Swungover’s Response to the Jack & Jill Debate

There are a lot of emotions currently tied to this debate, which is not necessarily a bad thing. This post, however, attempts to approach the discussion from a logical, critical-thinking and respectful perspective. It attempts to avoid emotional language when possible, and highlight some of the issues that arise from relying upon it as a basis for argument. In the spirit of this specific approach, *please follow suit* when posting counter arguments in the comments section.


We here at Swungover (all one of us) officially support any promoters who decide to change the name of the “Jack & Jill” contest to something more inclusive.

Here are our fundamental arguments for why:

Argument 1

In the modern era, we recognize the roles (leading and following) of swing dancing are not tied to any gender or any one type of person (no matter how they identify themselves).

The names “Jack” and “Jill” have for centuries been attributed to specific genders.

In a dance community where anyone, regardless of gender, can dance any role, changing the name of the dance community’s “Jack & Jill” contests to something gender-neutral like “Mix & Match” is making the contest name reflect more accurately the way we dance in its modern form.

Therefore, a name change is an improvement in the accuracy of the language.


Argument 2
Swing dancing brings joy to many people.

Being worthy of experiencing joy is not tied to one’s gender or sexual orientation.

We as a scene want to encourage anyone who is interested to experience that joy.

Because the names Jack and Jill have a long history of being used for specific genders, and because partner dance itself has a long history of primarily having men and women dancing together, the contest name “Jack and Jill” can imply that dancers in the respective roles are preferred to be male/female or of a specific sexual orientation.

Therefore, the use of the term “Jack & Jill” can feel exclusionary to those who are gender or sexually non-conforming.

If we as a scene want people of all identities to feel included, and the name for a contest can be exclusionary, then it is a logical course of action to change the contest name.


Please note: The reason we put the “accuracy” argument first, and the “inclusive” argument second, is to highlight that from a strictly logical perspective we can establish that a name change is an improvement *in and of itself* before adding on a more desire-based argument (the desire for the dance to be inclusive). Obviously, many people are much more personally tied to the second argument, and a name change will have a much bigger impact in the overall community where the second argument is concerned.

Here are additional (less formally presented) arguments and thoughts related to the debate:

Yehoodi put out a collection of people’s arguments about whether to change the name of the Jack & Jill contest or not. Here is Swungover’s response to the logic of those arguments.

Arguments from the Yehoodi Post & Facebook posts

Changing the name is not going to change how people think. We need to educate people to accept all kind of genders, disabilities, characters, etc.

A common thread we see in people’s arguments is the underlying belief that changing the name is not a big change, not even an action. However, we’d argue it’s both of those things. To change the name of a contest format so firmly ensconced in the modern history of the dance with such widespread recognition and saturation in our dance scene makes a powerful statement to the community. It’s saying that it’s important that the names we give things reflect the spirit of the dance scene we want to exist.

In the future, many people will wonder “why did they change the name?” and will look for an answer. When the answer is that we wanted the community to be inclusive to people of all of genders, disabilities, characters, and so forth, then that means that changing the name of the Jack & Jill will have been quite a simple but effective way of starting to do some of that education.

Some non-English-speaking commenters noted that the name meant nothing to them in their native languages and had no connotations beyond being the name of a particular kind of competition.

The fact that the names “Jack & Jill” mean nothing to some communities of non-English-speaking dancers is irrelevant as to whether it should be changed or not for English speakers. For instance, if the name were a racial slur, we’d change it pretty quickly despite the fact that many non-English speakers probably wouldn’t know what the original name meant.

It can be argued changing the name will actually be beneficial to the international community: American and other English-language events making this name change could set an example to the non-English-speaking international scene or at least open a dialogue about why we have chosen to do so.

Some observed that most competitions already allow men to follow and women to lead, so there’s no need to change the name.

If the name does not reflect the rules or spirit of the contest as well as it could, then there *is* a reason to change the name.

Others argued that no one is asking for this change, and it’s just an invented problem.

This is a contradiction. No one would have brought it up if someone wasn’t asking for this change. Even if it is only a small number of people who have hitherto not spoken who were the first to request the change, what matters is whether we as a scene agree with them or not — not their number, even if it was one person.

Furthermore, even if it were an “invented” problem, there is no reason why an invented problem isn’t worthy of being addressed.


“Progress is fine and welcome, but not at the cost of trying to condemn and shut away the history of the dance we all love so much. Lindy without its history, is just about meaningless.”

This argument may lead one to think there was a desire to destroy the contest format itself. There is only an argument to change the name. This is not condemning “the history of the dance,” which is emotionally charged language in an argument giving very little evidence to back it up.

Second of all, regarding its history, the Jack & Jill’s namesake, dancer Jack Carey, welcomed name changes to the format in the past (such as “Luck of the Draw” — this is not the first time the contest has had a name change). He himself wasn’t tied to the name.

The argument under consideration is an example of the reasoning “we should do this because this is the way we’ve always done it.” This is not a sound argument, but unfortunately it is a common one in debates like these. The framework for a valid historical argument is “It has been done this way for a long time because of these reasons, and based on those reasons, the historical way is still a better way to do it than the current suggested change.” This does not hold true for the Jack & Jill contest name or for many other aspects of our dance, which is why we’ve kept swingouts but given up racially segregated ballrooms.

