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A lindy exchange is a gathering of lindy hop dancers in one city for several days to do the same dance at other venues, showcase one's own talent to the local community, and to dance with visitors and locals alike. Traveling for exchanges has contributed to promoting lindy hop internationally. Although the focus of lindy exchanges is on lindy hop, related swing dances such balboa, charleston, blues, and collegiate shag are common at lindy exchanges as well. Exchanges targeting these other dance styles specifically have also been organized. Most other styles of dance are ignored as emphasis is primarily on personal preference.
The term 'exchange' is derived from school or university exchange programs, where students travel to another country or city to experience the local culture. Exchange students often swap or exchange their own home or place at their home university with another traveler. Visitors at lindy exchanges are often hosted by local dancers, staying in their homes for the duration of the event.
Exchanges can vary in size. Some of the older exchanges, such as the Chicago Lindy Exchange, D.C. Lindy Exchange and the London Lindy Exchange, can easily attract 400 or more dancers. All of the San Francisco Lindy Exchanges except for 2005 attracted 500 or more people, the Yehoodi 5th Anniversary Exchange in New York City pulled in more than 600 people, and London regularly has more than 600 in attendance. Exchanges in cities with smaller dance communities may have fewer than 50 people.
While many workshop events existed in before lindy exchanges, what really differentiated the first exchange was that it had absolutely no classes or contests, it was completely a social event with a large amount of social dancing. Sometimes exchanges in newer scenes or isolated countries will include workshops in an attempt to appeal to travelers who might not otherwise come, though the usage of the term "Lindy Exchange" is questionable. Furthermore, there are plenty of dance events that would clearly qualify as a Lindy Exchange that do not use the terminology, such as the past well-attended event LindyGras in New Orleans. Due to the social nature of the event, the themes of exchanges internationally are hospitality and cultural and social exchange, on the dance floor and in the host dance community.
The first lindy exchange, 'The Weekend', occurred on December 4–6, 1998, in San Francisco, California, between the cities of Chicago, Illinois, and San Francisco, CA. The Chicago participants included Mary Hamilton, Young-Jin Kim, Nicolle Wood, Riley Wymes, Julie Hamberg, Margot McGraw, Kevin Poulsen, Ray Lavko, Gimi Ramos, Corey Blodgett, Collette Delcase, Peter BetBasoo and Helena Laven. The intent of this exchange was for nineteen dancers visiting from Chicago to experience the dance styles of San Francisco by attending many of its established venues and dancing with the lindy hoppers there. As the popularity of the lindy exchange increased in the United States, the events changed from a strict city-to-city swapping of dancers to an open-invitational gathering of lindy hoppers from around the country (and, in some cases, from international locations) to one central city for a particular weekend. The first event to use the "lindy exchange" phrase in its title was held in Seattle. Promoting this event was the start of the www.LindyExchange.com website, but after the first Seattle exchange it became a place to list all of the many lindy exchanges in different cites. Now, many cities around the United States and around the world host annual lindy exchanges, including: Austin (ALX - Austin Lindy Exchange); Boston(dirtywater - Dirty Water Lindy & Blues Exchange); Chicago (WCLX - Windy City Lindy Exchange); West Lafayette, IN (LAFLX); Knoxville (KLX - Knoxville Lindy Exchange); Orlando (ORLX - Orlando Lindy Exchange); Ann Arbor (KissME - Keep it Simple and Swing Michigan Exchange); Sacramento; Washington D.C. (DCLX - D.C. Lindy Exchange); (DetLX - Detroit Lindy Exchange); Portland (PDXLX - Portland is often referred to by its airport code, PDX); Utah; Charleston (CHEX - Charleston Exchange); Phoenix (PHXLX - Phoenix Lindy Exchange); Denver (DLX - Denver Lindy Exchange); New Orleans (Fleur de Lindy); Pittsburgh (Pittstop Lindy Hop); South Florida (SoFlex - South Florida Lindy Exchange); San Luis Obispo (sloX - SLO Exchange)-and many other cities.
The schedule of a lindy exchange varies with each exchange, but there are certain features that are common to many of them. Usually, there is an opening Friday evening dance followed by a late night party, which goes on into the early morning. On Saturday and Sunday, there are usually afternoon dances, evening dances, and late night dances. Some exchanges also have an evening dance on the Thursday before the event or a Monday evening dance, and the daylight hours are often filled with other, non-dancing social activities such as communal meals, shopping trips or games. Many cities also include various sight-seeing activities during the days of the exchange for the visiting dancers to get to know the host city.
The venues chosen for each dance are often picked to feature the highlights of the dancing or culture of the host city, although some of the more established exchange cities have a challenge balancing the large capacity and demand for exchange attendees with trying to display the smaller, more intimate venues that might be a more accurate depiction of the local social dancing scene. Live swing bands based in the host city are often chosen for some venues, particularly the evening dances.
Introduction of Blues
Starting around 2000, the music in the late night rooms started to slow down significantly until the dance started to change to match the music. Some of the events even started to have a separate "Blues" room with music that better accommodates blues dancing and frequently lasts until — or after — sunrise. The slower tempos of blues music often appeal to dancers tired after a full day of lindy hop. This was the first step in the revival of the contemporary Blues Dancing scene.
- "San Francisco Lindy Exchange". Sflindyexchange.com. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
Savoy Lindy Aixchange, Savoy, French Alps