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Thread: What could kill MJ?

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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    What could kill MJ?

    From the "teaching / real dancing experience" thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by bigdjiver
    The Ceroc organisation may suffer in a depression, but all we need to MJ is a reasonably flat surface and some music.
    This got me wondering - what could change (socially, environmentally, technologically or otherwise) to kill of the MJ scene?

    I couldn't think of anything, but it sounded very much like an OCP (Outside Context Problem). I knew excessive reading of Excession would pay off someday

    Where:
    -----------------
    "An Outside Context Problem was the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop. The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you'd tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbours were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass... when suddenly this bristling lump of iron appears sailless and trailing steam in the bay and these guys carrying long funny-looking sticks come ashore and announce you've just been discovered, you're all subjects of the Emperor now, he's keen on presents called tax and these bright-eyed holy men would like a word with your priests."
    -----------------

    (And, yes, it's a proper term - it must be, it has a Wikipedia entry )

    So, any thoughts on what could kill the MJ dance scene off?

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    From the same place:

    Quote Originally Posted by doc martin
    people who are still dancing afterwards will look back and say ... "Isn't it a shame all those lovely ballroom dances died out? They were so pretty, but just too inflexible to survive."
    All well and good, but MJ dates from the 1980s, while Waltz dates from the 1780s. We're a couple of centuries early to brag about how much more survivable MJ is than ballroom.

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    Registered User David Franklin's Avatar
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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    From the "teaching / real dancing experience" thread:

    This got me wondering - what could change (socially, environmentally, technologically or otherwise) to kill of the MJ scene?
    A nearby gamma ray burster? Bird flu epidemic? Megatsunami? Of course, as you wander the urban wasteland, fighting off cannibal hordes while clutching a tin of spaghetti hoops and searching for a can-opener, the lack of MJ venues might not be top on your list of worries...

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    Registered User Lynn's Avatar
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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    Where:
    -----------------
    "An Outside Context Problem was the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop. The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you'd tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbours were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass... when suddenly this bristling lump of iron appears sailless and trailing steam in the bay and these guys carrying long funny-looking sticks come ashore and announce you've just been discovered, you're all subjects of the Emperor now, he's keen on presents called tax and these bright-eyed holy men would like a word with your priests."
    -----------------
    Sounds like the perfect setting for the development of a New Religious Movement - for example the Cargo Cults (thought things weren't that peaceful between neighbouring groups where the people thought that all the 'goods' ie cargo, had really been sent from the gods for them and had been intecepted by these strangers. They built runways for the planes and drilled with wooden guns...)

    See, this isn't me being on the forum wasting time, this is academic work.

    And I think Bruce's programme on Sunday showed that really dancing goes in cycles - 'new' dances are really variations on old ones, changed somehow to be relevant.

    (Hmm back to NRMs - 'revitalisation' movements to help restore the belief systems that existed prior to the dramatic cultural change.)

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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinHarper
    All well and good, but MJ dates from the 1980s, while Waltz dates from the 1780s. We're a couple of centuries early to brag about how much more survivable MJ is than ballroom.
    Absolutely (it's like the Mao quote about the effects of the French Revolution - it's too soon to tell.)

    But I just wondered whether one could theorise that the MJ phenomen- fern- craze, is a short-term thing (for sufficient values of "short") and will soon die out, possibly to be replaced by the traditional ballroom favourites.

    For example, taking what Lynn's saying, one could plausibly argue that the 1960s - 1980s disco / solo dancing era pretty much killed off most partner dancing, and that partner dancing had to re-start from scratch, without many people having a culture, background and training in that area - hence the only partner dances that would have a chance would be the easy-to-learn ones like MJ (and to an extent, salsa).

    You could then also say that, once enough people in general had been "re-trained" to "proper dance" ( ), the appeal of MJ would fade and people would look for other dance styles, like, oh, I dunno, ballroom, tango, WCS, etc., just to pick some examples out of the hat

    In that case, would MJ survive?

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    Registered User doc martin's Avatar
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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinHarper
    From the same place:

    All well and good, but MJ dates from the 1980s, while Waltz dates from the 1780s. We're a couple of centuries early to brag about how much more survivable MJ is than ballroom.
    And in a faster changing world the more recent a cultural phenomenon, the shorter it's life is likely to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    For example, taking what Lynn's saying, one could plausibly argue that the 1960s - 1980s disco / solo dancing era pretty much killed off most partner dancing, and that partner dancing had to re-start from scratch, without many people having a culture, background and training in that area - hence the only partner dances that would have a chance would be the easy-to-learn ones like MJ (and to an extent, salsa).
    That makes me think of the development of creole languages from pidgin in cultures where people from many cultural backgrounds with no common language have been thrown together, such as slave islands in the Carribean. It is amazing how a fully blown language can be developed in one generation. The pidgin would be the equivalent of Ceroc in it's first few years and what is now happening is the construction of the whole grammar of the dance language of Ceroc to create a dance creole.
    These creoles then develop their own richness and diversity, influencing the thinking of their culture and I would expect the same thing to happen to Ceroc. Creoles in their final form are no simpler than older, better established languages and capable of expressing as much subtlety. I think that many on this forum aspire to this.
    However, some languages die out. Often when brought into contact with another language used by a larger more prosperous group. Translated into the terms of DJs question, I can see a couple of scenarios arising from this. Ceroc could be bought by a bigger company, with different methods which would alienate the cerocers, leading to disenchantment, shrinkage and finally incorporation into some other dance. That doesn't mean MJ would disappear, just the ceroc version of it.
    The other possibility that occurs to me is fashion. As DJ said partner dancing pretty much disappeared from the 60s to 80s and, if it again gets perceived as an old peoples pastime the same could happen again. That might be the end of ceroc as a company. But trends seem to come around faster all the time, so I am sure that partner dancing would, at some point, make a comeback. Whether we would be here to see it I have no idea.
    Also, if we do manage to leave this planet and head off to the stars, as I would like to do, things could change a bit. What would be the consequences of attempting a catapult in zero g?

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    Registered User Lynn's Avatar
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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    You could then also say that, once enough people in general had been "re-trained" to "proper dance" ( ), the appeal of MJ would fade and people would look for other dance styles, like, oh, I dunno, ballroom, tango, WCS, etc., just to pick some examples out of the hat

    In that case, would MJ survive?
    I don't think you would ever reach that level of so many people dancing (in a Western culture) - therefore an 'entry level' dance would still be needed - whether that would be MJ is the question I think. MJ currently is great in that role. And not just in the 'no footwork so easier to learn' way. I had been wanting to learn to dance for years before I came across MJ. I thought I needed to find a dance partner first and sign up for a regular course - and I would need to for ballroom (locally anyway). So in many ways its a very accessible dance.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    So, any thoughts on what could kill the MJ dance scene off?
    a catastrophic event: How about mass TV coverage?
    Everyone sees it as the next "big thing": ballroom teachers and traditional dance teachers decide to diversify and show how they think it should be done: Rules and competitions swamp the 'social' dancers and it becomes "too technical": attendance drops and a 'new' dance evolves from the ashes that goes back to the loose and free style of dancing.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Franklin
    Of course, as you wander the urban wasteland, fighting off cannibal hordes while clutching a tin of spaghetti hoops and searching for a can-opener, the lack of MJ venues might not be top on your list of worries...
    I can handle the urban wasteland. I could defend myself against the cannibals. I could even work out a way to get into a tin of spagetti hoops and use the empty tin to form a primitive spear-head. But no dancing?!? That just sends shivers down my spine.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    I don't think you would ever reach that level of so many people dancing (in a Western culture)
    I'm not so sure. We had such a culture up until the 1950's - we've anecdotal evidence from people on this forum about what it was like. Many schools did (and do) teach partner dancing - I only wish mine had, instead of some silly folk dancing nonsense.

    In the long run, it may turn out that "dancing solo" was the aberration, and that partner dancing is much more permanent as a cultural phenomenon (whew, managed to spell it this time).

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    - therefore an 'entry level' dance would still be needed
    As an entry-level dance, I agree - but on the other hand, if everyone learnt partner dancing at school (which is under no obligation to make it easy or fun for you to learn), then there's less need for people to become re-acquainted with partner dancing at an entry level.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    I had been wanting to learn to dance for years before I came across MJ. I thought I needed to find a dance partner first and sign up for a regular course - and I would need to for ballroom (locally anyway). So in many ways its a very accessible dance.
    I totally agree, and I'm the same. I had been (in a desultory fashion) doing some partner dancing (ballroom) before I found Ceroc. I knew I wanted to dance, but I also knew ballroom wasn't quite right for me. MJ was, and still is.

    The key and revolutionary concepts in MJ, to me, aren't the dance, it's the scene - the concepts such as "you can and should ask anyone to dance", "swap partners rapidly whilst learning" and "women ask men to dance" are almost unique to MJ. I think these will survive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gadget
    I can handle the urban wasteland. I could defend myself against the cannibals. I could even work out a way to get into a tin of spagetti hoops and use the empty tin to form a primitive spear-head. But no dancing?!? That just sends shivers down my spine.
    God yes. Nightmare...

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    I couldn't think of anything, but it sounded very much like an OCP (Outside Context Problem). I knew excessive reading of Excession would pay off someday
    Is that related to SEP ?

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robin
    Is that related to SEP ?
    No.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    If MJ really does look like it is attracting the disco crowd the disco managers may well promote blues as a more space efficient partner dance. I do not see it happening. It is difficult to see MJ being dumbed down, or a more complex dance superceding it. What could happen is that it splits into sub-species - Latin Jive, Rockabilly Jive, Tango Jive, blues Jive etc. Since any of these variants is capable of evolving back to the current form MJ could be around for a long time.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    I'm not so sure. We had such a culture up until the 1950's - we've anecdotal evidence from people on this forum about what it was like. Many schools did (and do) teach partner dancing - I only wish mine had, instead of some silly folk dancing nonsense.