And, for what it’s worth, I make these arguments as a passionate historian who has fought many battles in preserving different aspects of the dance’s history.

There have been several comments along the lines of ‘with all that is happening in our world and in our scene, this is far down the list of priorities of what we should be focusing on.’ For them, it seems misspent energy and time: “As a woman, a lead, and a feminist, the name of this competition doesn’t even make the list of garbage most non-traditional dancers face, or even language that continues to make non-traditional dancers feel alienated in modern dance culture.”

Though it is certainly true that there are many changes the swing dance scene could be focusing on, it is not necessarily true that this shouldn’t be one of them. After all, the name change can stand as a very clear statement, begin a dialogue in the scene that can spread to other issues, and educate people who question why the scene is making this change.

What’s also important about this possible name change is that it is a clear situation (a contest format with a name that doesn’t reflect the scene the way we want it to be seen) with a clear solution (changing the name) that comes at almost no cost whatsoever. Very few other priorities that need to be worked on have such easy-to-solve circumstances.
Some felt this was an effort to introduce “politically correct” politics into the scene.

Regardless of whether the language is “politically correct,” ultimately it is most important that it is correct language, period. In a dance community where anyone, regardless of gender, can dance any role, changing the name of the dance community’s “Jack & Jill” contests to something gender-neutral like “Mix & Match” is making language more accurate.

It can also be argued that “politically correct” as a concept is so fraught with diverse meanings and additional political weight from many different sides that its use in arguments is almost always going to be detrimental because it doesn’t convey a meaning that all in the conversation can agree on (as I myself have recently learned). For instance, let’s say there’s a conversation with many diverse people (like the one we’re having now) and someone drops the words “politically correct.” One of the listeners hears the words “politically correct” and translates it to (1) “language meant to simply give a problem a different name,” while another listener hears (2) “language geared toward being respectful,” whereas another hears (3) “language meant to give in to overly sensitive personalities.” (And, of course, there are others.)

As you can see, those are three different arguments that each bear discussion. Here’s our take:

Is changing the name “Jack & Jill”…

(1) …disguising a problem?
As we have mentioned previously, we think changing the name is actually a pretty interesting and easy way to begin addressing the problem and to start a dialogue that will continue to address an issue that otherwise is not easily addressed on a scene-wide basis.

(2) …being respectful?
We think the name change is being respectful to the members of our community who feel the name is exclusionary to a portion of our community. We also feel it is being respectful to the scene as a whole by trying to be accurate in how we portray ourselves. We even feel it is being respectful to the contest’s namesake, who welcomed name changes and was not tied to “Jack & Jill.”

(3) …just giving in to overly sensitive personalities?
This is a hard one to tackle logically — sensitiveness is largely a matter of opinion. Though, to us, it is not as relevant to the argument as the fact that changing the name is accurate, respectful, and could be an easy and substantial starting point to addressing what many people see as a problem in the scene.


“Why do the names Jack and Jill have to have assigned gender? If we abide by *that* inclusive idea, we wouldn’t have to change the name.” (paraphrased from several arguments)

One could argue that, ideally, we should all come to a point where we do not attribute gender to names. However, one can observe that ideals and how the human brain works are only sometimes compatible.

The classic example where it does work is the name “Pat.” Your brain can hear that name and perhaps not attribute gender to it, because enough people of different genders exist who have that name that your brain honestly could see it going any way. However, hear the name “George” or “Lucy” or “Kyle” or “Elizabeth,” in an English-speaking culture, and your brain attributes gender, because 99% or, if not 100% of the people you have met with those names appear to have a specific gender. It’s not your brain’s fault for not being more open-minded — it’s just really bad at breaking patterns without enough reinforcing evidence.

Specifically, the names “Jack” and “Jill” just so happen to have a *whole* lot of gender history to them. They are centuries old (from a time when everything, even the right to enjoy sex, was gender-assigned) and involve two of the most traditional male and female names of all time. It also happens to exist as a contest name in a dance that is trying to modify a century of its own gender-related dance roles and several centuries of European gender-related dance history. The scene also happens to have at this time clear majorities: a majority of leaders appear to be men, and a majority of followers appear to be women. Again, your brain is just recognizing patterns.

Due to all of this together, “Jack” and “Jill” will most likely have assumed gender in the subconscious thoughts of current American, English, and many European dancers, and, furthermore, are implying those gender assignments based on the majority of the dance floor and the history behind the dance. And to argue with people that they should just live by the ideal that names shouldn’t be attributed gender is, in this case, arguably asking them perform an impossible mental task that even the person making the argument would not be not able to do.

I am truly only comfortable dancing with people of the opposite gender. Doesn’t this change affect me, and exclude me from these contests?

Yes, technically this new name might feel exclusionary to dancers with those values. However, in reality, no Lindy Hop scene Jack & Jill we have known of in years has restricted their dance roles to gender. So the name change debate is not necessarily about that issue but about giving an appropriate name to a contest format that is already accepting of all genders and sexual orientations for all roles, and has been for years.

But we should still address this concern.

