The Arctic Lindy Exchange Part 1- European vs American Lindy Hop Scene

So full disclosure, I am fairly jet lagged at the moment and quite swungover.  Oh, and I might be coming down with a cold that I caught from my fellow dancers.  A perfect time to start a blog, don’t you think? For those who don’t know: 
Swungover (adj): the state of being that occurs when you are completely exhausted from binge-lindy hopping- in my case 8 nights in a row- symptoms include headache, falling asleep in random places, and/or an irrational desire to keep dancing even though you would probably fall on the floor.  

This first post might be rough with missing words and many rambling thoughts, but hopefully I’ll come back through and revise it later… maybe.  Any-who, time for me to tell you about the amazing, wonderful, awesomeness that is the Arctic Lindy Exchange (!!  In short, it is 8 (that’s right 8!) fantastic nights of dancing that takes place in two towns in Iceland, Reykjavik and Isafjordur as well as some day trips to see the beautiful scenery of Iceland, and a couple of taster classes taught by professional instructors.  It is 100% worth the money you pay for registration.  Housing costs extra but considering how much hotels, guesthouses, and hostels cost in Iceland the extra 60 or so euros is completely worth it to have housing for 9 nights.

For this first post, I mainly want to talk about the differences I observed between what I’m used to with the American Lindy scene vs. the European scene.  In reality there aren’t that many differences.  We all listen to the same music, we all mix six- and eight-count patterns, add a little Charleston to our dance if the music calls for it.  The focus of Lindy is the fun and playfulness of the dance, not having perfect form.  In reality there was only one fundamental difference between etiquette of the American and European scenes and I will talk about the pros and cons of both “methods”

How many times do you dance with a person once they ask you/ you ask them?

Americans (U.S. and Canada): You dance a single dance with your partner, thank each other, maybe chat for a bit, then walk away.  This is the way I am used to and it took me a little bit to get used to and appreciate the European way.  An American who had moved to Iceland was my first dance at the Exchange, and was kind enough to inform me of this rule.
1) You only have to dance one dance with a person without worrying that they’ll ask you for another if you had no dance chemistry/ they were creepy.
2)  It’s easier to swoop in and ask a partner you’ve been eying to dance with you.  As soon as the song is over they are fair game so long as they aren’t deep in conversation with their latest partner.
1) You only get to dance one dance with a partner you really enjoyed unless you want to seem possessive and ask them for a second dance.
2) Your one-and-only dance with your partner may not let the two of you find out if you’re compatible as dancers since it might be your first dance of the night, or your styles might be different enough that you need a second dance to start communicating.

Europeans: Most Europeans (not all, from what I understand) will generally ask you for a second dance after the first.  Mind you, either follow or lead can initiate the first or second dance just as either can with the American method.  At first it was kind of awkward waiting to see if my lead would ask me for another dance (me being the shy person I am when I meet new people refused to ask for the second dance myself at first), but then you just get used to chatting a little with your partner, and waiting to hear what the next song is like.
1) When you get asked or ask to dance, you are almost guaranteed 2 dances.  This is great when there is an imbalance of follows or leads as long as you can grab a partner fast enough for those 2 dances.
2)  You have a longer time to find out if you and your partner are dance-compatible.  The first dance can be a warm-up and the second can be the real thing.
1) If you’re not good at saying “no” to dances you might be stuck dancing with a partner you don’t care for more than once.
2) It’s harder to time asking that person you really want to dance with for a dance.  You could potentially be stuck in a dance vortex where you’re never free at the beginning of the same dances.
3)  It’s okay to ask someone to dance in the last minute of a dance because you automatically (sort of) get another dance!

So in summary the one-dance and two-dance methods both have their pros and cons.  By the end of the week I really liked the two-dance rule, in part because I knew all the leads and was comfortable jumping in to ask them for a dance (or two).  When I’m new to a scene I think I would still prefer the one-dance method since I would only have to commit to one dance before finding out if my style works with the lead’s style.


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