300 Posts

Dear readers,

The writer at work in the early days of Swungover.

Our last article was Swungover’s 300th post.

We are, frankly, amazed, and also now realize where a great deal of our 30s went.

Looking back, the articles weren’t all great. And a lot were very long. And though there was good intent, we can see sometimes laughable, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes cringe-worthy examples of naiveite, self-indulgence, bias, and a characteristically ADHD approach to grammar, spelling, and not finishing series we started.  

(And this very article is a little self-indulgent, but hopefully in an entertaining way.) 

Perhaps you’ve noticed some of its specific idiosyncrasies. The layout has always been a little janky. This is largely because I have tried to customize the site as much as possible despite WordPress’s confinements and the fact I’m not a software engineer. 

Furthermore, our articles are almost always no more than 90% finished. This is not because of ADHD. Well, not completely. As many of you know, doing the last 20% of a task can take just as much time as the first 80%. As Swungover was never about bringing in income (before the pandemic, at least), and takes a great deal of time to write, we settle for around 90%. We tried to make sure the things we say are as correct as possible, but otherwise each post could use many more run-throughs on streamlining, grammar, and continuity of design. As the saying goes, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”  

HUGE thanks to Chelsea Lee who helped edit so many of those posts.

Finally, there can be big gaps of time between articles. This is because we make it a point to work on our actual dancing more than on our writing about dancing. We implemented this rule after a few years when we saw that all the hard work on Swungover had given us incredible insight into swing dancing, but our swing outs still felt weird.

Funny enough, we still wrote a lot more than anyone has ever seen. You might be surprised to know that there are around 150 drafts of posts that have never been published. For instance, just clicking through, there’s…

The Great Debate: Is to Define a Dance to Confine a Dance?

I’d like to begin this debate the way the finest middle-school essayists since time memorial have begun every debate;

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “definition” as…

“I love you, I hate you.” An ode to the Texas Tommy move.

“The Texas Tommy” move is also sometimes called “The Apache,” named after another dance. Here’s a film clip of the “Apache,” which I think clearly shows the move’s roots in domestic abuse.

Swing Analogies: The Pepsi Challenge

This post is empty, so I apparently had the idea but never got around to writing it. What did I mean? How was dancing like the Pepsi challenge?!?

And, this Venn Diagram:

300 posts seemed like a good time to make some changes around here.

First off, we will change some of our fundamental writing guidelines. We came up in newspapers, so our writing follows certain journalistic traits that we feel we can start leaving behind. This process will take some time, but there’s one change I can start making right now.

I am thankful to have the guidance of writer, Frankie Manning co-autobiographer, and librarian Cynthia Millman, and dancer Jessica Miltenberger, who worked in book publishing.  

And, one other big change that is probably been obvious over the last month…

GRUMPY MILLINIAL FORCED TO READ DIRECTIONS

It is with both great excitement, and a crushing sense of existential obsolescence, that I present to you our new website, which was practically forced upon me by our great overlords of the internet. (In this case, the fickle god of WordPress.)

But very much like when a ruthless dictator enforces high food-quality standards, there is often a little good that comes with tyranny.   

For the last five years, WordPress has slowly but dramatically changed their fundamental structure. It used to allow you to simply write posts like they were a word document, which was easy for the user and worked great. You could edit and cut and paste with ease. But they now work with a “block” system. Each paragraph is a block. Each photo a block. Everything is a block, blocks that don’t act consistent, handle some media well, and don’t copy-and-paste easily… I wont’ bore you with the details, but it practically demands that the composing experience also become a drinking one.

“Wait,” you might be saying. “Why don’t you just write your posts in a word document and then move it in WordPress when you’re done?”

To which I reply, “Shut up.”

It’s almost like WordPress has stopped prioritizing their long-form-essay blogger user base.

The bigger problem though, is this: Being a child from before the internet, part of me still doesn’t understand the fundamental difference between web-based technology and everything else I have ever used. For instance, I owned a 2007 Honda, and that car was the exact same car seven years after I bought it. I thought my 2009 WordPress website was that Honda.

Imagine my surprise when I go to drive my Honda, and overnight a Honda technician has broken into my garage and changed the steering wheel and brake pressure without asking me. (“No, trust us, it’s better than the old one,” they say on the phone, after I’ve nearly killed myself.) Then a few months later I get into my car and find out they had removed the key ignition; I have to go inside and spend hours going through the four thousand letters I leave stuffed in my mail box to find the key fob they mailed me. The key fob only works 25% of the time. (“Trust us, this will be really cool when we nail it. We’re still in beta.”) A few months later, they limit the maximum speed the car can drive to 25 mile per hour unless I pay them an indefinite monthly subscription fee that is three times the original cost of the car. (“Hate to remind you, but you only own the opportunity to drive the car, we own the car itself, so we can make any changes we want.”)

You get the idea.       

And despite the nagging, impending dread of living in a capitalistic system that now allows filthily-wealthy people to take away our ability to own our own things, I also have to admit some of it is completely my fault. Cause I don’t read the user manual. So many things in life work intuitively enough to figure out how it works on my own, that until now it has cost me little more than swearing for a half hour when I realize I put one half of the Ikea book shelf on upside down. So surely a fully customizable website design tool should be as easy to use as Tony Stark’s touch-and-verbal-direction-based hologram desktop. Perhaps Marvel movies have lied to us, too.

But fear not. Though the old man living in my head (who’s stuff is beginning to encroach on the living room), has grumbled about WordPress changing over the years; the young, vibrant one who still runs the place has to admit the new system is actually pretty slick, now that I’m reading the directions.

And my software engineer wife assures me that it’s not just some naïve tech billionaire and a small group of monkeys with ADHD making the decisions at WordPress — the changes they are implementing make sites more secure, more accessible for viewers, and indeed will let me do a lot more cool stuff on my end. So, let’s see what happens, shall we?

All that said, I guarantee our layout will always be a little janky, our articles always no more than 90% finished, and our grammar and usage inconsistent at best.

This article was first composed on a word processor.


3 responses to “300 Posts”

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