Comfort, in and of itself, is a hard thing to logically stand on in an argument. For instance, someone could argue they feel excluded from modern dance contests because they are only comfortable dancing with people of the same race. We are NOT saying the people only comfortable dancing with people of a specific gender are racist ; we are merely mentioning that it is not comfort that matters in an argument, but the values underlying that comfort. If comfort is to be taken into account in this debate, it has to be based on a value the scene as a whole deems worthy of being upheld.

Nothing is perfectly inclusive, as the argument under scrutiny demonstrates. In a world where one type of dancer prefers to dance in contests with people of a specific gender, and another type prefers dancers be allowed to dance whichever role they prefer in a contest, regardless of gender or sexual identity, one is going to feel excluded whenever the other one is given priority.

As you can probably infer from this post, we argue that the value of letting people choose whatever dance roles they prefer, and being able to showcase that in contests, is the value we prefer the scene to champion. Logically speaking, there is no reason other than tradition that a dance role be attributed to a specific gender or sexual orientation (see above for our view on history-based arguments), and even that tradition has plenty of exceptions (such as this one). We argue that barring anyone from doing something based simply on their sexuality or gender is a basic violation of their human rights. All of these are reasons why we argue a swing scene should chose inclusiveness to people of all genders and sexual orientations over the comfort of those who prefer to dance in contests with people of a specific gender or sexual orientation.

Now, we want to be very clear, this does not mean dancers don’t have the right to only social dance with people they feel comfortable dancing with. The right to say “no” is still each social dancer’s right, but by entering a contest like a “Mix & Match” you’re choosing to temporarily give up that right and let the organizers assign you a partner based on role and random chance.

Finally, on a scene-wide level it will still be up to each contest organizer as to whether and how to change the name (Some events already have invented their own names for the Jack & Jill contest, such as “Luck of the Draw” at some Westie events.) And there is no reason why all events have to use the same name for the contest format; having different names at different events could actually lead to more diversity in the kinds of values espoused in dance contests.


If we’re changing every name that’s offensive, shouldn’t we change the name Lindy Hop, since Lindbergh was a Nazi sympathizer? (paraphrased from several arguments)

This is a worthy question. That name change is arguably a more complex one, however. First off, changing the name of a dance form itself is a shift of a far greater magnitude than changing a contest format name. For that reason alone it deserves its own debate and a very thorough one. Yes, many of the arguments may overlap, but enough other arguments may exist to change the nature of that debate significantly from the nature of this one.

For instance, the dance is technically not named after a person but an accomplishment. How does that change the nature of the debate? The dance was invented and named by a community that was in its essence the antithesis of racist ideas, and if they had known of Lindbergh’s sympathies perhaps they wouldn’t have named it that. How does that change the nature of the debate? When people see the name “Jack & Jill,” it is understandable that people could infer the contest expects male/female pairings, but when someone sees the dance name Lindy Hop, are they inferring it’s a dance that celebrates Nazi ideals? How does that question change the nature of the debate?

Obviously, we are showing how muddy the waters can get rather than trying to make them more clear. But it’s just to argue that the “Lindy Hop” debate should be separate from this one, and ultimately distracts from this debate, which we believe stands on much firmer ground.

(Please note we at Swungover do not have an official stance on the “Lindy Hop” name debate. We have a lot more thinking to do about that one.)


Argument for the name “Mix & Match”

The names we attribute to things in the scene are important. We want them to represent the spirit and beliefs of the things they name. So, basically, if we’re going to change the name, we might as well do it right.

Even though ultimately the decision is up to each promoter, and a diversity of contest names and formats can be a positive thing for the scene, we would like to take a moment to argue “Mix & Match” as a great replacement name for “Jack & Jill” in its standard format. It is not only completely gender-neutral; it’s also a more precise description of the dance — you mix up partners and then match them together. It is even good advice to competitors to match their dancing to their partners in order to create a successful dance between two random dancers. It’s also catchy and confers a spirit of playfulness to the contest, similar to the way the name “Jack & Jill” does with its evocation of the classic nursery rhyme.

We do want to say, we do not think “Mix & Match” is perfect. However, as we will argue, we think it is the best option currently on the table.

Here are the other main name options on the table, some of which we present here with our thoughts:

“Luck Of the Draw”: Even though it is one way of describing what happens in the contest, and was given the blessing of the late Jack Carey when it was used as a replacement name for the Jack & Jill name, it emphasizes the luck of the partner drawn, rather than the skill of dancing with one another. For this reason, we do not think it is near as good as Mix & Match. (Yes, there is a lot of luck in the random partner format contest, but there is also skill. Since the primary goal of contests in general is to reward skill, we argue the name should emphasize the latter.)

“Lead & Follow”: We would argue that partnered dance competitions are also based on leading and following, so this name creates a false dichotomy.

“The Social Division”: Again, we would argue partnered dance competitions involve “social dancing,” or alternatively, that any contest could be considered not social dancing by definition, so this name creates a couple of false dichotomies depending on where you stand. We’d also like to note that “The Social Division” sounds like a 1990s band. That could be a plus or a minus; just throwing it out there.

“Jess & Jo”: This name is a clear sign of us intentionally changing it for gender inclusiveness. However, it’s not as good of a shortcut for explaining what the contest format is about as something like “Mix & Match.” Also, “Jack & Jill’s” name was both an homage to Jack Carey and allusion to a familiar nursery rhyme, and without those specific names there is a lot less reason why two names should define a contest.

