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We Made It, But It's Yours

dance floor with dancers

In two months, 50Fifty, the Chicago swing and blues dance that started out CodeBLUE: Blues and Lindy Urban Encounter, will turn six. 72 dances, 4 workshops, 4 band nights. Three different venues. 6 different combinations of organizers. Countless hours of labor, by organizers and volunteers. After it turns six, there will be no further specifically designated mixed tempo/genre nights in Chicago.

CodeBLUE was thought up in a hot kitchen, while Anna Washenko, Heather Merrell and I were making whiskey chocolate cake. I'd had the idea that Chicago needed a mixed genre dance because I wanted to dance both dances as frequently as possible, and a whole night of either wasn't my jam. I was just getting into blues then, and as weird as this will sound, heavily represented the lindy hoppers in our conversations. Anna, at the time, represented more of the true neutral. Heather cared mostly about blues. Together, Anna and Heather were key idea generators, and helped me refine the idea and actuality of the dance. And yet.

And yet, at the end of its six year run, 50Fifty doesn't belong to any of us. Not just because both Anna and Heather moved away at two and four years in, respectively (don't quote me on that timeline), and I'm about to leave Chicago. Even before we were leaving, as soon as we made the thing, it stopped being ours, and started being yours, dancers.

Without the hundreds of dancers that have showed up, passed through, and danced at the venue, it would've never gotten to be a real dance. Without your feedback, it wouldn't have changed venues twice to move into safer and more accessible neighborhoods. Without your feedback, we wouldn't have added lessons, or live music. Without you, it would've never been anything but a great afternoon of baking a cake.

Running a dance is arduous and yet so, so rewarding. It was a hard decision to let 50Fifty end at a year that isn't divisible by five, for my silly brain. It was a hard decision to let it end at all. Because it wasn't my dance, and hasn't been my dance since the day you walked onto its floors.

But. The call had to be made by someone. And I'm so grateful that it was never you all, making that call. Thanks for being there. Thanks for dancing with me. Thanks for taking ownership, and making the dance yours.

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