Put That D%#@ Camera Down!

I’m sorry for losing my temper.  That normally doesn’t happen, but Swing Scene… we need to talk.

While teaching at a large Lindy event last month I had to apologize to a class for yelling at them because two different students were filming Evita and me during class.  Rather, I chose to apologize because for me, losing one’s cool is not professional, and I didn’t feel good for having done so. But let me be clear. I don’t regret content of my message, just how it was delivered.

Despising the Rock Stars We Create:

I wonder at what point it became acceptable to casually whip out your camera to film others without their consent? When does the student cross the line to become the consumer, where filming teachers automatically comes with the price of admission?  I can’t begin to tell you how invasive it feels to have someone take their camera (usually a smart phone) and point it at you, especially when they’ve not even asked you first?  You see, we talk about the deplorable “Rock Star” mentality that some instructors possess, but what should we expect when we treat teachers as such. It might be hyperbole to say that students become the paparazzi worthy of an episode of TMZ, but it can feel that invasive, all the same, and I’d suggest that it perpetuates this culture of rock stardom.

Sustainable Economies:

Perhaps our quaint swing subculture is simply a microcosm of the greater society of which we are all apart, in as much as we are increasingly detached from each other and more out for our own self-interests. What I mean is that people talk about how giving and wonderful this community is yet, we seem to take from each other in a transactional way that often leaves me feeling more disenchanted with it all. There have been numerous times at Herräng, according to many the standard bearer of Lindy Hop dance camps, where, as Evita and I are finishing a class, people from outside the “classroom” (which is actually an over-sized tent) will run to the open flaps, whip out their cameras and begin filming! Along with being rude and disrespectful to the teachers, it’s also disrespectful to the students who paid for that class with their time, energy and actual money. I’d also argue that it’s stealing from the event organizers who are paying those teachers to teach that class, yet getting no compensation from the pilfering passersby. Because if everyone just ran up at the end of class to film, then why should anyone be foolish enough to pay for it? Further, if that class content were to end up on YouTube for everyone to access, then why would students need to attend future workshops when the material is available for free?

The Way We Were:

At the risk of sounding dated and curmudgeonly, I’ll say, “in my day, we weren’t allowed to film teachers during or after class.” In fact, most (if not none) of them didn’t even offer class recaps, so at the end of a class there was a scramble to find a couple (hopefully one better than you and your partner) who would be willing to dance the sequence for you while hold your camcorder as steady as possible.  If you weren’t fortunate enough to own a camcorder, then you’d scrawl the most important notes, tips and pointers that you could remember regarding the gold nuggets of wisdom and inspiration that the teachers had divulged. As for all that, I’m not suggesting that we became better faster, but I believe that we developed a stronger sense of ownership over our education. And I’ll also suggest that with all of our technological advancements, students also haven’t gotten much better faster, and if anything, they have just plateaued better faster.

So What?

Now, I used Herräng as an example, but it certainly isn’t the only place where this has happened to us, and I’m not putting the blame solely on organizers to enforce filming policies. I think clear boundaries should be set from the top and then adhered to by the teachers and students so that expectations can be managed. If you’re an instructor in your local scene, teach your students about etiquette, and not just in your classroom, but also when they visit other scenes and bigger events. As a student, if you’re that worried about filming the class content, approach the teacher before the class to clarify their policies.

As adults, I would love to see us all use our words and ask teachers if it’s alright to film. But again, think about other ways in which you can be an active, present learner while you’re in the classroom instead of just getting that souvenir at the end of class. I think people’s attention spans are shorter now, and students can struggle to stay present and engaged for even an hour-long class. I’d recommend buying a dance journal/diary and bringing it with you to each class.  Actively taking notes while the teacher is talking keeps you engaged in the learning process, and at the very least, you’ll have more space on your phone for cat videos and selfies.


What do you think? Are teachers entitled to dictate how their image is captured or has our cultured progressed to a point where this isn’t an issue?  Let me know what you think in the comments section below.



36 thoughts on “Put That D%#@ Camera Down!”

