March 28, 2014

#65: The Revolution is at Hand

Those Who Have Written in Freedom
Weekly WCS #65
The right of revolution (or right of rebellion) is the right or duty... of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests." -Wikipedia on The Right of Revolution

I'm quite excited about this week's Note. Today I'm going to share with you three people who have, in my opinion, been brave and enough and willing enough to speak their minds... albeit online.

You see, speaking your mind about any topic I've touched on, even if I'm never mentioned (like Michael Kiehm's post I sent you a few weeks back), on the social networks is considered treason.

That sounds dramatic, I know, but if you read Setting Dancers Free: The Weekly Notes That Rocked West Coast Swing, you'll remember that I talk in length about what's been happening "behind the scenes" to people that question the judging, the points, the music, the drugs... just about anything I've ever talked about... online - especially on Facebook.

When one does so, it gets scary. And I mean really scary. I mean illegal-harassment-scary. Facebook kicks them off, others threaten to call the police, but their hate is like a virus. The harassment their drug. It's dangerous, lethal and constant. It's a given. So certain is it, one famous WCS personality online, who happens to agree with me on a lot of things, but not with everything, has taken to giving these freedom writers a heads up as soon as they post.

She wrote me by email and told me that when she sees someone support me or support swing, she immediately emails them and warns them of what's coming. As she so eloquently put it, "Earl and Parker are on the HUNT!"

How right she is. Thinkers will be attacked privately and personally. It's just a fact. 

Yet these dancers, whose posts I'm about to share, stood up anyhow. They posted bravely... publicly. Which is why I get to share their views with you. Let's applaud them together, shall we? And let's start speaking our own opinions online. The more we speak, the more we can be heard. We have a right to be heard. Everyone does. -Katherine

PS- As for those on "the hunt"? That's exactly what "blocking" is for... it's a beautiful thing. You'll forget they even exist, and they will never even know. That's what blocking is designed to do - make you disappear from their Facebook accounts.

2014 Note: To save yourself some grief, here are a few names to block right off the bat. If you are new to the WCS community, these are the harassers with the worst records of attacks, both online and off. Harrassment and Cyberbullying lawsuits are pending against all of them: Victor Loveira, Earl Pingle, Parker Dearborn, Jessica Cox, Douglas Rousar, Stephen White, Sarah Vann Drake, Tara Trafzer and Benji Schwimmer. This list is by no means comprehensive. There are hundreds of others that have taken to extensive cyberbullying, so keep an eye out and stay safe. Report comments on Facebook, reviews on Amazon and in-studio behavior to either the owner or the local police. 

In general, illegal harrasment is that which causes you stress. Women, we tend to minimize our stress and pass things off. In WCS, we are targeted much more often then men. No one can fight as hard for you as you can. Be safe. Be vigilant. No one is your King unless you allow them to be. Let them go. Enjoy your community on your own terms... always. Freedom is a precious commodity, easily lost.

The Freedom Writers
Those Who Wrote Without Fear
And My Responses

These posts were not made by me, nor do they reflect my opinions. They are merely statements that do not support the Abstract Improvisation culture of drugs, misogyny and abuse and/or encourage people to think for themselves.

My responses can be founded following each post.

Dancer #1
San Diego, CA
In regards to late night music after SwingDiego 2013.
"Please keep the discussion civil and constructive if you choose to comment on this post. It's not my intent to point fingers or to say that anyone is right or wrong in the matter. It may be that I'm overly prudish and this will fall on deaf ears. However, if you agree on some level, sharing your thoughts on the matter with a deejay or event director might go a long way to making a more comfortable, positive environment for everyone who loves the dance.

With that said, my question to the community is, "Where do we draw the line with explicit lyrics?"

Last year, I left the ballroom one night after not one or two songs, but a good 30+ minutes worth of music that I found too offensive to dance to. This year, I stuck it out and continued to dance after a similar set played. I talked to several other people who were awake at the time, each of whom were in agreement about the poor taste in music selection.

This is NOT a point of disliking a particular genre. Though I have my own tastes, I prefer that a wide variety of music gets played to please a broader audience. The more people that are dancing, the better.

There will be a fair number of people who say, "Anything goes after (insert time) a.m.!" but considering social dancing didn't start until 1:30 am one night, it's not a fair argument to say it was the middle of the night and that makes it okay.

The most offensive song that played was probably "Pull My Hair" by the Yin Yang Twins. I've attached links for audio and lyrics.

I want to know if anyone in the community can justify playing this song in any venue, let alone at Swing Diego with many minors in attendance. I could see playing it at Sin City Swing in Las Vegas, but even there I personally would find it disrespectful.

There are several songs that I LOVE dancing to that have a bit of coarse language here or there, but the songs themselves are good enough to ignore a few words that wouldn't make it to the radio. Also, the context and meaning of a song is important in determining whether or not it's likely to offend people. Is the rhythm of "Pull My Hair" THAT good that people consider it excusable? Was there not a better choice that just as many people would have danced to, but fewer people would have been offended by?

Deejays take cues from the number of people who dance to a song, but for many die-hard dancers who stay up all night, they already have another partner and are ready to dance before the next song even begins or at least before they're realized what they've got themselves into. Despite feeling embarrassed, many people will continue to dance because it would be terribly rude to leave the floor mid-song.


Some of us will dance to almost anything, so the fact that the floor isn't empty doesn't mean that a song is a keeper. Thank you for the hours and hours of music that kept so many of us dancing through exhaustion all weekend, but please, if you've read this and you play at a local or national event, think carefully about your selections before playing an explicit late-night set.

