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Hustle Letters as of 10/15/06

Hi Ron, 
The discussion you have opened up is desperately needed and long over due.  As someone who has benefited from this dance I would like to address some of the points raised by some of the letters you published.  
Style - NY vs Philly vs CA vs etc.. - First I think people confuse "style" with "timing/rhythm".  There is really only one rhythm with the Hustle and it's the "and-1,2,3 and-1,2,3".....The Hustle is not swing and the swing is not Hustle nor is it Salsa or Cha-Cha. The Hustle is unique - it has its own character, look and rhythm - once we try to change that we might as well put the coffin in the ground.  The art of the dance is how well one can adapt to these various styles while leading or following.....
Politics - Don't think for one minute that politics doesn't exist in the judging and coaching of Ballroom or ice skating competitions....But we would all hope that any judge would rise above the politics and vote on the merits of the competition on hand and is able to justify their vote. ....  I have always tried my best to judge fairly, on the merits, ...For me, my rep means to much for me to do it any other way.
As for the Hustle, I think part of the politics of this has to do with people fighting for turf and trying to be recognized as an "authority" or "professional" in this dance.  So they take sides, form alliances and try to claim trophies and "wins" as if that means that they are qualified to teach and critique.   Meanwhile, the dancing public needs to know and understand that winning a contest at a disco doing an Adagio routine or doing a Cha-Cha, Salsa or Swing to a hustle/disco song or grabbing a really good male/female to dance with so that you can "look good" in order to win a local "dance" contest,  DOES NOT MAKE YOU A HUSTLE DANCER.  Conversely, winning a contest DOES NOT MAKE YOU A HUSTLE TEACHER.  Some of the best teachers out there have never won a major contest or any contest at all....but they have an understanding of the dynamics of this dance.  The ability to communicate the basic theories behind "touch" dancing and lead/follow techniques, along with an understanding of the importance of timing and rhythm.  The basic rules, techniques and theory of "touch dancing" apply to this dance.  If we want to bring in more people then lets make sure that the people who are calling themselves "professional" are qualified to be professional.  We don't have to "reinvent" the dance in order to promote it and sell lessons.   From what I see, there is a fortune to be made just in teaching lead/follow techniques and timing alone.  So buyer beware!  Remember that there's a difference between dancing competitively and dancing socially.  I believe we need to emphasize the social and fun aspects of this dance (including proper dance etiquette) so the average person looking at this dance says "yeah - I think I can do that and it looks like fun". 
....we all owe it to this Dance that we love to be big enough to rise above any politics and commit to supporting and working with each other and to be more inclusive to the dance community at large.  No one person has the magic pill or ultimate answer but everyone has something to contribute.  This dance will survive anyones ego or insecurity.  Actually the true mark of a pro is they are secure enough to work with anyone without feeling threatened.  It's incumbent on the vets dance with everyone, at all show them the fun this dance has to open it up and be encouraging.  Then we can hopefully grow the numbers and from there pick the next generation of competitive Hustle dancers.  This dance is too great to just die.  Keep Dancing, 
Derrick Allen
I read the letters this week with interest and have a few comments.   Politics, it's the name of the game, in hustle, the PTA, the temple, the church, you name it.  It's everywhere.  Some get involved in it, some run from it, some are unaware of it.  I try these days to enjoy the things I love and leave the politics alone.  Which often means staying on the outskirts and that's fine. I agree with all the comments about competing, I did it once on a lark and it was a thankless and humiliating experience for someone with my 28 years experience. Unknown to the pros, I failed miserably, while my friend Wingo from the old days asked me "What are YOU doing in novice?" (Oh that's right, I hadn't competed before so had to dance in novice with men who didn't yet know how to dance.) I think many of the "pros" out there today are lacking in grace and I don't like to watch them dance and pose.  I can see how very impressed with themselves they are.  And I think the hustle scene is hard to break into, much more so than other dance scenes.  It took me two years of going out regularly again for it to be noticed that I can dance.  People's egos are delicate and so many are committed to their egos rather than having some fun and passing it along to the next one. When I came up through the ranks, I had an amazing experience, and one I'd like to share with today's pros.  Jon Devlin, a name most of us probably never heard of, but who I understand is credited with bringing the Hustle to New York, had a studio called Jon Devlin's Dancercise....  In January of 1978 he offered a month long promotion:  a year's worth of unlimited hustle lessons for $100.  There must have been about 50 of us who signed up, and we went to lessons and out dancing afterwards.  Many like me danced every night of the week.  We all got to be really really good and our group branched out as we met more groups.  (As an aside, I do wonder what happened to these good friends, Eloy, Evelyn, Omar,  George, Lisa, John....where are they now?)  Offer something like that to the kids, something they can afford and allows them to find a compatible group of dancers, and the dance will continue.  And, by the way, Jon Devlin performed, at his studio, the most beautiful Samba I've ever seen in my life - so sweet it would make you cry. The man could dance anything, not just hustle.   Here was a guy you wanted to be around!   Never in those days was it about competing.   It was about dancing, about having fun, about meeting people and getting out.  To me, that's where the prize really is.
Lisa from Long Island
Hi Ron,
I wanted to respond to the great letters last week about the future of the hustle. I know from hanging out in the clubs and studios there is a lot of BS that goes on. But the problem is simple, its like the mafia, everyone knows it exists but is afraid to confront it. We have some bad teachers,  jealous of new blood, threatend by new talent and not willing to pass the baton to the next generation. They are self centered people that say the politically right things but  dont' act on them. Its a control thing that wount change. All they have is this dance and it will die if others don't step up and do the right thing. Dancing should be about meeting new friends, haveing fun and learning. its crazy, they charge so much for lessons. the Young people could never afford private lessons. Ron, I thank you and think your doing a great service for the hustle community,  but not to be a doubter, the ones who need to hear this message will not probly even read this.  In closing I say, congratulations teachers you are the problem your not helping this dance to grow.  
As a social dancer in the Philadelphia area who attends both Hustle and Salsa events, I'd like to add a few brief thoughts on the recent Dance Talk letters.
     It is not just at a dance convention that you will see the glaring difference between the Hustle crowd and the Salsa crowd, the local weekly events also depict this phenomenom.  Granted, Salsa has a built in Cultural audience among the Latino communities, but this alone does not fully explain the difference.  I have found quite a cultural diversity among the newer Salsa dancers, along with a fair age range.  But what is most notable is the number of new faces seen pretty much every week at the Salsa events.  Even allowing for the advantages of noteriety and dedicated studios that it enjoys, it is obvious that many in the Salsa community simply work more to bring new people into the dance. And whatever they are doing, it seems to be working. More new people will not solve all the previously noted ills of the Hustle world, especially the "politics", which has also been hinted at in the Salsa world as well.  But new people bring much to the social part of social dancing, a notion that seems lost on those who view the dance world in terms of dollars and cents.  Having been in the Hustle World for ten years and a Salsero for five, I can attest to importance of meeting new dancers, as well as the enjoyment. And I can also attest to the fact that over the past five years, many Hustle dancers have ventured into the Salsa world, and have found themselves embraced by the community.  As to how many Salsa dancers have become Hustle dancers, almost none. 
