As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
Just when I thought I was done with the website for the week, I get a note from a reader who was "not happy" because all I list "is swing, and ballroom. no listings for jazz, tap, ballet, pointe, hip-hop, modern???".
As Homer would say, "doh!"
My response noted that:
Ah, that feels much better. :-) It's said that if you eat a frog early in the morning, you'll feel much better during the day because you know it can't get any worse. :-)
The next time you update your website, could you please include [name withheld] at the [name withheld] Church on Saturday, [some date], [some time]? Thanks!First of all, the website is pretty big and I don't know all of the venues. Unless it's a venue with which I am extremely familiar with, there's a good chance that I'll have to spend some time looking for it. In this case, I finally remembered what part of the state this venue was located in. If you are requesting a change, please help me out by suggesting places where this change should go.
Secondly, I have no idea what town *this* church (with the *very* generic name) is located in. There is typically at least one of these churches in every town in New England. The studio's listing on my website does not have any information on this dance location so this dance will not get listed. If you ask to get your dance listed and I don't know you (and don't assume that I do), then you should check to make sure that I have the necessary information to list your event correctly.
I would much appreciate it if people who send this kind of information would remember that I'm suppose to be managing this website for *fun*; it's not suppose to be work.
The first thing you will notice is that it's a liquor store. Huh? What's so special about a liquor store? Well, there is the basic fact that it's one of the few (well, the *only*) liquor store that I've found in the Valley that sold a decent variety of *foreign* wines (in this land of Napa and Sonoma). The proprietor is Italian and the choices lean in that direction.
But that's not the coolest part of this place. The best part of Romans is the restaurant at the back of the store. A restaurant in a liquor store? Yup. There are about 8 tables back there and the entrance is in the back off the parking lot.
The proprietor is this old Italian gentleman with the happiest smile you've ever seen and he greets you as he would his grandchildren visiting on Sunday. When you sit down, you notice that there are no menus. That's because there are none. The proprietor comes over with his smile and asks you what you're in the mood for. A little pasta, perhaps, to start? Perhaps pesto on top? First time diners get dragged into the kitchen for a tour where he asks you for the kind of pasta you might want for your meal: spagetti, linguini, bow-tie, etc. When you get back to your table, he'll ask you for an idea of what you feel like eating that evening. Spicy? Mild? Beef? Chicken? Fish? Pork? He might add a little frown once in a while: "No, you don't want that tonight" I asked to be "surprised" and he smiled at that.
You'll see the term "home-cooked meal" at a lot of restaurants but this is the genuine thing (though your Italian meal is cooked by Hispanic chefs. :-) ) Did you remember that this is also a liquor store? Before the meal starts, go through the liquor store and pick out the bottle (or bottles) that you want with your meal!
And then there's dessert. Good home-made Italian gelato. The proprietor brings out a tub of clean spoons as you get to sample the 8 varieties of ice cream made at the restaurant. Then you go back to your table and put in your order. I *highly* recommend a combo of the Tiramisu and Mocha. :-)
The real story, however, is the proprietor. This gentleman is probably well past retirement and has more happiness and energy than most people twenty years younger (kinda like Pierre in Boston, looks like him, too). He stays young by working and he lives to see how satisfied he can make his customers As I went by yesterday to pick up a couple of bottles of wine for Easter dinner (my hosts were Italian), this gentleman was there with the same energy for the store customers as he had for his restaurant patrons. He lives to be nice to people. That's probably the secret to longevity: smiling, being happy and being nice to other people, which encourages them to be happy around you which in turn gives you more reasons to be in a good mood, more reasons to wake up every morning wondering if it could be any nicer then yesterday. The guy who runs this little restaurant is probably going to live forever. :-)
Ornery or angry people don't live longer; it just feels longer.
The typical reason for these closings is usually a "lack of support"; that usually covers all the bases (and their backends, too). The average dancer will translate that to merely mean that not enough people were showing up or that the "numbers weren't good enough". I think that it's too easy to put the blame on either the venue promoters or the dancers who didn't show up. The numbers for attendance or gross revenues are just obvious excuses (that are easily misinterpreted) to prop up one's contention that there wasn't enough support from the dance community.
