December 05, 2014

#101: Preparing for the Big One

My Endless Frustration:
Yours Too?

Be the one that knows everything and everyone, and you will have the power to see things more clearly... 
-Where Things Stand Now

I've been waiting to write a certain "super-big" article for six months now. The time has finally come to share it with you. Look for it this coming Monday. I hope it opens your eyes and quelches some burning hearts. People will be talking about this one, I know, but it will break some serious bonds we are all struggling against.

What article could be so big? Even today? After all I've said and after all that has taken place? What in the world will it answer? What have I, Katherine, not already covered in 100 Weekly Notes?

The Big Mystery, that's what. Here we go...

The Big Mystery

Are you like me? Can you relate to me right now?

Because there are some things that have just driven me crazy over the last few years. Ever since the Revolution started, I have scratched my head - no, scratch that - banged my head - against so many walls wondering what was up with these so-called "swing-heroes" of ours.

I bet you thought I was going to say I've been driven nuts by Abstract Improvisation all these years. Well, yes, but not as much as you might think. It drove me nuts before I started writing, but the more I wrote, the more I stopped being frustrated with Abstract and started being frustrated with our "swing legends."

Or more to the point, watching our swing legends and heroes do... nothing. Nuuuuuuuthing!!! 

Next week I will share with you some examples of what these legends say to me, other deep water people and their closest friends. Then I will tell you what they say in public. What they DO in public. How they actually score and/or act to the contrary of what they see and/or believe while at our events... thereby preserving the very culture and society of Abstract, insobriety and criminal behavior that they claim to detest. Preserving all that our competitive and honorary WCS establishments had previously adopted.

But to fully understand next week's evidence, you will need to read what all of them read the week before Memorial Day in 2011. I still have the hand-picked list of people I sent my .pdf of The Time Has Come to. And I still remember everyone's responses... six whole months before Sarah Vann Drake ever got her hands on it, and three years before most in The Ten had ever even read it.

Six whole months before. Three whole years before! How much could have changed in just that small amount of time. How much could have changed in the course of that year, never mind three years!

No... to understand my source of deepest frustration - to pinpoint the VERY REASON no one took action - you will have to read what they read first. You have to understand what they understood... You have to walk down their road.

And then next week, read and understand what I mean when I tell you WHY they choose Abstract instead of Swing, despite all their gripes, complaints, laments and more... despite knowing all the consequences their actions would have.

Let's walk this road together... Let's read certain important portions again with different eyes. Grab a coffee, tea or chai. Here we go... 

Released May 2011

For the purposes of this article, I have removed the first four sections: the Introduction and the definitions of Pure WCS, the Renaissance Era and Abstract Improvisation.  Click here to read the article in its entirety.
The Time Has Come.

As you've probably figured out by now, I've discovered that we as a community now have two completely separate dances on our hands. I understand that this has been hard to see, especially since a handful of our top pros are able to do both depending on what music they are given, the audience they have, the judges they have, etc. But they comprise less than 1% of our community. And they've been dancing and teaching this new dance for a few years now, and we have been unaware of this shift. We've just seen the dancing change, but we didn't know how or why.

It is time to face reality. There are two dances.
It is time to admit the truth. There are two dances.
It is dangerous to deny it and stay on the path we are on.

And I mean dangerous.

First, it's dangerous physically, emotionally and mentally to our dancers. When a Pure WCStrained follower draws an Abstract Improvisation leader, she gets physically hurt by the clash. She feels totally lost and thinks she's in over her head. She is yanked off her anchor with no warning because Abstract Improvisation never moves on the same beat or even on a beat. She is put into precarious positions where she's not quite sure what's expected of her and gets hit in the head when trying to go down the slot.

When a Pure WCS trained leader draws an Abstract Improvisation follower, he can't figure out how to lead her, to connect with her, how to even get a push break out of her. She will be extremely light, to the point of complete disconnection or she will be extremely heavy and pull him off his anchor or timing. He will never ever get her on the foot he's trying to get her on, because she is not expecting him to lead her feet into positions.

