May 28, 2014

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

The Future, Here and Now
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... -Katherine Eastvold

This is Part 2 of Weekly WCS Note #85. Click here for Part One.

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... 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?

#83: MJ or Coke?
Dear Readers,

I hope that last week's Weekly Note #83: 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.

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.

#81: Operation Shoebox

We do not seek accolades, yet I find it very satisfying (and humbling) to know you believe in us. -Thank You Note from Officer Lewis Thomas

I've rarely had the joy of giving out Halloween candy to kids. I used to work that holiday for so many years! But this year I finally had it off and, oh! It was such a treat to hand out candy once again this year.

But I learned from last year that my Halloween candy can sit around for months and months without any hope of it disappearing. So this time did something about it: I Googled it. "What do I do with my leftover Halloween candy?" And up came Operation Shoebox.

Turns out the troops need TWO big things from us:

1. travel sized toiletries, and

Charlie Day's Amazing Speech

The Words of Charlie Day's Zeitgeist Speech
Of all the 2014 commencement speeches, the clear front-runner is Charlie Day. Speaking at his alma mater, Merrimack College, he managed to hit the ball so far out of the park, that his words are going viral.

That's right. We non-grads are tuning in too.

Why? Well, it's not because of his jokes, which were aplenty and it's not because he used the word, "sh!t," which is what all the reporters seem to think.

No, we have heard talented jokes before. And the use of a single bad-word does not a viral video make. (Well, not this word anyway.)  So I'm sorry, but I'm afraid it's the front-runner because of what he actually said. And meant. And taught.

May 20, 2014

#80: The Making of 'Walk Like an Egyptian': A Champion WCS Routine

The First Anatomy Lesson into the 
World of Champion WCS Routines
You move that starting position even one half square?... And you change everything. -Making of Walk Like an Egyptian

Let's get serious. Be honest. Up front.

Everybody in WCS wants to be a Champion.

A Champion WCS dancer. That's the goal. That's the dream. That's the victory that everyone desires. And we all know it isn't done by winning a competition. No way. One win in one division, let it be Classic, Strictly, or J&J's doesn't mean jack, does it?

No. To be a Champion you have to do something different. Be something different. Master something different. That's partly why being a WCS Champion dancer is such a desired goal... because the label is elusive... hard to get... almost impossible to find.

May 19, 2014

#78: The Monopoly

A New Audio Exposé is Here!
I am speaking for all of us. I'm the spokesman for a generation. -Bob Dylan

I am so glad you guys are loving the new Audio Exposé podcasts. At the start I was calling them my Memories, but after listening to my 10th confession or so, I realized these jam-packed podcasts weren't properly named.

The more I listened, the more I knew I wasn't just telling observations about my time with Boogie by the Bay... I was sharing tips, insights, secrets and scandals about everything... from The Ten, to the Council, to workshops, to... well, everythiiiiiiiing! So I knew I had to call them something else.

I've decided upon Audio Exposés: My Memories, Stories & More. Much more appropriate, yes? Or simply Audio Exposés for short. Ta da! Now, onto my most scandalous Exposé.

May 16, 2014

No Doubt-Jr's Sexism Spanked Abramson Out of NY Times

Powerful Plays vs. Nepotism Brought NY Times Down
Women battle to break through the glass ceiling. After that, what comes is walking on broken glass. -Frida Ghitis

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that Jill Abramson, the first female editor of the NY Times, was fired because she is a woman.

Or maybe it does?

Because people seem to think it's up for debate, especially men. They are certainly voicing their opinions. One man thought the entire disaster wasn't a disaster at all. He didn't think it was an action worth any ink on the page. Wow. I guess Ryan Gosling's character in the movie Crazy Stupid Love was right: "The war between the sexes is over. We won the second women started doing pole dancing for exercise."

May 14, 2014

Eminem's 'Headlights' Breaks New Ground

Eminem's Vulnerability in 'Headlights' Pays Off
I hate Mother's Day. I really do. I didn't used to and I didn't for most of my life, but once I hit adulthood, things started to change. 

As I grew up on my own, studied on my own, lived on my own (before the days of umbilical cord texting) I started getting this sneaking suspicion that... well, I wasn't exactly... right.

I had handicaps. I had fears. I repeatedly harpooned my own cargo carrier and sailed down bombs to explode my own battleships. Everyone said I had promise, but I spun my wheels faster, faster and then even faster... to nowhere.

