December 06, 2012

#53: The Church of Jordan and Tatiana

Today's Competitive
WCS Community:
Church or Cult?

Weekly Note #53
Unless you become more watchful in your states and check the spirit of monopoly, you will, in the end, find that the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations.

-Andrew Jackson

While putting together Setting Dancers Free, my first collection of Weekly WCS Notes, added discussion questions for my Word groups to nearly twenty Notes. That included the infamous Weekly Note #9: The Results are IN!, where I gave my own scores for the US Open's Classic Division, along with a breakdown of how and why I came to those scores.

This Note proved a uniquely difficult one to write discussion questions for. So much hate had been violently poured out in an effort to silence people after it was released that the memory of it made it difficult for me to encourage people to speak... speak their own thoughts and their own minds. I knew that if they did so publicly, not just in their groups, that they would face horrific and immediate harassment.

But freedom is freedom, and in the end I succeeded. The questions ended up becoming some of my favorite discussion questions ever.

But there was one that shocked me... yes, me! You writers out there know that you can stand back sometimes and go, "What in the world did I just write!?!" And this question was one of those moments:
Discussion Question #5:
Right before the US Open (2011) I was told that the Open, and the WCS community that attended it, was The Church of Jordan and Tatiana. In what ways does that title fit? Do you feel that you are a part of that church? What do you think your duties as a member of that church are?
Yeah. Quite a question, isn't it? I so dearly wish I could be there for some of those discussions, because I can think of some of my own answers from personal experience. My, oh, my.

And then, shortly after I wrote that question, the US Open released an announcement proclaiming a "new" anniversary tape. "In celebration of our thirtieth year," it said, "we have created a compilation of the last ten years (2002 thru 2011) Classic and Showcase winners."

"What the heck???" I thought. "Are they TRYING to sell my books for me???"

Because, as anyone who has read me over the last two years knows, I've said a whole darn lotta things about the last ten years. And now they are putting out a new "tape" of the last ten years just to prove it. Cool.

But if you don't wanna spend the $40 buckaroos to watch the same people dance swing and then, slowly but surely, unravel and stop dancing swing, then go ahead and let me not only recap "The Next Ten Years" as they call it, but also break it down a bit for those of you who weren't around at the time.


Okay, so I put 12 years up there for you, not just 10, but aren't you glad I did? I hope you really paid attention to my notes. On the years that they did not win, did you see why? Either they didn't compete, or messed up so badly with a new routine that they stopped and turned bright red. But even then the judges worried incessantly that they'd made some huge mistake, just because they didn't have Jordan and Tatiana in first.

And did you notice something else? Benji has never lost a US Open since he stopped competing against Jordan and Tatiana, and Matt and Meagan, for that matter.

And the names of those who won in his absence, or in the only three years Jordan and Tatiana did not reign for various reasons? Nothing's changed much up there in the last 10 years, just like I've said in everything I've written.

If you watch the tape of the first 20 years of the Open, you'll see some names repeated, like Lance Shermoen, but they don't tell you how he placed or competed in the years he didn't win. Both Robert Royston and Lance Shermoen placed 6th the year before or after their wins... it really was a competition back then.

So thanks again to the Open for putting out that new tape of the last decade. The first time I didn't have to publish proof on my own! How very sweet. And by all means, go ahead and get the tape if you want, just know what you're getting- a total 180 from the previous tape, and a total monopoly...

by the Church of Jordan and Tatiana.


PS- If you want to know who founded this Church, and who keeps it running, just take a look at the WSDC (World Swing Dance Council). Jordan didn't start winning till he joined the GSTDA (the owner of which is one of the founding members of the Council), and the Open is owned by a GSTDA instructor. And even though, as Jordan told me in 2011, "I haven't taught that stuff in over 5 years," and that his teaching is "completely different now," ("split weight is a higher form of movement," anyone?), the GSTDA still promotes them, hires them and says they still do everything the GSTDA teaches, despite all evidence to the contrary... complaints from students, video proof of workshops and obvious 'on the floor' proof. (Just try to count that "Rolling Count" while watching any routine in the last five years... shoot, just try to count Rolling Count to the music they've chosen! I can't believe people are still drinking the spiked Kool Aid.)

The head of the Council? "LOVES Tatiana," I was told, "and does anything she asks." Including trying to get a non-GSTDA judge (Mario Robau Jr., who isn't a Georgia Peach either- not a fan of growing a community, freedom of thought or considering anyone to be his equal, but does still teach swing and handles himself quite a bit more professionally than anyone in The Ten) off of the Classic Division panels. When lobbying for the judging panel these two wanted, they both went directly to the head of the Council. It was the head of the Council alone who did all that pressuring of the head judges,  of Mario and of the event directors. No one else. Just the head of the Council.