“J&J”: This term is technically gender-neutral, and it would be the easiest transition for the current scene, but may we argue against it on a few grounds: First off, many in the scene already refer to “Jack & Jills” as “J&J,” so making the change to this might come across like surrendering to the idea of inclusiveness rather than embracing it.

Secondly, when we make a name change, it’s always important to think about how people will explain or discuss that name change. In this case, imagine a new dancer coming into the scene. The very random-sounding “J&J” name change will require people to explain that it was once “Jack & Jill,” the reasons for change of which can then pretty easily dismissed — “Oh, well, it was changed when a bunch of people got upset.” To the new dancer, explaining a name like “Mix & Match” requires no reason to explain the history of Jack & Jill and the name change, and yet is inherently inclusive. Additionally, see “Jess & Jo” arguments above.

“The Jack Carey Contest”: Though this option honors the contest’s namesake, it has a formality to it that takes away part of the fun spirit of the comp for us. Additionally, it does not have the face-value level of explanation to it that “Mix & Match” does, which could be a barrier for new dancers.



It’s important to realize the “Jack & Jill” conversation is not *just* about a name change. It is powerfully symbolic of a problem with inclusiveness in the scene to those of non-majority identities. If you are a person in the majority, it’s very easy to see the scene as inclusive. Many of us have never considered having a debate about changing the name of the contest, probably because its implications were not strong enough against our identities to feel exclusionary. However, if I put myself in someone else’s shoes, I can see how it’d be a pretty clear example of a problem in the scene (and the modern world in general).

Solving problems of inclusiveness and educating people about them is not an easy task. Yet someone suggested changing the name of “Jack & Jill” and look how much people are thinking and talking about it now. While we might not yet know how to best address and solve the thousands of small, often subconscious exclusive/inclusive problems of the scene, a bunch of organizers choosing to update the name of “Jack & Jill” contests is one change that has an obvious and scene-wide result.

Organizers and promoters have the opportunity to make a simple change that, though it will not solve all problems of inclusion, will show our desire to be inclusive as well as initiate education in inclusiveness. An opportunity like this is rare. Let’s use it.

Several readers helped dramatically shape this essay. Special thanks to Irena Spassova, Jessica Miltenberger, Shana Worel, and, as always, Swungover’s editor Chelsea Lee.

Unlike other Swungover comment sections, where anarchy reigns, we ask that in this post’s comments, all arguments be made in clear, critical-thinking, and respectful ways without relying on emotionally driven language or attacking others personally. If you are not able to do so, please do not comment.

Due to a busy schedule we will not be able to manage the comments section closely, so we ask commenters to police themselves and others. We stress the former so that hopefully the latter will not be needed. (We can dream, right?)

28 responses to “Swungover’s Response to the Jack & Jill Debate”

  1. Thank you Bobby for this well written post. I also prefer the “Mix and Match” name change of contests and am pleased that some high profile events have changed the name of what they formerly had as the J&J to reflect these ongoing discussions.

  2. Very well written!
    I wanted to add a thought to the answer to “If we’re changing every name that’s offensive, shouldn’t we change the name Lindy Hop, since Lindbergh was a Nazi sympathizer?” (which I admit had never occurred to me before) My proposed addition is: entering a discussion about one issue, and claiming that it should resolve another issue first before continuing, is a form of derailment. This is especially true if the people making this argument in the context of the Jack & Jill contest had not bothered to make such an argument previous to that context.

  3. Thanks for the clear summary and insightful explanation of the debate Bobby. Bringing to light the social connotations inherent in naming conventions is an important step toward making our dance more open and inclusive.

    Part of the charm of the name that has been used to date however is that, in the minds of many dancers, it’s associated specifically with our dance (even if it’s also used elsewhere) as well as with that quaint nursery rhyme and the jazz numbers that allude to it in their lyrics.

    Considering for a moment the value of those qualities, Mix & Match is an awfully dull replacement candidate. It brings to mind… children’s cereal… a birthday party game… an attraction at a church fete… interchangeable bikini top and bottom (thanks internet image search)… bingo… a supermarket promotion… a team building exercise at a corporate employee motivation event… in other words, all bland cultural associations. It brings on a soporific shudder; it causes the mind to recoil in protest; it’s the name equivalent of wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt to a dance party.

    Our dance and this competition surely deserve a name that soars, that’s memorable, that evokes of the magic of our dance. How about… Al & Leon… Swing Out or Die (because no one will take you seriously if you don’t)… Impromptu Lindy… Jitterbug Contest… something that folks will enjoy explaining to their friends.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful feedback! I’ve heard this argument a lot about “Mix & Match,” that it’s bland. That’s of course a matter of opinion and that I can’t argue against.

      I will say that I think if the name “Jack & Jill” didn’t exist today, and someone offered “Jack & Jill” as a replacement (in a world where inclusiveness was not the issue) I wonder if we would be drawn to it as much as we think we would. An impossible experiment, of course, but perhaps one worth thinking about. It’s just an allusion to a nursery rhyme, after all, and I don’t think it’s connection to swing music is strong enough to give it *that* much of a piece of our hearts.