  1. The first time I ever filmed after a class was at my first international workshop weekend. The teachers declared at the end of their class that now was the time to film and other students whipped out their smartphones. So did I. It was more mimicking others behaviour than anything. To this day, I have never re-watched any of those video’s. I think it would help to ask students to watch the re-run of the class actively first. Tell them you’ll show it again for filming after, should they still desire so. Maybe it inspires people to not film so much anymore?
    As for me, I now have a journal to remind me of the concepts, rhythms and patterns that I learned. I believe that my job (in information visualisation) helps me to jot down the essentials of a class in such a way that I can understand the rhythm and steps that went with it. This is a skill that I’d love to teach to more people, as it’s so much more inspiring to look back at those than to see a video of a move that you no longer remember how to do.

  2. Good points, well made. Filming after a lesson has become the norm and I’ve heard other dancers question more than once why, because they never actually review what they film…… (I do review mine, and delete those i find have lost any value).

    It kind of reminds me of my daughter-in-law’s recent experience. As a police officer, working alone, she was wrestling an “alleged” shoplifter who was resisting arrest. No one stepped forward to help her; she realised that she & the criminal were surrounded by a circle of onlookers FILMING them….

    I’ve resurected my dance notebook and, whikst still filming sometimes, i use that to note down the key points I take away from a lesson. The cameea vid then backs that up for me. The act of writing reinforces learning, whereas the scramble to film everything, including the heads & ears in front of me, can miss out details.

  3. Dear Michael and Evita,

    thanks for naming the “dilemma”… you speak about tendencies that I observe since a while and that – unfortunally – give an uncomfortable taste in some parts of the Swing Dancing scene nowadays, even here in Berlin.

    I see many young people (not only dancers) who are not able to enjoy the moment, concentrate on what a teacher / singer / musician / DJ is offereing to them right at the moment. They seem to watch the world through an iPhone screen – so for this “mentality”, it obviously seems necessary and normal to film everything that later might be “interesting”, “useable” or “fun”.

    In my opinion, not concentrating on the moment means not being able to enjoy and to appreciate what somebody else offers.

    Most funny: some guys started yelling at me when I told them there was no playlist of the music I was DJing before. I am a shellac DJ, since decades I work with old Victrola records (78s) in an analogue way. So there is no playlist… and if there were, would I be willing to share it like this, just for “fun”, like in a self-service store?

    We do a serious work of entertaining and teaching, we show “secrets”, we get hired for an event, we prepare ourselves for this certain event, then we react spontaneously to a crowd, to the needs, to changing ambiences, to moods, to requests. We are doing these jobs that we really love, and we love sharing our experiences with others.

    But: in general appreciation is appreciated! Appreciation shows a respect.

    Filming for “rebuilding” later, for “reproducing the moment”, means to ignore the work of somebody who was preparing him- / herself for guests, students, a crowd.

    Showing a little appreaciation, giving a little efford, a smile and a friendly word and asking if it would be okay to film, to enjoy, to share… makes it easier to enjoy giving and sharing.

    Do not claim, but earn respect! By showing your respect and being friendly, certainly everybody will love supporting you. Just ask me about the tune I just was playing, and I will gladly give you all information from the record label (and even more). I think I speak for many of us DJs when telling that we do not like a cellphone (we do not see an individual, but just a phone, as you did not introduce yourself) taking a “snapshot” of our record, our equipment, our screen (if we work with a laptop).

    Right now I am looking forward to DJing many more nights for lovely dancers, having nice and smart talks about music, seeing many more beautiful photos of many more great events to come, making fantastic new memories and great new friends.

    All best, Stephan in Berlin (aka DJ Wuthe am “Grammophon”)

  4. I totally understand where you are coming from. Permission should always be asked prior to filming and before class. I personally love the recap as I am older and it helps me to review when I am at home or not so tired! I do however think the teachers should clearly tell all in the class the film recap is not to be shared on social media of any kind and kept as much as possible within the group that has paid for that class.

    Hope to see you both on the dance floor one day soon!

  5. I never film without advance permission. As for reviewing after – yes, oh good heavens yes! I can’t dedicate hours a day to dance — I get 1 evening a week for a class or two, 1 day mid-week to just dance, and if I’m really lucky (and my health cooperates) I might be able to get out 1 night on the weekend for an event. I can’t travel to out-of-town events. This is it.

