That’s one aspect of being a leader in our scene that gets the least amount of attention when people talk about becoming more active in our community whether it’s by performing, dj’ing, promoting events, or teaching. This thought doesn’t come out of nowhere. There’s an unfortunate story being revealed right now that I don’t necessarily want to talk about directly here, but it’s so big that it can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.
I’m currently reading a book called “Glamour Addiction: Inside the American Ballroom Dance Industry” by Juliet McMains a professor in dance and a DanceSport competitor. She has an interesting observation concerning why ballroom dance isn’t more popular. She contends that much of the appeal of the dance comes from direct one on one interactions, particularly those fostered between teachers and students.
When you put yourself out there as someone like a teacher, especially when you’re charging money for it, you’re implicitly asking people to place some level of trust in you; that you know what you’re doing and that you won’t mess with them.
When you do something to betray that trust you do irreparable damage not just to yourself, but to those friends and other people who looked up to you. The community struggles to find solid ground as they question who and what they can trust again, and to what level.
I think one of the reasons why “In God We Trust” became the motto of the US is because people are painfully weary of each other's fallibility .
Frankie Manning was often seen as a passive yet benevolent force in our scene. He rarely spoke ill of anyone publicly. People may be surprised to discover that he had very strong opinions about a lot of things, but he kept those opinions largely to himself because he was acutely aware of the amount of influence he wielded. It’s one of the reasons why he avoided judging competitions
The thing that struck many dancers in our scene in the aftermath of Frankie’s death was how much they all share in the responsibility of maintaining and growing the Lindy Hop community which now spans the entire world. I was told that even a long time veteran like Norma Miller was hit by the enormity of what Frankie did in his own quiet way. There’s a general feeling amongst the leaders of our scene (not just male dancers but everyone who plays a key role) that what we do isn’t always just about dancing and that we should be mindful of that in everything we do.
By now I’m sure that you’re thoroughly confused by this seemingly random string of thoughts. Since I have no desire to dwell on tawdry details or practice idle speculation here (that's what Yehoodi is for), I can only encourage you to get as much information as possible before making up your mind. There’s a lot of hurt out there right now, but hopefully we all can learn from this and build a better community.
I’d like to leave you with something that I read on another blog which relates to what I'm talking about, but is more in honor of the holiday.
"It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied together into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality . . . Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you've depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren't going to have peace on Earth until we recognize the basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.1967 Christmas Sermon on Peace