How are you holding up these days? Staying socially distanced? Hands sufficiently sanitized? 

“[Humans] aren’t built for this! Being isolated; unsocial,” exclaimed a dear relative of mine. The act of having to quarantine, self-isolate, and/or socially distance ourselves from each other has proven detrimental for many of us to varying degrees of discomfort, shall we say.

As you can see from this fairly recent picture, I’ve not been too fussed about not having to get on a plane every other weekend, to stay in a hotel (if I’m lucky) or someone else’s home and socialize for upwards of 17 hours a day – 3 or 4 days straight. I actually welcome the reprieve from that aspect of my Lindy Hop life. But I’ve also discovered that not having a regular class or performance for which to prepare has left my motivation reserves depleted. And when I compound the general feelings of malaise that many of us may be feeling with the fact that I strongly tie my identity with dancing, feelings of guilt for not doing the thing that defines me start to creep in, too. But with no in-person swing events nor performances on the horizon, the thought of (or desire to) practice or create has sparsely crossed my mind.


So what’s missing?

Structure. Plain and simple. I just haven’t had structure in my daily life since this COVID world tour kicked off.  

Now, the insecure voice in my head tells me that you all have adjusted to this new normal without even blinking. And while I try to quell that most unhelpful voice, I think about what I can do to get out of this rut.

I think the first thing I’m going to do is identify a couple areas for improvement, goals, if you will, and then create a plan for working toward achieving them.

  • Improve strength and flexibility
  • Work on my solo dancing
  • Read more books
  • Learn a language (Polish)
  • Learn a new non-dancing related skill (video editing – Adobe suite)

There are five pretty clear goals with varying degrees of specificity, but these are things that I’ve attempted in fits and starts, yet with no real follow through or meaningful progress. I think back to my childhood, back to my school days, at how much I learned (though that is up for debate) with a structured day, comprising 6 to 7 subjects in a given academic year.

“Great Michael, but why do I care?”

That’s a great question, and one I ask myself all the time. But I would say there are a couple of reasons why you could care. Firstly, to let you know that even for a professional Lindy Hopper, it is a struggle to find motivation to do something as fun and amazing as dancing right now. So you’re not alone.

Another reason I share my motivational shortcomings with you is to create accountability. And for the sake of this post (and its intended audience – you), in creating accountability, I want to focus on the first three goals. Because maybe you, too, want to improve one or more of these things, but don’t have the intrinsic drive.  We could struggle together in our efforts to become better.

Read more books

On the improved literacy front, Evita and I already have a solution in place that has been really impactful in the form of a Book Club, where we discuss topics about Jazz dance and music, as well as social issues pertaining to BIPOC and ADOS. We host these discussions once a month and we highly encourage you to join us for these discussions because the more engagement we have, the stronger our community becomes.

Shake your tail feather

As for the two movement goals that I’ve put forth, I’ll be honest in saying that I’m a bit nervous about how to go about this, for fear of failure or ridicule. But my inclination is to create, track and document my dance/workout programs, and then share that via Instagram, with the intention of fostering dialogue with you and others about how you’re doing. It will definitely be a judgement-free zone!

So that’s it really. I’m not sure how this will go, but I hope that I’ll be able to dig myself out of this rut. I also hope that in some small way it helps you, should you also find yourself struggling to dance (or do anything, really). I know that I am my own harshest critic, and the last thing you need in times like these are voices reminding you of what you’re not. Keep an eye out for my progress on the Syncopated City Instagram page, and if you have any thoughts or suggestions, please share them.

Here’s to a better 2021, and to getting off our butts!

  – Michael