     I don't have any definite solutions for the problems facing the Hustle world, but I'd like to thinks that some could be found.  Any community that can overcome "the cheesy John Travolta and line dance stigma", should be able to overcome almost anything. Mike Gaudioso - Hustle and Salsa Dancer - Philadelphia, PA
Hi Ron,
I had several surprises when I came back to dancing after an absence.  The most shocking and disappointing of these was the severe decline of the competitive environment.  When I saw that there were Hustle categories with just one or two or three couples competing, my heart just sank.  I simply could not believe that it had come down to this.  My memories from the old days were of small local comps in my area, where there would be 15-20 couples or more, not to mention the big regional or national contests where you would have a competitive field of such depth and quality that it would be unimaginable and incomparable today. 
At first, I was so discouraged that I decided never to compete again.  But after a while, with a lot of encouragement from my dance friends (as well as my desire to perform again) I got back into it. At my first competition I danced in the advanced strictly Hustle against good competition.  We got first place scores from two of the judges, and a 5th and 6th from two other judges!  I never expected to see that kind of discrepancy from the professional Hustle instructors who were judging -- how could we have been either that good or that bad?  Of course, later I learned about the politics (and personal issues) involved in some of those scores, so that explained some of it.
I miss the old Disco Days for many reasons, but one of which was the competitions.  In our area the comps were held in clubs, which provided a totally different environment than what we have now.  Because the dance floors were much smaller, it made the experience so much more personal.  The audience was very near the dancers, and it made it more intimate.  It was also much more exciting because crowd reaction and noise resonated more than in a spacious hotel ballroom.  The judging was done primarily by non-dancers (sometimes people who were experts in related fields, such as music, modeling, acting, talent agencies, etc.).  It's fascinating to me now, when I look back on it, that  those non-dancers usually got the results right.  They didn't know Hustle, but they could tell when a couple had precision, showmanship, good choreography, smoothness, crowd appeal and so forth.  Sometimes you would have a goofy outcome in the placements, but most of the time, those non-dancer judges were very accurate.  At others comps, we would have ballroom judges, or dance professionals from ballet, or jazz or tap, and those types of judges were better, since they were more knowledgeable.  What all these judges had in common, of course, was that they didn't have an agenda:  they didn't know the competitors, so there was no favoritism or cliquishness.  The people they were judging were not their students, nor their rival competitors, nor their best friends, so there were no financial considerations or personality conflicts involved.
I competed again and was happy with our placement but couldn't help noticing that the couple who placed before us had not one, but two of their teachers as judges!  We all take lessons and training from different people, so the pros who judge have at some point worked with many of the competitors, but this is not what I'm referring to.  When a Hustle pro is judging someone who, over the years, has spent tons of money with them on lessons, pro-am comps, and choreography, how could there be any objectivity involved?  It's very understandable why a pro who is judging would be biased towards a long-time student who's been a consistent source of funds, as well as a close friend, in some instances.  In a perfect world, a dance judge would exclude him of her self when one of their students is competing.but, unless there are some major changes, I don't expect to see this any time soon.
 In his excellent letter, your reader Phil, makes many great points.  Foremost of these is that the decline of Hustle is partly due to the many competitors who get discouraged by politically-biased judging, either with their own dancing, or when they see it happen to someone else.  The problem snowballs because these dancers then stop competing, attending comps, taking training and lessons, and sometimes fade away from the scene.  As more and more competitors drop out, the contests become less competitive, and less exciting, which results in decreased attendance and declining interest in Hustle.
I've heard stories of disgruntled couples who were very unhappy with the judging or the rules or the format, and decided not to go back.  This is further aggravated by the fact that the same core group of judges is asked to come back every year.  Doing this sends a message that, if they didn't like you one year, you might as well not come back, since you'll most likely get the same result.
 In addition to making many great points -- and voicing things that many of us had felt and talked about privately -- Phil also has a workable idea to remove the bias in the judging.  Bringing in pros from other types of dance would probably be the only realistic solution.  Once they got enough exposure to Hustle, a pro from WCS or ballroom or salsa would know what to look for in a Hustle couple, without the conflict of interest that currently exists.  I hope dance event organizers have the foresight and courage to make this change (or any other that is similar) in an attempt to improve the current direction where we are headed. Ron, even though this letter (like Phil and Liz's letters) is critical in tone, the purpose is not to blast the current core group of Hustle professionals, but to vocalize what many, many dancers feel and privately discuss.  Most of the Hustle pros are true champions who deserve our utmost admiration for their skills, knowledge and long-term dedication to the dance, so this is not meant to disrespect them.  Instead, think of this letter as an observation in human nature.  In other words, even the most well-meaning Hustle pros cannot possibly remain objective when they are judging their own students, their own choreography, their best friends, or their most despised rivals.  I don't know if it's possible, but we should all try to figure out a way that we can create a more fair judging environment for all competitors and spectators, an ambiance that encourages increasing participation, and not increasing frustration.  The future of Hustle might depend on it.
Hi ron, I read your entire newsletter and can agree with a lot of the comments from your writers about Hustle.  I've been in the hustle dance crowd since the late 70's - Hustle was big in Michigan where I started and still thrives here in South Florida, but not too much with the younger crowd.  I see the bias in the judging as well.  It is unfortunate when the best man doesn't win. I see that happen all the time.  The judges definitely favor their own students. As far as the music comments go, whether I'm deejaying swing, hustle, ballroom, etc., VARIETY is the key.  I believe mixing old and new, blues and funk, fast and slow, and so on is the key to keeping all factions happy.  I usually get nothing but compliments when I DJ even when there are hustle, swing AND latin dancers all present because I want to please them all.  We're quite a melting pot down here and that is how you need to play if you are going to succeed.  Even deejaying for the Swing Club, where I play primarily swing, variety is still the key, you have the young and old(er), beginners to advanced, those who want old blues, new R&B, old motown, those who want to hear something new and those who only want the familiar, and then there's the shaggers to keep happy too!  When I play a swing dance and am only allowed to play 25% of everything else, you had better believe that I play my absolute best, rock the house, Hustles, Cha Chas, Salsas, etc. since they are fewer.  No one usually dances every dance.  If you can keep them dancing every other, that's great.  It's great when you see that you pack the floor, but DJ's should look to see who is sitting and NOT dancing - that's who you play to next.  :)Thanks again Ron. 