    Those recap videos are invaluable to me, and I’m humbly grateful to have them. Sylvia Sykes sessions this past July at a fantastic weekend of workshops has been watched so many times, I’ve lost count. In addition that woman give GREAT hugs!

  6. Innovative technologies are tools. With each new innovation, society needs time to adjust and learn the proper etiquette for utilizing said technology. Remember how poorly people behaved when Google Glass first appeared, filming everything in sight? Walk it back to the first real boom of cellphones 15 or so years ago and think about how obnoxiously people would shout into their phones in public. Then think about the way your parents and older relatives obsessively clogged your inbox with forwarded jokes when they first opened an email account. It just takes time for society to adapt and establish ground rules. Good on you for initiating this conversation.

    That said, I firmly disagree with banning this innovative technology (the smartphone video recorder), and it’s perhaps a bit too tempting to play the “back in my day” card because you learned to dance without the advantage of this technology. Back in Frankie’s day, people weren’t commonly taking classes, and they didn’t even use counts. Now we utilize classes and counts as innovative tools that have helped us improve our dancing. Videos of classes can be very helpful to jog the memory (I often watch videos before I go to a dance to remind myself of the things I’ve been taught), if not to help clarify the lesson following class. After all, learning often has to extend beyond the 55-75 minute classroom lesson. I can write down all of the notes in the world, but that won’t be a substitute for a video of the instructor executing the moves correctly. If you want your students to practice and keep learning on their own, and I have absolutely no doubt that you do, I would think you would want them to have a correct example to follow outside the classroom.

    I think the importance of video may be a tad overblown. If you could learn everything that’s taught in a 55-75 minute lesson by watching a 90 second video recap, why would anyone take classes? Video is a tool, but it’s no substitute for the actual lesson. You’re not going to find subtleties or detailed instruction inside a video recap. Some instructors film their own recap after class and post it online for their students. Obviously, they’re not concerned about anyone stealing their thunder and avoiding paying for class.

    Of course, people need to respect the instructor’s wishes. If they don’t want the video posted online, why would you do it? If you’re not in the class, what gives you the right to film it? A little common sense goes a long way, although a little common sense is often hard to find in this community.

    • Thanks for your wisdom and insight, and you know I love that I can count on you for a thoughtful counterpoint. I also agree with what you’ve said here, and I guess my post is part realistic and part idealistic. What I’ve never suggested is the banning of phones/cameras in the class room, and as this website hopefully demonstrates, Evita and I are embracing this new-fangled thing called video 🙂

      Realistically speaking, technology has changed and despite my personal feelings about those changes, it’s happening. And as you’ve said, society eventually learns how to incorporate those changes into their lives. Sometimes that acclimation is easy and sometimes it’s a little bumpy. But at the core of my argument is the idea that filming is not a Right students have, but a privileged. I’ve noticed more entitlement or plain lack of awareness in our students such that they’ll just begin filming whenever and wherever. If nothing else, I hope people at least stop and think before they act when wanting to capture other people on film at dance events.

      Idealistically, I’d hope people gain a bit more empathy with respect to instructor, event organizers and fellow students, as it relates to this issue. I think often times people don’t realize the cost of filming others as it relates to a bigger picture. And maybe you’re right that invoking the “in my day..” speech doesn’t hold that much water, but I offer it as a counter point to the argument that students can’t retain class material for longer than 30 minutes, and therefore they NEED it for reference. You’re right, in Frankie’s day they obviously didn’t film each other or use that as reference. Gregory Hines talked about how he and his brother would go the Apollo and watch acts multiple times to get steps and inspiration. Could I be inflammatory in suggesting suggesting that even with all of our fancy counts, visuals websites and the like we’re not better than the dancers from the swing era. Further, we might be less self-sustaining than those dancers because we rely so heavily on those tools.

      Ultimately, I hear what you and many in our community say they need, and we’ve certainly acquiesced to many of those demands. But at a certain point, boundaries must be clearly stated, and at the moment, we all have different standards of what is acceptable. Moreover, etiquette is something that must be continually taught and relearned due to the high turnover of students in our scene.

      As always, great to hear from you, and I look forward to sharing a pint nip of something brewed/distilled with you in the near future.

