For those of you who hadn't heard, the blog's sudden silence corresponds to when Steve and I broke up and he moved out. ContraSyncretist ended up being a project between the two of us, and so when that relationship broke off, the blog was collateral damage. Something had to give while I rebuilt, and this blog was the thing in my life that could give without depriving me of work, food, or shelter. So there you go.
(For the record, at this point both Steve and I have moved on, and while I don't dare to speak for Steve, I'm in a much better place now. Steve and I both still contra, he more regularly than I these days, but we're still out there.)
However, I did want to talk a little bit about what I learned over the course of the interviews and the videos and the project as a whole. I met some really fabulous people and I'm very glad they gave me some of their time to help me explore the question of what techno contras were doing and meant to the contra community.
I've since come to the conclusion that techno contras are and were part of a bigger thing, to examine the "givens" of the contra culture and see why things are the way they are. And I still think the community is the better for it.
Alternative contras play with the idea of the aesthetic of contra, and challenge the idea that all contra must be done to a) live and b) acoustic music under c) fairly average and even room lighting. And if you change that, the vibe changes.
With that come the folks that challenge the idea that all of the choreography should be done as-written, without the flourishes, that part of the beauty of contra is everyone moving together. But does everyone have to be moving exactly together for the dance to keep that synergy? (Shocker) I'd argue no, so long as the points of connection to the larger group (and safety considerations!) are still there.
Additionally, there are challenges to the ideas of gender roles in contra -- both in the sense of who dances on the right and who on the left, and in the sense of whether the community has to accept "creepers" -- whose creepiness frequently, but not always, rests on differences in age and/or gender -- and what the communities are doing to ensure that the dance is fun for everyone. And when it's discovered that a common dance term might be making a community less welcome than it should be, people within those communities work to see what they can do to continue to make their practices align with their stated values.
All of these are "givens" that the form picked up since the folk revival of the 1970s. Do they still serve us?
I've had a few very kind people approach me and tell me they miss this blog. I do, too, but there are many other voices are talking about these things and filling these blanks in the time since this blog went quiet, and this is a wonderful and powerful thing. I was glad to publicly be part of the discourse for a bit over two years. Growth happens when people and communities examine themselves and take a look at the beliefs that sustain them, and decide whether or not those beliefs and tenets still serve them well. And while there may be some disagreement over what is necessary to ensure that community tenets still serve them, the process itself leads to some growth simply because the participants go through the exercise.
I hope the community can continue to grow and keep the things that serve it, and can help to change the things that do not. It's got a lot of really passionate and eloquent people in it, and I maintain that it is a good thing for people in the community to keep talking about these issues and try to reach conclusions that will keep it flourishing for many years to come.
In the meantime, I hope to see you on the dance floor sometime soon. :)
--Ryan E. Holman, ContraSyncretist