Link to Pull Your Hair Lyrics: Click here.
Video of Pull Your Hair:

Ying Yang Twins - Pull your hair

End Quote."

I'm REALLY sorry for this pic above for the video. But he included it and, well, it really does make the point now, doesn't it? And notice how he says he's not the only one? I love this post. I respect this post. It's needed.

Now, for those of you who remember Weekly Note #20: Facing the Music, I wrote about this issue precisely. Or at least addressed the use of explicit lyrics and non-swing music that emphasizes the lowest forms of humanity. You can read all of it in book #2, Setting Dancers Free. I made a specific video for it and everything. This debate started long ago, but now THE PEOPLE are speaking out. And loudly. Like never before.

Be. Aware. Now. On to the next dancer's post. I promise - there are no more explicit pictures from here on out...

Dancer #2
Lyon, France
After reading April's Fool on my blog.

"...I wouldn't use the same words as Katherine (mostly because I don't have the legitimacy that she has . However, "special" or not, I just happen to agree with her! Just read her excellent text titled "April's Fool" in her blog. You can replace "April" and "May" with MANY names of people we all know, leaders and followers from various divisions (please note that I've written divisions, not levels - divisions do NOT accurately reflect dance levels anymore IMHO).
There are lots of things that can/should be improved in today's WSDC comps:
1. The fact that judges push towards a very precise style of dancing (which as Katherine points out doesn't seem to be compatible with "pure WCS" - I think I see her point but I'll leave that to the real experts),
2. The fact that judges can only judge the visual and not the "feel" of a dance (take a look at ***'*s interesting experiments to better evaluate dancers on a "felt" basis),
3. The fact that comps in crowded divisions have become WAY too random for reasons we all know (and I really mean "random" - pretending that all the best dancers always end up making their way to the finals is simply NOT TRUE, and I have soooo many examples I could fill pages and pages of text with them - but I can't disclose any names),
4. The fact that judges themselves, great as they may be, do still not all judge on harmonized criteria (this has been acknowledged by some judges),
5. The fact that the scoring system itself (Relative Placement) has its (theoretical) advantages BUT also some (very real) flaws that have been pointed out many times...
Etc, etc...
All this usually leads to endless debates, between people who want a change for the best, and people who are towards immobilism. I DON'T intend to create a new debate here anyway. Hopefully, History shows us that immobilism is never a good thing, and more importantly, that it can't last forever.
As some of you know, I have tried WSDC comps some times (mostly because of the social pressure). Oddly enough, my best results were years ago, when my WCS was about 1.000 times worse than it is now (hmm... maybe 2.000 times ? lol). I'm not the only one in that case BTW (take a look at J****'s story for instance, it's amazing). Also, when I made a final @ London's NYSF (Heather, remember ? ), I did it with a broken toe. So according to the judges, I dance better either with a broken toe, or back in my beginner's days. Well, that's really good to know. Somebody's got a hammer ?... ^^"

Quite a thinker this guy is, isn't he? I cringe at some of the information he's been fed by a number of false "experts" on Facebook. For heaven's sake, he was quoting some people with less than a year's experience. The glory of the internet. Someone can say they know everything and prove it by being a d!ck to everyone online. Yeah. That just means that they are a jerk. Not a pro.

Okay, so a lot of our pros are jerks. Which is probably why people are believing these nut jobs when throw around terms they have absolutely zero knowledge of. Our online community has become so bad that it's driven nearly every true professional from ever posting on those conversations or chat boards again. 

Sometimes I wish people could meet some of these "experts" in person. It would end their credibility in a heartbeat.

ANYhow, I still love this post. Of course I don't agree with everything 100%. In fact, I don't agree with a lot of it, but I like how he's thinking through things, processing, trying to see several points of view and admitting the good, the bad and the ugly. Again, I'm praising them because they spoke their mind on Facebook so boldly. They questioned the WSDC - oooohhhh - dangerous thing to do!

Now, on to our final post of the day. Remember - it's Facebook! English teachers need not take out their red pen! (I was one, remember, and I'm sharing it anyway!)

Dancer #3
Dallas, TX
In regards to the WSDC points, unfair competitions, etc. and in response to another false "expert"'s comment on FB.
"She spoke the truth though. [Katherine Krok Eastvold] - rock it girl. When I was given my first WSDC # year 2000 we had no clue where this was going... it's all about $$$$$$$$$$$...

When I started in mid 90s it was totally different. My idea when I go out there when I first started jack and jill is to have as many dances after the contest. That's just the adrenaline warm up back then. I learned WCS in High Heel shoes and dressed just like the same way most Hustle Dancers dance. We all blended it as far as dressing... All I know is that it requires more $$ to travel and keep up with points. I see kids more stressed about making the points the status... Oh wow. How about having fun while you're at it!!! I just want to dance."

There are two things that make this post extra extra special. 1) A women posted this. 2) They not only mentioned my name, but they tagged it! Ooooohhhh... very daring indeed!!! Unless you are on the social networks, you may have no idea at all what all this means, but basically, this lady had guts. A million guts! I about fell off my seat when I read it! I don't know ONE SINGLE PERSON that has been so brave to have done such a thing in three whole years.

Yeah. This post is amazing. Totally devoid of all fear. Maybe she'd just had enough (I mean, look at the first post - women are NOT exactly equals in this community unless they have a sociopathic personality), or maybe she knew that she was not alone. Not by a long shot. Or maybe she just wasn't afraid anymore.

Either way, SHE rocks. Just sayin'.

Love to you all,

A standing ovation to the lovelies above,
And a HUGE huge... AMEN!
Freedom writers rock.

From Weekly Note #65: The Revolution is at Hand. Released June 2013.