done. And God saw that it was crazy, said that it was crazy, and it was indeed crazy.
So Atlanta was already pretty knee-deep in the crazy shit. Then the new ASEDA board took over. Yea.
Several members of the ASEDA board have, in the recent past, decided to overlay their agendas and personal ideologies for How Things Should Be on the activities of ASEDA members. This ideological ‘purity’ has affected things like venues, competitions, times, teachers utilized, etc. Case in point- one organizer felt that it was inappropriate to have Jack-Jack or Jill-Jill competitions. As a member of a dominant religious group that frowns upon any non-traditional (i.e. male-female) display of public contact, this person felt that his discomfort with having a competition where men danced with other men and women danced with other women was justification enough to cancel that type of competition. After all, it wasn’t within his comfort zone. And thus, that particular event that was being run by this organizer abruptly dumped that competition from its schedule. That is just one example of how Atlanta’s dance scene is flavored by the views of the ASEDA board members.
I’m not an extremist. I do understand that the afore mentioned example is likely standard practice since most anyone running any organization must, out of the condition of being human, be influenced by their personal perspective. But having someone elses idea of piety influence MY life instead of theirs is just…old.
So now we have ASEDA members bickering over all sorts of little things, while leaving the majority of the work to one or two board members. In addition to the behind the scenes politiking that is going on, we now have one prominent board member who shows up to at least half of the ASEDA event (that I attend) visibly drunk. If this member has a responsibility during the event that his organization is running, I don’t see him do it. Unless it’s the glamorous, in-front-of-the-crowd part. So all the new people to ASEDA see this more established member as setting a standard for the organization as a whole. I’m sure that will reel in the college crowd, but I don’t see that working in our favor in the long run.
Wait. This shit cake has another layer.
All types of dance have competing styles, and Lindy hop is no different. I’m all for growing your style. But Atlanta has squared off in the last year, with competing teachers pushing their dance style and trying to make a profit out of molding new dancers into a type of Lindy Hop that is unchanging. Plainly put, Certain People have decided that teaching their style of dance is the right style of dance. Period. There are several schools of thought that flow in this direction. So we have several parallel streams of dance that you can learn from, but collaboration is not encouraged.
The saving grace of the Atlanta scene? The fact that the people who will carry this art-form forward are still flooding the scene and asking for more. The fact that the sheer volume of newbies and intermediate dancers who are taking any and every class they can get their hands on is rising every week. Every month.
Despite all the disfunction currently slowing the upper levels of the dance scene here, there is plenty of fresh blood who don’t see it- who just want to dance and learn. The cycle is on a definite upswing. Dances are filled with new faces. Classes are filled with new faces. People are spreading the word about a type of fun with other adults that does not entail drinking yourself stupid, taking your clothes off, or gyrating to Lil Wayne at 1 am while some inarticulate drunk tries to hit on you. Unless that’s your thing. If it is, there’s an awesome bar on the west side I can recommend.
So I see hope for the future of dance in Atlanta from the newbies to the scene. Here’s hoping that they’ll carry us to a higher level of leadership and activities. Here’s hoping the people on the ASEDA board who are busting ass in the name of jazz dancing continue to do so, for all our sakes.
I’m pouring one out for my homies tonight. And then I’m tying on my Aris Allens and going dancing.