It's the same the other way around. I'm hearing stories nearly every week about how an Abstract Improvisation leader draws a Pure WCS follower and accuses her of deliberately fighting him or getting in his way, when she is simply assuming he's doing the same dance. My inbox is jammed with horror stories of the meeting of these two dances on the floor. They are stories ranging from physical harm, to emotional harm to mental harm... and dancers are falling out of love with the dance. They just don't understand that there are two completely different dances on the floor today. Which brings me to my second point.

If we don't acknowledge that there are two dances...

The future of the West Coast Swing industry is in jeopardy.

It's already suffering. Highly trained WCS professionals feel pressured to teach poor technique. Novice and intermediate dancers are suddenly instructors. Event directors are hiring unskilled teachers and dancers because they are cheaper and seem to be the "hot ticket" instead of hiring highly trained real WCS instructors. Classes are shrinking across America. Because Abstract Improvisation is just that, improvisational, and requires almost none of the skills and training that Pure WCS does, it doesn't have to be learned in a studio.

That doesn't mean there aren't people teaching Abstract Improvisation. There are. But people hear them say, in their so called "WCS" classes that, "we don't do that anymore, we do this now," and the students feel like they have to start all over in the dance. But the reality is that Abstract Improvisation really doesn't take any training. I'm meeting more and more dancers at conventions who have never taken a single WCS lesson and are having a blast.

In fact, Abstract Improv dancers, for reasons I've briefly touched on, make finals over PureWCS dancers, which only promotes the idea to onlookers that classes, privates and lessons in general are not needed to be successful in the dance. Why spend money on Pure WCS, which absolutely has to be learned in a lesson setting and takes a long time to master, when you can learn Abstract Improvisation on YouTube for free? If we insist on calling Abstract Improvisation "Swing," then we are contradicting every single real WCS teacher out there and setting up all of their students for confusion, bitterness and failure. We will, ultimately, lose them. And then we will lose our instructors.

And then we will lose the dance.

We need to face facts. We need to remember what 'normal' is in the partner dancing communities. In healthier communities, like ballroom, the fact of the matter is that when someone has been learning a ballroom dance for three months and then dances with a ballroom pro, they feel like they are on top of the world and can do no wrong. It's like dancing with a dream. They are then are inspired to keep going, keep learning, keep expanding their knowledge and enjoyment of the dance.

But if a WCS dancer has been taking lessons for three months at a studio or a club and then asks a supposedly higher level dancer (because points tell them they are so, not other dancers) to dance, it will not be a pleasant experience. Those who have racked up points in the past five years are almost all Abstract Improvisational dancers, and they will completely run over this new beginner to our dance. The newcomer will be completely lost and feel defeated, not inspired. They will feel confused and torn. They will stick with lessons for about six months to a year and then they will give up, because they feel like they aren't getting any better.

In reality, they are learning one dance and yet asking someone who does a completely different dance to help them measure their progress. What a catastrophe for these dancers! It's heartbreaking, hearing their stories. Because we haven't admitted this other dance, our newcomers don't realize it's another dance that they're clashing with, never mind a lesser art form. And we should take a stand for them.

It is time, everybody.

People are done. People feel left behind. People feel ugly, misunderstood, confused, angry and they feel scared. We are hemorrhaging veteran dancers at an astronomical rate. We are allowing our most talented individuals to feel "old" and we are attracting a demographic of dancers who would rather not work at their dancing because it's not "fun," and allowing instructors into our community who have absolutely no problem giving watered down shortcuts to technique, slandering our most knowledgeable and respected legends and calling an extremely difficult and praiseworthy dance "out of touch."

Non-dancers have a better eye than we do now. Lunchrooms don't watch our videos after 2002. But they can't get enough of our Renaissance Era. They'll watch those tapes for hours.

It's time to put an end to the madness. It's time to equip our students, our fellow judges, our newcomers and our fellow dancers with the knowledge to walk into a studio, into a convention, into a workshop and say, "Okay, that's Abstract Improvisation and that's Pure West Coast Swing." And then they can make informed decisions. Then they can dance with freedom. Then they can understand what they're watching. Then they can understand what's going on...

And then we can heal.

From the bestselling book 

See You Next Week, everybody! 
Read up and be ready. 
Katherine Eastvold

ARE you ready?  Click here for Part 1 of The Time Came.

#101: Did I Hear That Right?

