Inspiration and the lack of it

Posted by matthew on Mar 9, 2005 in creativity, dance, music |

So one thing I should point out from the start is that a big part of my life has to do with dance. Lindy hop swing dance, specifically. For just on 6 years now I’ve been spending a decent part of my spare time pursuing this hobby. It has taken me literally around the world several times, has consumed hundreds of sweaty hours out on the floor, and thousands more inside my brain. Many (but not all) of my best friends have similarly been bitten by the jitterbug.

A topic I talk about a lot with my swing mates is our ups and downs as far as inspiration goes. It seems that this has become a more important topic as the months and years have worn on. So much so that by my estimation a fairly large proportion of the Melbourne Lindy Hop community has been experiencing a crisis of inspiration for some time now.

So here’s what I think. I think social dance inspiration comes from seeing and dancing with new people, and listening to and dancing to new music. It’s not very complicated really. What seems to happen here though is that we get kind of trapped in our own ever decreasing circles. Social dancing in the sense of meeting new people and dancing to a wide variety of music is dead or dying in Melbourne.

There’s another type of dance inspiration too though. Just generally being inspired to dance per se. I think you can be inspired to move for a lot of reasons: because of the music, a need to perform, or even because you just want to do something active.

I’ve been suffering from a lack of inspiration for both social and general dance stuff off and on for at least two years now. So what I thought I would do is list some things that have inspired me in the past.

1. Travel. By far the most inspiring thing for me has been to go to other place and meet new people. The Herr‰ng Dance Camp in Sweden tops the list here (4 times so far), but other notables are SwingCity New York, the Paris Lindy Exchange, Hullabaloo (Perth Lindy Exchange), Canberr‰ng (Canberra mini Exchange) and the Lismore Swing Dance Camp.

2. DJing. The music is what brought me to dancing, and collecting and listening to more swing jazz for the purpose of DJing opened up a new world to me. Getting to DJ at other events (like HDC) is also inspirational.

3. Performing and training to perform. For the last 12 months or so a group of friends and I have been training under the name Crazy Rhythm Revue, and that has definitely been a main source of inspiration for me. Performing and looking good dancing (as opposed to feeling good) was probably the side of my Lindy Hop that I had paid least attention to prior to CRR. So it felt like a major challenge. Also there is a discipline to learning a routine or a new skill for the purpose of a performance that was motivating for me.

4. Other stuff. There are other more general influences that don’t need as much explanation on their own: teaching, watching tapes, running events, seeing performances, talking to people, and thinking about dancing all fall into the category of being involved in a dance subculture.