Take Care, DJ Vicki Kay
Hi Everyone,
I think that I'm qualified to speak on how to get the younger generation involved in hustle since Louie and I work with a group of kids, and anybody who was at the NY Hustle or Salsa Congress saw them perform. First of all I think as instructors it is our professional responsibility to get children involved whether we receive monetary compensation or not.  We receive monetary compensation from all the other classes,... but when it comes to the kids, we need to give something back. The second point I would like to make is how to get the children involved.  When we started with the kids, I wondered if it would work, and if they would like the dance and the music, and I could tell you that its all in how you present it and yourself.  Making it fun, and being giving of yourself is a great facilitator.  I understand what  many of you are saying about playing new music for hustle, and the younger generation will like it better, but I have to say what would big band be without Frank Sinatra or Dorsey.  So what would hustle be without all our beautiful classics.  We should share this music with the younger generation.  Again, its all how you present it.  Our group of kids have grown to love the classics we play when we are working with them.  Its  beautiful music, and we should try and keep that alive just as much as the dance. Please don't misunderstand, I'm not saying we shouln't dance to new music or that we won't have the kids dancing to new music, I'm saying just let us not loose the magic that our hustle classics brings.  Also, I have to make a another comment. After working in both the salsa and hustle industry. I can tell you another difference I see and feel.   I'm not saying that the salsa industry doesn't have its elements of human nature, but the hustle world in paritcular is very clickish, and there are too many people who don't talk to each other and don't help each other.  Also there is a lot of favoritism that comes out in competitions that is a result of segreagation among groups of people in this industry.  It is very sad.  Also, I think the only way a competion can truly be fair is to have the judges not know the competitors.  Its human nature and its been demonstrated through research that once you know the competitor a bias comes into paly no matter how hard you try not to.  When I judge I think that I am being as fair as I can be, but again its proven in the literature that its impossible once you have a relationship with someone.  I also teach in a college and I am not allowed to evaluate my students.  It has to be another instructor who has no realtionship with them, and I am placed to evaluate another group that I am not familiar with.  I am not saying this applies to everyone.  There are great people out there that are able to judge and remain unbiased but it is proven to be very difficult, and through no fault of our own, unless personal issues get involved, and then that's another whole discussion.  I think another way to fair judging besides having people who don't know the competitors is to have the scores posted and possibly have computerized judging.  Because if something is not fair, then this penetrates and saturates the whole atmosphere in the event.  Now I have been in the hustle world a lot longer than the salsa world, but I can tell you I walk through a salsa event and peole come from all over to say hello. The energy and comradity is felt.  In the hustle events, you may know people for years and people walk right by, not all, but the segregated groups don't spread that comradity and joy. I am not saying this to be mean. Take a good look yourself.  A segregated atmosphere is sometimes what we display.  Now this is what we show the younger generation.  I think if we can show half the comradity and togetherness, and energy that the salsa world displays, I think we could attract the younger generation.  I speak for all of us when I say that.   I don't mean to be offensive to anyone, but I think that if we don't show how important the dance and music AND PEOPLE are too us, why should the yojnger generation view it in any other way.  So smile at everyone, dance with everyone, ENJOY everyone's company and be fair to everyone.  I think that would be a great start to having the dance live on.  One more comment before I sign off, we need to be thankful to Ron Bess for all his hard work with dancetalk and trying to bring all forms of dance togerther.  What a wonderful thing he keeps going.  We also need to be thankful to all the people and clubs that still have socials for this dance.  And of course we must be very thankful to the event promoters for all the wonderful events.  With them, we are truly blessed with having such wonderful events to go to, to display our talents,  work,  dance and have a great time, .....  We need to be very thankful for all their hard work in putting these events together.  It is not easy, but they do a wonderful job of it.   But it is all of us that frequent and work at these events, and it is our attitudes and how we relate to each other that makes the events even greater, and more attractive to the younger generation.  So the next time we are out, say hello to everyone.  Don't put a wall up.  Dance with someone you don't usually dance with.  Be nice to everyone.  Be fair and share your joy of dancing.  Forget about any issues you have with someone.  You don't have to be there best friend.  But enjoy every minute of life.  Life is too short.  The only one thats getting hurt is yourself becasue you are holding on to negative energy, not opening up yourself to the true joy of the dance, and in a way hurting the future of the dance.  After all we are all there because we are passionate about the dance. Lets show that love and energy. Together!!  And maybe we have a chance of this dance living on!!!  Love you all!!!
Mary Ann and Luis Rosa
The hustle should go through a new phase or an upgraded change with the times look.I believe that just like everything else baseball, basketball, football etc. the rules are basically the same but there are changes in how it is taught,coached and played. If we could remain with the same dance but execute a style of teaching using a real big fad catching hook or gimmick I think the general dance public would investigate the dance, learn it and do it just like they did in the seventies. People that see the dance are curious. The main thing IS it is no longer "the dance" iF you had Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Usher,Ryan Seachrest,Eva Langoria,Hallie Berry, Ellen Degeneris to name a few re-introduce "the hustle" YOU WOULD HAVE MORE PEOPLE DOING THAT THAN THE CHA-CHA SLIDE
Long live the hustle
Bobby O
Ron I read the letters below and I feel the same that we need to get the younger people into this dance and we need some new generation hustle music. The younger people cant relate to our older hustle music! Most of the time I do not ask certain pros to dance because I can tell they really do not want to dance with you and if they do you feel like they are doing you this great favor for one song! Thanks for all you do! Allan
Many of us from the old school, learn to dance on the street  -- community centers, gymnasiums, The Boys Club, just to name a few. We attended every conceiveable block party we could find. We showed the hustle to the young ones. I was inspired one day when I saw Bill Fajardo and Sandra Rivera dancing at a local community center. Another time watching Billy compete against Floyd at Mitchell's gym on Brook Avenue the Bronx. Mesmirized by Eddie and Lourdes dancing at the Cork and Bottle disco in NYC. We need to give back to the community. Perhaps teaching and engaging the youth to dance to Techno or Hip hop music might do the trick. I remember George Vascones and Denise, heading up the Latin Symbolics. They would teach kids from the inner city the Hustle and then showcase them in Hustle revue at a major College or University. In order for the Hustle to survive, we need to reach out to the youth and make them the dancers of tomorrow. Then you will see another Eddie Vega or Billy Fajardo born.
Luis Rivera
Hi, Ron. Thanks for sharing the letters you've gotten recently on the future of Hustle and for having the courage to print mine. I'm glad to see other people writing in and sharing the same sentiments. I want to respond to a couple of points that others have brought up.
     First of all, I was appalled by the level of dance snobbery that still exists in the scene. I had forgotten how it was when I first started. I am very disappointed to hear that this is still going on. I was particularly disturbed to hear that a female pro
actually responded with "Don't you know who I am?" when asked to dance at a recent competition. A big part of calling yourself a "professional" is acting professionally. Over the years I have introduced more than one friend to Hustle to have them turned off by this sort of thing. It discourages new dancers and new blood. It saddens and apalls me that people who make their living from dancing can't see that they are hurting themselves when they engage in this ridiculous, immature behavior. I sometimes fantasize about what it would be like to walk into a room, albeit a social or a weekend competition, where everyone there has the policy of never turning anyone
down to dance. I fantasize about what a friendly atmosphere that would create and how everyone would leave feeling good about themselves, versus rejected from the "in" crowd, feeling "not cool enough" to dance with so and so and resignation that they never will be.
     Secondly, to address the issue of proving oneself right from Mark's letter. I think it's an intelligent point, but off the target in this case. When you or someone you know leaves a competition with dozens of people coming up that person unsolicitedly telling
them that they either got "screwed" or "robbed," it's a little hard to ignore as much as the need to be in denial might be. Like the old adage goes, "If one person calls you a horse, you can laugh it off, but if 5 people call you a horse, go buy a saddle." Dancetalk has received a record number of emails on this topic. More emails than any other topic since it started. Last I heard, it was in the hundreds.
     In closing, I am disappointed that no organizers or promoters, or any of the "exalted few" have written in to share their views or to answer to any of this. I find it strange that Dancetalk has received hundreds of letters on this topic, but none from those in question. This is a very public forum, a weekly mass email that goes out to 10,000 people. One would think that these people would care enough and have enough self-respect to address these issues, afterall it is their livelihood at stake. Personally I would be very interested to hear their justifications for judging that many feel is biased and why things are structured so as to perpetuate this immature high school pecking order. I would also be interested to hear from some of the organizers of these competitions explaining why they keep hiring these people when very few of them bring Pro-Am students with them, demand to be on staff or they won't support the event and won't even social dance with the "common folk" hence creating a creepy, elitist vibe in the ballroom at these dance weekends.
