As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
I don’t often get a chance to speak to people at the monthly dance, so I figured this would be a good way to thank everyone for their support over the past 20 years. This dance could not have survived this long without the dancers, old and new, and our great bunch of volunteers who keep the dances running smoothly. My partner, Claire Schlosser, has been running the dance with me for 17 years, and has been great to work with. She will be “retiring” after the June 2007 dance. But, who could blame her? I mean, how long can one person do this kind of thing?
Back in 1987, there were no regularly scheduled swing dances with live music happening in Boston. So, a group of us swing dancers organized a dance, hired a band, and the dancers started coming. So much so, that we quickly outgrew our first hall and moved to the IC Church in Cambridge for about 8 years. Back then dances were predominantly run by studios, so ours became the umbrella dance that everyone, regardless of studio affiliations, could attend and be sure to see all of their friends. We also ran workshops and brought in people like Frankie Manning (who was only in his 70’s back then), Margaret Batiuchok, Sylvia Sykes, the DC Hand Dancers, the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers, and many more. And for a change of pace, we’ve had Western Swing Bands and 1950’s style bands.
As the dance community grew, it spawned new dancers, new relationships, and new dance instructors who started teaching and producing dances and workshops. By our tenth year, we had moved to our current location in Watertown. The swing dance world continued to grow until it exploded with the emergence of the Gap commercials, which featured “hot” swing dancers dressed in khakis. Our dances started to sell-out, and we'd have long lines down the block. People would wait outside just for the opportunity to dance.
On April 14th, we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary, and we'd like to invite you to join us. We're celebrating big with TWO Bands, THREE Performances, a special anniversary snowball dance jam, and plenty of cake. We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of our old friends, as well as our new ones. So please come out to help us celebrate what is sure to be a very special anniversary.
And this coming weekend is symbolic of that time spent on the dance floor. This weekend is the 20th anniversary dance of the monthly Boston Swing Dance Network's swing dance. After three months of dance classes back in 1991, I got brave enough to venture out into the real world and attended my first public dance.
This was actually my second dance ever. The night before, I had gone to my first Rugcutters Dance Studio dance party in my suit and tie. My first dance in public was with teacher Lynn Foord who saw me and dragged me out to the dance floor.
But it was the next night at the "IC dance", at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Cambridge where I was in an unfamiliar environment, again in my suit and tie. I was holding up at the wall at the back of the hall when my dance classmate and future dance partner, Susan Brown, saw me and made me dance with her. And I've never looked back (and haven't worn a suit and tie to a dance since).
I've attended probably 95 percent of the Boston Swing Dance Network dances during that time. If I was away, it was because I was in California for work (two companies ago). With my last job, I got to schedule my trips around the BSDN dances so I made sure I was around for the dance. I would normally take the redeye flight back the night before and land in Boston Saturday morning so I could get some sleep and be ready for the BSDN dance that night. I skipped my 15th high school reunion on one of those occasions to make sure I got enough sleep for that evening's dance.
I was scheduled to fly back to Boston from California on September 14, 2001, when the attack on the Trade Center towers took place. With all the airlines shut down, it looked like I wasn't going to make it back to Boston for the dance. When I found out that Logan Airport was going to be open Saturday morning at 5 am, I was at San Francisco airport at 5 am and got into the quarter-mile-long line to catch a flight to Boston, the first United flight out of SFO to the east coast. I made it to the dance that night with a couple of hours to spare. Even 9/11 didn't stop me from getting to the dance.
Over the years, this dance has been the one dance I've looked forward to every month. I've met a lot of wonderful people at this dance. It's been around so long that when people leave the scene and come back later, they know that the Boston Swing Dance Network's monthly dance will be around and that's where they can expect to find a few familiar faces to dance with. I expect a lot of old timers (both teachers and dancers) to show up for this anniversary dance. And it's appropriate that Doc Scanlon's Rhythm Boys, my favorite band for a swing dance, will be playing at this event.
