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Swungover’s Response to the Jack & Jill Debate

May 17, 2017

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: Read more…

Figure: Feel vs Reality

April 13, 2017

how your dancing felt BETTER

10 Competition Tips

March 28, 2017

My Balboa competition partner Annabel and I made a little video for competition prep tips.  (Annabel and Bobby are two-time American Classic Balboa Champions (ABW), two-time California Balboa Classic champions, National Jitterbug Balboa Champions (Camp Hollywood), and ILHC Balboa Champions.)

For more advice on competition and practicing swing dance, check out Bobby’s book “Practice Swing.”  Also buy Michael Gamble & The Rhythm Serenaders album:


Sexual Assault and a Scene Leader

January 21, 2017

Numerous women in the swing scene have come forward with accounts of being sexually assaulted by one of the scene’s most prominent leaders, Max Pitruzzella.

Please visit Yehoodi’s updated news on the story here.

Swungover would like to show our utmost support for the victims.



Swing History 101: The Golden Age of Harlem Lindy Hop (1935-1942)

January 13, 2017


Updated 4/19/17 with additional socio-economic details; see comments for more discussion.

Setting “The Scene”

As we discussed in the last episode, as the ’20s passed into the ’30s the new “swing” sound was evolving away from the hot jazz of the 1920s. Bands were smoothing out their rhythm into a steady, rolling-thunder beat. Drum sets were getting more drums and cymbals, and bands were getting more musicians and creating sections with them. They were also using more written arrangements that countered the sections off of each other in growing sophistication.

In the 1930s, the neighborhoods above New York’s Central Park, known as Harlem, became a hot spot for the new swing sound. Harlem was a primarily Black neighborhood, though its East side also had strong Italian and Hispanic communities. Though 1920s Harlem was a pilgrimage for Black intellectuals and artists, the early ’30s Depression brought high rates of poverty.

Though it greatly affected the lives of its residents, the Depression didn’t stop Harlem from swinging. In many ways, the joyful swing music and dancing of the area was a welcome relief from the hard times. Clubs and bandstands littered the area, making it a destination not only for locals but for people all over the five boroughs and tourists from outside the city. The biggest of these clubs was called the Savoy Ballroom, at 141st Street and 7th Avenue. It took up an entire block length and had a sign that read “The Home of Happy Feet.” This integrated ballroom (reportedly America’s first) was the mecca of Harlem social dancing night life and where visitors of all races expected to see the Lindy Hop being done by the best of the best. Many visitors, knowing of the Savoy Hotel in London, pronounced it the “SAV-oy.” But if you were in the know, you pronounced it “Sa-VOY.” Read more…

History of Caucasian Dancing (Returns!)

December 21, 2016

A few years ago, Nick Williams and I were at a workshop and made this parody of the “Al & Leon Playboy Clip.” Though we adhered to copyright laws (like not using more than 30 seconds of a sound bite) the video was taken down from YouTube. Here it is, uploaded again for your pleasure (or disgust, or apathy), right here on Swungover. (Until they possibly make us take it down again.)

“Practice-Swing”; The perfect gift for every single person in your family.

November 29, 2016

Practice Swing is not just the easy gift for the swing dancers in your life.

So your uncle is currently serving a sentence for an incident at Sea World that all began with the good intention of freeing a killer whale. With plenty of reading time on his hands, Practice Swing will help him understand how to “play the game” while still staying true to his own character, and the sections on partner communication will give him crucial advice in forging healthy compromise with his cell mate, Hurricane.

So your non-dancing friend is trying to simultaneously rise to the top of his multi-national conglomerate head-hunting corporation, and eventually ask out the cute guy at the gym. Practice Swing will teach him how to be his own coach to victory, and the section on anatomically and aesthetically-pleasing good posture will allow to impress both the shadowy head of his company, Candler Bryant, and, the cute guy at the gym, who’s name he discovers is also Candler Bryant. Practice Swing will prepare him for the tricky road ahead.

So your great-grandmother has been having trouble installing her Linco transmission into her ’77 Challenger, and Gladys Ethelberry’s Camero has been revving engines at traffic lights all around town itching for a fight. Practice Swing will give her the useful mental tools she needs to re-focus her attention and plan for success. And failing all that, at 450 pages, the book can soak up a lot of grease.

There you go: Practice Swing: Perfect for all holiday gifts, even belated ones.

Also, please note that your purchase of Practice Swing helps directly support an artist.