Swungover Under Construction (and Junk Drawer, November 2011)
Swungover Under Construction; Returns Dec 1!
Swungover is going to be under construction for a few weeks while I update and rearrange a few things. If you are a subscriber, you will possibly get some emails alerting you to new posts that will probably be some housekeeping things and not the most exciting in the world, just so you’re aware. But new posts will resume December 1st.
On Judging, Part 2: UPDATED
I updated last week’s “On Judging, Part 2″ post with a few things. First, I added a new section called”Abstract Scoping” on (11/11) which I think is actually one of the most important things in the post, since it deals with how to watch an actual competitor to get information from them. I then added another section called “Blinking” (11/15) which I thought was an interesting thing to add, and possibly helpful, especially to those who tend to take a long time coming up with their scores.
I revised the footnotes on the argument against raw scoring and like them better now, and cleaned up the grammar. Anyway, for those who don’t want to re-read the article, here’s the added parts:
So, how do you actually watch an individual couple? As in, what are you looking for? You certainly can look at your competitors and go through a mental checklist of qualities of good dancing. But in an all-skate, this could obviously take a lot of time. Scoping can be applied on a more abstract level when watching individual competitors or couples. Basically, you watch a couple’s dancing and wait for something to stick out, good or bad. You then try to pinpoint why it sticks out, which may be hard at first but will get easier with practice. Often these will be the things you note on your clipboard (more on that below.)
The important thing with scoping is to keep it abstract. When you’re scoping, you’re seeing how that couple measures up to your idea of great swing dancing. If your idea of great swing dancing is based on certain concrete specifics, you might be doing a disservice to your competitors and to the individual spirit of swing dancing when you compare them. For instance, if your idea of great swing dancing is tied to specific style of Lindy Hop, then you’re comparing someone’s individual styling to another style, not to whether or not it fits into great swing dancing as an abstract idea. I know that’s a pretty simple description for a complex philosophical idea, but I hope it conveys the general idea.
It should be mentioned that sometimes going through a checklist when you’re watching a couple has its benefits. For instance, I might have two competitors I think are absolutely tied. I might then go through my checklist of priorities for that contest. I might start to see which one of those tied couples is working better as a partnership as a tie-breaker. In that case, scoping helped me get a general picture of what was happening, and a checklist helped me cover a few other bases.
WILD CARD! “Blinking”
[Updated 11/15: I thought I would throw this in for a wild card. Surprise!] This section is named after the psychology book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell’s premise is basically that people’s split-second decisions are often better than the long, drawn-out ones where they consider everything they can think of (as long as those people are well-informed about the thing about which they are making the decision). Sometimes people get bogged down in the details or overvalue unimportant information, and a quick, intuitive choice (what Gladwell calls “thin-slicing”) circumvents this because in a quick decision only the most important factors can be used. (Of course, where split-second decisions go wrong is in stereotypes or biases.) In his book, he backs this claim up with lots of research stories and anecdotes, though critics have argued that some of his claims are still too bold for the evidence he provides.
Now, whether you believe in this ideaem or not, you as a judge still usually have a little time to try it out and see how you like it. So, if you’re having a hard time figuring out placements in a contest you are judging, imagine you have to turn in your scores immediately, and write down your split-second placements on the side of your page. After you’re done, think about what subconscious factors may have influenced your off-the-cuff placements. If the reasons make sense, they might make it easier for you to decide on your scores. Please note: I am NOT suggesting that this is all you have to do for to produce your scores. I’m suggesting this can be yet another tool to help you make your rankings. It is also a skill that will become more developed and more accurate as you learn more about swing dancing.
Besides, if you only do this method, you’ll have competitors come up and ask you for your feedback and all you can say is “Um, I just went with my gut. Can’t tell you more than that.” And you don’t want to be that guy (even if you’re a girl). Always try to pinpoint why you feel the way you do about your placements before turning in your scores.
So I’m visiting my mom in Atlanta when…
“Wait, I have coffee mugs?” I asked.
She said yes, and I have to admit, I was slightly concerned that someone was making upwards of $10 off of my mom by selling her a product based on my website. She told me where she got it, and here’s what happened: Someone put the definition for the word Swungover into Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary makes money by making shirts, coffee mugs and beer steins with their Urban Dictionary words on them. So, it was all above board, but still was a little surreal.
I guess now’s as good a time as any to give a little history on the word for those who care. I invented it (as far as I know) in the Jam Cellar email (which I used to put waaaay much more time into writing) back in May 26, 2009, to describe how I felt after Frankie 95s Birthday. I didn’t remember this until I went back to dig up the email. I’m glad the word was born to describe that particular event, which was definitely the swing dance equivalent of a booze-filled weekend combining both joy and depression. (At least, so I would imagine. I haven’t really had one of those.) Anyway, I’m always really excited when people use it, so it was cool to see it in Urban Dictionary.
After we saw what the things the Urban Dictionary website had to offer, my mom seemed particularly intrigued by the beer stein. I think I know what I’m getting for Christmas.