      • I hear you, and I think announcing your rules at the top of class is the way to go. A few years ago, I went to an event that had a stated “no video” policy, although a few instructors were willing to allow it. Two years later, everyone had a smartphone, and the rules had completely changed. However, people started filming at random points during the class, so the instructors asked everyone to hold off on filming until they did a video recap at the end. After that, there weren’t any issues.

        Unfortunately, as you said, people need to be trained.

        I’ll meet you for that drink in Budapest. You’ll recognize me as the guy with a GoPro strapped to his forehead. I’m going to sell a downloadable video of my P.O.V. experience, and people are gonna love the scene I film of you eating goulash.

  7. This dilemma is a combination of swing dance becoming more and more popular at the same time as the smartphone becoming a staple of everyday life. Like me at the beginning, I simply did not know the rules. You’ll keep running into this innocent ignorance as more numerous and younger audiences come.

    In my profession, when we conduct a presentation, it’s second nature for us to announce at the beginning, “Please hold all questions until the end.” Likewise in your predicament, the simplest solution would be to make a similar quick announcement at the beginning of class.

    If you need a strict “no filming whatsoever” policy, then you’d have to take it a step further and make it clear on the website, registration, e-mails, etc.

  8. Hello Michael.
    I agree on a lot of what you say! 🙂

    The only part I don’t agree is that one:
    “Because if everyone just ran up at the end of class to film, then why should anyone be foolish enough to pay for it? Further, if that class content were to end up on YouTube for everyone to access, then why would students need to attend future workshops when the material is available for free?”

    .. .Because most of the students that do the class don’t pay to know that new fancy move of yours.
    They pay for your experience, your pedagogy the opportunity to maybe try it with you, and everything that will never make it to the video.
    A good class content is way more than just the sum of it’s material.
    It’s the process, the way you build the learning experience and how you share the knowledge. It’s also the funny joke you made or that crazy build up.
    The video of the content of your class, filmed at the end may be shared with a ton of person, but it will never equal the actual class.
    The actual content probably already exists somewhere in fact, and it’s not important. It’s you, teaching the class, that have the most value!
    …and that’s why even if every lindy move that existed would be in a video, most students would still pay for a class with you! 🙂

    (And I as I said in the beginning I agree about politeness and that it’s a privilege to film and not a right part, etc .)

  9. Filming without consent = absolutely not okay.

    Personally, I also don’t like it when some events have camera operators going around the dance floor and filming hours of footage… I’m relaxed, enjoying my dance, and suddenly there’s bright lights and a camera right next to me (often accompanied by someone who does not seem to understand how couples move on the dance floor).
    Sure, I get why you would want to film it, and I enjoy watching montages from events. But I think some boundaries are needed.

    Filming during class = absolutely ridiculous… I’d very much agree that those who would do so are actually learning less.

    Video recaps = yes, please, I find them extremely useful. I take some notes after classes but sometimes it’s too late. And even when rewatching video recaps sometimes it’s difficult to reproduce everything you did in class just a few weeks ago. So it’s not going to stop me from attending classes.
    I can understand the point of asking people not to share them with anyone not present in class. Since most people don’t rewatch the videos they’ve taken, it’s safe to assume that even less would watch the videos someone else gave them. However, the small group who would watch it are likely good enough to look for small details in the dancing of those particular instructors. For some reason this bugs me; I guess I think that sharing this uniqueness is not part of the deal. But perhaps I’m overthinking it.

  10. I can’t imagine how anyone can believe that filming the actual class is OK. If I’m ever unlucky enough to witness you having to tell anyone not to then I’m definitely on your side, as I’m sure most of the class will be. No need for apologies. While phones may now be smart, that gives people more stupid ways to use them.

    I would like to say thank you for the effort you put into your recaps. I know not everyone watches them, I do and not every teacher does such a great job of them. When I started dancing I tried notes, to be honest they didn’t really work for me as a memory jogger. As I’ve become more experienced I’ve discovered I’m a visual learner. I’m watching the video to recall exactly how you’re using your body alignment to create the lead. I think people should try both though as we don’t all learn in the same way.

    Don’t worry I definitely won’t film you in the bar in Edinburgh, see you there.

