Back To Basics

I love dancing! In fact, I have been a lindy hop and salsa instructor for over 25 years! WOW! It’s amazing how quickly time flies! When I’m teaching new students, many of them are rushing to get to the intermediate level. The intermediate dancers are rushing to get to the advanced level. What I find most interesting about the advanced dancers, is that they always return to the basics.

Within the BASICS are the fundamental foundations of our craft. Returning to our roots allows us to see how much we have grown. Every time I return to the basics, I learn something new. With a new perspective comes new enlightenment.

During Labor Day weekend, the swing dance community flocks to the LAX Marriott for a 4-day event called Camp Hollywood which hosts the west coast Jitterbug Championships. Camp Hollywood is like “band camp” or “summer camp” for swing dancers. We gather from all over the world and set up camp in the Marriott Hotel and poolside for the weekend.

Almost anywhere you look, there are people dancing and smiling and laughing. Fabulous instructors teach dance classes during the morning and afternoon. There are amazing musicians who fill the ballroom with live music in the evenings. There are DJs playing between band sets and late into the night until the sun rises the next day. When dance competitions are done, social dancing takes over the floor.

When the dancers aren’t on the dance floor or dancing in the hallway corridors, you can see them near the water cooler catching up with friends while they catch their breath. This is how I remember Camp Hollywood for the past 22 years. Covid-19 in 2020 made things a bit trickier this year.

There was apprehension about a dance event that thrives on MINIMAL social distance being relegated to the physically and socially distanced internet! I knew this would be an interesting experiment! Much to my jubilant surprise, year 23 of Camp Hollywood was a SUCCESS! Why and How? We went back to the basics.

For me and my friends, Camp Hollywood has always been about reconnecting with local and international friends while enjoying amazing music, listening to lectures from dance legends, and sharing and learning dance skills from dance instructors who have a new or interesting perspective to share.

Amazingly, through modern technology and apps like Twitch, Zoom, YouTube, and several more, we were able to CONNECT with each other from around the world through the screens on our laptops, tablets, and phones. There were public and private chat rooms where we could laugh and reminisce with friends as we watched the live internet stream of the Camp Hollywood event.

The ROOT of social events like this is CONNECTION. I felt incredibly connected to my dancer friends. Maybe it was the months of “training” on Zoom meetings during the past 5 months of Covid-19 life which made connecting through my screen feel normal. I came away from Camp Hollywood XXIII feeling grateful for all of the people who made the virtual dance camp a reality. I am super grateful for all of my friends who used their magic mirrors to share stories, libations, and quality time in a virtual chat room.

There is magic in learning to listen. There’s magic in learning to share. There is magic in helping out your friends and family when you can. Here’s my magical story… Through Zoom, I reconnected with a dear friend. I found out she sits on the board of directors for a dance hall which was established in 1876. When she moved to Wisconsin and discovered the dance hall, it was dilapidated and scheduled to be torn down to create a parking lot for a fast-food restaurant.

The community rallied to conserve the historical monument and a new board was created to restore the building and breathe new life into the dance hall. This dance hall has been a cash-based business for the past 144 years, but to bring in a new crowd of people, they knew accepting credit cards could help them create more cash flow for their newly renovated dance hall and event space.

I put on my VCCP business hat and proposed some simple ideas which would usher them into the digital age and save this beautiful business their hard-earned money over a merchant service processor like Square or Stripe. We ran the numbers and even with some extra “bells and whistles” included in various monthly and annual fees, their credit card processing rate was still significantly lower than the going rate from those alternative companies.

I created a proposal for them and if it is accepted by the board of directors at their next meeting, I will be serving a new client in Wisconsin and bringing a contactless solution to their business. As a bonus, I’m excited to help a dance friend who is bringing the joy of dancing to her local community.

Remember the basics! We are all human! Lend a hand when you can!