Is YouTube Causing Lindy Hoppers More Harm Than Good?

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Article by: Sierra Kane

As each new form communication develops, it enhances the public’s social knowledge of swing dancing, which in turn promotes the growth of the dance. Swing dancing was initially spread interpersonally from soldiers during World War II with the help of radio waves. Then we saw the visually dissemination of swing on television in the 50’s. Now, the primary source speaking to the public on behalf of swing dancing is YouTube. YouTube has helped swing dance to continue to advance and thrive globally, “one of the largest emerging dance communities is in Seoul, Korea with over 5000 dancers in 14 venues” as of 2012 and it is growing rapidly, according to http://www.atomicballroom.com/blog/2012/11/27/swing-dancing-around-the-world/

YouTube has been key to the promotion and preservation of swing dancing, but this has not come without consequences. Due to the type of YouTube videos being posted and the content within these videos creating a heightened social reality among online viewers, swing dancing has arguably become more dangerous in recent years. Frankie Manning, a skilled and revered swing dancer from New York, is credited as being the first swing dancer to do an “air-step”, when he threw a girl over his head at a competition in New York. Since that initial move dozens more of these steps have been developed. In this era of YouTube, these tricks are more publicized than ever. It has become more commonplace for more aerial based videos with risky tricks to be uploaded and shared than technique videos because they are more exciting to general viewers. Most of these viewers are inexperienced with swing dancing and fail to realize that it takes a great deal of fundamental knowledge and proper dance technique in order for dancers to be able to execute these riskier moves without injury. Unfortunately many of these videos, while exciting to watch, don’t properly express the difficulty associated with these dance moves so beginners are attempting these tricks without first learning the basics of the dance–that is where it becomes dangerous.

These beginner, or less informed, dancers attempt the moves they see and upload content of themselves performing risky air-steps. It becomes a vicious cycle, where beginners watch other beginners perform flashy and dangerous dance moves online then assume that it is normal for beginners to perform these tricks. This would be less of a problem if such things stayed online. Unfortunately the actual norms and practices of swing dancing have been influenced and altered based on the false configuration of misrepresented norms communicated through YouTube videos. The surge of inexperienced dancers attempting dangerous tricks can lead to more injuries not only for the beginners, but also for their partners or anyone unfortunate enough to be around them when something goes wrong.

My goal here is not to condemn YouTube or those that choose to watch swing dance videos online in order to learn from them. Likewise, I do not wish to reprimand those within the swing dance community who upload content. Nor is it my desire to rebuke aerials or tricks, when done properly they are nothing short of mesmerizing. I simply wish to caution YouTube viewers to look at its content with a more critical eye, to account for things such as source, context, and actual practices. If we take choose to be more critical and selective when viewing swing dance related content on YouTube we can take back the authenticity of swing and create a more accurate depiction of the actual, not perceived, state of the swing dancing and help to prevent injuries before they occur.

swingkick Is YouTube Causing Lindy Hoppers More Harm Than Good?

7 comments to Is YouTube Causing Lindy Hoppers More Harm Than Good?

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