I have many passions, one of them bringing organizers together so we can help each other. Once again, I organized an organizer dinner at bluesSHOUT! 2018, this time with the help of Faye Adnak and Vartan Khachaturov.
This year we wanted to facilitate an environment for open-ended discussions amongst organizers. After giving everyone a chance to eat and decompress, we broke out into three conversations to address three different discussion topics relevant to our current community: blackness, classes, and research.
Blackness in Blues. A discussion on black culture and how it is treated in our modern, very specific, community. Shit’s weird, y’all. If you haven’t already, we recommend you read the following two articles:
- Why I Stopped Blues Dancing – Ellie Koepplinger
- Blackness in African American Partner Dances Done By Predominantly White Communities – Cierra Ruffin
Instruction and Classes. A discussion on how we teach classes, what we teach, and how to address biases and imbalances in our classes. Having high-quality, accurate, and respectful classes are paramount to sharing the love and respect we have for this dance to the rest of our communities.
Research and Knowledge. A discussion on how we gather primary and secondary sources for knowledge about blues history and dance. As our community seeks to learn more and gather more information about the dance and music we love, it is important to make sure we are doing this correctly. This means learning about research methods, carrying out our research in ways that are respectful, and sharing what we learn to help our community members learn with us.
Due to venue limitations, we had to cap attendance; we had 21 organizers join us this year. We made an effort to spread out invitations to increase the geographical diversity present, at most we only had three participants from the same scene. We had 16 different scenes represented amongst our participants, including an organizer from Milan, Italy!
You can also zoom in just on our North American participants. While we had more organizers from the Northeast, primarily New York City and Boston, we also had organizers from the Southeast, the Midwest, Texas, and the Southwest. We also had international representation here as well, go Montreal!
Pretty pretty maps generated using Tableau. Thanks Josh Davis for turning me onto this software!
All notes are publicly available in the Google Drive resources. Click on this link to go directly to the notes from the organizer dinner this year, or click on the logo below to go to the parent folder and see all of the resources available. I especially recommend you check out the notes for the Blackness and Blues discussion and consider how you can draw from these perspectives to add to your own scene.
In addition to the notes above, we recommend the following resources for further education on cultural appropriation and black culture:
- The Question of Cultural Appropriation
- No drums allowed: Afro rhythmic mutations in America
- The Racist History of Cartoons
- Damon’s blog
- Toska Blues blog
- Black shit for white kids
For further reading on institutionalized racism:
Laura lives in New York City where she drinks tea and designs spreadsheets.
Faye lives is Boston where she makes binders, grills cheese, and is known for her bangin’ lipstick collection.
Vartan is a boutique organizer from Denver known for being extra.