One reason we learn to lindy hop is for the sex. Cough, I mean to find romantic partners of a higher caliber, thereby increasing the likelihood that you will have stronger offspring.
Meeting people is a very obvious reason to join the lindy hop social circle. The other obvious reason is “to have fun.” Do you know anyone who doesn’t like to have fun? You know, like that dancer in the corner saying, “If I have any fun tonight, I’m quitting!”?
Everyone likes to be entertained. And there’s so much to feel good about in lindy hop: spinning, jumping, kick-ball-changing; the music, the self-expression, the look of delight on your partner’s face! The list is endless.
But “fun” is not the whole story. There’s something else that makes learning to dance incredibly satisfying. Today I’m going to reveal the hidden reason we become lindy hoppers.
First, Some Good News
The more I’ve come to understand and accept this hidden reason, the more I enjoy dancing. I’m more confident and fearless. I understand my motivation better, and I stop fighting reality.
I have more fun, and I want YOU to have more fun, too.
And Now, the Big Reveal
Have you ever wondered why you don’t do east coast swing much anymore? (Or why you never learned, if you began with lindy hop.) The short answer is that it’s not as fun as lindy hop! But why?
When I was a child, I loved to play Tic-Tac-Toe. The more I played, the better I got at beating my little sister. Eventually I discovered a method of play where I always won (ask me and I’ll show you some time, wink). Then my sister figured it out, and from there on the game always ended in stalemate.
Naturally, we stopped playing, as did every other child who figured out the game. It wasn’t fun anymore; it was missing something.
The missing ingredient is challenge.
Challenge is missing in east coast swing. It’s missing in contra dancing, which I loved until I realized it’s all about memorization. Challenge was missing at my old job at the used book store, which I quit after massage school so I could start my own business.
Humans need challenge. We need puzzles, we need stress, we need difficult problems to solve. Above all, we need to use our brains for the purpose they evolved.
Beating a challenge uncovers greater levels of fun and excitement. Overcoming a challenge validates you as a human being worthy of more respect. Whomping a challenge into the ground creates a sense of life satisfaction unmatched by anything else.
Lucky for us, lindy hop provides exactly this challenge.
Some people think challenge equals hardship, that it’s better to avoid things that are difficult or painful, that the easiest solution or path is usually the best.
None of the above is especially true, but they are very normal thoughts, and you’re not stupid for having them. More likely, you’ve bought into the cultural myth that coddling is good and stress is always bad.
Coddling doesn’t work; manageable stress makes us stronger; focused hard work is good for you.
And no, beginners don’t need to be shielded from the fact that lindy hop is hard. People aren’t that delicate. Plus they feel like idiots when they can’t immediately perform supposedly “easy” steps. Conversely, they feel proud of themselves when they accomplish something they knew was difficult to begin with (which they are perfectly capable of doing, with a little tenacity).
If you don’t accept the difficult nature of lindy hop, you’ll waste a lot of time thinking things like:
- “Do I really need to spend time practicing to be as good as I want to be?” (Yes.)
- “Is it supposed to be this hard?” (Yes, until it becomes easy.)
- “Maybe I just don’t have natural talent.” (Talent’s not as important as you think.)
You might disagree with me. You may feel inclined to write a lengthy comment about how lindy hop is only about feeling good, and how all the articles I’m referencing are wrong or not applicable.
The truth is, I’m writing this post to draw a line in the sand.
Accepting and navigating challenge is one of the recurring themes on Dance World Takeover. I don’t sugarcoat things. I write this dance blog honestly and passionately from my personal experience, education, and observations.
If this post made a lightbulb go off in your head, if it made you say “Yes, THIS!” then you’ll like a lot of what I write on Dance World Takeover. You’ll also appreciate getting a weekly dose of juicy tips in your inbox.
If you don’t like what you’ve read here, read no further. This is not the blog for you. There are lots of other great lindy hop blogs. Better yet, you can write your own.
Of course, not everyone needs the challenge of lindy hop. Some people will learn a few steps and never progress beyond that.
But for those of us who
want NEED more than that to be happy, we must understand that challenge is not only inherent in lindy hop, it’s a huge part of the fun.