Corny, Verging on Desperate

It’s intern season here at Burson-Marsteller. In sunny San Francisco, we’ve welcomed with open arms four bright, young stars. And if you’re assuming they’re social media pros, why, you’re correct! They’re Facebook fanatics, YouTube-using yahoos, Twittering tweeps and much, much more. We have a lot to learn from these Jedi warriors who hail from lands and universities far away (e.g. Arizona State University, Gonzaga University and University of California Berkeley).

As part of their program, we’ve asked the interns to pen blog entries for some summer-reading pleasure. So, we’d like to give a hearty hello to our first contributor: Forrest Hanson. Forrest joins us from University of California Berkeley, is very interested in politics and can dance like it’s nobody’s business. Take it away, Forrest!

– Bri and Dave

I have an irrational love of YouTube.

I think it’s personally reasonable to be honest. I mean, who in their right mind wouldn’t want to watch Charlie? Or Charlie? Or an incredibly awkward man singing pitch-perfect Whitney Houston? Or an endless loop of Powerthirst? But I’ve been told that the first step is admitting there’s a problem, so here we are.

I really shouldn’t be surprised that YouTube has such a strong hold on me, it plays directly to my many weaknesses. My suave, polished exterior (humor me here) belies a rich, nougat-y interior of pure nerdyness that threatens to overwhelm me at almost any moment. Although I have dabbled in all manner of good and nerdy pursuits, my personal experience tends to concentrate in a few areas. First, I am a huge music nerd. I play a number of instruments and was a counselor at band camp for three years (insert joke here). My training is mostly classical, but I’m an equal opportunity kind of guy. An Itzhak Perlman master class? Right in my wheelhouse. Pachelbel’s Canon on the electric guitar? Sure. A guy complaining about Pachelbel’s Canon? Even better. The most ballin’ accordion player ever? In Soviet Russia, accordion plays you! Endless quantities of American Idol? Yo, dawg, that was da bomb! The “Hanukkah Song”? Please, sir, may I have another?

I hope you get the picture by now. Things are bad. Really, really bad. It’s entirely possible that I’m completely beyond help. At any moment the men in white coats might come to take me to a happy place.

But, as my YouTube favorites would be quick to point out, my music nerdyness quails in comparison to my current hobby of choice: dancing.

But before that, a brief interlude to watch people fall over:

Wasn’t that fun? Schadenfreude’s the best.

I’ve been dancing seriously since 2006 at a studio in downtown San Rafael. My primary training is in the ten ballroom dances, although I’ve found the time to mix in some West Coast Swing, Ballet and Blues amongst others. My training is competitive in nature, I have a partner and go to competitions where we compete against other couples in the five Standard dances: Waltz, Tango, Vienese Waltz, Foxtrot and Quickstep.

(Ballroom competitions are broken into many different divisions to place competitors of similar ages and skills against one another. I dance in the Adult Amateur Standard Championship division, which is open to all amateur competitors and allows any level of choreography. Amateurs are distinguished from professionals, who dance in a different division.)

The rise of YouTube and recent focus of the media on dancing has, in my opinion, completely changed the way it’s perceived by people who don’t dance. Rather than the vacant look and vague “Oh, that’s nice,” I used to get when I told people I did ballroom, I now get at least a “That’s the stuff on Dancing with the Stars, right?” frequently a “That’s interesting,” sometimes a “I have a friend that dances,” and every once in a while a “You’re so awesome, can I be your friend?”

Okay, I admit that the last one hasn’t happened yet.  Maybe someday…

Anyway, if someone does have the audacity to doubt how cool I am I can just jump on YouTube and whip out a video of someone doing something insane. I’m annoyed by much of Dancing with the Stars (So You Think You Can Dance, on the other hand, is amazingness in television form) but appreciate the way it has pushed dancing towards the mainstream. It can be occasionally frustrating when someone thinks that Jerry Rice is the pinnacle of ballroom dance (particularly when compared to champions like these guys or these guys), but I’m normally willing to smile and nod.

The ability to watch amazing things whenever I want has certainly had an adverse effect on my sleep cycle, although it has undoubtedly made me a happier person in general. Ultimately, I fear I am powerless against YouTube’s siren call.

– Forrest

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4 Responses

  1. Really enjoyed reading this, Forrest! Great first post. I can attest to getting lost in YouTube’s blackhole.

  2. Great links too! Thanks for the fun read, Forrest!

  3. Great post Forrest! So glad you’re a fan of SYTYCD (I hate Dancing with the Stars too)!

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