Happy Birthday Swungover: 2011 Year in Review
December marks the two-year birthday of Swungover. It’s been an exciting year, to say the least, and I thought I’d use this post to take a look back at what our small, imported Malaysian childre—dance scientists have been slaving away at.
I often tease (mostly myself, when alone in the car) that Swungover is really just my personal research journal with a few jokes thrown in. 2011 seemed to prove this point. First, a recommendation by a reader led to A Basic Index of Classic Clips and throughout the year there were a whole mess of discoveries (by which I mean, four-ish). First, I stumbled upon the name of the mysterious follower in white in the Venice Beach Clip while trying to quench my endless thirst for black and white pictures of swing dancers. And then I found out even more about her. And within the last few months, I wrote about some interesting old film footage that may include the master Balboa and Lindy dancer Willie Desatoff himself. (Article one here, article two here) Also, a chance interview with Lennart Westurlund gave me the chance to explore the hazy origins of the the California Routine.
Though our dance scientists focus a lot on the original jitterbugs here, their constant, driving, almost slave-like devotion to forced labor allowed me more time to think about the modern swing culture: Oh, The Dances You Will Have and The Great Debate #1: Should Lindy Hop be danced to non-swing music? are two of the greatest things on Swungover (at least, to me).
It’s also great when articles write themselves, like when I just ask a bunch of questions to interesting people. I especially enjoyed talking about the unique perspective of being a deaf swing dancer with Tim Vail, the art of being a DJ with Kyle Smith, and alternative swing dance education with Lindsay Longsreth.
I also resurrected a few of my favorite old series, albeit mostly for only brief appearances. First, there was the travel essay on Airports (Part 1), the first and second part of the “On Judging“ series, and then, the Art of Vintage Manliness returned for Oct-tie-ber. My father passed away a few years ago, and never got to see many of the things that I am proudest of in my life. Though I’m sure he would have been impressed with this website, I thought about it the most when I published the tie article. My father loved men’s fashion and it was actually one of the few common interest we shared (which I don’t imagine is very common in father-son relationships, but ours was special). It was strange; after I published the article, I kept opening it and rereading it. I didn’t know why until I suddenly realized how much I thought dad would have liked it. I was looking over it the way I would have a good report card when I was little. I had put it on the fridge.
Over all, though, probably the greatest piece of swing dance writing and demonstration of obsessive compulsive disorder I’ve done for Swungover yet was the essay Hollywood Vs. Savoy Style: A fight to the Death and it’s accompanying footnotes. (It’s interesting seeing how many people read the main post, but then skipped the footnotes. I don’t mind, but it does remind me of something Kate always tells beginner Balboa leaders who sometimes have issues with closing their hands around their followers’: If you’re this close to her, guys, you might as well hold her hand.)
What’s in store for Swungover next year? Well, I plan on actually finishing the essay “On Judging” which has really been at a halt due to the fact that I’m still working out my own thoughts and philosophies regarding judging, Malaysian dance scientist child labor isn’t what it used to be, and I’d hate to publish something about such an important topic if I didn’t feel I was ready to do it yet. In the near future, there will be some new features in the works which I think readers will enjoy a lot, as well as a few new chapters in already-started ones, such as “The Great Debate,” “Swing Memories,” and “The Art of Vintage Manliness.” Also, a super-secret big Swungover project is in the works, ooooooo, mystery and intrigue.
I’d like to end by giving a shout out to a few people who have been instrumental in making this labor of love (and forced slave labor) work. First off, LindyBloggers for first introducing me to the format, Abigail Browning for her initial support and advice, Jerry Almonte for always having an interesting conversation on hand and inspiring me in what I do here, people such as Sylvia Sykes, Nick Williams, David Rehm, and Peter Loggins for all their great historical advice and support, as well as countless other fellow teachers and friends who help out.
Also, last, but certainly not least; a fantastic editor, Chelsea Lee. The way Swungover usually happens is I write a post and usually finish it the day I wish to publish it, or the day after. I send it to Chelsea, who edits it, and sends it back to me. Meanwhile, I’ve changed three more things in the post, often adding entire paragraphs or sections. Etc. You get the picture, and also get why she’s not just an incredible editor, but an incredibly patient woman. Chelsea, you rock my blog. Any posts without faults are because of her, any bad grammar, spelling, and missing sentences in a post are because of me. I guarantee it.
For instance, I gave her this post off.*
* — When I was at my recent family reunion, my new cousin-in-law said “I have no idea how people can mix up words like ‘their’ and ‘there.’ ” She had no idea because she’s a visual speller. I, on the other hand, am a phonetic speller. I write down what I hear (first draft of this post: “here”). So, switching the words makes complete sense to me, as you know all too well.
The pro is that it’s easier for phonetic writers to write sentences that sound natural, as if they’re spoken. The con is that we often mix up homonyms (first draft of this post: “Homynymns”), and basically sometimes don’t spell The Man’s words the way The Man demands they be spelled (first draft of this post: “spelt”). I mean, seriously, “through”?
It also means I write with “spoken grammar,” which is an oxymoron.