Monthly Archives: September 2015

Blues: The Unappreciated Underdog

blues dancing

How do so few people appreciate the beauty of this?

A revelation hit me while on my way to a dance class, so I wrote this on the bus, on my way there:

Sitting in the 99 B-line, on the way to UBC, eyes closed and ready to pass out, I asked myself, “Why did I and do I continue to promote blues dancing when it is the scene where some of my most vicious haters reside?”

And the answer came to me — hit me so hard that I forced myself to open my happily shut eyes, bend forward and unzip my gold Puma purse, take out this notebook and write.

Blues is the underdog of all the dances. Blues is one of the least known and most under-appreciated. In my own city of Vancouver, I watched our only weekly trad blues dance die. I watched new dance events form to fill the hole with “fusion-slash-blues” dances. I listened to people complain when “too much blues music” was played. I heard them demand more fusion.

Why? Because learning real blues is hard and takes time and effort. Learning “fusion” or, rather, saying one knows how to “fusion dance” is 10x easier, because anything goes in fusion. Real fusion is taking a dance background you already have and combining it with a dance background someone else already has, and seeing what comes of it. Blues is a dance that requires acquiring musicality — really listening to the music — learning real connection, and real partnership. It demands that one really learn how to lead and follow, one to really feel the music, and keep the music through pulsing. It requires work to understand and dance real blues, and people are fucking lazy.

My scene is not the only one that does not want to take the time to appreciate this beautiful, underdog dance. I watched one of Seattle’s weekly traditional blues dances die (although elitism was partly to blame for that).

The fact of the matter is that, no matter how hard people try to put on real, true, blues events and workshops, people may come and attend, but when the weekend is over, so is the blues dancing, and everyone returns to dancing fusion. That is, if they decided to attend and take the workshops at all.

UBC is the only place in Vancouver where people can take legit blues dance lessons. They are not available anywhere else. As the Blues Coordinator, it is my responsibility to choose the instructors. And I make sure to get the best in the city every time. I make sure I maintain the quality.  I make sure that the people who decide to take the lesson learn real blues. I do this in spite of the fact that many, many people in the scene hate on me. I do this in spite of the fact that someone (or someones) maliciously cut my tiger bag handle — ruining my bag — and put chewed gum in my cup during a social dance while I was dancing.

I do this because I know what it’s like to be the unappreciated underdog, and because I want to help blues be recognized for the beautiful dance it is.

Thank you to the people who have helped me learn the beauty of this dance — made it possible for me to learn this dance, despite having so little money. It is because of this and you that I continue to promote and nurture a dance community that continually turns its back on me, and continually stabs me in the back when they think they can get away with it anonymously, or without my knowledge.

Even if you never believed in me, or had to grow to believe in me, I thank you for keeping me seeing the good in the dance, rather than giving in to all the hate all around me.

blues dancing revelation

My revelation about blues dancing unedited, written straight from the heart



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