I am speaking for others who have agreed with me about the judging scores. I realize that it is sometimes difficult for the judges to even choose the placements of the dancers in the short period of time. But it would really be helpful if they could write some comments about what to improve upon or single words that they noticed something for constructive criticism. Another way of doing this is to have a few (3-5) categories/criteria i.e. attitude/presence, footwork, variety, x and x? that they use to help them judge that. THey must think that in their heads as they judge so why don't they mark it down (or have a scoring sheet that is premarked for them) so that it would help us dancers. MAny of us compete against the same people and we get maybe 3rd place one time and 2 place another....WHat exactly was it that we didn;t do as well or did well in to get us to that placement so we can compare and watch the others for it to? YEs there is an element of winning so the final number is important...but for me to be a better dancer I want to know WHAT I didn;t do as well in and I use those who rate better than me as a standard and a guide/inspiration to get better. I think this might be as a by product a better way of judging as well (to speak to the other write ins about politics etc) becuase there is accountability in this.
Anita G.
Hi Ron,   Mike Brooks here had to tell you like the picks of you dancers and teachers especially Spanish Hustle /Fatbach band a true mid 70 classic I have been readind dancers comments I gotta say When the gang came tosee me when I was at the Temple Bar at Caesars casino I've known these people for 30 years and know their fav songs and at the time being on air and making the money Iwas you have to keep the dance floor moving no matter what Myself ,Pantano & Geator are known for keeping the party alive that's why we get the bigger bucks than a reg club dj so if you don't produce your  out!!! Gotta pay the piper and live you know. But I remember when dancers would come years ago they always liked the slower disco and If it wasn't too busy would ask me to slow the pitch down than reg. so we're only doing what is asked the days of keeping your head down and not looking at the crowd are long gone club owners want revenueand that s why I have been able to make a living out of this crazy biz for 32 years. But now I have shifted to acting
Peace out Mike Brooks
Hi Ron:Chalk up another vote for Liza, she is right on, I agree the music is to old, there are so many contemporary songs that you can hustle to... why do DJ's always play the same ole stuff, it is very nice music, but it gets boring, before I go out dancing hustle, I can already predict what will be played the whole evening....It is no mystery why younger dancers don't hustle...You don't have to be a genious to figure out how to keep the hustle alive....
Thanks for putting up the best songs of many of the greatest Hustle dancer in the world too Kool!  
If the people are complaining about how slow the music is and that the music should be faster, how in the world do they think that we learned? (Baby Steps) in order to walk u have to learn how to crawl?. Unless ur  supernatural hmmmmmm,  
Love ya bunches
Nelly Pacatun Cotto
I want to weigh in on the music issue. I personally agree that playing more up-to-date music would definitely help draw in the younger crowd. At 32 (my birthday is today, BTW), I more often than not find myself being the youngest person in the room at socials and comps. Personally, it doesnt bother me, but Hustle will be dead in the water if younger dancers arent attracted into the scene, and that DOES bother me!
However, I do like the classics. The 70s was the best decade for music in this country in my opinion, but after 8 years of hearing the same classics over and over again (which ARE great songs) theyre tattooed on my brain and I have to change the channel when they come on the radio.
Yet, on the other hand, I dont hear too many Hustle-able songs that have come out recently. I like Madonnas latest album, but its very fast. œLike It Or Not? isnt bad, but youd really have to hoof it, dancing to that song. I prefer to be able to finish my movements. I hate to dance Hustle to music with a gerbil-in-an-exercise-wheel-on-cocaine tempo! Then, the slower contemporary songs seem too West Coasty to me. Hustle to me should have an up beat with the way it travels and the flight you must generate, rather than a down-beat, even though it still does work to dance Hustle to WCS songs.
Its an interesting parallel that no new songs have come out really for Hustle, and neither has the younger generation.
My $0.02.
Susan Fritz
I have to disagree with Lisa concerning the music tempo and having to hearthe "old" hustle songs from back in the day.  I realize that she and others may be referring to the saturday night fever abba stuff and what non-dancers consider disco but what I consider "back in the day" hustle music are cuts like "spanish hustle", "down to the bone", Luthers "glow of love", the blackbyrds "happy music" and "walking in rythym" and of course some of Eddie Kenricks cuts.  So often I attend "non-hustle" parties or weddings and the hosts all make the same statement that of course they play disco music and the songs are so fast you feel like you've ran a marathon after one dance. As Jenna stated in her letter if the song's tempo is too fast your too busy trying to keep up with the music instead of working the music with styling and technique and ultimately enjoying the dance.
Now to the letters on attitude and politics.  As far as politics are concerned, of course they exist but I have taken the time to get to know the pros and the judges and overall they are as objective as it is humanly possible to be.  The idea of having outside judges come in would help but ultimately if you don't catch the judges eye and make your presence known on that floor they will quickly move on to the next couple.
Attitude? Yes, I have to agree we New Yorkers can appear quite snobbish. However, I think it is safe to say that because we live in such a fast paced society and have alot on our plates we may come accross that way but if we want to keep this dance alive we all need to take time to welcome the newcomer with a smile and a dance and help raise them up to be the best that they can be.  I am not a teacher by any means but I do take the time to make the newer dancers feel at home and offer them a dance or two whether they
are male or female. The biggest complaint I hear within all of the dance circles is the the good dancers will only dance with other good dancers,
How then does the beginner get better?
Lastly, some of the pros need to get out on the floor more with those who are learning not just to grab a private but just for the sake of the dance.
Keep keepin it alive Ron,
Love JoJo
Great DANCETALK this week.
We've been dancing so long that when we read a music list like that, you can hear each one in your head as your reading. With all the talk of fast music vs. slower music, old music vs. new music, I'm almost embarrassed to see that my music choices were the fastest on the whole list. Geez.
I think music choice is a rhythm thing.  With slower hustle music, the arrangements are relatively simple, therefore so are the steps.  Slower hustle music will also make your dance prettier with lots of dance lines that audiences get to see.
However {here it comes},
Hustle is a DISCO dance.  From the disco.  A place where people go to drink and get laid by pretty girls in heels.  If you want the art, see a ballet, you get to sit down.
Discogoers, for as long as I've gone out and today that I work at CLUB TRU, want to dance.  They want to sweat and feel that beat kicking your drugs in.
{oh shut up}
Now, if you can channel those drugs and control that beat with your body, well, now you're talking!
Faster hustle music has more complicated arrangements which makes for a lot more rhythms to seep outcha body.  When THAT happens, sometimes you get caught in a weird position, and if you're on beat, you've got yourself a new move.
Faster music helps to cover the floor so much better.
I don't want to be misunderstood, slower music is great.  I think when you're just starting out and thinking about your moves, slower music will give better self esteem.  But when you get to know some "things", and you know how to go into the move and come out of it without thinking, why not just pop it in on some unexpected beat and surprise everybody.  That's when you get the oohs and aahs, and the look and the feel of a superstar.
I think people do the same steps way too many times and take no risks in their dance.
Disco is dangerous.  It's supposed to be fast and exciting and {remembering Nellie, Eddie, Lisa (both of them)} it should take your breath away.  It started as a street dance, it's been cleaned up, but please keep it a street dance.  There's too much "fon-fon-fon" with this new disco crowd and the dance is way over analyzed.  It's just dancing for God's sake not surgery.
Here's a little truth:  most of our old disco friends don't hang out anymore (including me) at the functions because we have a different lifestyle.  We don't like having to dance with EVERYBODY in the room because THEY are learning to dance.  Make and appointment, pay me, and I'll teach you.  The pioneers of this dance just want to out, get drunk, get laid, and reflect on their evening of music, lights and fun.  I don't care if Mary can't get her "Vegas" down.  We don't even know these people who will judge me when I have to put my joint down to dance with them.