Is this why the WSDC refers to these 30 year olds as "kids" still? I don't hear anyone else but their parents still calling them kids. And yes, as you can probably tell from the chart above, Benji is also called one of their "kids" too. Why so narrow in their choice of favorites? Do they really think anointing these few chosen ones will establish their eternity? Despite the fact that their "kids" have not only left the fold, but have waged war against it? At the cost of the dance, ethics, soberness and fraud? Hmmm... you'll hear me expand on that later...

I shall be writing more about how the Church was established, how it was ingrained and how it has become, literally, a cult, in my third book, One Word at a Time. Knowing really is half the battle.


March 2014 Update: 

This piece was written for a Weekly Note all the way back in December 2012. So much has changed since then. The most powerful founder of the church has passed away. The so-called cardinals and bishops of the church still remain, but they have been exposed - called out into the open. Scandal, treachery and bribes have been shoved into the light. 

I have done some of this, yes, but not all of it. Members of the church itself are doing it. Oh my. Now, don't get me wrong. The church still stands, and quite frankly, I don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon. But this time things are very, very different. All the players may be the same... but... as you may have heard... some of the players have... well... changed

Look, I talk about this a bit in The Monopoly and even in the BBB Exposes, but these people who I'm about to discuss down below are not people I watched from far away. I was there. We were the young ones. We only knew each other. I did not hate any of them. I just witnessed everything. But I didn't understand the consequences at the time, and left to open my studio just after the church was established. 

Looking back, I realize why opening a studio was so easy for me. I didn't miss the world the Swing Dance Council was creating. I missed the people, but not the dancing - it had already changed too much. I just hadn't put a finger on it yet.

But the point of this update is to also clarify something: I don't think Jordan and Tatiana set out to set up a church. I don't even think they played integral parts in its foundation. I remember Mario once wrote that when he attended dance events he was "treated like a god," which was wonderful and addicting, but that the dance life meant that he'd missed out on time with his boys. 

This is the piece of the pie I know Jordan always wanted. He never lied about the fact that he wanted 1st place and 1st place only pretty darn bad. It was kind of a cute joke at the time - we all knew it and he always admitted it. Wink-wink-nudge-nudge... but that was when Jordan didn't always get 1st. A long, long looooong time ago.

Now, a reader reminded me that a church follows a set of beliefs, but a that a cult follows a person. And while Jordan was a Nissy back in the day (we giggled about how he couldn't pass a mirror without looking in it) he certainty wasn't the worst of the day. He could be cruel when the pressure was on, but, let's face it, that's not Jordan today. And he isn't a sociopath. He isn't a psychopath. Nor did he introduce the drugs into our community. But others did.

So when I talk about the Church of Jordan and Tatiana here, it is not a huge finger pointed at them. Oh, I think they may love it, just as Mario did, but this cult was family built. Quite mafia-esque. Others did the heavy lifting when it came to building this church/cult. The cardinals and bishops of this church literally moved heaven and earth to make sure that everything you are about to read below came to pass. 

I know J&T knew some of it, but I also know they didn't know all of it. They have made some bad choices and Jordan has ushered in a completely new dance, wiping out the "old" one in his wake. Well, I still love him. I sure as hell don't worship him. But I don't hate him. And I love Tatiana. I want to kick his shins, and I cry sometimes, looking at what he's done, and sometimes I look at the ugliness that comes out online under his regime and I never want to talk to him again...

...but what you are about to read could not ever be without the vast amount of money, resources and politicking that was done behind the scenes by head members of the World Swing Dance Council and The Ten. And others. I'm sure you could name them. They don't judge themselves, after all. Or run every event. Or pick out the lights, sound or music at an event... this church is HUGE and it's world-wide and it's powerful.

Just remember, as we look back, that my most recent Notes have said that Annie Hirsch, Skippy Blair, Sarah Vann Drake and Deborah Szekely had, in one way or another, by the time J&T won their first US Open, already established a regime of fear, terror, drugs and blackmail. The competitive (points) community had already separated from its roots by then. 

The LA Swing Dance Club, the San Diego Swing Dance Club and other clubs that still remain today... that are highly active and dance much much much MUCH more than any of the rest of us ever do, had split away by then... not liking what they saw coming. There was a time we all danced in the same halls - when they attended events with us and we could see, in one single room, every single generation of swing dancer that ever walked the earth. No longer. And not because of J&T themselves.

My point is that it is now two years after I published this Note.  Certain people have recently made certain "new" choices. They want better things for the community. They want to undo what they have done. They are not the majority now, but since they are the ones who matter, the writing is on the wall for the future of WCS. The Revolution has gone above-ground. And we are winning.

(Note: the PS section at the very bottom was not included in the original Note, but added a few months later when it was posted on this blog)