Choosing Another Track
You might have heard that a few big names are changing their tunes. Yes, that's right. Big names in the church and the ten are suddenly teaching... gasp! Swing!

So what changed? Some of these names participated - heck, even LED - some of the most brutal online harassment our sport has ever seen...

And now they're teaching WCS again? What gives?

A lot. A lot, a lot, a lot
It's practically supernatural. 
I still can't believe it myself.

But here's the surprising factoid I learned from every single one of them... ready...? None of them...  NONE of them... Not one of them... (okay, yes one of them, but only one of them)... Even the worst one of them...

... had ever, ever, EVER read a word I'd written!

They were going on hearsay.
Can you believe that? 

Of course, all the hearsay they heard ended up being completely false. Fiction. Untrue. Complete fabrications. But they didn't know that. They trusted and listened to others. For years. So what changed? Well, a lot, like I said, but one thing they all shared is that they all finally read my stuff for themselves.

And boooooy, were they ever shocked. Upset. Enraged. And they stopped acting out on those false rumors, and started making up their own minds about what to say, do and teach.

So what about you

Have you only heard what others have said I've written??? Or have you read me on your own? When you have read me, was it a piece of an article, taken out of context? Or was it the whole article, along with the other articles I mentioned in it?

Do you run into a lot of haters? People who hate my name, hate "what I've said," or "what I've done?" Ask a few questions and find out if they actually know anything about what I've written. Chances are, they're going on the word of a few loud liars out there.

If you've ever met me, then you already know this: 

I love. 

I do. I love. It's what I'm good at. Loving. And it makes me so sad to learn how so many have been separated from my love for too long.

Buy a book. Wrap yourself in a blanket. And sit down to enjoy the words that are changing so many lives... not to mention the world of swing.


December 03, 2014

#100: Real Swing (Our 'Bad Things' Routine)

Bad Things/Last Dance Classic WCS Routine
Josh Clark & Katherine Krok Eastvold
'Cause when I'm bad
I'm so, so bad.

-Last Dance, Donna Summer

Today I'm releasing the most requested video in the history of my writing: my fourth routine with my partner, Josh Clark!

We only performed it twice, once at Grand Nationals and once at the CA Swing Dance Hall of Fame Gala, where it was received with such honor and praise that we stayed up until well into the next morning celebrating and enjoying one another. It was such a wonderful way to wrap up a phenomenal partnership.

Today I only have the Grand Nationals performance, even though the Hall of Fame Gala was 700% better, for many reasons. But we are all our own worst critics. And in the end, Charlie & Jackie gave us a standing ovation... what in the world else could we have ever asked for???

So I hope you enjoy....

OH WAIT! That's right! 
There is HUGE controversy around this routine!!! ...

My Fourth Book! Dear Mr. Cosby,

New Name for the Author:
Katherine Elizabeth

Dear Mr. Cosby, might seem a little out of left field to you, but it doesn't to me. I have spent the last year watching The Cosby Show from the start again...

And found it's even more relevant today than it was then. Nick and I learned so much, grew so much and laughed so, SO much harder than we have in a long, long time, that I found myself, for the first time ever, writing Bill Cosby letters after each episode.

Some episodes were really powerful. The cast and crew clearly new they were breaking new ground with the show, so they took full advantage of it and gave us some of the best music, the best dancing and the most amazing legends you could think of... so often I was struck with their talents, their knowledge and their ability to love.

I also discovered that WCS music and The Cosby Show music overlaps... that before I was exposed to WCS, I was exposed to the best of its music. Many of my childhood memories of The Cosby Show centered around the music they played and performed to - and I was even more startled to watch opening credit after opening credit choreographed to the music only the best Salsa dancers dance too.

Oh yes, The Cosby Show can and will feed you today.

December 02, 2014

#99: My Apologies & More

Healing is a choice.
-Stephen Arterburn

I have some exciting news to share with you today, so I logged on to my newsletter site and looked up where I left off.

Ahhh.... I left off with quite the bang, didn't I? "MJ or Coke?," then "Playing Monopoly," then "By Request" and finally the topper... "Where Things Stand Now."

So I re-read "Where Things Stand Now." Wow. What a piece. It made happy, then made me squirm a bit uncomfortably. Because you all fall into two groups. (For the purposes of this letter, I will call them Group A and Group B.)

