Enjoy this short presentation with some hot areas and activities in Brussels.
Why you should start blaming
There's a shift in people's mindset when we choose to see them without prejudices. The first time, it hit me, when I was too young (:)) and I choose as one of my good friends, this person, outcast, with bad reputation and ugly history. I choose to treat him as a normal person, with respect, and love, and kindness, I choose to treat him as an honest person, with values, and qualities. And guess what? He just bloomed, flourished. And I found deep inside him all those qualities, all those values. It was the opposite of what society and community saw in him. And he start showing great qualities, other than the ones that community use to label him. He showed respect, and honesty, and trust, and courage, and carrying. This happen 3 times in my childhood, with three different outcasts, from the less minor law breaker to the worst law breaker that we could imagine. Can that be a coincidence, or can we call it just good luck? Does this mean that people behave actually as we choose to see them? If we choose to see them honest, worthy of love, trust worthy and respectful, they will behave in this way. If we choose to put them in a box, and label them as delinquents, they will act as such? I never thought deep enough, and never get to a conclusion. Today it becomes more seriously, as it interferes with three subjects that are very sensitive, important, and very close to my heart. People behave as we choose to see them 1. Lindy Hop family, community First one, it is related to Lindy hop family and to the unconditional/conditional support of this community. At one of the last meetings with some of the lindyhoppers volunteers for #swingconnects, we tackle the subject of unconditional acceptance. I was confessing that one of the reasons I started #swingconnects, was to share this feeling with people beyond sociology-economical barriers. The feeling of unconditional acceptance, love, respect and support in #lindyhop family, from all the scenes that I've been interacted with so far (Belgium, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Portugal, Mozambique, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Romania), and mainly from my home scene, here in Brussels. I always had this feeling, from the very first day I start dancing. The feeling that you can be as genuine as you want, as transparent as you want, as authentic, as awkward, as strange, as different, and the community accepts you as you are, they support you, they are there for you, no matter your physical or mental appearance. Surprisingly, during that meeting I found out that's not always the case. One of my friends told me that he/she experienced totally different. My friend felt judged, felt no support, felt let aside, felt no family feeling, no acceptance. In the same scene, in the same period, in the same community. So, is it about the perspective that we choose to see the things? And are the things taking the shape of our perspective? Many times I cross the following example. There is a party, and two photographers. One is bored, not in the mood, and choose to stay in the corner of the room all night long, just shooting that area. While the other is very active, and gets all the angles and perspectives of the party. At the end we have two portfolios of two different people, who were at the same party, but with total different results. We can not even judge that one result is better than the other, or one is more truth than the other. Because both are capturing the same truth. The truth that they choose to see. 2. Africa, Mozambique This is a very sensitive subject and I find it very difficult to speak about it. It made me so frustrated regarding my friends, my family and everyone around me. Before going to Mozambique, I was surrounded by people, friends, family, acquaintances, advising me from a deep sense of love, to take care, because of the danger and other bad things that can happen there. And as it was not enough, when I arrived in Mozambique, the local friends, that were waiting for me, had the same choking care, to not go there, to not do that, to not be there on that time, to not use my phone, my wallet, mylove (:)), because it's dangerous, and so and so. Eventually, I started getting slightly touched by other people anxieties. But not enough to break my energy and my enthusiasm and my sense of carrying. So while flying there, more than 14 hours, I continuously had this deep feeling of going home, even though it was my first time in Africa. As I arrived in Maputo, the home feeling got deeper and deeper. A sense of home that I never had before, a real home, that waited for me for a long time. And as I start learning the local language shangana, and the local songs, and disobey of all my friends advises, and I decide to follow my heart and treat everyone with an open heart of love and respect, I could feel the support of a family, I could feel the love of a community. I was never ever in my life, surrounded by so many good friends, happy, ready to dance, ready to share their little things, their culture, their hugs, to give presents, a bottle of water, a beer, a banana and an apple, a smile, a kiss, a heart, an advice, a walk, a dinner, a trade. So I ask myself again, is it what