  11. Your just a crybaby mate.. when your not famous your all happy to have pics taken and shared by us photographers who never charge you a fee.. but one day your head gets too big and you think you have some super secret skill that may be stolen.. geez people want to learn and keen to remember lesson – they are not usually wanting to sell your image for profit .. so next time rather than being a dick you can just ask people not to film because your too much of famous fucking superstar …

    Sorry some of us less skilled people need video to be able to remember the lesson…

    • Darren, just some thoughts from the perspective of a non-famous dancer and organizer: Yes, it’s nice to have dance pictures that show yourself having a good time at a party and by attending an event we more or less explicitly, depending on the event’s policy, give our permission to have our picture taken and published. Plus, the organization pays for the photographers’ work. But just because I like party pictures, I don’t necessarily want a photographer to come to class and take photos. It can be a distraction for us students as well and tbh we’re just not always our most confident self when we’re struggling with a new move. A truly professional photographer/organizer knows that a dance class needs to be a safe space and asks before taking pictures of the students during class. Why should we treat teachers any differently?
      I personally rely on video as well, because I am an audio/visual learner and as someone who has learned mostly from social dancing, I sometimes lack the vocabulary to take useful class notes. So, THANK YOU, Michael&Evita and all of the other teachers who offer high quality recap videos. This is an added bonus and not something we should take for granted. As a teacher myself (high school and university), I can only imagine how awkward and distracting it would be if a student started filming my lesson without asking. Also, while you’re filming, you miss the chance to concentrate on the class and interact with the people around you, so do you really benefit from that video? If you want a visual memory, just ask friendly and I guess most teachers will gladly do a recap and no one will “be a dick” about it.
      That said…calling people all kinds of names because they have different opinions? Seriously, Darren?

      To Michael: When I took a class with you and Evita (at the Chase festival in Germany), I was struggling with a move, you danced it with me ONCE and gave me all the input I needed at this specific moment. I was pretty impressed with how fast it worked out after getting that personal feedback. No video could have achieved this. Thanks for being an amazing teacher!

  12. This was such a good post that I got completely engrossed in it and missed my Tube stop!

    I completely agree with what you say. I was at the Lindy Turn that you and Evita taught in Henley last November and I remember you saying about keeping a notebook. I’ve found this much more effective than videos, as I can look back through it and revisit things I want to work on, or compare/contrast themes and similar teaching threads, particularly when it’s the same thing being taught but from different perspectives. That said, videos are useful for some – we all learn in different ways – but it should *always* be the case that they’re only filmed if and when the teachers are happy to be filmed.

    Thank you for an excellent post!

  13. I agree with Brian on this one. Interestingly, almost the exact same question/complaint was posed in a completely different aspect of life, filming the instructor during a complementary therapy class. And exactly the same comments were received as for this forum. Fundamentally, you have to decide what it is that you’re objecting to? Is it the tool used to learn, or is it the behaviour of the person using the tool? If it’s the former, the only person who knows how they learn is the person, not you or me, why should we restrict the tools they want to use to learn? Yes, I believe it’s better to be in the moment and watch and experience rather than record because it’s a physical thing I’m learning but should I impose that on someone that learns in a different way? The proof is in the pudding as the saying goes, if they end up dancing better than me then I might just try out their tool.

    If it’s the behaviour, I.e. the way in which they use the tool, then set the rules on how it is used. But first, ask yourself, are there different rules for different tool usage, and if so why is that? Is it ok for someone to write notes in the middle of the class, if so why? Is it ok for someone to type notes into their laptop? Is it ok to speak notes into a tape cassette (showing my age here!)? When does it stop being ok?

    Lastly, the only person who can change how you feel is yourself. I used to allow myself to get distracted by those filming during class but now I don’t because I decided that I was stopping myself learning and concentrating. Too bad if those who film are using a poor learning tool, I think 🙂 but if I like dancing with them then I might change my mind about the tool but I won’t use it myself…maybe, however, if they block my view, stop me from being able to hear…I’ll ask them to move or be quiet, or type more quietly, or stop rustling their notebook, or move myself …just like in the old days.

    But as teachers, set the rules at the beginning of class and stick to all of them.