      All of that said, if there were a name that didn’t have the problems of the other recommended names, that sounded more exciting, or more “us” than “Mix & Match,” I’d happily support it as the champion. I choose it not because I think it’s perfect, I just haven’t heard anything better.

      Your suggestions (and I thank you for offering new suggestions rather than just arguing against our current choices) have some similar problems as the others proposed. “Al & Leon” are recognized as a solo dancing duo who are both men, which is neither gender-neutral or suggestive of random-partner partnered dance contest. “Swing out or die” is what people should do in *every* contest. So, really, the entire championships should be called “Swing Out Or Die” (Who wouldn’t watch the comp videos?!?) Impromptu Lindy could too easily represent a chosen-partner dance that is meant to be improvised.

      • All valid points Bobby.

        There must be a brilliant & creative mind out there who could suggest catchy & culturally-relevant candidates for a new name. The American language is legendary for its dynamism & originality.

        The current replacement-elect risks suffering the ignominious fate of being giggled at & ultimately ignored.

        • Pinky and the Brain? ;) one leads, the other follows. They’re going to take over the world, just like Lindy hop. Yes they’re both boys but they’re two mice and the names are not gendered. I wouldn’t use it, but it’s fun and seems to meet the above name request?

  4. I usually dance as a leader, but to get better at it, I ones signed up at a beginner course to learn to follow, some of the other guys left the course that made me, after some lessons, change to leading and after some girls had made me promise that I did not intend to go back to be a follower the next lessons the guys came back. I do not know why but maybe some of them had been abused by a homosexual. Any way to make it a norm that a name like Jack and Jill is not OK will make some people feel excluded. Else I find “Mix and Match” OK to me.

  5. While my brain searches for the perfect term (Rendezvous With A Stranger, Lottery Swing), I think the principle behind this suggestion is excellent, and would be happy to see the name change to Mix & Match or Luck of the Draw. I also think it is possible that a separation will occur, so that “Jack and Jill” events DO end up meaning the competition is limited to the traditional male lead-female follow format. I may be perfectly happy to dance with anyone of any gender and be both a lead and a follow, but I also don’t believe in dragging people who are only comfortable with traditional coupling kicking and screaming into my world.

    Most people aren’t going to study the details of an event when it is announced and promoted and know an event is open without any gender restrictions unless there is a clear signal, and a name change is that signal. In my view, a new name should be adopted to express the new open type of competition, any decent name is a win, and we should start to identify “Jack and Jill” events as being those that are still limited to the ML-FF format.

    I support a name change in any case for events that want their openness to be widely known.

  6. A Lot of us suspect that this is a stepping stone, it is a stepping stone to “Safe Spaces”, which already is discussed in ILHC, a stepping stone to “MicroAgression” and speech code, and finally a stepping to the affiliation of events with organism like Black Lives Matter, AntiFa, and all those things.

    Basically the main reason for a name change, is that this name represent a “Micro Agression” toward the members of the LGBTQ+ community.

    The big problem with “Micro Agressions” is in the name, the word Agression. It is not a “Micro Insult”, but an agression.

    The word Agression conjure up the imagery of Violence, and violence, even just in imagery, create violence.

    A example of violence conjured up in imagery, is when someone you love, told you that someone hit him/her, it will create anger and even rage. You could be tempted to assault physically that person, to later discover that it was a lie. That the violence never existed in the first place.

    You have to realize where you are going, were all this Virtue Signalling is going.

    Some people like me are afraid that this could go that far, and are feeling less and less welcome in the community, we feel the need to stay quiet, or else we could be banned.

    You think I am creating Drama, where none exist ?

    I don’t know, I’ve been wrongfully banned from a small community on the internet. After being suggested to insults, slanders, harassement, real harassement from the moderator no less.

    Good thing no one know who I am in real life, I would get probably beaten, or at the very least banned from the community.


    As usual, I suggest that you make your own mind about things.

    • Swungover, I believe you forgot to address the slippery slope argument (SSA). Perhaps this is because SSAs are well addressed in general. I, for one, am unmoved by these SSAs because it suggests that the changes aren’t being made out of respect but by some other devious motivation.

      • It is a slippery slope, only if the link between cause and effects isn’t observed.

        This is the small list of community that display the link between cause and effects.

        – Gaming community (GamerGate)
        – Atheist Community (Atheism+)
        – Hugo Awards (PuppyGate)
        – Any North America College Campus

        Those are only some of the community that started with some sort of codes, that puts a lot of effort into so call “diversity”, and all those places, have huge problem with slander and libel, Free speech have become inexistant, and the value of someone opinion is based only on their “ownership” of a victim status.

        So no, it is not an unproven slippery slope, it is a proven cause and effect relationship.

  7. I love love love this article! I am a male follower of West Coast Swing in QLD, Australia. I am the first and only male follower (I don’t lead!!) and it has been a really hard slog to make it acceptable. The competitions here did not allow for me to compete until Clint & Janine who run Best of the Best every year on the Gold Coast took a chance and dared to allow me to compete as a follower. They broke the ice, I had an awesome time, and as it turns out, the WCS community here in Australia are largely accepting of the idea. Now other competitions are opening up to degenderisation in Australia and a few intrepid dancers are daring to cross that gender line. It is still difficult for me to ask another man to dance with me unless I know them, and I have gone through almost 2 years of angst trying to just enjoy dancing and enjoy being myself. If the Jack & Jill thing had been put aside when I started WCS and degenderisation made acceptable, then I would have had a much easier time of being a male follower!