we choose to see? The truth stays in our perspective? What angle of the scene we choose to shoot in our photography? Do people behave depending on what box we placed in? Opening our heart, showing unconditional love and respect, makes the others to treat us in the same way? We are social animals, we can sense fear, we can sense barriers, we can sense authenticity, we can sense fake, we can sense courage, we can sense an open heart, we can sense interest, we can sense love. And we adapt our reactions according to what we sense. Maybe, in the end it's just brain chemistry, RAS, the reticular activating system. It’s like — I don’t know if you’ve ever bought an outfit or a car or something and all of a sudden you see that outfit or car everywhere. It’s a part of your brain that’s called the reticular activating system, the RAS, and it tells your brain what to notice. 3. Man - Woman interaction Once I received this very beautiful message, regarding my big smiling Facebook profile picture. It just made up my day, so I wanted to share it with people that I care. What a mistake! (:)) They chose to label the sender, based on his gender, age and nationality, and to decide that he actually wants to start an affair with me. How weird is that? A deep feeling of disappointment flowed me ... Am I in the wrong word? Or am I blind? the truth is that when I see this photo I'm inspired, motivated and passionate, and I get the desire to be a better person every day Another time, one of my friends was telling me how uncomfortable she felt on the dance floor, because of how people behaved and because of the compliments she received. Everything was interpreted as an invitation to flirt. How many different glasses can we wear? I was on the same dance floor, dancing with the same people, receiving the same compliments. And I felt so far from being uncomfortable, and never thought about it as threats or flirts. Is this just miss-communication or miss-understanding? Is this the way we choose to see the word? Is this the way we interpret everything what we see? We all have some blind spots, and our brain fills them by default. How much is a blind spot, and how much is being completely blind? And in the end, even if we choose to be blind, to create an unicorns world, and to give extenuating circumstances to all the situations that pops out? What will cost us? Is it the cost of a happier life? Or is it the cost of life in lie?
Swing in time of corona
I meet this beautiful lady, Emmanuella, just before corona kicked in. It was love at first sight due to our common passion to dance and sports. Emmanuella has 20 years old and is originally from Nigeria. What brings us together is our common values: dance, music, sport, joy, gratefulness, happiness. I really like you Aless. You are enjoying life, no matter what life brings you. You are always happy, ready to dance, to move your body, to make people smile. It is Emmanuella who inspired me in our next Swing Connects sub-project: artists performing. A new way to support Swing Connects mission is by hiring the artists, who come from different backgrounds. Nigerian Dances Do you want to sparkle your event with some African vibes, Nigerian dances?. Or you want to create a team building session with an initiation into African roots ? (#africandance #nigeriandance #afrohouse #swingconnects). Drop us a line and we will contact you!
One year ago I was sleeping in the canal
I am very sensitive to my students past. I never ask questions, I do not want to be intrusive. I do my best to offer a safe space, free of judgment, where everyone is treated equally. I do my best to offer my students, a safe space, free of judgment, where everyone is welcomed and treated equally. So I never really know their actual status, where do they live, and so on. We received some donations to one of the biggest Swing festivals in Belgium #brux Brussels Swing Exchange, and the location was in the epic place Tour&Taxi, close to one of the canals of Brussels. One evening while going to the festival, well dressed, perfumed, ready to swing, one of my students tells me: "You never know Aless, where life brings you. One year ago I was sleeping here, in the canal, and now I am swinging in this beautiful venue, and I get to know people from all over around the world." The sky was collapsing over me, my heart shrank and got inflated, sweating, goose skin. I couldn't find any proper words, and I let the silence be our best friend. Later on during the night, while the party was swinging, my friend went to visit and cheer up some friends who were still sleeping on the canal. You never know Aless, where life brings you. One year ago I was sleeping here, in the canal, and now I am swinging in this beautiful venue, and I get to know people from all over around the world. Refugees Camp Later on I got to know that most of my students are living in the refugee camp or centers, in Brussels, or even in Luxembourg. The distance is not an issue for them, and their passion for dance keeps them moving forward (#swingconnects #refugeecamp #youneverknow). You never know who is sitting in front of you, because the physical appearance doesn't give you a clue. You never know with whom you are going to share the next dance. Swing, Lindy hop, is a common language, a dance who brings people together.