I'm fucking horrible.
Well that's not where I wanted to go but there it is.
It's like 9 - 10 am on Tuesday and I got home from Monday salsa night at 7am.
That's disco.  That's they way it is today, the way it was yesteryear.  I know cause that's all I've ever done.  Hustle is the funnest{?} dance in the world but it never was the only disco dance.  I didn't say ballroom, I said disco.
I love the lifestyle and because of that I moved with disco when it stopped doing the hustle.  Am I any different from the "new" hustle crowd because I like twirling glow sticks almost as much as I like throwing a death sweep?  Please.
If you hustle to old slow music, the "kids" will laugh and recognize it as something that needs a white suit.  With the evolvement of the dance, if you hustle to today's fast music, these kids don't recognize it as a old dance, they just say, "Yo dude that move was bad!" 
Now that I've rambled myself stupid, I'll go to bed.  It's my day off.
Now I'm just hoping all of this made sense. 
{if you read it fast, as written, you can hear me talking.  I write as I speak, my high school teacher hated that. lol}
Dear Editor,
Ron, I have to say that you do a great job allowing everyone to voice an opinion about different topics and some topics get repeated over and over as a negativity.  Two topics that are voiced quite often are the dance floor etiquette and the music played at the dances.  I think that your newsletters have helped in these areas to a good degree.  I have really enjoyed the last few times that I was able to attend Michael's Cafe's Tuesday Hustle night.  The dancers at all levels seem to be engaging others at all levels.  More importantly, I'd like to throw in kudos to Mark for being a local "fabulous" DJ -- he has been open-minded to working on the "all request" nights which is very time consuming to orchestrate on his off time.  He has more often than not, taken my personal requests and worked them into his agenda but far and above all of that -- he has a memory of what I've requested years ago and encouraged me personally with some of my favorites intentionally to encourage me, without a request, years later --  I KNOW that he does this for many other dancers as well.  He mixes up the music and seems to play to all ages, the oldies and the goodies, current top 40 as well as introduce us to new stuff that we wouldn't normally select or think of as a Hustle song... He knows the dancers and what they can do to make music styles like HIP HOP entertaining to the entire crowd.  I have to applaud Mark for his efforts on so many levels to keep the Hustle parties at Michael's fun and intriguing as it's never the same from one week to the next, in my opinion.
Hello everybody, hello Ron !!! 
at first.....congratulations to this site/letter...very good !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 My name is Wolfgang and I´m a German Dancer.
We call it DISCOFOX and you call it HUSTLE.
Since some weeks I also get this Newsletter of RON, because I´m  very interessted in doing Hustle . Same basic-step, other moves, other kind of  the figures, other kind of music. I read the last "opinions" of some dancers (Liz,?..)(last week) or ?what I could understand. It sounds quit similar to our problems and I hope to help answering some questions.  
Behaviour on comp´s.
We also have a lot of (dance-scene)-strange-people , no experience with dancing, not able to dance, who blaspheme about the couples on the floor, how did somebody write, dancing their ass off?great?  !!!!
We have in my area ,it´s a pity, enough Trainers, teachers, who think that they are able to teach Discofox. What they teach are patterns, patterns, patterns. No technique, no school of moving. To teach how to move like a dancer and so.
Taking also a lot of bucks just because they own the right Studio, which began early enough with teaching DF (Discofox).Means?in the 80`s.
Let me tell you that our music,we´re dancing to is very fast (up to 128-138/142 BPM),in our slow -heat the most couples have problems with keeping the rhythm.In our Discotheque Dj´s 90% play fast music.On the other10% people dance our "Disco-Chart"-Dance. What I call?a dance for  the really -stupids. Easy to learn.
 We have enough younger dancers who want to learn DF, but ?.never really get improving with the years. Why??????.look above in my text??.people only teaching patterns. No technique.
But the most of German Dancers are moving in the Latin/Standard-Scene.
Most of them want to do MORE than only ONE (1) dance. Only Discofox.
They do not really have a good meaning about DF-dancers.
In my Dance-Club(dance School) I play a plenty of hustle songs, but in our Discotheques the folk more like faster beats,may be it is easier to dance and nobody of the NORMAL dancers(you call them Street-dancer)
Want to compete or stuff.
So?when they are dancing bad style, bad technique??nobody cares. It doesn't matter.
 I do compete in October again with a new dance-partner, and what we try to test is to do some Hustle-patterns and moves and details, mixed with our Df-stuff. We are not allowed to do Acrobatic, everytime one foot has to be on the floor, but what we also try is to do some ,we hope exciting, dips, drops in an other way than the normal dancers.
American DJ´s????when you need NEW dance-music ?.well??.I can send you. It might be faster, but you could slow it down.
Well?.that's for the 1st time.  Hope it was a little interesting for you.
Wanna keep in touch  or more infos.   OK.
Sorry again for bad English..............I did my very best
Best regards
I love Hustle)

WHO'S JUDGING THE JUDGES? (letters to the editor)

This commentary should not be construed as a discredit to any particular dance event or any specific judge.  Rather, it is intended to serve as a catalyst for a candid discussion regarding the inconsistent manner with which Hustle judges evaluate dance competitors.  I have attended many competitions within the last year as a competitor and as a spectator and have witnessed many results that are, at the very least, highly questionable. I frequently observe judges compete and judge within the same heat. I see judges stand shoulder to shoulder and discuss among each other results pertaining to the same heat in which they have just competed.  Worse still, I have heard that some professionals refuse to even participate in any event where they are not on staff. It seems clear to me that some judges favor their own private students rather than judging all dance competitors ability or merit. This is wrong.  Judges must understand that many of the competitors invest substantial sums of money and many hours of practice and only wish to be judged fairly and honestly.  IF YOU COMPETE, YOU SHOULD'NT BE A JUDGE. Period.  It's a conflict of interest.  Being a social dancer and hanging with the "in crowd" is not a judging prerequisite. 
Furthermore, anyone designated to be a judge should be qualified and have an extensive history of professional training, titles and experience. Qualified judges should be required to apply standardized criteria when evaluating each dancer that includes a formalized breakdown in each category such as basic steps, timing, patterns, execution, appearance, connection and difficulty. Someone who places first and cannot do a proper basic step should not hold this title and SHOULD NOT WIN simply because he or she looks attractive, has a nice smile or has an "in" with the judges.  It sends a very negative message to everyone when the 1st place award has the appearance of being, in effect, purchased via outright favoritism or stolen via self-interest.  Also, when competing in special categories, such as theatre arts, dancers should be required to demonstrate at least two overhead lifts. Especially, in the professional division. Remember: It's supposed to be THEATRE ARTS (ADAGIO). Those that compete and take the easy way out by avoiding difficult lifts should not enter this category......  Many of us are keeping a close eye how judges conduct themselves during competitions. If the form is to survive and grow, competitions must be clean and fair.  Judges must be competent in the form they are judging.  Standardized evaluation methods should be employed.  Conflicts of interest must be eliminated.  Competitors must be able to demonstrate particular movements at each level of competition before being awarded a prize.  Most of all, we must keep Hustle events fun. Inconsistent or biased judging sows the seeds of discontent.  Remember, people can invest their time and money in other dance venues.  Let's all work together to assure this does not happen. 
