Hello true believers!

I have to admit, I used to be a hot head. Sometimes things would get my riled up and I would ‘lose my shit.’ As I’ve matured, I learned to let things slide a lot more and have focused on responding instead of reacting.

Simple? For sure. Easy? Not so much.

I say this because I realize my own growth in how I responded to a particular incident a while ago that left me speechless. I was in the middle of sharing an event on Facebook as is the standard procedure for anyone having an event in the Latin dance scene. Once the event was posted and shared on my timeline, I was good to move on with my day. My big sister, who is a whiz at Facebook networking, usually reminds me to get back on and engage with people who comment and commit to attend our events. This is easy because most of the members in the scene are casual and relaxed when it comes to expressing interest in going to an party. Everything is almost always coooooool.

Normally, a simple ‘thanks!’ is in order and the engagement ends until we see each other in person. One one particular day, I got a special comment that threw me for a bit of a loop and I’m curious to see the response from the MMA family to my personal point of view.

The comment in question went as follows:

“I don’t support people who don’t support.”

At first, the natural instinct would be to get pissed and lash out but that wouldn’t resolve anything. Furthermore, I could potentially start unnecessary static and animosity with people. What I did do ask the person who made the comment if anything was wrong. I got a response I was not expecting:

You guys are whack and no one supports you because you don’t support others and you never go out and blah blah blah.

The interesting part of the comment that stuck out to me was the fact I was accused of ‘not supporting’ the community.

Wait what?

As far as I’m concerned, the Latin dance community in Chicago is alive and well. Like any good social system, there are people who provide value in different ways and contribute to the greater good. As a participant in this community, you can support in many different ways. For example, you could be a social dancer, a performer, a dance studio student, a nightclub promoter, a nightclub patron and yes, a dance studio owner.

Each of these groups of people combines to make a whole faction that operates like a well-oiled machine. If any of these pieces fail to work, there are certain to be repercussions and imbalances in our system.

The bread and butter of this whole scene are the social dancers. These beautiful people are the ones who express interest in the community and help it grow and stay healthy. Similar to the birth/death rate, as one person leaves the scene, another jumps in to fill the void. The Universe abhors a vacuum and will fill in an empty space with life.

At MMA, we consider our students like family and I’m certain other studios feel a similar sense of connection with their patrons. These same social dancers are either students of a studio or self-taught and out in the wild trying to figure it out. Naturally, I’m a big proponent of taking dance classes, but there is no judgment as everyone has their own reasons to dance.

When these brave souls step foot into a studio, they become the next great social dancers and then, even performers. While I’m not crazy about the rush to get people to perform before they’re ready, I do appreciate the fact that people enjoy this aspect of dancing.

Performers are the natural advertising for our community. The best stage dancers pull people into their energy and inspire others who never thought to learn Latin dance. Like all high-level artists, these dancers satisfy their own need to express themselves through movement and supercharge the desire in other to explore the same.

While on the topic of performers, I would like to add that the push to get people to groups in this day and age has had an effect on the nightclubs. Most of the dedicated and skilled dancers rehearse in the evening or are usually too tired to go social dance. Hopefully, there is a workaround for this issue and we can have a healthy balance of performance and social dance participation.

Promoters are those hard-working and hustling individuals who provide us with things to do in regards to dancing. Socials, nightclub events, and congresses are an integral part of the community and have provided lasting memories. Promoters are to thank for all of the legendary dancing nights in our brief history as an organized community. Unforgettable venues such as Buzz, Excalibur, Images and Dolphin entertained us in our past and newer hotspots like Alhambra, Patrons, and Mambo Cafe thrill us today. To say that promoters are important to our community would be a massive understatement. Without them, there would be no variety or places to go for people who like an ambiance outside of a dance studio.

Finally, we have the actual dance studios. The places where aspiring students can learn to speak the language of dance. Without these institutions of learning, there wouldn’t be a resource for dancers to improve their skills and provide the resources necessary to keep pushing our community forward. It’s no exaggeration to say that dance schools in Chicago have played a significant part in the influx of more traditional dancers trying Latin dance. We’re now at a time when the education is available from a variety of sources and the only requirement a potential student needs is the desire to learn.

I am of the belief that every one of the above people adds to our community. In 2015, our community is so lively that we have 6-8 good socials a month and some great nightclub experiences. Combine this with an opportunity to perform and/or see performances at a variety of locations and Chicago undoubtedly has one of the best Latin dance communities in the country.

We all provide our own value and we all support in our way. If you don’t see me out every night of the week is simply because I seek balance in my personal life. To go everywhere all the time is almost another full-time job. I did my run of going out all the time and now I contribute in another way which is gratifying for me, and hopefully, my students as well. That said, I’m happy for the success of my peers and thrilled our dance family has places to go, people to see, and a whole lot of things to do.

What do you guys think? If you enjoyed this post, please like and share and most importantly comment! Don’t be a lurker, be a participant!

To your dancing…