There's normal. There's better than normal (read = healthy) and then there's... us.

May 12, 2014

#77: Behind the Scenes of BBB Part 2

The Anniversary Celebration Con'ts
BBB Part 2 - Audio Exposé
Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn't listening. -Emma Thompson

Now, before we get going, let me first say that I released a surprise Note to you on Friday. I know you look forward to my normal Monday morning releases, but it was for good reason. A special occasion. You'll see. 

So before you check today's Note out, go ahead and search your inbox for Friday's release. (Or find it here: Weekly Note #76: Behind the Scenes of BBB Part 1.) Then come join us again!

Now, to those of you who were devilish enough to actually listen to the entire podcast of Behind the Scenes of BBB: Part 1/2 with me since Friday, then I congratulate you! You've figured out that  my memories and my experiences are extremely powerful... if you know how to use them.

#76: Behind the Scenes of BBB Part 1

Celebrating the 2nd Anniversary
of Weekly Notes w/ a New Format
Hello everyone! Most of you joined me during the age and creation of Weekly Notes. Before that, as you know from my first book, Telling the Truth, I wrote the Articles that established the dance of West Coast Swing once more.

I gave you a foundation, a home, a structure and a living. The words grew into a movement and the people united, asking more questions about how to turn their new foundations into communities, towns and full blown cities. You wanted WCS to *live* again. And so did I.

Then an extraordinary dancer named Cynthia Ann Richards walked up to me at Boogie by the Bay after I was wrapping up rehearsals with Josh. It was the first BBB after The Time Has Come had been released. The air was electric. The air was buzzing.

And I wanted to hide underneath a piano.

#75: No Swing at BBB

Changes to BBB 2013
(I designed this logo! Cool, right?)
Since I used to live in the Bay Area and used to work on and for Boogie by the Bay, I thought I should give my students and followers up there a heads up.

The Lindy side of BBB has been deleted this year. I know a lot of you had started going to their workshops instead of the WCS ones, which was a really smart bet - I loved hearing what you learned.

But Sylvia Sykes is all that is left of the Lindy track anymore (so sorry Lindy-babies!!!). She'll be teaching workshops designed for WCS, and as you already know, I respect her tremendously. She's go the info - and identified Abstract as a non-rhythm dance before anyone else I know.

Also, they added A TON of local instructors, which, as you know, might be an interesting new twist on the event. The Bay Area was the birthplace of Abstract Improvisation after all, so if it were up to me, I'd probably re-name it Beat by the Bay, dontcha think?

#75: Rocking the Rock Step Part 2 (Patterns!)

The Power to Take WCS Back
From Abstract Lies Here
A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets. -Napoleon Bonaparte

It's time to learn some of the those hot WCS patterns you've seen in all the videos. The Ten won't teach them to you, so we will. Watch us! Get ready. They are not easy! But I know you're up to the challenge.

But first, let's take a look at what's been happening. Just a few weeks ago, in Weekly Note #70: Rocking the Rock Step, I urged you to, once again, introduce the Rock Step back into our dance. I said it would put the "swing" back in swing. How right I was.

May 10, 2014

#74: My First Super Angry Note

WCS Attitudes:
Delusional and Shameful
Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. -Albert Einstein


Will every single WCS dancer who attended any and every part of the SOS Fall Migration in North Myrtle Beach, SC please step forward!!! All of you. Every single one. Do it. Step forward. It is your time. Don't shift left. Don't shift right. You know who you are. Step forward!


Good. Now listen closely. How dare any of you step into one the most hospitable dance scenes on the planet and behave in such a way that ricocheted so loudly ALL. WEEK. LONG. during the SOS Fall Migration, that by the time we'd hit - what, Wednesday? Tuesday even???... I could hardly stand the fact that I actually made the mistake of encouraging you to go!!!

May 09, 2014

#73: Is S.O.S. Fall Migration for WCS?

What You Need to
Know Before Bringing
Your Swing
I'm really glad so many of you are making the decision to head on over to North Myrtle Beach. Whatever SOS you attend, you're guaranteed to have a blast. Carolina Shag IS a swing dance after all! And they've done a great job of preserving it. I'll say more on that in a second. 

Here are a few things to know, though, before you go plunging into to a huge SOS, where thousands of dancers have descended into a single beach town to rock it out with each other. These survival tips will help prevent you from being buried in the crowd:

#1: Is it okay to dance WCS? 