    In the long run, it may turn out that "dancing solo" was the aberration, and that partner dancing is much more permanent as a cultural phenomenon (whew, managed to spell it this time).
    Now I think about it I remember great aunts talking about going out dancing, (one met her husband at a dance). I suppose because I was brought up in the 70s and 80s its harder to imagine partner dancing as being a thing right across society.
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    The key and revolutionary concepts in MJ, to me, aren't the dance, it's the scene - the concepts such as "you can and should ask anyone to dance", "swap partners rapidly whilst learning" and "women ask men to dance" are almost unique to MJ. I think these will survive.
    And the fact that dancers are friendly folk - MJ especially so. The 'scene' of mixing and not just going along with 'your' dance partner has probably helped to contribute to this. I would quite happily go along to an MJ evening where I knew no-one - and know that I would find people to dance with. Wheras I went to a ballroom social night once with friends - and only got to dance with them, and find much the same at the few salsa social nights I have been to.

    Long may the friendly environment of MJ continue!

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    If MJ really does look like it is attracting the disco crowd the disco managers may well promote blues as a more space efficient partner dance. I do not see it happening. It is difficult to see MJ being dumbed down, or a more complex dance superceding it. What could happen is that it splits into sub-species - Latin Jive, Rockabilly Jive, Tango Jive, blues Jive etc. Since any of these variants is capable of evolving back to the current form MJ could be around for a long time.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames

    So, any thoughts on what could kill the MJ dance scene off?
    DJ's playing lots of Michael Bolton, Billy Ray Cyrus and Neil Sedaka would do it!

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Evgeni
    DJ's playing lots of Michael Bolton, Billy Ray Cyrus and Neil Sedaka would do it!
    No, that's what would kill of the DJ's.

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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    And the fact that dancers are friendly folk - MJ especially so. The 'scene' of mixing and not just going along with 'your' dance partner has probably helped to contribute to this. I would quite happily go along to an MJ evening where I knew no-one - and know that I would find people to dance with.
    I agree, but I think it's not "different people" - people are mostly friendly anywhere (even in London, apparently), But the "friendliness" needs an outlet - people need to know that it's OK to go up to strangers and dance with them.

    And that takes time and effort to organise and cultivate that atmosphere; it doesn't just happen because friendly people turn up in a group.

    If the ballroom dance scene ever wised up to this and started to promote serious social events like this, with the same "dance with anyone" mentality, I think that would be a definite threat to MJ.

    Of course, that's not too likely at the moment, as ballroom is still mainly structured towards fixed-partner work, examinations and competitions - actual fun doesn't seem to get much of a look-in in comparison. But you never know...

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    I agree, but I think it's not "different people" - people are mostly friendly anywhere (even in London, apparently), But the "friendliness" needs an outlet - people need to know that it's OK to go up to strangers and dance with them.
    I do think that dancing attracts friendly sort of people, but that's what I was saying - its the MJ attitude that allows that to be expressed - right from the start in the rotated classes, people are mixing. And I think that is part of what is distinctive about MJ. Eg salsa teaches classes rotated, has a thriving social side, but I have heard time and again from many different people that its not as friendly as MJ (in general, I know some lovely friendly salsa dancers!).

    (I've also only ever got one 'grumpy' person in MJ classes who wanted me to do the move perfectly first time, I and others used to find several folk like that each week in salsa.)

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    There's another difference between the way MJ is at the moment and the way say ballroom was thirty years ago. MJ to some extent is controlled by a single organisation (Ceroc Enterprises Ltd.) That means that rather than letting the style of the dance - or its marketing - drift along on the tide of fashion, there is someone steering the boat, so to speak. And since the commercial fortunes of that company are directly tied to the number of MJ dancers who pass through its doors, the ultimate commercial pressure is to adapt the dance to maximise the number of dancers. I'd suggest that rather than becoming hidebound and having its nose stuck in a fixed rule-book as is the impression one gets of ballroom, Ceroc is freer to change in an directed way.

    I suppose that means that things like Salsa and WCS evolve, while Ceroc changes through some kind of Intelligent Design.

    Perhaps ballroom has already been consigned to the clutches of the FSM.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    With reference to the high amount people spend on petrol to attend MJ events (on the Fair Price for a Freestyle thread) a good old-fashioned oil crisis or petrol shortage would easily halve overnight the number of people attending most venues. I wouldn't even know how to get the local Leicester venue by public transport.

    If the crisis continued for any length of time I could foresee most venues closing down, at least temporarily, as it would cease to be economic or practicable to run them.

    For example, Nottingham last night. People converged from Leicester, Chesterfield, Derby, Milton Keynes, and probably many other distant places.

    The prospect of a petrol crisis scares the hell out of me - not just because I wouldn't be able to use my car freely for trivial, leisure purposes, but because of the extent to which we depend on easy road transport for so many things in our society, and the chaos which would ensue from it suddenly being taken away from us. I just hope somebody up there has got a plan, and not just Phil Roberts, either.

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