Category Archives: Pillow Talk

On Partnership

On October 13th, Susanne and I will celebrate our 5th anniversary, an event that has given me cause to reflect on my marriage and on the nature of partnership. Susanne and I try to be very honest that ours is not a perfect marriage, that we struggle and have conflict, and that we work really damn hard at our relationship. To be honest, we’ve had a couple of really rough years with a lot of hurt feelings, but we both wanted this relationship to work so bad that we put all our efforts into realizing our dreams. Now, I can say that, while not every day is perfect, we are living that dream together. And even on the days when imperfect rears its head, we live into our dream together. All of these times, good and bad, have enlightened me about the nature of partnerships of both the romantic and dance variety. As a tribute to my wife, here is some of the wisdom and insight I have gleaned from my five years with this wonderful woman:

1) See the best in your partner, even when they are at their worst.When I first met Susanne, I was in a very raw place; not exactly at my best. For whatever reason, she saw something worth investing in, saw the best in me. I try to live up to that vision, to be the best self that I find reflected in her eyes. And in return, I offer her my eyes through which to view her best self. Even in our darkest moments, I have never doubted how amazing she is.

2) Lead by example; change yourself and invite your partner to join you. Continue reading



Filed under C-Jam, Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk: Dance with the One that Brought You?

When we started dating, we’d both been dancing for years and had our own habits and preferences. Listen in on a little morning conversation as we discuss how we navigate social dances as a couple.

Susanne: Good morning darling.
Craig: Good morning. I’m coming out of my dance related stupor now, and am ready for another Pillow Talk. What’s on the agenda for today?
S: Last night I met a lovely couple and they were asking me how and why I started swing dancing. In the process of telling that story, I related how I met you and how I quickly realized that dating a fellow dancer might be a little bit harder than I had anticipated.
C: Why did you think dating a dancer would be a challenge?
S: Well, I didn’t think it would be a challenge. But it ended up being one–at least for me–because dancing was my little escape from the stresses of life, and when I met you, that meant grad school. It was difficult for me when I lost that space to blow off steam after we started dating.
C: Yeah, there were certainly some challenges for us in navigating dances in that first year or two together.
S: I definitely had an adjustment period where I was grappling to figure out how to rethink my dancing experience with you in it. Also, our relationship has grown so much stronger since the beginning and that makes it much easier.
C: It does. It also helps that we teach together now which means we usually talk about dance stuff once a week or so. But even without that, we worked out some agreements that help. Continue reading


Filed under Blues Dancing, lindy hop, Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk: Dancing the Blues

The dance floor allows us a place to process the stuff of life or to escape from it. Listen in on a little mid-day conversation as we mull over our need to dance the blues.

Susanne: Hi darling. Well, this has been quite the week, hasn’t it?
Craig: I think that’s an understatement.
S: I could really do with less drama in my life. Between my car battery dying Monday, the death of our beloved kitty, Solomon, Tuesday, and snow Wednesday…well, let’s just say I’m learning a lot about perspective.
C: Plus, you forgot about the damper pedal on the piano going wonky today.
S: Oh right. Needless to say, I’ve been feeling really blue and I know you have as well.
C: Yes…I miss my black fuzz-bucket.
S: Not to be Capt. Obvious, but loss is hard. When my childhood pets died, I had already moved out and it impacted me less.
C: Yeah, same for me.
S: Last night after that dance demo neither of us were in the mood to do, I got to thinking about dancing as a way to express and process emotions.
C: Yeah, that was certainly not the dance I wanted to be having. It was hard to suck in my sorrow, put on a smile, and be a show.
S: So true. But I did feel a little less glum afterwards. Being active and focusing on something else helped for a bit.
C: I think there’s two ways to go. One where you set aside your life to just dance. There’s a real sense of release and freedom in that.
S: Yes, and that idea has a place.
C: The other is where you bring everything you’re feeling on to the dance floor and dance it out.
S: Right. Because it is nice to talk about the romantic, sweet dances, but we’ve also had some angry dances. And some sad ones.
C: I know that I’ve certainly come at it from both angles. Dancing was a major escape from my frustrations with grad school, and I tend to express what I’m feeling in personal relationships on the dance floor. I know you’ve heard me say this before since it is one of my deeply held beliefs: good technique is always in service of great expression. Our suffering makes us human just as much as our joy. I think the more we can bring all of those experiences into our dancing, the more fully expressed me become. Continue reading

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Filed under Blues Dancing, lindy hop, Pillow Talk, Technique

Pillow Talk: Memorable Dances

Memorable dances or magic dances are a deep part of our lindy addiction. Listen in on a little late night conversation as we share our top three memorable dances and ponder the linking factors.

Susanne: Hello there, darling.
Craig: Hi love! Time for some more pillow talk?
S: Well, I’m in the mood. And I have words I haven’t yet used up today.
C: Well, I will help you meet your quota. Over the holidays, as we were driving up to Rehoboth Beach for some R&R, we started talking about memorable dances that we’ve had over the years.
S: Yes, certain dances are like snapshot memories for me. Sometimes because of who they were with, or because of the band, or because of a dance “breakthough.”
C: Yeah, bands are a big one for me, too. Sometimes, the right band with a room full of good people can make for an entirely memorable evening.
S: Memorable evenings and memorable dances are related but different, don’t you think?
C: Yes. For me, a memorable dance is usually a broad memory of a great event while a memorable dance is usually tied to stronger emotional responses and shared moments with a partner. Really, its that connection to a partner that stands out the most and makes a dance memorable.
S: The connection to another dancer is part of the lindy addiction for me.
C: So, what are your top three most memorable dances? Continue reading


Filed under lindy hop, Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk: Lindy and the Internet

When swing dancing was first being revived in the 1980s, the Internet was an infant in academia. Passionate lindy hop aficionados hunted for VHS tapes of old dance videos trying to steal moves, and local dances and lessons were listed in newspapers. Today, technology has vastly changed how we communicate, and the very nature of the swing dance community. Our new “Pillow Talk” feature seemed like the perfect vehicle to discuss it. Listen in on a little late night conversation.

Susanne: Hey babe.

Craig: Hi! So when did you start dancing?

S: I had a rough introduction in the late 1990s around the time of the infamous Gap ad, but I got a serious introduction in the early 2000s when I moved to Washington, D.C. What about you?

C: I started around the summer of ’99 after the Gap ad, too. My girlfriend at the time discovered Friday Night Swing up in Towson, Md. I don’t know if she heard about it on the Internet or from friends, but I know we used to go to their website to get info. Its still just as crappy as it was then, except back then, everybody’s web site was crappy.

S: Hahaha. So true. After I started taking lindy hop classes for a while, I identified all of the major promoters and bookmarked their websites. And then I learned about Jitterbuzz. Did you use that site any?

C: I used it a little bit, but honestly, I moved to Pittsburgh for grad school in fall of 2000. I would check Jitterbuzz when I was home for the holidays to find the best places to dance.

S: Right. It was a great event aggregator. But oh, the frames on that site. And the mysterious Asian symbols, which I never quite understood. At the time, it was and is a great service for the lindy community.

C: I had mixed feelings about the ranking system. Sometimes, it seemed sort of arbitrary. Top ten dances for the week based on. . .where the one guy who put it together wanted his friends to go.

S: I know you aren’t alone in that. It was one person’s opinion. Mostly I just used it to see what the options were. The one thing to watch out for was his strong anti-Boilermakers streak. Continue reading


Filed under community, lindy hop, Music, Pillow Talk, Video