And it is Group A I was thinking of when I began to squirm in my seat. I felt like I should apologize...?

While I was researching the photo to this article, I came across a spam-card quote that said, "Never apologize for what you feel. It's like saying you're sorry for being real." And I sighed. Did that apply to me?

June 20, 2014

The Basics of WCS

The Slot of WCS
The dance of West Coast Swing (WCS) is extremely unique in the world of ballroom dancing. If you've ever taken a class for any kind of partner dance, like East Coast Swing, Waltz or Cha Cha, you'll remember that you were taught one basic step at the very beginning.

That "basic," as we teachers like to call it, or "basic step pattern" to be technical, became the foundation of all the other steps you learned. Let's say, for example, that you took a Salsa class. Once the class mastered the beginning basic you were then taught little "extras" to throw into that basic pattern - like an outside turn or an open break.

But always, when you were done, you returned to that basic pattern. That one single solitary basic. How nice. West Coast Swing? Not so nice.

One basic? Try eight! I personally believe a student can succeed on any floor if they master the following 8 patterns:

  • The Starter Step
  • The Tuck Out
  • The Push Break (aka Sugar Push)
  • The Left Side Pass
  • The Tuck
  • The Underarm Turn
  • The Right Side Pass
  • The Whip

Yeah. That's a lot of basics! Now, not all of them are always taught in beginning classes. Some save the harder steps, like the Whip, for intermediate classes. It depends on the teacher and the ballroom. One teacher eliminated all rock steps, the tucks and added a bunch of others saying, at the end of it all, that there are 22 basics!

But the creators of WCS and the legends of the dance all teach and dance the 8 basics above, which is why, with them, you should succeed on any true WCS floor!

May 28, 2014

#85 2/2: The Cult, the Council and the End.

The Future, Here and Now
Weekly Note #85 has two sections. This is Part Two. Click here for Part One. 

I knew how hard the fall would be from that place - and how high the hands would reach to catch and scratch at me if I called out, loud and quite clear.

Saturday, February 26th 2011.

The date may not mean anything to you, but it means everything to me. It's the date of my very first swing intensive on something "more" than just swing. I didn't teach movement. I didn't teach basics.

I taught history. I taught essentials. I broke away from the herd and I... taught real West Coast Swing. 

It was treason. I knew it. But the right people had said yes, and the wrong people had said no and before I knew it...

May 24, 2014

#85 1/2: The Cult, the Council and the End.

Sins of the WCS Cult & Criminals
Weekly Note #85 has two sections. This is Part One. Click here for Part Two. 

Part 1: The Cult Culture of WCS
(This is the Rearview Mirror for #84: Playing Monopoly)

So let's talk names. There are about 300-400 highly active predators, criminal harassers and cyber-bullies in and around our on- and offline Swing Dance Council/Points communities of WCS.

Since their activity has largely gone unchecked over the last three years (cyber-attack legislation only just caught up with the times), they've grown even more aggressive - violent, even - to the point of not only recruiting other criminal elements to the sport, but driving out all healthy elements too.

They say they "love" WCS. They say everything is great with WCS- the sport, the community, the teachers... until someone voices an alternative opinion.

#84: Playing Monopoly

Naming Bill, Ethan, Mason & Jacob
+ Text Version of the Stories
Fraud is the daughter of greed. -Jonathan Gash

Last Fall I released a very powerful Audio Exposé called The Monopoly . It contains three large and in-depth stories of my time and interactions with people of various statures in the West Coast Swing competitive community.

The first story is about a well-played game of chess for the US Open teaching slots from the early 2000's.

The second is the bulk of the recording, a detailed description of a major WCS monopoly - one which created incredibly large changes in both the local community, and the global community too. WCS died in their kitchen.

And finally, there is the story of an event director and the silly promises they made - none of which are even possible today.

#84: Rearview Mirror - MJ or Coke?

I hope that last week's Weekly Note: MJ or Coke? helped you. I really do. It was a scary thing to write, of course, but once I was done... I couldn't believe how light I felt. I floated like a feather for a full day. The weight of my un-spoken knowledge must have weighed much more greatly upon me then I could have ever realized. 