  8. Submitting “Swing Roulette” as a contender, if it hasn’t already been suggested :) Has a pretty snazzy ring to it!

  9. How about Rollicking Roulette? Oh wait, contains the word “king” so not gender neutral. Maybe Rollickin’ Roulette?

    Bobby’s thought experiment re Jack & Jill name through me for a loop. I’ve heard Jack & Jill so often I no longer recognized its particular charm. Sure it’s got alliteration and the connection to the nursery rhyme. But the nursery rhyme conjures up an image, a picture of two kids at play acting goofy. Some of my most fun lindy hop dances were when something unexpected happened and my partner and I broke out laughing. If I were describing lindy hop dancing to a non-dancer and trying to convey the element of fun, two kids at play might very well be the best descriptor. I’ll miss you Jack & Jill. Here’s looking at you, kids.

  10. I am so glad that you took the time to go through this issue at-arms-length. One thing stood out to me, though, as I was reading through the arguments: is it your position that no arguments against changing the name have any merit? I am asking this only from the perspective of questioning whether we can ever truly have an objective treatment of this issue.

    I’ll be quick to acknowledge that you specified that everything you addressed came from the Yehoodi post, but you also indicated the the list of arguments was somewhat curated; I cannot tell from this post whether there are simply no reasonable arguments for keeping the name that have gone up on Yehoodi (possible) OR, by choosing specific arguments and addressing them all from the same perspective, you present the opposition such that they appear to have no counter arguments of equal weight. This post is by all means carefully thought, and I agree with nearly all of it, but that is largely because all of the “don’t change it” arguments here seem groundless even at face value. The result is not even-handed. By the end, it comes across very much as “Yes, we take this reasonable position that, weighing the options, a name change is for the best; also, every argument against that choice is actually wrong anyway.” Again, I might have to blame that on the contents of the Yehoodi thread.

    I’ll admit to having an affection for the name Jack & Jill; I like it, and it has always sounded inviting and (especially) fun to me. Fondness for the name is purely why I am concerned about the name change. That fondness may quite possibly be the most common feeling that people tepid about the name change have, yet, oddly, I don’t think I’ve seen a serious discussion of that anywhere. This idea of mere fondness falls neatly beside the common reaction that “Mix & Match” is not really a great name, that is was thrown out as a quick patch job to fix a problem that became loud very rapidly. I am all for changing the name, but since we’re making a deliberate choice to do so, we should try to pick a name that makes people happy, not one that only avoids making them sad. The risk that we run by choosing an available but not great replacement is wide-spread grumbling and resentment for the minority group that successfully sued for inclusivity and positive change. It is difficult to nail down any of this because, maybe, there are more or less equal numbers of people interested in keeping the name and in changing it, and there is a vast number of people who really don’t care all that much. It is which side the latter group is pulled toward that will make the difference.

    • A worthy question. I tackled every argument I saw, and was hoping that by starting the article with the idea of people posting counter-arguments, I’d hear a few more, or, different views of the arguments I presented.

      The most common arguments I have heard against the name change fell into the “It’s surrendering to overly-sensitive demands” (I think, especially implying a fear of, “if we change this, what’s next?”) and “It’s p[art of our history.” There was an additional large set of people who felt it wouldn’t change anything and was taking attention away from more important matters. I addressed all of these as I saw fit in the post. The only person to post a counter-argument in the comments so far just expanded on the “Surrendering to overly-sensitive” demands.

      I’d be very interested to hear what other valid arguments there are against the name change, if there are any. And I would in all likely hood add that discussion to the post.

      Something I was warned against was to imagine that the entire scene were voting for a single replacement name. The promoters get to chose their own preferred name, and we’re already seeing a lot of different ones. (The end of my article was just an attempt to persuade people to think about the one’s they’re making, and offer the one that gets my vote, of course) Perhaps they may all start to agree on one, but for awhile they’ll probably toy with different names. IN that sense, I don’t think it’s a great risk to get wide-spread resentment when there will be a lot of names. If they did choose one, the dancers that come into the scene adn grow up with that new name will likely come to like it, just as numerous dancers of the past generations have a fondness for “Jack & Jill.”

      For the record, Jack & Jill is a good name, but I don’t think it’s worthy of any huge amounts of affection (And I love both words and all my years of competing in Jack & Jills). Maybe none of the new ones offered are either, but, basically, I’d be surprised if Jack & Jill will seem like particularly amazing name to people who come into the scene five years from now.

      I could be wrong about that. I’ll be interested to find out.

  11. I think “Dance with a stranger” is much more descriptive of what the contest actually is, and doesn’t need any explanation. “Mix and match” needs to be explained.

  12. The name “Jack & Jill” does not in any way say that a woman cannot lead, nor that a man cannot follow. It has no such implication.

    It actually implies the exact opposite.

    “Jill” is a symbolic name that includes all women. All women by definition includes women who lead. “Jack” is a symbolic name that includes all men, and all men by definition includes men who follow.

