Each month I like many other teachers have the rare privilege to travel and teach at workshops. Sometimes we are invited to come and serve the dance community by social dancing with the people throughout the weekend. Sunflower Swing 2012 happened to be one of those special times where I experienced the latter.
To my surprise, many of my teaching peers along with many regional friends from Tulsa made an appearance. This year was my first to attend Sunflower Swing and I’m excited to detail many benefits for attending this event.
Culture: I love dancing at events in the midwest of America! Upon arriving at the Friday dance, I was surprised that I knew most of the people in attendance. Most happened to be out of towners from the midwest region. To my amazement, many of the experienced dancers were continually reaching out to people they did not know. I was taken back by this and wanted dearly to feel as if I were a visitor being exposed to all the love and openness for the first time.
This is one of the main attributes that make an event worthy of returning. Once you’re in the culture, it’s extremely easy to simply dance with the people you only know. It takes an ingrained deliberateness in one’s demeanor to do this more than a few times, and many did just that.
Dancing: Social dancing for me is one of the main keys to preserving the best parts of the swing culture for future generations. There were dancers spanning from intermediate all the way to masters who were present at the dances. Seniors to teens and everyone in between. People dressed their best for the Saturday evening dance, and there were plenty of dancers to keep the floor busy throughout the late night.
Teachers: The teachers were Todd and Ramona, and Dan and Gabbie. They were friendly, responsive to the needs of the dancers throughout the weekend, and most importantly danced with everyone. It was great to have taken class from many of my teaching peers and see them teach with the same amount of passion and respect for their classes as they would for more internationally known workshop weekends. They set a great precedent.
Competitions: The competitions were fun and inventive. They had a good balance of traditional jack and jills, in addition to Wichita specific competitions that you would have to attend to understand the humor. Lots of laughs in addition to happy hearted competitiveness without the soap opera drama that sometimes accompanies competitions.
There are always things that can make events better. There were a few potential things that I noticed that could be improved upon to add to the quality of the event. There was a performance that I know that would have been considered inappropriate, and to say it bluntly would have been better performed between husband and wife in the bedroom.
I’m sure there were some who enjoyed it regardless, some who got really excited and all hot and heated, but I’m also an ambassador of the lindy hop dance, and a parent. Many parents of teens could have been attending the event for the first time to get a feel of this “Lindy Hop” phenomenon, and could have seen that performance as a break it point. They could have thrown out all the good that we love so much about our dance because of one ill timed performance. Just some food for thought.
The venue sound and A/C units had some small reoccurring malfunctions that could be easily adjusted and budgeted for over time. Again these are small yet impactful things that could be blown out of proportion if neglected.
Many people felt the Sunday was too short and could have at least gone till 11pm.
Outside of that, I wouldn’t hesitate in inviting guessed to Sunflower Swing 2013 and would recommend others in joining me next year. I can’t wait to come back to Wichita and I enjoyed all the warmness dancing without all the people. I give this event…….3.8 out of 5 shoes.Jamin Jackson