In the 16 years that I've been dancing, there has been no dance venue that I've enjoyed more and none other that I've looked forward to attending at any given time. Beginners and experienced, old and young, everyone feels welcome at this event. It's a venue that's often copied, but never duplicated. I hope you'll join me at this event on April 14.
Just a side note here: I heard that someone tried to attribute some random anonymous response in the It's All Swing forum to me. Let me just state, for the record:
Many thanks to the friends who wrote in to the moderator to say that I didn't write that forum entry and to the moderator, Steve D. (still can't spell or pronounce his name), who indicated that datum to the forum members.
, something pink or very light red (color "#ffcccc"), indicates workshops, particularly featuring someone from out of town, such as the upcoming Ryan Francois & Jenny Thomas workshops. Workshops by local teachers are considered just "classes" and don't get highlighted in the local calendar. There might be an evening dance along with the workshops but they'll be normal local dances, either regularly scheduled or scheduled because there are people attending the workshops and are in the area anyways. I generally don't list ballroom workshops.
, or a light green (color "#ccffcc"), indicates a dance weekend like Beantown Lindy Hop Camp or the Boston Tea Party which feature dancing and workshops. This usually indicates an event that might bring in people from other parts of the country and offer workshops with teachers from other parts of the country or the world. This was once a weird brownish color because I didn't realize that my LCD monitor wasn't displaying this particular shade of green correctly.
, a very pale yellow (color "#ffffcc"), indicates a special dance event of just dancing, like the Boston Independance Exchange. There's no visiting teachers; it's just an organized (or unorganized) grouping of dancing.
Naturally, you won't see , a light blue with a hint of purple in there, or , with a little more green. These are typically the background color for the various table boxes on this website (such as this Soapbox area). Blue, in general, is also used for links and titles so blue isn't going to be used to highlight special activities.
This is not to say that I'm always consistent about it. There are more listings for workshops by a visiting instructor so I'm used to using the color. Occasionally I might be merrily typing away and enter the pink background color instead of perhaps the color for a dance weekend event. It's really not a big deal because I'll eventually catch and fix it or the whole point was to make it stand out and get noticed by the reader and that happens regardless of the background color.
, a very bright and strong yellow (color "#ffff00"), is a new color that I'm using. I decided that I wanted a special color to highlight something I'm strongly supporting and will probably attend, such as the 20th Anniversary dance of the Boston Swing Dance Network on April 14. I'm not going to be using this color designation much, but if I do, you'll know that it's something special that I support. Hmm... Maybe I should be using this color for the Beantown Lindy Hop Camp.
Ya know, I really hate these late Sunday night additions to the Soapbox. I don't get enough time to really think about what I want to say and I'd rather be doing something else.
Over the last few weeks, I've been alerted to some behavior in the dance community that I consider unethical and/or dishonorable. I really hate hearing this kind of stuff because we're all suppose to be supportive of each other in the swing dance community. It really ruins my day when I find out that someone is not doing what should be the right thing. It's worse when that person is also proclaiming their support for the other venues in the dance community. It threatened to ruin my mood for the dinner party I had on Saturday with some good friends.
I ended up wasting time dealing with a problem that should never have come up. Why is it that 99% of the dance community behaves themselves and a few don't feel like doing the right thing?
For the entire time I've been dancing, I've had to deal with unscrupulous (sp?) dance promoters. I don't have much I can do to them to modify their behavior except write about them, but there's a limit as to my effectiveness.
The dance professionals who have to deal with these *unprofessional* dance promoters really can't come out and declare war on these bad apples so, instead, they come over to vent to me because they see me as someone who's familiar with the issues and is theoretically neutral.
But I'm tired of having to interact with people who don't deal with each other in good faith and I'm tired of having my day ruined because I know someone is making a friend of mine miserable. I'm tired of people accidentally (or deliberately) making "mistakes", apologizing when they're caught, and then go on to repeat similarly poor behavior in a stupid and obvious cycle. I'm tired of being a babysitter and a referee.
Well, I've come up with something to make these people think about what they're doing *before* they hurt anyone.