Hi Ron, I would like to respond to your topic of the Future of the Hustle...... I don't think there is a bright future if the hustle stays on this broken course. last year (2005) I went to 3 dance events. In 2007 I will only go to 1. I will not name it because I know I will offend the others and I would like you to post my letter. I will not go to events that are not fair. No more. My point is, I can deal with an event running a little behind, but for gosh sakes, an hour, two hours and embarrassing 3 hours. Thats a joke. Now the worst part is the judging. its a train wreck.  Let me repeat that, a train wreck....... It is so unfair. I agree with a letter I read a few weeks ago, the judges sit there talking to each other. At one event, I saw a few judges sitting the whole time and 2 walked around. Hello!, but unless your taking lessons from these judges your doomed.
We needed to see some changes. My dance friends see it, and I represent that silent majority that is now speaking up. It will be sad to see these events get smaller in size and the competition dry up.......... Please fix the problems. I ask any judge, or event host or hostess to please give me your feedback? What are the events going to do to fix these problems? lets see who is brave enough to respond? Thanks Ron, I hope you are brave enough to print my letter? I am an amateur but feel my thoughts should be heard as well? Keep up the great work.
Dear Ron,
The letters the last few weeks have been to say the least interesting. The hint that there could be a political agenda "spoken or unspoken" is what will destroy the dance or at least cripple the dance. Here are a couple of my observations - Or as Yogi Bera said once - " You can observe a lot by watching "
1 - NLP - Tries to explain the decision making process as ” whatever the thinker thinks the prover proves ” loosely translated, whatever you think is gonna happen
you will find evidence to prove yourself right. ” IE - We will assume that there is no dishonesty in judging - for argument sake - An example - In Ice Skating - The Europeans like a balletic approach while in North America we like a more athletic/energetic approach - so as we know there are more countries in Europe then in North America - therefore there will always be more judges from Europe then from North America - hence more of the judges like the balletic approach then athletic/energetic. So it is not too much of a stretch - To make a prediction - where the majority will vote. So we see it is probably more important to know the personal/professional history of the judge on how they will judge versus on who is dancing - if all the competitors are equal but different.
2 - In ballroom you can not judge if you are a competitor or coming out of retirement - so as not to knock your competitors down.
3 - I have watched competitions in which any one majority, controls the outcome as long as there is an equal level of expertise by the competitors.
4 - I have heard judges who have lost previously to Dancer A.  Judge Dancer A lower, as a sort of pay-back.
5 - I do not believe any specific group Hustle, WCS, Country, Ballroom, Salsa, Argentine Tango are all above board. So bringing other groups would create the same problem - But different.
6 - People are people - they act out of fear - and make decisions that will protect themselves either consciously or unconsciously - The secret is to "Make the unconscious conscious - So it does not control you"
7 - This was written as a way to start a dialog, not as an attack - The dance is hobbling along now, How can we get it back to it's feet.
8 - I will end with another Yogi-ism " I didn't really say everything I said " ; - )
9 - Smile & Dance - Remember why you started the journey - It made you feel GOOD -  Thank you for your time

The Future Of the Hustle - Follow Up

These are some wonderfully insightful letters that responded to the letters in DanceTalk two weeks ago. I appreciate all the letters we have been receiving. Unfortunately, we cannot post them all. We have focused on the letters that present concerns and ideas and opinions that can constructively help grow the hustle and keep it alive for generations to come. Some letters echoed the same sentiments as others, therefore, not to be redundant, we are sharing different perspectives.
I appreciate hearing how many people really do care about this wonderful dance and its survival.

Greetings Ron.
What a great mass of letters on the trials and tribulations of the hustle. I wanted to chime in and share my thoughts from a business angle. I plan to attend a few hustle competitions next year. I thank you Ron for keeping me informed and providing us direction and the needed information to attend dances all over the US...... I have attended a few events in the NJ - NY area over the last few years. I enjoy the atmosphere but like everything in life, there is room for improvement. I recommend and encourage other dance instructors or studio owners to host a function of their own. Yes, more events. Why, because competition will help grow the hustle dance. More events are needed. It will raise the quality of the events as the directors will have to provide a better product. The directors will have to build a better mouse trap. Lets be frank, events are a business, it requires ample planning, organizing, financial and time commitments. The product will have to improve to exist in the future.
As soon as an event takes a downward turn the planner will be forced to rethink, retool and in some cases reinvent their strategy to regain market share.....
The end result will be more attendees, more interest in the dance, better quality events and more choices. Events that don't play fair and have biased judging, incompetent staffs, poor taste in music will eventually go away - this is the cost of doing business, you can fool the customer once but be careful, eventually they will wise up. I am planning to attend the Mad jam event in 2007, I based this on the writes up you have shared and the fact that I was informed that the organizer is not a hustle dancer. A business man. I like that.  
Hi Ron,
Kudos to those who took the time to write these very thoughtful and perceptive letters. It is what a lot of us are feeling and thinking. I hope this will initiate some serious talk, strategy and plans for the future of hustle around the world. And by the way, what is the International Hustle Dance Association™s role? What goals or objectives have been set and what are the plans for the future?
Re: the politics at the events. Perhaps we should include ballroom judges in the mix alongside the familiar hustle panel?
After reading the few letters in Dance Talk on the subject of  keeping the Hustle from fading away, I realize that thru your forum, you are trying to keep the dance growing. I respectfully submit this to you as I consider you to be wise and fair. I understand and agree with the frustration vocalized in those letters. And, I too enjoy the dance enough to want to see it continue to grow and spread in popularity.
 Many good points are laid out in those letters. One point overlooked is that The Hustle is a captivating dance because it looks like so much fun. It generates energy that pulls people in. People want to learn it, enough to get on the dance floor and join in on the fun. Not everyone is going to want to compete, but everyone wants to have fun. Sadly, it seems that there is an elite Hustle club with a limited membership.
That membership dictates who is deemed worthy enough to be dancing. NOTE: I said 'dancing' not 'having fun' It makes it very rough for anyone new to dance and have fun as they stand on the sidelines waiting for a dance.
What many of the instructors forget is that often they are teaching this marvelous dance to people who have had years of classical dance training. Though these new students of Hustle are learning new steps, these students do understand basic balance, timing , position, _expression, movement... perhaps better than the Hustle instructors (who may have no dance training other than the Hustle.) If instructors have willing students, teach those students while their enthusiasm is strong, because their initial enthusiasm is for the dance, not for who teaches the dance.
Let them learn the Hustle first, that they can feel part of the dance community which overall are just recreational dancers looking to have fun. Respect them for wanting to learn and have fun, not for how much money they will throw your way. A few will want to pursue competition ($ 4U) but more will bring friends to learn (ahha $$4U). To borrow a phrase, "and so on and so on and so on....." This provides a bonus for the Elite Hustle Club, the more dancers seeking fun will have a larger pool to have fun with, and consequently  they won't need to ask you to dance with them.
Overall, I have found the majority of dancers to be wonderful warm FUN people. I am always happy to see these folks because I know enough of them to have fun when I get the rare opportunity to get out and dance. I have many fond memories of  Hustle dancing and dancers....because I had , you guessed it, FUN!
To those who provided me with a dance, I thank you for all the fun and joy you added to my life.
