As this article was written at the beginning of the pandemic, many things have changed over the last year. Please see this as a historical post rather than advice for this current point in time.
If you are reading this, you are probably an avid swing dancer. Perhaps you consider yourself healthy, maybe you don’t have immunity problems, and maybe you have a pretty good healthcare situation. If that’s the case, it might not have hit home yet what lies in wait for those communities that get hit with COVID-19. Which is most likely coming to your community soon, if it hasn’t already.
And, as you are a swing dancer, your favorite hobby involves going out and touching a bunch of people while being around a bunch of other people.
So, sadly, our favorite hobby would help spread the disease more quickly than most other human social activities, and would play a role in what we are trying most to avoid at the moment: the overcrowding of our health care facilities. We really, really want to avoid this as much as possible. (More on that below.)
So, here’s some quick advice provided by some experts (not me).
1. Basic disease-fighting hygiene
Washing hands. Pretty much after everything. Use hand sanitizer as an emergency backup if you don’t have a hand-washing place, not as your primary hand cleaning method. Some tests show the virus can lie up to three days on a surface.
Touching your face ONLY after thoroughly washing your hands.
Sneezing into a disposable tissue if possible, or the inside of your elbow if not. And really burying your face in there, deep, so that nothing escapes. According to the CDC, anyone within 6 feet of a sneeze that escapes can inhale the droplets and contract the virus.
Avoiding handshakes and touched greetings seems like a good idea. Though it technically has only been recommended for people at higher risk. Elbow bumping is probably also not recommended (see previous rule.)
Avoiding face masks, unless you are sick. Face masks will be important and in short supply during a pandemic. You should only have a face mask if you are sick.
Prioritize sleep. For a healthier immune system.
2. Social distancing
Social distancing means not going to dances, avoiding large groups of people, and, generally, for most, watching a lot of Netflix. Socially distancing ourselves is very important, because it is how we “flatten the curve” —- it’s how we keep the virus spreading slowly so that the healthcare facilities can handle it. If we DON’T do this, that’s when things get really, really bad.
If people don’t socially distance themselves, the virus spreads very quickly. Healthcare facilities, which have limited equipment and workers, will be swamped way beyond capacity. Some people will get the life-saving equipment, some people will not. Health workers will work extra shifts, be surrounded by the virus, get sick themselves, and be replaced with quickly-trained non-experts. Ultimately, this will lead to many, many more deaths than if we socially distance ourselves.
(When you as a dancer should start socially distancing yourself from dances and classes and travel, or when you as a promoter should start canceling your events, is based on your personal health, community, and government regulations, and should probably involve some research and maybe even soul searching. We are not experts on this. However, there seems to be a lot of advocacy for “sooner is better than later,” such as in the articles linked above.)
Sadly, this means the swing scene is going to be a BIG victim of this necessary sacrifice. Events all over the world are having to cancel. Instructors and musicians are losing a large percentage of their yearly income (and in the USA, right at tax season.) Promoters are losing lots of money, some events might not recover. Here’s some ideas on what you can do:
3. Support the swing scene in this time of need
Consider donating your admission to cancelled events. If you were planning on going to an event that cancelled, please please please consider donating your admission to the event. Since there’s no insurance for a swing event that has to cancel, we are the insurance that the scene can keep going.
Start buying modern swing bands’ music online, support them with donations, or start taking Skype music lessons. The music is great, and you’re going to need it to practice (see below.) Also, email or Facebook message your favorite musicians and see if they are available to give online lessons. Now’s a good time to learn a jazz instrument. Or, become a patron of the arts — ask them for their Venmo, PayPal, or Patreon, and donate.
Consider donating your monthly group classes admissions, and start doing private lessons with your local swing dance studio. It’s hard to juggle social distancing with the fact that your local dance studio might go out of business cause they have to cancel classes for a few months. Consider donating your monthly class admissions to them, and another great compromise is private lessons. Start booking today.
Do online private lessons with a travelling instructor. FB message or contact instructors you are interested in working with and ask if they are available for Skype lessons, or visit their online lessons. Check to see if they have Patreon pages.
In short, consider the next few months an important time to work on your dancing in private, collect new swing music, and help support the organizers who keep the scene going every year.