When a "good" dance venue decides to close down, I can't help but think about the root causes of that action. A "lack of support" isn't just about the money, it's about caring. After some discussion with a friend, if we ignore for now the situation of a bad dance venue that really shouldn't exist, I see that there are three kinds of people who go out dancing:
"People with both hands full" go to a dance and offer their energy and presence to a dance. They don't just go to a dance and expect to have a good dance; they go out and create a good time for themselves and other people. These people share their energy and good atttitude so that everyone will have a good time. One example that I got concerned a visiting teacher who encouraged his local friends to attend the dance that he was going to. This person brough along a good attitude and some good energy. This teacher also "worked" the crowd for his upcoming workshops but he mingled and asked people to dance. Certainly this person was "taking" away something but he brought much more to the dance and helped make the dance enjoyable for a lot of people who didn't know or didn't care who this teacher was.
"People with one hand full and one hand empty" are those who come to a dance with an agenda (ready to take something away), but at least they try or pretend to bring something to the table. Going dancing? Someone in this category might call up a friend to go out dancing so they won't be alone and they will have someone to dance with. These people don't expect the dance venue to give them a good time. They leave the dance with more than they showed up with, but at least they brought some energy (and support) to the dance to share.
The last group of "people with both hands empty" show up with nothing other than a bad attitude. They pay their money (if then) and expect people to dance with them and for the dance venue to give them a fun time. They blame the dance venue "when there's no one to dance with". They may also go to dances with the expectation of "meeting someone" and oftentimes are disappointed; again they blame the dance venue for *their* bad time. These people "suck up" the energy at a dance and leave with it; they don't contribute to the enjoyment of the dance venue because they have nothing to share. They make it less fun to go out dancing.
When a dance venue gets a high ratio of the latter groups, especially the last one, it becomes draining on the spirit of the promoters: it's just not fun anymore. It's not all (or always) about money. There are a few venues who keep an eye on the "enjoyment" meter. When they don't feel like they're getting that support anymore, it's just not fun anymore and the venue closes.
I was in Starmarket this week shopping for the ingredients of the lasagna that I was making for someone's birthday party (hey, Chris, is it still better than yours?). I had a cup of coffee from Bruegger's Bagels, and while I was perusing the pasta aisle, I managed to swallow a gulp of coffee the wrong way. My first reaction was to spit out the coffee (remember, that's the pasta section of the Allston store) all over the place and commenced choking. I do *NOT* cough in a subtle way! I ended up bent over my shopping cart in a loud fit of coughing.
Meanwhile, some woman and her small child walked by with their shopping cart as if I didn't exist. Not one pause, not one inquiring "Are you okay?". They didn't want to get involved. If I choked to death, it wasn't their problem. And let's not get into the issue of why no one at Star Market seemed concerned that someone was choking *loudly* in their aisles.
I remember when I was about 14 or so, I was walking over the bridge on Tremont Street in Boston where it crossed the Pike. I came across some elderly man who was lying facedown on the bridge. He seemed out of place there, especially since he didn't appear to be a homeless person and an open bridge does not offer any shelter. I pulled the guy up and got him to tell me where he lived. He might have been drunk and just fell down, but that wasn't my concern. I walked him home a few blocks to Castle Court (a housing project in the South End) and got him home to his family who seemed surprised that I showed up with him; they didn't realize that he might have been in trouble. They took him in and I said goodbye.
I think about that incident so many years ago and what just happened to me last week. I could have easily ignored that guy 25 years ago (probably would have been safer), but I also think that he could have ended up in the hospital with the pneumonia and died if I hadn't done anything. I guess my point is that, if you ever have an opportunity to help someone in need and decide not to (even if it's only a minor inconvenience), put yourself in their place. Ask yourself how you might have felt if you were that guy on the ground unconscious or in pain and people just ignored you and just stepped over your body.
"I shall pass through this world, but once.
Any good that I can do, or any kindness that I can show
another human being, let me do it now and not defer it.
For I shall not pass this way again." - author unknown