For those of you who have always known, or who didn't want to know - I don't know how you do it. I don't know how you can stay silent without paying a heavy price. I know I paid one. I'm starting to feel like we Deep Water people are, if anything, great at keeping secrets. I no longer think that's such a good thing.

How many kids could have been saved had we not looked the other way? How many people would have been spared abuse had we ever simply pushed back? And perhaps that's what you all share - abuse. I hope you become brave enough to stand up to it - to work towards preventing it - instead of waiting for it to lower the boom.

May 23, 2014

#83: MJ or Coke?

The Birth and Widespread Use of
Marijuana, Cocaine and Heroin in WCS
Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism. -Carl Jung

In the famed movie The Labyrinth, which I still love to this day, the entire movie pivots around a single moment in Jennifer Connelly's performance. It's when she says, "You have no power over me."

She says it with such revelation - such surprise - as if she couldn't believe David Bowie's character ever did have power over her.

I understand that line now. I can finally relate to her. In fact, I feel as if that's me standing there, looking up with wondrous yet completely certainty at her abuser. You have no power over me... 

#82: Why the Hate Speech?

How "New" WCS
Dancers Hate
The WCS Revolution seeks to separate and segregate... but they only want to annihilate. Annihilate us not just from WCS events, but studios, clubs and anywhere else where we or the dance itself may be found. 

The quote above is the reason why we had to start the WCS Revolution. We certainly didn't start the war, like I say all the time, as I've often stated, but we certainly have to finish it.

We cannot let an entire culture, an entire dance, an entire community that's been around for 70 years just be burned to the ground, with no sign of ever existing, as they clearly so desire.

But I just have to ask... WHY is this true? Why do these contemporary-abstract-walk-walk-Vegas-thumping "dancers" want real WCS to "die already" as I've seen so many of them write in the comments sections of real WCS videos, instruction clips, and chat rooms, etc?

New Book Arrival: TOUCHDOWN

Read a Free Preview on
Joy to the World! -Isaac Watts

Merry Christmas! My third book Touchdown, is HERE! Yaaaaaay!!!! Touchdown: How to Score Curiosity, Joy and Freedom in Adulthood. I can't believe it.

And I am incredibly proud of it. It's not about swing - it's about everything! Living. Living life the way it was meant to be lived - whole, happy and incredibly joyful.

Even in adulthood. It's possible! Oh, and I threw a few bits of danger in there too. Adventure doesn't really qualify as adventure without a few dragons along the way, right?

So Merry Christmas to you, and to all a good night. Enjoy my favorite gift to you... the best of me and my love for you - all in one place:

May 22, 2014

The History of SwingDiego - New Audio Exposé!

The Truth About SwingDiego's
Inception and Creation
Okay. So this post is for my broken and beloved WCS community. It's meant to do a little - no - a LOT of healing. But I won't lie. Some people are going to be unhappy with this podcast. Very unhappy.

Heck. I wasn't even happy having to re-live some of these stories for you either. But once I was recording... it turned exciting. Huge secrets leapt up, insights clicked and clacked and BAM! Pure gold. (with a heavy side of "dirt")

Like I said. Some people are going to be so, so, so, so very unhappy. But they never should have lied in the first place. Period.

See you on the other side folks! Buckle up nice and tight. Here ya go:

What a finish, right? Share away with your friends. They'll love you for it.
And of course, these are all my own personal opinion, experiences and viewpoints.

May 21, 2014

#81: Prepare to 'Touchdown'!

My First Non-Swing
Book is Almost Here!
You're sure to do impossible things, if you know where to start. -Don Bluth

I remember teaching a Critique Session workshop at an event a couple of years ago. There was a woman who clearly loved dancing, clearly felt a lot of joy and happiness once the music was on, but danced with her head down and her shoulders up.

I could tell she was wounded. I could tell it would be hard, emotionally, for her to drop her guard while she danced. It would be hard for her to stop hiding from her partner and only letting her excitement peep out down below in her legs through footwork.

It didn't make for good partner dancing at all. The behavior would have to go. She wanted to be better, but I knew that would mean she would have to be brave - she would have to let go, and let her partner in - let the world in - to her little world of excitement.