The DanceDeets Story
DanceDeets, the place for street dance events. How did it reach 200,000 street dance events worldwide? Who’s behind it, and why did he make…
DanceDeets, the place for street dance events. How did it reach 200,000 street dance events worldwide? Who’s behind it, and why did he make it?
Hi, let me introduce myself: I’m Mike, or as everyone in the dance scene calls me, Mike Lambert. I love dance, the same as you. Challenging myself: to improve, to catch that difficult choreography, to hit that difficult power move. And discovering myself: finding my inner expression, my emotional depths, my love for music that grows year by year, and working to express all that…through movement.
But I also love this dance culture. Meeting other dancers on their journeys. Some on the same path, at their own pace. Some on different paths, and we just cross paths from time to time. Freestyle or choreo, industry or underground, we’re all headed in that same direction…chasing dance.
And there’s that instant bond you get when you meet dancers traveling. To inspire each other through dance. To hear music through their ears. To see the dance culture through their eyes. And to understand their story just by watching their dance.
Or sometimes it’s nice to just to hang out. Hearing a song playing in the store, and having that impromptu cypher. Grabbing that cheap food in a hole-in-the-wall that only the locals know. Late night conversations about dance and life, no matter if they’re from the next town or the other side of the world, you’re both related and connected through dance.
So yeah. I’m building DanceDeets for you. For my fellow dancers on this amazing journey in dance. And what follows is the story of DanceDeets, which is also my dance story.
I started dancing out in San Francisco in 2008: Software engineer by day, dancer by night. Hiphop Choreo on Wednesdays, Breaking on Thursdays, Salsa on Fridays…it was all dance to me. And I sucked at all of it!
But these high-school/college kids were killing it in the classes….how?! I didn’t believe in talent…just hard work: I just needed to dance more. A lot more.
I asked my bboy teacher how to find the clubs and battles, and I’ll never forget his response: “Well, you kinda just hear about them…” But just starting in dance, all my friends were still tech friends: I certainly wasn’t going to hear about any battles from them!
He shared a website with party listings, but it was the same problem: I didn’t know which ones were good for dancers! I went back and asked, but got the same advice: “Well, you check the DJs or the club names, and you can kinda tell”. Unfortunately, I didn’t know any DJs or clubs: I was stuck! I had to do it the slow way…adding friends on MySpace (remember that?!), asking my teacher every week, etc.
It may be hard to remember for those of us who have been dancing awhile, but it’s extremely difficult to jump into this dance scene. You have to learn which venues have good parties, which DJs are gonna bring out the good dancers and vibes, and you need to start making friends in this dance scene, just to stay in the loop! Yes, we’re an underground culture, but sometimes we’re too far underground! Promoters are always working their hardest to get the word out and grow this community, but it’s certainly a tough job.
And unfortunately, when I moved to NYC in 2010, I didn’t know NYC clubs, NYC DJs, or NYC dancers. I had to start all over again! Luckily I had met Buddha Stretch and Brian Green in San Francisco, so that was my first step into the NYC scene.
But running into this problem of finding dance events, I decided to build a website to solve the problem….and DanceDeets was born! In 2010, I launched a website only a mother could love…but hey, at least it worked!
But as I grew as a dancer, so did DanceDeets. As I met more international dancers visiting NYC, DanceDeets started including more events worldwide. As I traveled to Tokyo for a year with work, DanceDeets came with me, and started handling Chinese and Japanese better. As the number of events grew too large for me to handle myself, I improved the system to start detecting and adding events automatically.
Since 2015, I’ve been taking DanceDeets a lot more seriously. Mobile apps were released with the help of @davex_87 (he built the original iPhone app!). Major under-the-hood improvements helped ensure that DanceDeets has every street event worldwide! And yes, the site and mobile app even got a major redesign, this time actually using some design skills!
Now at over 150,000 events and growing quickly, it’s been an amazing journey for DanceDeets. Here are some of the other dance journeys DanceDeets has helped, showing the power for growing this scene by helping connect dancers to the world around them:
Parents around the world looking to enroll their kids in dance workshops
Finnish folks finding and joining a jam in Norway
Beginner dancers from SF dropping in on Hiro’s workshop in NYC
A bboy from Ghana traveling to South Africa looking to dance
Dancers in NYC for a week discovering a bunch of spots to dance without wasting any time
Multiple dancers and teams traveling internationally to enter competitions and inspire (and be inspired by) other dancers
Dancers navigating the crazy world of Tokyo with the help of the in-app translate function on all the events
And of course, mine…now I can find a place to dance no matter where I go on earth!
And what about you? Where is DanceDeets going to help you go next?