  14. You know when you are good at your job. when this happens! Putting a positive slant on an intense blog. Happy Wednesday!

  15. I’m all for filming the recap after class and have found it more valuable than written stuff which I can’t decipher later. But filming during class or filming a class you weren’t in is an absolute no-no and super disrespectful. If the teachers don’t offer the opportunity to film after a class, I usually ask. Very occasionaly some say no which is a bummer because it’s hard to remember everything you learnt at a workshop and even harder trying to explain it to a dance partner that wasn’t present and I probably wouldn’t attend their workshops again.

    I think the organisers should make clear to participants that there will or will not be the option to film the class recap and filming at any other time is not allowed as a sign of respect to teachers and students.

    Maybe also as teachers we need to make clear at the start of the class that there will be an opportunity to film at the end but until then please keep your filming devices in your bag or you will be asked to leave the class.

    I like looking at class recaps on youtube more than the teachers ability to win comps. When hiring teachers for my events, if I am unfamiliar with their style I will look up workshops on youtube. If I can’t find any I usually don’t hire them. Likewise if I’m deciding whether or not to spend money to learn from them.

    Seeing workshop recaps on youtube does not make me think oh I can get it here why pay, quite the opposite it makes me want to learn from them more…if the content and delivery is good 😆

    P.s I have been to your workshops are you guys are the bees knees. Loved them and love the recaps I have of them. They are super useful.

  16. Thanks a lot for post, and making your opinion explicit, and for inviting a discussion.

    I can see how filming during class is to invasive, and will surely change the way the class is thought. But this is differenct from filming the recap at the end of the class. And it is again different from publishing the video on youtube etc.

    From my point of view as a student I have a clear expectation that I can film the recap at the end of the class – it a way of taking electronic notes. Personally, I wouldn’t like to pay for a class where I can’t film the recap. This doesn’t mean I am entitled to publish the videos online.

    In my opinion your comparison to paparazzi goes also a bit to far. A paparazzi violates the expected privacy of somebody. Nude pictures from the private yacht on the sea, etc. I think there is much less expectation of privacy if somebody is teaching publicly in front of a (huge) group of people, where the crowd is even paying for the appearance.

    You also mention Herräng. My experience from some years ago: while there was a “no filming in the camp” policy was in place, there was an official camera guy running around, taking shots for film to be sold on the official DVD later on. The camera was present even during breakfast. Are those double standards? Was I asked if this would be ok? Being filmed for commercial purposes while having breakfast looks quite a bit more like the papparazi behaviour you mention above in your post.
    (There was a chat with the organizers later on, and “my” issue was nicely solved).

    What I take from your post is that a bit of learning is required on all sites, and that obviously people are acting with different sets of expectations. And from my point of view the first step is to make those expectations explicit, ideally way before a conflict can occour.
    In regards to filming one step would be to state a clear policy before anyone signs up for an event – that way teachers can decide if they want to teach under that policy, students can choose if they want to sign up, and I don’t need to worry about spilling milk during the breakfast 🙂

  17. It’s a fair point that permission should be sought to film or take pictures, I think that’s a good policy generally. It might be standard to recap at the end, but it’s still rude to whip out a camera before the teachers say so.

    However I have come to doubt this idea that students leaking a class summary on YouTube would have the negative effects people claim – i.e. that people won’t need or want to come to classes anymore. In fact I think the opposite is more likely. I don’t do it myself, and I don’t search for them online, but I do think people are missing a trick here…

    First of all, class summaries are often lacking in actual instruction and therefore are useless as a leaning tool. On the rare occasions that teachers do a real summary, with tips and important points to remember, I find that much more useful 3 months down the line when I’ve gone back to it and can’t remember the details. Being able to watch a video of it with commentary does a better job of bringing back the knowledge than reading notes I’ve taken. But most of the time it’s just a demonstration of the moves, and if I’d not been to the workshop I would not learn a thing from watching it.. So at the moment there’s very little to dissuade people from coming to a class.

