The Soapbox Archives:
I decided a long time ago that this website would be inclusive for all variations of swing. I list activities for (east coast) swing, ballroom, west coast swing, hustle, Lindy Hop, balboa, and more recently, blues, that is, when I get that information (which is almost never). Somewhere on this website you'll even find information on Ceroc. I include ballroom because most of those dance studios also offer swing/jive classes, even though jive sometimes feels like the distant cousin who shows up for a visit without any warning. I do and must draw the line at Salsa and other latin dancing because there are other websites for that and there just isn't enough time in the day to support more dances.
In any case, I get sent a lot of information every week for inclusion in this website. A lot of beginner dancers find their way here with a search and they stick around because there's so much information available here. A lot of dance organizers want their information in here because they want their share of those students/customers.
As for the "blues" dance community, some of the bands play the same music as at "swing" dances and some of the recorded music sounds very much like what they might (or used to) play at west coast swing dances. It's clear that the blues community is going after the same Lindy Hopper base as the other dance venues. It might be a good idea to get the blues events listed on this website.
This has nothing to do with dancing, but I was thinking...
Back in high school, a bunch of us hung out together because we were in the same music groups; in my case, it was the String Ensemble and the Orchestra.
Such groups were the early examples of a meritocracy where the better (musician) you were, the better parts you got to play. It was assumed that you started out as a Second or Third Violin and moved up to play First Violin by your senior year. Of course, the promotions could also come about as a result of a lot of seniors graduating.I, for example, came in playing Second Violin in the 7th grade and moved up to First in the 8th. On the flip side, if there were a lot of First Violins, you might get "stuck" playing "Second Violin" anyway.
In hindsight, with many years of maturity to reflect back on those days, we can see how important the Second Violin section was to any string ensemble or orchestra. However, if you go through your entire high school career playing the same Second Violin parts for the Vivaldi Concerto in A minor (Opus 3, Number 6) or Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacktmusic, it might be discouraging and a disincentive to practice and get better.
While I am certainly happy to have gotten to play the First Violin parts most of the time and I see how we earned those parts, I wonder if there couldn't have been a better way to do it, perhaps rotating around so everyone gets a chance to play the more interesting (and challenging) parts. Most of us were friends and were confident enough in our playing so none of us would have worried about playing "second fiddle" to others. Even when I "inherited" the first chair in the orchestra after a really good violinist graduated, my friends and I would swap the role of concertmaster, especially since none of us were under the delusion that we'd be able to take over if the conductor got sick.
While high school is a good place to start learning about competing to get ahead in life, it's still primarily a place to *learn*. In organizations like the BSO, hundreds of people probably fought just to get the last chair of the Second Violin section so there's no shame in earning that position. In high school, however, the teachers, music or otherwise, need to find better ways to encourage and motivate the students who might not see the big picture and the value of their participation and contribution.
They sometimes say "less is more" so I've spent this weekend editting most of the pages on this website. It's mostly the States pages that got changed. I got inspired by the Shoreline Swing website because it uses a minimal amount of graphics and looks really clean. I finally managed to edit all the state pages in one sitting so they all have the same exact format (finally!) and look the same.
The major change is that I took out those graphics used as section dividers. They didn't take up all that much space, but text takes up even less space than the graphics so the page should download faster. And I removed most of the the tables in the HTML code so search engines should be able to index the information better (I was told search engines not index information that resided in tables, but they seemed to find my stuff easily). The trick is to figure out how to layout the information so that it's easy to find the information you're looking for in a page full of text.
The thing I haven't quite figured out yet is how to deal with the various calendars. I still think that having a vertical continuous calendar is much better than the usual horizontal 7-day week calendars. My vertical calendars have more freedom to add useful information, particularly information that highlights a special dance weekend and/or visiting instructors. The horizontal calendars just don't have enough space for multiple entries on a given day and it looks somewhat lopsided when most of the events are clumped together on weekends. And I don't have to repeat a dance weekend every day over several days. I'm going to experiment with colors like the western Mass calendar, the south of Boston calendar, or the west of Boston calendar (contrasting with the Boston calendar).
A couple of friends of mine, Deborah Huisken (Northampton/Tucson) and Emily Belt (San Diego) had started a little project of collecting stories from dancers around the world that was supposed to be presented to Frankie to read. They all wanted Frankie to know what he meant to all of them. (original copy)