“Everyone do two cartwheels. Try to stay on the line in the turf,” said the coach in my freerunning class. Freerunning involves a lot of going upside down while your feet leave the ground. We practice on soft surfaces in the gym before trying flips outdoors on the concrete.

Third in the queue, I did my two cartwheels, one on my right side and one on my left.

“You’re tilted off center for some reason.”

“Hm?” I glanced at the man who had spoken. He had finished his cartwheels just before me. I didn’t recognize him.

“Oh, I just noticed you were tilted off center for some reason,” he repeated with a kind of half-chuckle, as though it was a funny thing, or he was embarrassed to tell me.

Blank look. “Yeah, I’m not surprised. The second one was my off side.”

It took me a moment to figure out what he was trying to do because I’d literally never seen this man before. He was giving me feedback.

Read More »

Hello, my name is Rebecca Brightly, and I still exist. After a four-year hiatus from Dance World Takeover, it’s finally time for a reboot.

What did I do for the past four years? What the hell happened?

Four years ago, everything was about lindy hop: dancing, teaching, writing, making videos, my entire social network, my wardrobe, my travel decisions. I spent nearly a decade of my life focusing on dance.

Then I gave birth to a very demanding baby, suffered postpartum depression and social isolation, and slept like shit for almost two years. It was fun; you should try it sometime. I spent the third year recovering, and the year after that writing and trying to wrap my brain around the person I’d become.

When I stopped dancing, the community left me behind with an enormous crater in my life. I switched to writing personal essays to process and communicate my ideas. This is way harder than blogging. I’ve completed only four essays in the past year and a half (one short piece was published). I can pound out a blog post in a few hours, but writing personal essays has been like excavating the rubble in my brain to find my foundation. If dancing didn’t define me, what did?

Once I started writing again, I thought about my website. Should I delete everything and start over? Should I leave it as-is, like a museum? Should I just start blogging again like nothing happened?

I had no idea. How do you say “hello” after all this time? I’ve started at least half a dozen blog posts in the past two years. They’ve all felt too timid, like a soft knock on a door I was afraid to open. Who would answer me? What would I say? What if we just stood there staring at each other like idiots until I turned around, walked away, and abandoned it all over again?

So I waited. I waited until I felt like a grounded, cohesive human being again. That sense of wholeness gives me direction and makes me confident enough to share my writing. I also waited until I had the time. Ideas can stir up controversy, and controversy requires emotional labor. Babysitting my social media feeds for comments (and potential harassment) can add hours of work per blog post.

What will I write about?

The things I’ve always written about, but in different and better ways, I hope. I still think nonstop about movement and how to share it with people. I’m still pushing back against toxic power dynamics like sexism, racism, and other words that strike fear into the hearts of white men (love you guys!).

Unsurprisingly, I still have more things to say about dancing. Lindy hop isn’t quite done with me, it seems.

I don’t really have a master plan, though. I can’t give you a blogging schedule or even tell you the topics I’ll cover. I’m walking forward without actually knowing what’s going to happen next. But I have faith it will work. It’s like putting trust your teacher that things will all fit together eventually, or like trusting that your body is capable of moving the way you want it to if you give it a chance.

What am I doing now?

I write part-time, parent full time, then somehow squeeze in hours a week of parkour and other training.

I’m running an 8-ish mile Spartan Race this weekend (basically a long, muddy obstacle course which seems silly at first, feels utterly pointless by the time you’re halfway through, and transforms into a monumental achievement when you take that first sip of victory beer).

Will I finish? I sure hope so. Follow me on Instagram, and we’ll find out together.

Am I still going to call it Dance World Takeover?

Sure, why not? I’m keeping all the content on dancing, and I don’t have a better idea right now. I’ll always be a lindy hopper. You can take me off the dance floor, but you can’t take dancing out of me.

And what about my email list?

Glad you asked, self. I’m gonna reboot that, too. It was super fun, and I miss it. Plus I have 2,612 subscribers, and I gotta pay for that shit. So I’m putting the signup box back at the end of my posts (just as soon as I figure out what I did with that code…).

Thank you to anyone who stayed with me over the past four years; thanks to those that have waited and hoped for me to start writing again; and hello to anyone who is new to my writing. I hope you enjoy whatever comes next!

If you follow DWT on the internet, you may have noticed my recent absence. Don’t worry; it’s for a very good reason. I had a baby.

Said baby:

Photo Mar 28, 3 36 08 PM

As parents everywhere figured out long before me, motherhood is, um, demanding. When people say babies need constant attention, they mean that literally. I thought “constant” was hyperbole. You can imagine the effects of this miscalculation.

Now that my free time is greatly reduced, I want to make the most of it. So I’m turning this surprise interruption into a planned hiatus.

5, 6, 7, 8…

During this planned hiatus, I’ll be mapping out DWT’s next steps for the year ahead. I need to hone in on what makes DWT successful—what people actually want most—and do more of that.

One idea I’m exploring during the hiatus is building a website for online lindy hop courses. I love online and independent learning. Love, love, love it. My greatest insights have come from self-motivated, self-sought education.

But just because I’m in love with something doesn’t mean it will work. I have the resources to build a great site. But will it be successful?

Help Me Find Out!

If you’re a lindy hopper, please fill out this survey (survey now closed; thanks!). It’s 100% multiple choice with some optional comment boxes.

If I get encouraging results, I’ll continue with interviews and another survey to get more fine-grained feedback.

While I research and evaluate this idea over the next month or so, I won’t be blogging or posting to Facebook much. However, I’ll continue answering emails and sending out newsletters. And of course Lindy Makers will go on as usual.

Rock Step Down Up

But let’s say I decide online lindy hop courses are a wonderful idea, and lots of people are interested. What then?

The next step is to create a few courses. They’ll be based on what the surveys and interviews indicate lindy hoppers actually want. Then I’ll gather feedback. No matter how many surveys I do, I can’t tell for sure what’ll work unless I try it.

You’ll have to stay tuned to find out what happens next. I have 472 survey responses as of writing. :-)