Of course it is! But only if you play by the rules. This is the South after all, and people still hold the business of manners to be important. Keep your slot small, don't expand and bump into anyone in any way and most definitely don't elbow anyone. Be extremely respectful.

#73: We Will Never Forget

When Fashion Remembered
What separates us from the animals, 
what separates us from the chaos, 
is our ability to mourn people we've never met. 
-David Levithan

I know we're in the middle of all the hubbub of Fashion Week.
Maybe it's because I'm over here on the West Coast
where it seems easier to forget everything and anything

#72: Every Dancer's Dilemma

How I Learned to Heal...
the Hard Way
When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied. -Herophilus

I am a dancer. And I have the same problem every other dancer faces: I don't want to stop dancing. I've danced through stress fractures in both of my feet, a torn up knee, three spinal injuries, a neck injury and a shoulder injury. Whew.

But I'm a dancer. I kept dancing. Danced right through it all. That's what we do!

So it took me two whole years to finally take my new injuries seriously. I had my very first concussion. The ER didn't say anything, so I didn't think anything of it. I iced it, I stayed in bed, and then I went back to teaching and traveling.

#71: The Brave One

50th Anniversary of
"I Have a Dream"
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. -Martin Luther King Jr.

It's the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech. I hold this dear anniversary very close to my heart, for many many reasons.

First and foremost is the influence of his words on me over these last few years - and for his bravery in times of the most horrific backlashes from a society who did not want to "let freedom ring." 

He kept writing and kept speaking anyway. His heart burned for his followers and for those being hurt by the same people who were attacking him.

#70: Rocking the Rock Step

Who Killed the Rock Step,
Why, and How to do the Tandem
Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going. -Charles Stanley

Hm. I hope today's quote really resonates with you. We've been hitting some anniversaries along the way here, and I'm suddenly aware of how and where things are right now.

I really do wonder how much happier we all would have been if those who have been complaining for all of these years about "this isn't swing," "that isn't swing," "the music" "the music" "the music!" had actually followed through with some kind of action. We would've settled for a minute pink-lift, right? SOMEthing, anything, right?

But all of them, when they've had, what? their like, 3 MILLION opportunities to actually act on their complaints? They've followed their "friends" instead, even when they knew

#70: Rearview Mirror (France)

The "Happening" in France
I suppose I should apologize for "announcing it to the whole world," as one reader put it, when it comes to the France issue I mentioned last week, especially when I'm not able to say exactly what happened. Last week, under the Community News section, I simply said that yes, the France thing did happen and no, don't let them tell you it didn't. But I didn't say exactly what happened over there.

Maybe it's because I said it in the first line of my article (the version on this blog has the Community News section after The Lobby article) and therefore it was the only line that was read, or maybe because you're starved for juicy bites of WCS gossip because the same drama keeps happening every weekend and it gets boring...?

..But I have to say, I've felt like Kris Kringle these last two weeks. With stacks and stacks of emails, texts and FB messages (well, a very modern Kriss Kringle anyway!)... the letters are pouring in from all over the world. But this time they aren't asking for all kinds of treats. This time they all have the same wish list.

#69: The Lobby

Lobbying in "The Church"
Those who do not know the plans of competitors cannot prepare alliances. -Sun Tzu "The Art of War"

A couple of years ago, I was asked to grab Annie Hirsch for an important meeting. Jack Carey was sitting on a couch in a corridor looking utterly flustered and frustrated. He saw me, threw his hand out down the hall and said, "would you go get her for me? I've tried two times already..." I looked down and there Annie was, down the hall in the lobby of the hotel, talking to some people.

That wasn't an unusual occurrence by any means. Both of them would always get in trouble with each other for doing more than they were supposed to do. But this time Jack looked a bit more strung out. I got the feeling that, this time, I was supposed to pick her up and carry her out if I had to. And in the end, I nearly did.

#69: The Art of War

The Rules The Four Used
to Conquer WCS Politics
Those who do not know the plans of competitors cannot prepare alliances. -Sun Tzu "The Art of War"

In the pre-Ten years, the late 1990's, a group was formed that we called The Four. Most of the competitive community didn't know about The Four (Cordoba-Szekely, Vann Drake-Redd), and none of the social community did by any means. But every single event director did, as did most of what I now call the Deep Water people. Those who are not on the surface of the sport, but deep, deep below.

