The Story: The Tapestry
During his childhood, John spent many hours infront of the tv, watching cartoons and having the music, dance and theatrics integrated into his mind. He also grew up with a mother who would teach him to sing and be silly while in the car. They would be often be tuned into Detroit’s radio station for motown and oldies, and this obsession would later mutate into a fascination with broadway musicals. If that wasn’t enough his wonderful parents actually encouraged him to learn to play the saxophone.
John took his first steps into his dance life in 1997. He first went because his high-school crush invited him out to the Velvet Lounge in Pontiac, MI. They went a grand total of 3 times before she realized he would take the class and not dance the rest of the night. It took him three months of taking classes before he would develop the courage to ask someone to dance. Despite his painfully shy start, he loved it and continued to swing his way through classes and workshops put on by local pillars such as Sean McDonnell and Paulette Brockington. A couple years later, and after attending weekly classes and dances without missing a beat, John woke up to the fact that he had somehow started to become an integral part of the local swing community.
In 1999 John started teaching his first Lindy lessons at the infamous $3 Sunday Lindy Lessons in Windsor, Ontario. These ridiculously affordable lessons were two hours long, and believe it or not he actually started his teaching here as a follow. When his teaching partner, Marty Klempner, left to go champion the world of Lindy Hop and Balboa, John stayed behind and took over the lead …and that’s when eyes started rolling. John used his transcendental powers of creativity to improvise moves that had never been seen before (and some, thankfully, have been never seen again!). His wide-eyed students were exposed to excessive amounts of Woo!ing during the Roller coaster of Fun and other such moves, which would later pave the way for unruly moves like ninja pose and the monkey kick. To this day it remains a complete mystery as to why people kept inviting him to teach more.
John’s unique blend of groovy and smooth style Lindy Hop (or Savoy and Hollywood styles, as they were known in Detroit) had grown through-out the Lindy Hop Style Wars (2000-2004), which earned him the title Liquid Lindy. During this time a whole assortment of other dances would pop up (and later become entities and communities of their own) like Balboa, Collegiate Shag, Blues, and Charleston, and John dabbled in them all for a time. He would even go so far as to learn basics in many of the Ballroom and Latin dances (crazy I know!). But most importantly the sense of division in the dancing community prompted him to react in opposition. In 2003, just as he was nearing his last year in art school (where he actually studied fine arts and sculpture, not dance), he aimed for the unification of the local dancing community and founded the Detroit Lindy Exchange. It was the first of its kind in Michigan and was inspired by the great times he had in other exchanges in Albany, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Chicago. He held overly elaborate meetings with delicious dinners and was only able to make it happen with the extraordinary community involvement (which included fundraisers, loaned seed money and who volunteered generous amounts of time and energy). After all the dust settled, there were 300+ dancers with smiles on their faces; the first DetLX was a success, and the energy spread and helped to inspire the creation of many more exchanges, workshops and competitions in the region.
After graduating from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, John followed another calling. In the summer of 2005 John vanished into the copper mountains of California and started an extensive period of volunteering for a Tibetan Buddhist organization. He would emerge about every six months for a night of dancing in San Francisco or Santa Rosa, but for the most part his dancing was limited to the occasional class he would offer to other volunteers, and to the dancing he would do alone in his room and in his head. It was during these volunteering stints that his dancing took an intellectual turn, and The Breakdown of the Swing-Out was born. What started as a question of “I wonder if I can do this turn down my left side instead of my right” was eventually brought to a 30 page manual of interchangeable parts that could be multiplied out into thousands of variations. As he was nearing the point of mental exhaustion, he emerged once again from his hillside retreat and was able to verbalize these ideas. This method was first taught in Cleveland in his Lindy Design classes which were taught in 5 week series. It was only after having taught about three of these series (plus a couple other workshops), and seeing the looks of amazement and overload that he realized this would have to be given in smaller doses, or perhaps in DVD format.
The time spent in Cleveland also gave birth to another clone-like entity, John Lozano the Blues Instructor. Although his Blues instruction began much earlier, before he moved to Cleveland he never offered more than a class at a time. It was due to some eager students and the encouragement of Valerie Salstrom that he would offer 5 week progressive classes of multiple levels of Blues dancing. He worked closely with Valerie at the Get Hep Swing Dance Studio for a good amount of time during his volunteering off periods. It was through working with her that he got engaged blessed with great opportunities to teach some very special elementary and high school students, to devote so much time to fine tuning his dancing and teaching skills, and to be immersed in the wonderful community of Cleveland dancers.
At the start of 2010 John put on his blindfold and took a leap of faith by moving to Seattle. It took him the better part of a year, but he continued to integrate himself into the Lindy Hop and Blues communities. Where his path will lead him in the future, we may not yet know, but in the meantime he plans to continue his own creative journey through dance, and hopes that through the power of expression he can continue to serve as an inspiration to others and help to guide them on their own journey to opening their hearts and minds with the magic of music and dance.