The Future of Lindy Focus
Last year’s event was a big landmark for us. In addition to being number 15, and a year in which many aspects of our event gained a level of maturity we’d not yet seen — it was also the year we, with the help of the worldwide swing community, brought back to life the music of Chick Webb, something that once seemed a distant fantasy. Hearing that music live at the event, and then seeing afterwards how bandleaders all over the world are working Webb’s music into their repertoire (in a way that was never before possible) has brought us the deepest joy.
So, if we were to view last year as an arrival, an end-goal to have reached, we would then be satisfied, and though nothing is ever perfect, we could feel reasonably proud while packing it up and being done.
But we don’t feel done. As crazy as it seems, we see year 15 as our new *starting* point. There’s so much more we want to do, especially since we now know that, with the support of the community, the sky is truly the limit.
I remember just a few years ago some pro dancers talking about how they didn’t think there was a new generation of pros in the making. At the time, I foolishly agreed. It’s obvious now to anyone with an internet connection that new talent is exploding worldwide at an unprecedented rate. Lindy Focus is thrilled to be on the constant search for inspiration and innovation, and to put those people in front of you as instructors, even while continuing to celebrate the wisdom of those who’ve already put in their time.
This year we will bring to life a night of Jimmie Lunceford’s music, a person and a band we can’t wait to tell you more about. We will do what we always do - give a full night of the music of one historical bandleader, recreating in part the magic of an evening dancing in the swing era to a top band, but with the added joy and satisfaction of it having been a true community effort. In a few years, we hope to be able to present an entire event-long program of crowd-sponsored music, and to have created a library for all bandleaders that simply doesn’t currently exist. We will slowly, and with great determination, push firmly towards a future where this music and the musicians that play it aren’t just supported by an odd assortment of events and clubs scattering the globe, but where there is a living, breathing, and self-sustaining ecosystem in which musicians can make their living. And when the music thrives, so always will the dance.
One of the core beliefs of Lindy Focus is that we are part of an art community, a collection of creatives that puts the art before all else. But as this new community expands, ages, and matures, we’ve become ever more aware of each other as humans experiencing the journey of our lives, with all the ups and downs of the human condition woven in. We are learning to look out for each other. We are learning, sometimes in awkward, challenging, and downright ugly ways that we have a lot of learning still to do about the people we dance with, but also about the people we knowingly or unknowingly exclude from our scene. That change is hard. It requires sweaty work, careful thought, and mostly it requires heart, and the willingness to try and imagine the world through someone else’s eyes. Though some steps have been taken, it’s not yet time to pat ourselves on the back about this. But we are in it for the long haul if y’all are.
When Jonathan Stout introduced Sing, Sing, Sing at the end of Goodman night, he told the crowd, in essence, that, even though we love how the song makes us feel, we don’t want to play it “just because”. It has to mean something. So I ask you: does it mean something? Does our participation in these art forms amount to something beyond it's immediate entertainment value? If you were in the room, you probably have an answer to that question. If you were not in the room, or if you remain a cynic, we open the door and give you a fresh invitation to enter, and check it out.
If you have looked at this community from the outside and said “that’s not for my type of person”, still we invite you in. We will try to be better at all the things that make you feel that way.
And if you have quit the scene because you grew weary of it’s failures, we also invite you back in. We’re working on … well, we’re working on everything.
…Because it does mean something. We’re building a future out of the past. Sometimes that construction can be hard to watch, but at the end of the day, we’ve laid a few more bricks.
Lindy Focus wants to thank everyone who’s put any blood, sweat, tears, grunts, shouts, squeals or sobs into that effort. Stick with us, and let’s see what we can build together.