    But not only is it unlikely to be harming class attendance, there’s a huge lost opportunity here. There’s a line of thinking in marketing that to get more customers you give away more of your content. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it can be seen in action all the time with things like blogging. People write their best content and give it away for free, in order to build up a following (potential customer base) to whom they can later sell great products relating to their interests. The same could be applied here if teachers took the opportunity to use the ubiquitous class recaps to promote themselves. Obviously the key would be to give away a *small* amount of their best content, and let the students do the promoting for you. Not only would it give teachers (and the dance in general) more exposure, it would showcase their skills and make people even more likely to want to book them for a lesson, invite them to teach at their event, or go to Herräng because they will be teaching.

    The idea isn’t to just film the whole class and release it for free, that would absolutely the counterproductive. There would be no product to sell in that case. But a short summary, with good tips and some personality gives people a little taster and makes them want more. It’s the most common marketing tactic in use online at the moment. It’s even more effective when there is an online product for sale since you can use the promo – I mean recap – to lead people to that immediately, as well as the real life classes or events.

    I can’t be the only one who’s thought of this… I guarantee that someone in a position to take advantage of it will do so eventually, and their results will be awesome, I’m sure of it. But once someone does it, the landscape is changed for everyone else. Once someone does it, others will follow, and soon it would be the norm. Personally I think it’s inevitable. Video learning is on the rise, as is video advertising, it’s bound to happen in the swing community at some point, and it’s a gap that no one’s yet filling.

    I also think it’s a good thing that will result in more people learning about swing dancing, more people being inspired to go to workshops, and more online resources for decent dance tuition. Far from stopping people from going to a class, it’s going to encourage it.

    What do you reckon?

    • I completely agree with you. To me it’s very helpful to have tips in my recap than the move itself. It helps me months later and it tells me a lot of the teacher’s philosophy and methodology in teaching which cannot only be with a focus in marketing though I deeply understand it. But teaching is making someone improve and notes, through whatever device these may be taken, are part of the learning/teaching process. I really appreciate teachers that have this in mind when doing the recap for students and I like going to events where I can learn from them. Thanks for the passion you put in what you do, John. 😊

  18. I’ve been guilty of filming during class, but only due to ignorance. I appreciate your comment that our local instructors can raise awareness, and obviate this issue. As for the value to recaps…. I need them intellectually and emotionally! I’m a high school teacher, and if I taught a lesson where kids took no notes, I would expect their retention to be about 10% three days later. What a waste! Emotionally, I couldn’t focus on the content of your lessons if I felt I had to jot notes or worry how I’d recall your content. That’s the baby in me, but it’s also the frugal consumer hoping to get his money’s worth. If I retain nothing, then I just ate junk food: delicious for moments, and then down the crapper. Intellectually, I have a tool that speaks thousands of words to me months and years later. Yes, 4.3 months have elapsed since I last saw/videod you, but tonight I’m back, and it’s your plug for your site that got me here. 😉 Thank you!!!

  19. Hi Michael and Evita and thanks for ALL the great teaching you both do! I know this was an older post but one thing I find true that didn’t get mentioned above – having a video re-cap is really helpful for working on things with my teachers back home. When there is a really interesting move or variation we’ll take it apart – sometimes make it into a different variation – sometime break it down and work on it as it was taught in a class at an out-of-town event. I am not a great visual learner so having more video would not help – and following great teachers around the world is not really an option! But having an example of something I want to try to learn well and be able to incorporate into social dancing is invaluable.

  20. I’ve just got round to listening to Michael’s podcast on this topic – I think I agree with almost everything.

    Another element to this, though, is that quite a lot of teachers/organisers seem to be in the habit of filming students in class, or social dancing, and sharing the footage online as away of promoting their event and/or providing a recap. It really winds me up when they do this without seeking students’ permission, or even letting them know it’s happening. I think it’s pretty rude and means they lose the moral high ground to ever complain if filming is happening the other way round.

    • I agree that filming others regardless of position, status, title, etc. is inappropriate. If this has happened to you, have you said anything to the instructor/organizer? I’m curious to know how that would be received.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, and please take care.

      • Hey! A month or so later, this happened again at an event and I have followed up with the organisers. I’m fairly happy with their response although it’s not quite the “we’ll make sure this never happens again” I might have hoped for!

        I was also recently at a workshop where the instructor very firmly, but nicely, told someone to stop filming during the workshop. Kudos to him!

