Hellooooo. Lindy Focus trip report coming soon, but in the mean time, I typed a lot of thoughts in response to a facebook post about a blog post, by my enchanting friend Aries, so I figured I'd go ahead and toss it up here.
I don't think I ever had the balls to actually publish the post I wrote about this on my own blog, Aries, but *one* of the reasons I have drifted more into the blues scene than the lindy scene in the past yearish is that I find that more is expected, tolerated, and accepted of me as a /dancer/, as a blues follow than a lindy follow.
I had a dance at Focus actually, that I remember in particular because I hadn't danced with that lead in a while, where I gave as much, creatively, as I've become accustomed to doing (in all the blues dancing I've been doing lately). [And I'm not talking hijaking. I'm not a perfect follow obviously, but I was not consciously disregarding or even redirecting any leads. I was following the the best of my ability.... and also improvising rhythms, accenting stuff, snapping, mimicking his flares, ect.] And the two of us were talking later and he was like "yeah that was a really fun dance, and I didn't even really have to do anything 'cause you were doing so much." But I got the impression it was like "whoah, nice place to visit but I wouldn't wanna live there." That sat funny with me.
I think a non-negligible part of it has to do with how lindy and blues tend to teach dance from different directions, and while blues STARTS with music/connection/listen-to-your-follow, and only later moves to more intricate sequences, lindy tends to be taught the opposite way and leaders aren't enjoined to listen to their follows until waaaay later in their journey.
[Or maybe it's just that it's only lately in the lindy community it's become a more important value to have creative input from followers and it's later in MY journey as a lindy hopper than my journey as a blues dancer. But I don't think so. Even pretty new blues leads seem like they listen to me more than similarly newish lindy hoppers.]
Two other things that I think are relevant- how much did the western ballroom traditions influence lindy hop vs blues as a partner dance? There was some discussion in a lecture this year at BluesSHOUT about the African musical/spiritual tradition that had a female godhead (earth) and more respect for female power, generally, than western eurp. tradition.
The other thing I've wondered about is the mechanical symmetry of blues vs. lindy. I've found it a lot easier to pick up more blues leading than I have to pick up more lindy leading. And I don't think it's just me. I see a LOT more people who dance both roles at least some in the blues community and I see lots of casual, not-a-big-deal same gender dancing at blues events (more than at lindy events, I think.) And all the pros switch. All the pro male leads switch pretty visibly and often dance with each other. [Some of the lindy male pro leaders do, too, but I don't think as large a proportion or as commonly.] So with more people who do both roles, I think the leads have a greater idea of what it feels like to be receptive and also more respect for the other role? I know I got a lot more genuine empathy for leaders after I learned more leading.
Maybe I'll put this on my blog after all, 'cuz I've now typed lots.