From now on, if I find out that a dance promoter is exhibiting unethical, dishonest, and/or dishonorable behavior in my sole evaluation, I will move their listing(s) on this website further down the page. For example, if you're listed on my places to go dancing in Boston in the 4th entry (I have no idea who's on the fourth entry; this is just an example) and you do something I find offensive, you will move down to the fifth entry. Every time I hear and confirm that you did something that I would object to in your dealings with your peers and your customers, I will push your listing further down.
No warning. No appeal.
And remember, it takes 20 "Atta Boy!"'s to equal one "Oh shit!". It'll be easier to play nice and maintain your position than it would be to climb back up the listings. If you don't know the community rules, now would be a good time to learn them. Finally.
And if you get to the bottom of the webpage? Well, if you get that far, that must mean you've *continually* done bad things that I object to and I really don't want my website to help you get business. I will push you off the webpage. And it doesn't matter if you have the most happen' venue in Boston; if you are unethical, I don't want to support you.
It's time that certain people considered the impact of their actions on the dance community. No more excuses. No more apologies. No more "I didn't know!". I'm not against open and honest competition between venues, but if you're going to proclaim that you support all the venues and then turn around to undermine everyone else, I've got you in my sights.
And the bright side? Later additions to this website now know that they have a chance to move up in the listings. And yes, I will move people up the list if I find their venue to be exceptional. Get to work.
"I had a great time! It was nice to see old faces, great band, I had some fun partners- really fun night!" - JoannieActually, there were two bands: The Peter Davis Band and Doc Scanlon's Rhythm Boys.
"I had a blast at Roger's dance last Saturday.! I thought the bands were great & played a nice variety of swing. The performances were good (2 was just the right amount - 3, which I think was what they'd planned, may have been too many) and the "snow ball" was fun. Of course it was also fantastic to dance & catch up with old friends!" - LauraThat's right. There was a variation on the "snow ball" where they start off with people dancing who then break and grab someone from the audience to dance with. At first, they asked all the people who were at the dance 20 years ago to come out and dance. Then, everyone who was around 15 years ago came out to dance with the 20-year people. The 10-year attendees followed afterwards, followed by the 5-year people. There was still more than half the crowd sitting out so Roger Weiss continued calling out the 4-year people and the 3-year people before calling everyone out to dance. It was encouraging to see so many newcomers to the dance.
"Doc Scanlon was great: full of energy (but not too fast) and swinging! It was a really nice party atmosphere, and I saw some people I haven't seen at the dance in 10 years!" - AnonymousDoc Scanlon's Rhythm Boys is one great dance band. Their music is "upbeat" but not necessarily "up-tempo". It didn't matter what genre or how fast the song was; people couldn't help but get up and dance.
And it was a wonderful homecoming for a lot of people. This is the dance that you go to if you've been away and you want to see familiar faces on the dance floor again. It's been a long time since I've had a chance to dance the whole night away. I got to see and dance with people I haven't seen in years and there were tons of people whom I did not get to dance with just because there wasn't enough time.
And it's funny how a lot of people still look the same.
"As I was watching people dance and mingle, I had this strange feeling as though time had not passed... All these faces I recognize, and I still don't know their names... Everyone looks the same, just a little older. People I thought were really old-timers from 15 years ago are still dancing and I thought: gosh, so-and-so is still alive! :)" - Paul
You could see a lot of planning for this event. They must have bought just enough cake for the dancers because there were only 10 pieces left when everyone got back to the dance floor. The small side room was opened up for dancing and the entire hall was filled and busy until the end.
"The reunion of old friends brought back memories as sweet as the cakes which were served. Of course, all of you look as young as ever. Cheers for Roger, Claire, the hard-working musicians and dance performers." - Kathleen
And the last half hour was interesting with the two bands merging into one; one big community band that seemed to reflect the community spirit of the crowd. There was a lot of dancing done on Saturday, but there were a lot of people who were just as happy to hang out with their friends. I've been attending this dance for the last 16 years and I'm looking forward to the next 16.