Ron, I have read through a number of letters  that you had received in the last  DanceTalk and I think many of the comments are right on.  I've been in my own business for the last 20 years, away from dance, and have served on many boards for different organizations in that time. I've gained a fair amount of insight and experience doing this that may offer a slightly different point of view....  I'm not looking to make any friends or enemies here, these are just my observations I have made along the way. After a long break I came back to enjoy some dancing during the last year, attending 3 different major functions in the Tri-State Area.  Having been to many high level ballroom competitions in my career I was first surprised by the B-level atmosphere.  Competitors, Judges, staff, etc. as well as many attendees wearing jeans and T-shirts.  This may sound picky but if your are to promote a top event you need to dress the part. There is a complete lack of professionalism on the part of many (not all) and it pulls the feel of the event down.  I waited to get into a session for over 1 hour in the foyer last summer finally getting in after 9pm for a session that was supposed to start at 8pm. This was quite frustrating for me and I'm sure for many others.  Running an event on time is very important and shows the quality of what is taking place behind the scenes and respect for peoples time as well as the money they have spent. My biggest surprise was that judges are allowed to compete.  Personally it should be one or the other.  Politics as it was said in one of the letters is thick.  Allowing judges that hang out together, to judge each other as well, against non judging competitors is so "In your Face" wrong I was amazed.  Yet it has continued in each of the events I attended.  Can you imagine Olympic skaters judging one event and then participating in another?  It would never happen and it goes right to the heart of the politics and professionalism issue. I believe the events have taken a very narrow view of the dance world, how things should be run, and who should be included.  I've been to 3 and it's always the same top people listed as "Invited Staff" or "Invited Judges".  Who is really coming?  What will be their place? and Why is it always the same..... is the group really that small, is the talent pool really that skinny, or is it that we don't want to disrespect the exalted few?  I agree with Liz from Ca. that many feel unwelcome.  I will disagree with her and say "It is not because she is from Ca."  I'm from NY.  I've been around for a long time. I know most of these people and have seen the attitudes and felt unwelcome myself.  Many of the same "Invited Staff" names don't do a very good job of building up the events and pulling people out on the floor.  The most recent event showed this group pretty much keeping to themselves.  When on the floor, some were putting on displays that did nothing but show how self centered they can be while not really thinking at all about the success of the event.  A friend of mine asked a well known female to dance. Her response to him "Didn't anyone tell you who I am?" as if to are asking me to dance??   We actually had a good laugh at it although it really does no good at all for Hustle's future.  It's kind of a shame as some of the Pros do a very good job but I think this is being over shadowed and that out of fear of some sort of reprisal don't say anything themselves as they might be the next to be judged.   So Liz..... keep dancing in Ca. and if you need some coaching  let me know. I'm happy to make the trip ... Enough on the negative.... what's needed.??  At the events....some fresh ideas, a higher level of professionalism, better organized events, a code of conduct for staff and judges. In general the dance needs youth.   How you get that will vary.  We need music that young people relate to that also allows for a Hustle feel.  After all, what comes first .... the music or the dance?  Dance is an interpretation of music and pretty much always has been.  We had the music back in the 70's and 80's but now it's different. Get some music into the heads of a younger generation and you may see some resurgence.
Sharing....Pierre Dulaine is the best example of "The Power of One".  With his idea and follow through,  thousands of NYC school kids are learning Ballroom and Latin.  It's not such a far reach to see Hustle included in here some how.  Luis and Mary (Rosa) had a great routine by 3 young couples at the Congress.... more of that will go a long way business get their nose bent out of shape for the most lame reasons.  Then the BS starts and everybody loses.  One event coordinator was afraid of doing things a bit differently and completely worried about what the folks from the Throne Room would think.  Would they think positively of her event if she strayed from the norm? Would her event be supported?  These kinds of thoughts can only wear people down and stifle any innovation that may take place.  The idea that someone who would put on an event that can promote the dance is afraid of what the royalty may think is an example of how disconnected and adversarial this group can be.  People need to start thinking less about themselves and more about the Dance.  Many of us are 40 & 50 years old now.... how long do you expect your stardom to last.....???  And the reality of it is that if you want it to last longer you need to start giving back, opening up and stop operating from the perspective of it all being your kingdom.  This whole Hustle royalty mentality needs a break.  Pierre gave back he has two movies about himself and what he has done.... Great work Pierre.
Leadership - Any business or industry needs leadership.  I was recently impressed with the quality and extent of the IDHA website but could not see too much due to my lack of membership.  That feeling once again of not being in the club...... From what I have seen so far with Hustle, the leadership is not doing the best of jobs.  If a person or persons are only there so they can have a title or the prestige of a title and maybe make a few bucks,  then they should move over.  A simple example....there were thousands of potential new dance prospects that could have been engaged at the Congress.  Not the Hustle dancers already there but all those that came down for Salsa in the larger main room.  I did not see one thing take place in the two nights I was there that looked to bring more of these Salsa Dancers into Hustle.  Many from the IHDA were present  but not even a table in either room that talked about the organization was set up.  The fact that the two events ran together  is a great idea and will help based on that design. ... My view of what is going on is that the same people cater and advertise to the same people, time and time again.  Sooner or later all these people will be dead and so will the dance. The old saying Ron.... "Lead, follow, or get out of the way"  Keep up the great work with DanceTalk

The future of the Hustle - Readers Feedback

Here are some profound letters from both amateur & professional dancers. They are from different states, sharing their concerns and views on the hustle of today and where it is going?  These letters have some solid ideas, recommendations and individual perceptions. I typically shorten long letters (with the writers permission) -- but these letters were not abbreviated because they strike a cord.
Agree or disagree, the words & thoughts are their true feelings and perceptions. Clearly, they feel that strong that they took the time to write them. The big question is, if folks don't vocalize their thoughts, and the hustle dance community doesn't change or can we expect the interest level to grow. If we don't react, the dance may cease to exist in the not so distant future?
Thank you to the writers for taking the time to express your feelings.
I apologize that I cannot post all of the letters we receive due to space limitations.
Hi Ron,
 I really believe that if we don't start dancing Hustle to more modern mix of music, this dance is going to die with us. Sure, us 50 something guys get all excited when we hear songs from "the good old days". However the next generation of young dancers don't listen to it and the radio stations and dance clubs don't play 70's oldies.

