Can you believe it’s been one year since we released our first episode? To celebrate the occasion, we sat down to reflect upon our first year making this podcast. We discussed our favorite episodes, the challenges of making the show, and what we’ve learned (or not) from doing the show. We also looked ahead at the guests we hope to sit down with and the kinds of episodes we hope to bring you in the coming year. Thank you all for listening, sharing your thoughts, and joining in the conversation with us and others – we wouldn’t be here without you. Here’s to another year of connecting and conversing!
In the second part of our conversation about judging, we chat with Gary Jobst about his views of the World Swing Dance Council and how it has affected competitions. We also asked him what he thinks of the US Open, the changes they’re making to judging this year, and the general topic of judging swing content. He talked with us about his judge training program and how he plans to refocus it now that he has sole ownership. Gary and Deborah debate some of the practicalities of judging and we discuss the influence of the music on our dance. And then Gary shared some of his tips for competitors from his competitors’ workshop. Listen for some heated discussion, a plethora of ideas, and lots of wisdom and insights.
When it comes to competitions, the fate of contestants lies in the hands of the judges. And when it comes to judging, few are as experienced and qualified as Gary Jobst. In the first of this two-part episode, we sat down with Gary to discuss his own background and how he got started as a judge and chief judge. We asked him what he thinks makes for a good West Coast Swing judge and what the role of a chief judge is. He talked about how he works with event directors as a chief judge and how he likes to put together a judging panel. We then asked him about different competition formats, which ones he prefers, and how they can affect the outcomes of the competition. Take a listen and learn more from this knowledgable, experienced, and down-to-earth guy!
In the second part of our conversation with legendary swing dancer Sylvia Sykes, we chat with her about her influences, how Lindy and Balboa dancers honor their history, and how they view West Coast Swing. We asked her about the issues of cultural appropriation in the Lindy community and how the global expansion of West Coast Swing resembles that of Lindy Hop. She shared why she’s not in the West Coast Swing community anymore, her views of judging swing, and her thoughts on changing the name of Jack & Jill competitions. We also discussed the struggles of swing dances to “find their soul” and how other swing dances have resolved some of those issues. It’s a very real, very honest, and very educational conversation with one of the best!
If you want to get your facts straight, you go to the source. Well, in this episode, we spoke with living swing legend Sylvia Sykes to learn more about her experience, her perspective, and the history of swing. She chatted with us about how she got into swing dancing as a teenager, how she ended up on the television show Shebang, and how she met famous lindy hopper Dean Collins. She shared what if felt like to dance with Dean, what he taught her about swing and following, and what he was like as a person. We asked her about Balboa, SoCal Swing, and how West Coast Swing fits into the family of swing dances (or doesn’t). We discussed her partnership with Ramiro Gonzalez, their famous win at the US Open, and of course, we asked Sylvia what makes swing “swing.” There’s a lot to learn in this rich and informative discussion.
Dean Collins – Let’s Make Music (1941)
Maxie Dorf & Sylvia Sykes – Balboa
Willie Desatoff & Ann Mills – Balboa
Shirley Fietsem & Tom Boots
Ramiro Gonzalez & Sylvia Sykes – US Open 1995