        • I think it’s very helpful that you made your wishes known to the organizers, though it’s always difficult to guarantee that something will “never happen again.” (but I appreciate the conviction ;-))

          That’s great that that teacher was able to articulate their wishes in a clear yet polite manner.

  21. Hi Michael,
    Like the reader above, I listened to your podcast on this topic today. I agree with you 100% that the only appropriate time to record during a class is the recap and then only if you took the class.

    In a social dance setting, however, I disagree that it is inherently disrespectful. I think it matters why it is being done and what is done with the recording afterward. My wife and I live in a city where there is a teeny tiny swing dance scene. To be exposed to advanced level swing we must drive 8 hours, which we do 4 to 6 times a year. I will often record bits of the social dances so that my wife and I can look at stuff and talk about our experiences on the social dance floor in that scene and try to figure out new shapes and stylings, see how they are doing things differently than we do, build questions for private lessons, or see if we can figure out a move that my wife was led in that she liked. Our intent is to improve our dance and to capitalize on our brief experience in a richer dance scene than ours.

    We faithfully review class video recaps and then work through the shapes ourselves, making our own detailed notes (referring back to our class notes) and then video ourselves doing those shapes and attaching our own video to our notes.

    • Hi Lyndon,
      Thanks for the comment. When you say you record bits of social dancing, are you filming yourself or others? If it’s just you and your wife (or any other partner who’s ok with it) then that makes sense, and I don’t think my issue is with that. Where I take issue with filming at social dances is when I’ve been filmed without my consent, and the times when it has happened have been pretty flagrant, where the person was filming me and my partner (not necessarily Evita). I get it. I’m not ignorant as to the fact that they would want the footage, but as I think I said in the original post, that’s not fair to my partner, for sure. Even if I wear the hat of “public figure,” my partner didn’t sign up for being filmed during a social dance.

      Full disclosure and consent is all I’m advocating for, but I understand that everyone’s situation is different, and I understand that potentially in your circles, this probably isn’t that big of a deal. I’m definitely writing as an international instructor who often gets treated differently. I specifically HATE being treated like a “rock star.” I also find extremely distasteful the ego that some of our peers possess that allows them to excuse bad behavior by students toward them in the name of adoration, and I don’t like being treated like a commodity where anything goes. We give so much to students in and out of the classroom, but we have to draw the line somewhere. I don’t owe people unfettered access to me and my likeness, without at least a say so. That’s what this part of my post is in response to, and I know most other “punters” don’t have the same concerns, and that’s ok. But I offer this as food for thought for people out there who haven’t considered the ramifications of that behavior.

  22. As someone just starting out, the first thing that I did was search out Lindy Hop videos on YouTube. Of course there are many many teacher recaps posted, but to be honest, after viewing a few I found that at most it may may have made me interested in a particular teacher or subject, but those quick recaps are absolutely no replacement for the progression of learning that takes place in an actual lesson or in a well-developed series of instruction videos. It’s the difference between inspiration and education. Maybe more advanced dancers can pick up steps and technique from class recaps — I’m not there yet. And with more consideration I feel that it does an injustice to the teachers who depend on paying students for their survival. We owe anyone we are filming with specificity (as opposed to filming, say a high school football game), the courtesy of at minimum asking permission if it hasn’t been explicitly granted in advance. And I think if the intent is to post publicly, that needs to be made very clear. Instructors and event organizers should be very clear about their policies in this regard, and that will remove doubt for those who haven’t given it much thought.

    I also think from a personal level that the omni-present phone in the face removes us from being in the moment and experiencing life first hand. One of the things I find attractive about this community is that it revives a time and spirit where being social meant interacting with people rather than technology. I for one would like to embrace that concept. Just my .02.

    • Hi Ken,

      Thank you for your response, and I think we agree about when and where filming is appropriate. With every passing day, the balancing act that is privacy and consent within a digital “social” world is becoming more and more tenuous (or maybe I’m just too wrapped up in the Zuckerberg hearings at the moment). The irony of online learning is not lost on me, yet I know how crucial learning from VHS tapes and DVDs was for me. This is that same approach in today’s environment. Take care and thanks again for weighing in.

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