Dear Ron,
     There has been ever increasing talk lately of the "politics" that goes on at the hustle competitions. Its always been a part of any type competition to some
degree that involves skill rather than speed or distance, but lately it seems to be getting worse than ever at the hustle events. The favoritism and game playing that go on behind the scenes seem to get more blatant each year. Ever since Maria Torres started Hustle USA in the mid 90's, there has also been much debate on why this dance hasn't had the resurgence that it deserves. Besides the cheesy John Travolta and line dance stigma that has been attached to it, I feel that the other thing that holds hustle back is the politics. The politics are simply killing the whole scene, namely the competitions. The presence of political game playing is becoming more and more apparent to even the most naive beginner or casual social dancer. People see that there are games being played and just because they aren't saying things
directly to certain people, doesn't mean that no one notices. I have attended events where there are different rooms for dancing. In one room there is 5,000 salsa attendees, live band and wide age range of social dancers and competitors. This makes the discrepancy of where hustle could have gone, or could go, glaring.  The sad part is that certain people seem to lack the foresight to see what the end result will eventually be. A select few who are terrified of losing control over a continually diminishing little corner of the dance world are strangling the life out of hustle. The dance is gasping for air and they are too myopic to see that they are the ones with their hands on the rope. Pretty soon there will only be crumbs left from this ever shrinking pie that could have grown to be quite large had certain people decided to look beyond their own nose and ego. In an ideal world, events would grow year after year and event organizers would be making a killing, with more and more competitors in every level and in every division, promoters and studios would be having more socials and making more money, more students would be taking more lessons making *ALL* the pros more money, more routines would be put on the floor, more pros would be out there competing inspiring the amateurs, more pros would come up through the ranks and exist period, and the professional divisions would be a spectator event that would then attract more people to the events and learn the dance, and on and on and on. This is after all a business and when the day comes that no money is coming in to the professionals, promoters, etc. and no one's doing the dance anymore because no new blood has come in, hustle will take its last gasp. One of the biggest things missing is a rich professional field with a lot of
good couples. In the past ten years, there has only been about 4 really phenomenal and inspiring couples in my opinion. Lori Ann Greenhouse and Kelvin Roche
blow everyone out of the water these days. The Gallaghers were amazing. Lori Ann (again) and Roberto Pagan 10 years ago when Hustle USA first started were
unbelievable. And the Appels from Texas were excellent. Having a field of 10 or 20 couples at this level would attract people from outside the hustle world just to come and watch the pro competitions on Saturday night. There's no high point to any of these weekends that is a draw that brings in new dancers. The current "system" doesn't welcome new blood coming in or for the pie to expand.      As everyone who's been around for more than a year or two has seen a lot of dancers have dropped out
of the competitive hustle circuit after a few years or even just months and they go from spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on their dancing per year to
spending $10-15 a week to go to a local social or nothing at all. These people stop spending money on lessons, stop going to events and the dance stops moving forward. Attendance drops across the board and the pie shrinks. Competitors walk away from competitions feeling that they got the shaft one too many times or watch it happen to other more advanced dancers. They ask themselves on the drive or the plane ride home why they'd want to be part of a sport where it involves getting out on the floor and fighting through nerves, insecurity and fear, in front of a ballroom full of people and subjecting themselves to being judged by five individuals under the premise that these people with the clipboards are impartial and qualified. Add on top of that expensive private lessons and practice time and it becomes a hard pill to swallow when they realize that those who decide on how they place are allowed to act in blatantly self serving ways with no system of checks and balances and
no recourse. As competitors come up through the ranks, they quickly figure out that you have to take lessons with certain people (whether they are by *real* standards good dancers or not) and have routines choreographed by certain people (whether they want to or not). These same people regularly decide who gets what placement and it starts to resemble Enron and we all know what happened there. An ambitious competitor is faced with few options besides playing the game of who will sell out on themselves first and the most.      For things to change, either certain people would
need to conduct themselves completely differently and see how they are cutting off their own nose to spite their face and that it won't serve them in the long run. Or promoters would have to take a stand, weather the storm and bring in judges from the ballroom, salsa, country or swing world that have no affiliation with anyone on the competitive floor or their teachers or choreographers. Or more individuals would need to speak up more and complain much more loudly (and not just in private to friends) when they witness others getting the shaft, whether it be anonymously or not.
Greetings Ron, I would like to share with you and your readers a different perspective on touch dancing (in this case hustle dancing). I was raised and grew up in south Philadelphia Pa. For those not from the area it is a very family oriented neighborhood  made up of many nationalities with a vast representation of Italians. My father had a delicatessen and today my sister runs it. I have been in the education field and will be eligible for retirement in 2 years. Due to my busy school schedule, I only get out to dance every few weeks or so. Once I go into a semi retirement mode I plan to attend Michael's and other dances in the Valley Forge area.
The problem I see is that the hustle dance will not grow based on a 50 something guy like me. Ron, I respect you, Andre, Brian and Silvanna, Donna and many of the other great dancers. I would not attempt to teach any of these fine dancers pointers in dancing but I see many areas that do not welcome in new dancers. please permit me to share some points.
Point one, my fathers delicatessen grew and continues to grow based on familles, parents bringing their children to the shop. Today, those kids come with their kids. I don't see the next generation of dancers learning the hustle
Point two, Learning comes easiest and enjoyable in a group format, college campus is where folks learn courses like computers programing, foreign languages, musical instruments. Hustle teachers need to work with community colleges, high school, YMCA, church groups, public libraries and health clubs.  
Point three, teach new interested people how to dance right on the floor. To get young people interested you have to pull them out onto the dance floor. Welcome them in, Teenagers and young adults don't have the income to spend on expensive dance lessons. Isn't there a less expensive way to teach new dancers to dance and get them interested ??
I don't see a growing future for the hustle unless the teachers take the first steps.
George from K of P
Hi Ron,
I may get lots of slack and/or attitude for this.
I am an "L.A." or "California" hustle dancer. As far as I'm concerned, there should be no attitude from the NY people towards ANY hustle dancer, whether it be Calif., Texas, beginner, advance..whatever! I personally have no beefs with any of them, although it did take a couple hustle events before the Nay's started dancing with me when they figured out I could dance, & that I  was repeatedly asking & getting turned down.....  It's hard enough to keep hustle going in California, & getting a bit of attitude from the Orange County crowd who take lessons from the "NY trained" doesn't help either.  I know that hustle here is not as "serious" as it is there, but isn't the whole point to have fun, dance for pleasure, learn & take what you can from others better than you, &  help those who are not as good?  Sure there are beginners, or people willing to learn a different style, but why do they have to get attitude from someone who has attitude? What I have seen & heard with my own eyes was at a hustle event. I sat behind the event promoters that were judges for the finals. I could not believe my ears while the couple was on the floor dancing their asses off, these 2 were giggling, making snide comments about how their kick was, or arms were out of place, barely looking at them because they were too busy talking to each other. Of course, THEIR friends won, who had won the previous year.  That was the last event of theirs I've supported, and will NEVER support any of them they promote.  The Florida crowd is ALWAYS pleasant, (but there was 1 promoter that was extremely rude to me in Florida, but acted like he was my best friend the last time I saw im..HUH?..ok "Cybil" with your 32 personalities! ha) I saw a web site that was something about NY style vs LA style...IT DOESN'T MEAN CALIFORNIA IS DOING IT WRONG!!!...It just means a different style!!! Why doesn't anyone get that?  It cracks me up to hear that crap about "New Hustle" just because the music is a bit faster! We've been dancing to that "New Hustle" for 20 years!! Why is it new all of a sudden, just because a NY"r says so?? Now, can someone give me any good, solid reasons for the California people to take time off their jobs, spend their hard earned money for plane, hotel, classes, only to get ignored & talked about, & made fun of? There are so many willing "non-ny'rs" eager to learn. I'm 100% positive there will be people that agree with what I just vented..& I can't believe it's taken me this long to do it. We should ALL band together & some people should LOSE their attitudes, I'm sure there was a time when they sucked at dancing & didn't get the time of day. Hey Madeline & Bobby O!! You guys are a gas! Diane, we miss you,  All the Florida people at the Palladium & Feathers, thanks for dancing with us, hope we can all keep dancing together--ALL of us! Ron, thanks for letting me vent!
Hi Ron,
I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with you this summer. What I find interesting from your newsletter is that many of the couples that are winning first place contests are in their 40's and 50's. This is quite amazing but like you and I had discussed in professional sports your career is over in your early 30's, gymnasts and skaters peek when in your early 20's. This is quite impressive for the dancers but the question is???? where are the young dance couples? Is it that these couples in their middle ages are just that good or have the young dancers lost interest? Back to the old question which came first the chicken or the egg???


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