    A woman who leads is 100% a woman and a “Jill,” just as much as a woman who follows is. A man is 100% a “Jack” whether he leads or follows. A lesbian and a woman who dances mostly with women is also just as much 100% a woman and a “Jill” as any other woman, and the equivalent is true of “Jacks.”

    There are of course more important reasons why a “Jack & Jill” must welcome women who lead and men who follow than simply respecting the clear meaning of the name. Women who lead and men who follow have the right to be treated as equals, and everyone who Lindy Hops has the right to choose whether they will lead or follow.

    If there are still Lindy Hop social dance contests somewhere in the world that ban women from leading and men from following they should stop doing that. If the organizers refuse to end that kind of discrimination, they should not be using the name “Jack & Jill” because instead of including all men and all women as the name implies, they exclude and discriminate against many women and many men. An accurate and honest name for such contests is “The Sexist and Heterosexist Social Dance Contest.”

    It is sexist to ban women from leading and men from following, and to deny everyone the right to choose their role. It is heterosexist to design a social dance contest in a way that ensures no members of the same sex will ever dance together in the contest.

    I think it is easy for organizers to make it clear that a “Jack & Jill” means a contest where everyone can choose their role and where sometimes people of the same sex dance together. It is not like organizers have to reverse the direction of the Queen Mary to do this. Women leading, men following, and people of the same sex dancing together has always been part of Lindy Hop culture (as Rikomatic points out at the oped at Yehoodi mentioned in Swungover’s post). One of the first things people coming to their first Lindy class are told is that there are two roles and everyone is free to choose whichever one they like regardless of their gender. They’ll keep hearing this as they come to more classes (at least in Toronto and many other places), and in addition will see examples of women leading, men following and people of the same sex dancing together at the dances and online.

    The Afro-American organization “Jack and Jill” exists to serve the needs of Afro-American kids aged 2 to 19. No one has ever thought that the name meant that kids of the same gender won’t be allowed to do things together at the organization’s events. Everyone knows it means that kids of both genders are welcome, and that kids of the same gender doing things together will be exactly one of the things that happens at Jack and Jill events. It is the same with a “Jack & Jill” dance contest, it does imply that people of the same gender won’t be dancing with each other, and it does not exclude anyone. All it implies is that all Lindy Hoppers of both genders are welcome to participate. If definitely does not restrict people to one role based on their gender.

    According to some religious fundamentalists the definition of “marriage” is something that can only happen between members of the opposite sex, with the man being the head of the household and the woman being subservient. We do not and should not allow such people to impose their heterosexist and sexist definition of marriage on society. Nor should we let sexists and heterosexists define the names “Jack & Jill,” “Jill” and “Jack.” Instead we should base the definition on the clear logical meaning of these names which is non-sexist and non-heterosexist, and on the right of every Lindy Hopper to choose whether they will lead or follow.

    The name “Mix & Match” does not say anything about who is in the contest. Discriminatory dance organizers (if any still exist) could say with a more or less straight face that by “Mix & Match” they mean mixing and matching male leads and female follows. The name “Mix & Match” does not prevent discrimination. It is instead Lindy Hop organizers who stand up for equality and the right of every Lindy Hopper to choose their role that prevents discrimination.

    The fact that “Jill” is inclusive of every woman does not mean it is exclusive of men. That “Jack” is inclusive of every man does not mean it is exclusive of women. A woman is free to think of herself as a symbolic “Jack” in a contest, and a man of himself as a symbolic “Jill.” It also happens that many women are called “Jack” (see Wikipedia entry for the given name Jack). In the situation comedy “Jack and Jill,” Jack is a woman, and Jill a man. The point of all this is that “Jack & Jill” is a very inclusive name.

    In a “Jack & Jill” it is logical for people to sign up as leads and follows, rather than as “Jacks” and “Jills” because a “Jill” and a “Jack” could be either a lead or a follow.

    “Jack & Jill” is a perfectly fine and logical name for the contest. Although there’s no real reason to re-invent the wheel regarding the name, I see nothing wrong with organizers using a new name, especially if they choose a really good one, such as “Jam & Jelly,” which is perhaps my favorite.

    I am always happy to look at counterarguments based on logic and fact, and am always open to the possibility I could be wrong, as all of us should be. I’m just doing my best to see what logic and the facts say, and I don’t see how they say what some think they do.

    With specific regard to Swungover’s “Argument 1,” it makes heterosexist and sexist assumptions about the name “Jack & Jill” that are not logically in that name, and which are for the reasons I’ve mentioned actually inconsistent with that name.

    (I posted a similar comment a couple days ago at Rikomatic’s said oped.)

    • Though I understand the logic of your argument, hear are some counter-arguments.

      (1) I think several of your arguments seem to imply that people identify themselves as either men or women. There are several different ways people express their gender. Indeed, once you go down the rabbit hole of “What does gender mean?,” even the most simple science-oriented definitions have more than two answers, and the ways people could describe themselves based on their personal identity has even more.

      For the specificity of language, which is argument 1’s fundamental argument, is that it is not accurate to only assume two genders and a specific combination of those genders when we are talking about a random partnered lead/follow contest.

      (2) Even though you state that the roles are not attributed to gender (which I agree with), it’s still a fundamental part of the names problem that ‘Jack & Jill’ still implies a specific gender combination — basically, the name implies that “girls” are expected to be with “boys.” You are right that it doesn’t have to imply a role, but I don’t think its possible to argue that it doesn’t imply an expected gender combination.

