I want to throw an awesome workshop weekend for Lindy Hop, a vintage American vernacular jazz dance, in Centre County. I want to hire a live band and two teachers to provide instruction and feedback for a passionate local Lindy Hop community.
I learned to dance as a teenager at PSU’s lessons on campus. When I returned to town, locals were no longer allowed in the White Building. To fill the void, I rented an apartment with a wooden floor and hosted weekly dances and the occasional private lesson. Our community grew quickly, and local dancers seemed to come out of the woodwork-- people who used to dance at the university drove out from Phillipsburg, Boalsburg, Pleasant Gap, and even Pittsburgh. While the first few weeks had about three guests, we now have 25-35.
I put together a live band to play once a month. Dancers donate for the band, but I also pay about $150 dollars up front to make sure their work is paid fairly, which we cover by both teaching dance lessons and throwing a variety show.
Lindy Hop has a complicated racial and social history: white dancers appropriated it and then made it inaccessible to the communities that created it. For this reason, we try hard to 1. Make the dance socially and financially accessible and 2. To teach its cultural history.
Between teaching and paying the band we currently break even, but our dream is to throw a workshop weekend-- the swing dance equivalent of a salsa or tango conference. We want to hire two professionals and a live band to create the full experience here in Centre County.
Although Penn State has provided a base for this community in the past, the generational wisdom and stability that comes with the local community will be a huge asset moving forward. All we need is enough money to take the plunge for our first workshop!
Funded by State College, PA (May 2019)