As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
The Boston Swing Dance Society was started many years ago by a group of dance teachers to bring together a community of swing dancers in a time before most of the current crop of dancers had even heard of swing dancing. It was hard to avoid appearances of conflicts of interest so at the end of 1992, it was turned over to the amateur community to be headed by a group of three dancers, Teri, Kathleen, and myself. The first thing we did was blow away the bank account for a great New Year's Eve dance, featuring the Dave Whitney Swing Band. By the way, thanks to Bob Thomas and Sara Brodsky who covered our losses that night. Thanks to Lisa and Sheryl for staying with it this long.
We managed to do some good. We started up the newsletter again and worked with dance venues for discounts for our members. My goal was to show that BSDS membership had value so that everyone would want to join. We kept it politically neutral so that all dance teachers and venues had reason to support us. We brought in additional people to run the organization to allow the earlier directors to retire, but we all kept contributing to it for the love of the dance. We managed to become solvent and built up a good membership list. Finally, though, as we got tired of waiting for someone new to take over, we slowly departed on our separate ways, determined to move ahead on our own. One of those paths led to the creation of Ken's Place by Jim and Lisa. Another path led to the creation of DanceNet On The Web (this website).
As time went on, there were fewer volunteers to run the organization and put out a "product" so at the end of 1996, the group went into "hibernation" in hopes that someone with some enthusiasm and energy would pick up the ball and run with it (and keep it out of the hands of the dance professionals). It seemed that everyone was too busy dancing to have time for the group. After all these years (quite an achievement), the BSDS will run out of funds and probably shut down and there won't be any amateur-run organization that will be able to claim to represent (any) Boston swing dance community (or even pretend to). That would be a shame.
Those of us who were around then can still remember when the organization brought in Frankie Manning for workshops and held a Black & White dance (I bought a tux for that one) in the same hall that now hosts the Boston Swing Dance Network dances. We still remember all of the old-timer dancers, some of whom still come around once in a while (though, at this point, *I'm* an old-timer). I remember when I was the only Asian on the swing scene. Of course, I still remember the BSDS newsletter staff revolt (sorry, couldn't resist after all these years). And I remember board member Dave Weissburg telling me how he encouraged a certain woman to start swing dancing by showing her something I wrote in the newsletter (he married her, by the way).
However, I think that there is still a use for such an organization. Having the collective buying power of a large group of dancers is useful. I remember that we had used the membership list to solicit discounts for our members who paid enough dues that we put out a printed newsletter regularly. We even had an editor with a Ph.D. in English and we put out an newsletter with articles and interviews. There are things that could be done to show value in being a member of such an organization. Other organizations in the rest of New England have shown how dancers in West Coast Swing and ECS/Lindy can show up at a dance and have a good time dancing to almost every song. I think that's still possible for us (in spite of the "snobs" in each community). Such an organization could be used to encourage dance amateurs and professionals to work together and improve the swing community.
Well, We've done our time and our share. It's time for new blood. What are you going to do?
P.S.: And my personal thanks to those who put in their time (some of whom did so because I asked them):
Teri Calderone, Kathleen Resendez (Luongo), Amy Allen, Mike Restivo, Lisa Kleitz, Sheryl Knopf, Dave Weissburg, Jim Calderone, Lisa Delaurier, Bob Thomas, Sara Brodsky, and Susan Lein (Brown), and a special thanks to Laura Sohval and Roberta Tovey for the time they put in.
Pet peeve of the week: there are various organizations out there with the word "Society", "Club", or whatever that implies that the venue is an association of amateur dancers who put together activities for their members. These venues are in fact profit-making ventures that hold dances to raise money that go directly into the pockets of the promoters.
To be fair, the word "club" is used colloquially to refer to for-profit dance venues, as in "nightclub", but if you look at the weblinks on the various webpages around the country, they don't differentiate between member-run "clubs" and for-profit dance "clubs". I think that's somewhat confusing. I'm especially disturbed by organizations that use the word "society" as part of their name where the promoter is the only "member" and implies that it's large group of people who get together to dance. This is intended to draw in a large crowd of customers and deflect attention away from the promoters. I hope these particular promoters come clean and rename their organizations, perhaps using the word "Productions" instead of "Society" or "Club".
By the way, in case you wanted to know, the BSDS is *NOT* in category. And before any more people ask, I'm not talking about the Boston Swing Cooperative, either.