      (3) When you mention the African-American organization, your argument is comparing a social group of individuals with no specific activity implied with a specific activity where two partners are joined together. So, one being named Jack & Jill has a very different implication than the other.

      I think a more appropriate comparison would be, what if a dating service was named “Jack & Jill?” Would you be surprised if someone thought that dating service implied straight parings?

      • Bobby, those are good points, it seems to me.

        Re (2), Given that the name “Jack & Jill” does not attribute roles by gender (as we both agree and is clearly the case), it logically follows that it does not imply a specific gender combination either, because of course once you have women leading and men following in a “Jack & Jill” you can have same-sex pairings, and the notion of everyone dancing in only one specific gender combination is out the window.

        I think I have a good answers (in defense of the name “Jack & Jill”) for the worthwhile points 1) and 3) that you make, but at the plodding I seem able to write them out in a way that satisfies me, with apologies I’m going to have defer doing that til I have more time than I have today and maybe than I have for while.

        • Bobby re your argument 1), people who are neither females nor males. Someone of a gender identity that is neither female nor male could very well be called at least one of the names “Jack” and “Jill.” For this reason at least one of these names will be a good symbolic name for people of that gender identity.

          Suppose we have someone of a non-male and non-female gender identity who happens to be called “Jack.” “Jack” tries to enter a “Jack & Jill” dance contest, but it turns out the contest is run by extreme bigots who tell Jack “as you are neither male nor female you are not allowed to enter our contest.”

          We can correctly say to such organizers that “Jack” has a right to be treated as an equal citizen of Lindyland and it is repugnant for any contest organizer to reject that right. We could also point out that the approach they apparently wish to take appears mean-spirited, lacking in generosity of spirit and seems bigoted.

          As an entirely secondary point, but one relevant to the name “Jack & Jill” we can also tell them that they’ve called their contest “Jack & Jill” and that for that reason it is absurd for them to try to exclude someone named “Jack” from their contest. If they want to exclude some “Jacks” they should use a different name such as “Males and Females.” However we will not accept such exclusion and discrimination even if they use a name like “Males and Females” that is logically consistent with it.

          Even if the person did not happen to be named “Jack,” but only belonged to a gender identity in which some people are called “Jack,” we could say to the bigoted dance contest organizers that it is absurd for them to use the name “Jack & Jill” if they exclude someone of a gender identity who could well have the name “Jack” just as in fact some of those with that gender identity do.

          The name “Jack & Jill” is more resistant to bigoted interpretations than “Mix & Match.” Because the latter name does not say anything about who is in the contest, it is logically consistent with contest organizers saying that by “Mix & Match” they mean mixing and matching male leads with female followers. By contrast, such a description is inconsistent with and at odds with the name “Jack & Jill” for the reasons I have given.

          “Jack & Jill” is for the reasons I have mentioned more inclusive than such names or phrases as “men and women,” “males and females,” “husbands and wives,” “boys and girls,” lesbians and gay men.”

      • Bobby, re your argument 3). Your comment seems reasonable and logical to me. No I would not be surprised if someone thought the choice of the name “Jack & Jill” for a dating service implied it was for straight pairings. However, they would be wrong as such a dating service could well be quite happy to help women find women and men find men, and there is nothing in the name inconsistent with that. If the service was only about straight pairings, I would suggest they choose a different name as they are not interested in serving all “Jacks” and “Jills” but only some of them (because of course many “Jacks” and “Jills” are homosexual, bisexual or “bi-curious”).

        Sticking to the topic of finding sex partners, if an escort service was called “Jack & Jill Escort Service” I think we could infer that it is probably at least in part about things homosexual and bisexual.

        A “Jack and Jill sex party” is a party at which everyone could well be either lesbian, gay or bisexual.

        If a chess tournament were called “Jack & Jill Chess Tournament” I think the smart money would be on that just meaning it is open to both men and women (or both boys and girls), and that some of the matches will be between members of the same sex, other members of the opposite sex.

        Thinking of something that matches people up in competing pairs (like a Jack & Jill dance contest does), suppose there’s an Easter Egg hunt party in which all those who participate are teamed up in pairs, with each pair having one Easter Basket between them, and the pair getting the most eggs or the most of a certain kind of egg getting a bonus prize. I think most people would assume that there would be both same-sex and opposite-sex pairs, although it could well be that all of the pairs were same-sex.

        The moral of the story is that the name “Jack & Jill” for a social dance contest does not mean that people will only dance with members of the opposite sex. For the reasons I have given it actually implies that there could well be same-sex pairings.

        As long as the dance contest organizers make it clear that everyone is free to choose whether they lead or follow, and that therefore people could well be randomly paired with people of the same sex as well as with members of the opposite sex, that will be what a “Jack & Jill” dance contest is, and is understood to be. No one will be confused, no one will be misled, and no one will be excluded.

  13. Non neutral forname should also be forbidden: no more “gina” but “gin”, no more carolina, no more john …etc.
    I suppose that the next will ask lindy hopper to be vegan…

    • This entire post is arrogant. Do you even consider that not everyone agrees on your initial premise and not everyone is comfortable dancing with same sex partners?

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