They even had their own hand signal (not them, but the event directors, etc. who had to work with them). If they looked stressed out, tired or sad, we would ask why and they would simple hold up four fingers - and that was our answer. We all knew exactly who they were. Because they were ushering in a whole new kind of atmosphere to WCS - a dark and negative one, fueled by fear and deception.

May 08, 2014

#54: Rearview Mirror (Church of Jordan and Tatiana)

The People Who
Created and Protect
the Church
You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or a down... -Ronald Reagan

First, before anything else, I'd like to clarify that, though it put a million puzzle pieces into place when I first heard it... it was not me, alas, that came up with the term or the idea of "the church of Jordan and Tatiana." 

I was on my way to the Open in 2011 when they used it, and it hasn't left my head since, and I've mentioned it to maybe three people since then, but again... never claimed the credit for it. I wish I could say I was that brilliant, and sometimes, perhaps I might get close, but no- this was not my own brilliant insight.

But once I wrote about it for you last week boy, did the wheels start churning in my head.

May 06, 2014

#68: History of Points and Champions

How the Phoenix Swing Dance Club
Killed the Course of West Coast Swing
It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit. -Noel Coward

I received a number of texts over the last few weekends. Readers were at events and dealing with all sorts of issues and they wanted my feedback.

One of their questions suddenly snapped my brain into a realization:

WE have never had to earn points to move upwards.
None of us.
None of us has a single Novice point.
That's because we came before Points.

#68: (Illegal) Facebook Wars

The Culture of the World Swing
Dance Council (Points) Events
Ah, readers, how much there is to say... so much that I hardly feel like saying it. I'll do my best. I hope this fills in some blanks and provides some answers and tools for you while you are still a part of this so called "community" of ours.

What a war. What ugliness. When the almighty Facebook declares that the WSDC and NASDE members, teachers, judges and event directors' comments are unfit and abusive... by not only removing comments, but to the point of suspending their accounts, removing their pages and/or deleting their accounts altogether...

But the WSDC heads haven't even so much as said "boo," never mind removing them from their site... well. That might just say everything right there.

Thank the Lord. Facebook finally set some ground rules. Abuse, harassment and cyber-bullying is no longer tolerated. The law has finally caught up with Facebook and they have responded accordingly. It's about time. So listen up.

Celebrating Space Week

Celebrating the Teachers Who
Take Us to Space
Most of you don't know this, but while I was competing and traveling as a Champion dancer, I was also teaching kids. I taught Kindergarten, Junior High and even taught in the inner-city high schools. I loved my job. I loved the kids. And though I took great joy in teaching so many people the wonderful and intimate art of dance... I believe my greatest achievement yet still lies in those classrooms, in the hearts of those students.

But I never would have taught them, I never would have reached them, if I hadn't first been inspired by those teachers who taught me. I was so lucky to have so many that not only encouraged curiosity, but let it thrive. I believe Space is one create curiosity - and our love of it is a sign of our humanity - our love of expansion, searching, questions and joy. 

This short and perfect clip brought to mind every person and place that sparked- and gave oxygen to- my own little flame of curiosity... and helped me look up. From the night-time program park rangers of our

#67: Rearview Mirror for 'The Ten'

It's Time to Celebrate
Our Freedom to
It's from the people to the leaders, not the leaders to the people. -Red Skelton's 'And to the Republic'

(NOTE: Harassment and bullying is illegal. They are no longer just problems in school systems - it is now a world-wide problem that is affecting workplaces, hospitals and communities of every size, shape and color. It is never okay. If you or someone you love is experiences stress or disturbance from any source, please contact a local authority and report it. It is unlawful and nearly every state in the USA has declared war on such behavior, since its affecting every level and part of society. Bullying and harassment is a serious issue. Please report it when you see it and keep our communities and your well being safe.

Prior to the following NoteWeekly Note #66: The Ten, was illegally posted on a Facebook chat room. Though the original Note was released without my own answers, its posting caused a enormous amount of cyberbullying and harassment. Hundreds participated

May 03, 2014

#66: The Ten

Do Not Pass Go:
The Game of the Ten
Be kind and considerate to others, depending somewhat upon who they are. -Don Harold

Dear Readers, You've been wanting me to write about this topic for some time, and for some reason, I feel ready and willing to do so this week. Are you ready? It's time to connect some dots.
Let's do it. -Katherine

I inadvertently hopped on to the website for a big event that was taking place this last weekend called Liberty Swing.

"Huh," I thought. "Something's different this time..."

Because the faces aren't different.
They never are. Check.