Swing Dancing, the Olympics, and Doctor Who

Not having a TV, Susanne and I haven’t had many opportunities to watch the Olympics, but that hasn’t stopped us from following the results online, reading articles, looking through pictures and some limited videos, and whatever else we can find. Looking at those chiseled athletes and what they have trained themselves to do is inspiring. I often have to remind myself that one reason I don’t have washboard abs like an olympic athlete is because that’s not my job. I don’t train my body for hours every day, at least not for a sport. As a musician, I do spend at minimum of an hour playing every day, usually more. I have amazing definition in my forearms, for what it’s worth.

In the dance world, we now have “olympic athletes,” professionals whose job it is to be amazing. They inspire us, teach us, and push the dance. But I also have to be honest with myself that that won’t ever be me. Not because I lack the ability, but because dancing is my very passionate hobby and not my job. I love it and work at it, but I don’t train for hours every day. So I hover in the area of a semi-pro, good enough and knowledgable enough to teach and share my love, but not so much as to make a full-time living doing that. And I’m not the norm. For most people, it will just remain a habit.

Which brings me to Doctor Who. I recently started watching the new series as a way of building up my geek credentials among my many TARDIS obsessed friends. I adore the ongoing theme of the ordinary, every day, simple, every-man being of the utmost importance in the universe, especially in the midst of the insanity that the Doctor and his companion find themselves in. In one episode, the Doctor says, “There’s a man alive in the world who wasn’t alive before. An ordinary man: that’s the most important thing in creation. The whole world’s different because he’s alive!”

For a while in Baltimore, Dory Segev would give a shout out to a “Person of the Week.” I’m sure it actually had a more colorful title than that, but the point is that each week he would call out someone from the scene for being awesome, for volunteering, for driving a long distance to be there every week, for being nice to beginners… something. Then, we’d include them in the jam with birthday people and people from out of town.

The ordinary man. The most important thing in creation. These are the people that build and sustain our communities in so many ways. They are the ones that build the platform that our olympians stand on. We need those olympians, too. We need them to push the dance, to push us, and to inspire us. And we need all those beautiful, brilliant, ordinary people who make this world dance.

Skyway Ballroom on the roof of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

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