As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
There had been stories in the news about predatory webmasters who wait around for domain ownerships to expire which sometimes happens when no one's paying attention. As soon as the URL's free up, these people will grab the domain, either offer to sell the URL back to the original legimate owner or to sucker all the website's readers into visiting another website, typically a porn site.
I had heard about some historical society somewhere in the US that had forgotten to renew their domain name and some scum-of-the-known-universe grabbed the URL and directed tourists to a porn site. I believe the group had to pay off that guy to give the URL back to them.
Case in point, Boston's Swing Speakeasy disappeared a few weeks ago. The webmaster hadn't told me about it and I don't seem to have her email address anymore. As with other websites, if I find that a URL is bad, I don't remove the link right away, but I will add a note saying that the URL was bad, just in case the website's owners changed URL's and forgot to include a note pointing to the new locations (as Swing Dance Long Island had done). In this case, the Swing Speakeasy's old URL now directs the reader to a porn site so I assume that means I can safely remove the URL from this website.
I decided to drop in on Sal's Rhythm & Blues Club down in Johnston, Rhode Island to check up on the band, Swing-a-Delic from New Jersey. I had the band's CD so I figured it was a good excuse to get down there.
From Watertown Square, it's a 55-minute, 58-mile drive to Sal's. It's a fairly easy drive, though one of the landmarks was unlighted at that hour so I missed my turn just before the place. (Hey, Joe, got a map of that immediate area?)
Sal's a little bar with a 20'x20' dance floor (maybe slightly bigger, about 4x bigger than Johnny D's) and tables for the weary to sit at. I think that it's a nice little place for weekly swing dancing. I kinda like it.
Right now they seem to get uneven support. Bands like Eight To The Bar will pack the place but the local dancers seem to be fickle about going there for out-of-state bands, regardless of their quality. I think it's a great place (and inexpensive) way to check out new bands without having to drive up to Boston or other metropolitan areas. I think that all New England bands should try to get some face time at this venue.
Joe Giocastro and his wife Paula seem dedicated to having bands play there. Friday night is Swing/Lindy night and Saturday is Blues night. They have it tough out there because they have to charge a cover on band nights (because Lindy Hoppers don't drink) which has alienated local residents who have balked at paying a cover charge for a bar. I hope the local dancers there continue and increase their support of this venue. The owners of Sal's are interested in expanding their coverage of the dance community. Zydeco and West Coast Swing dancers should look forward to a venue for them in the fall.
Hello to Stacy Quaglia of the Swingin' 88's. It was nice to put a face to a person with whom I've been communicating with for so many years.
As for the band, Swing-a-Delic, I think they're okay for playing little dive bars that have a dance floor, but they need to work on their sound. I had written to them about their music (sorry, but they asked) and told them that their keyboards was set to play as a synthesizer and sounded like goofy swing music from the Lawrence Welk Show. They certainly have the energy and enthusiasm to play for dances, but they need to be a bit crisper in their playing and they need to set their keyboard to play as a piano before I could possibly recommend them.
"I've been surfing the web for years and sporadically for the past year looking at ballroom and other dance related sites. Let me tell you there is a lot garbage on the web. 95% of what's out there is not worth the time waiting for the page to load. Sometimes I search for days trying to find USEFUL information on a topic.
So, I would add the following to your list of suggestions:
"Unless you plan a bigger and better and more informative website than what is out there or are putting up something that isn't out there already, don't put more pages and sites up that duplicate what's out there."
By the way, your site has is one of the 5% that's not garbage."
Thank you for the kind words.
Part of the reason why I make it a policy not to look at other websites for my information is that much of it is out of date and managed by people who have other reasons for maintaining their websites or they want other people to type it in for them. I have a hard time dealing with exaggerated propaganda from some dance teachers and/or promoters. "The hottest dance club in..."? "The best teacher..."? It's difficult to wade through the sludge of exaggeration and self-promotion.
I used to be jealous of other websites, particularly those who "looked cooler" or had more interesting effects (like Flash presentations). It took me a while to realize that the neat features were interesting only for the first visit and just got in the way of subsequent visits. My readers are really only interested in *information*. I leave out the "cool stuff" because most surfers are still on a 56K dial-up modem (or slower) so while some of my pages take a while to download, the amount of *useful* information per square inch of monitor screen is much higher.
For a while I was annoyed that there were so many other dance websites that offered the same kinds of information as my own website, but I've come to realize that competition is good. My website has been evolving over the years because I've had competition, though I must admit that I get bored with this website's layout every six months. Readership is determined by the quality of the information on the website and some webmasters will realize how much work it is to maintain that quality and some of them will decide that they won't want to put that much effort into their websites. Some already have abandoned any work on their websites but still maintain them for whatever purposes. This will cause some readers to go elsewhere for the latest information and natural selection will favor those websites whose webmasters are willing to put in that effort.
On the duplication of effort, however, I think that it's silly to have two similiar websites that *function* in the same way. For instance, I can think of two area websites that offer West Coast Swing information that is entered by the promoters. One is newer and slicker and looks like it's managed by the webmaster, while the other one looks like the webmaster hasn't looked at it in a while because someone posted some Lindy information on it and I know the webmaster is a WCS bigot. I'm not willing to just copy the features of other websites. I think about the kinds of people who look at my website and how they surf for their information. I sort out the venues to make it easier to find the information. Other readers can go to other local websites for information that is presented in the manner that they like to see it.
Remember how I complained about thoughtless people who don't bother returning shopping carts to the store and just leave them about in the parking lots to inconvenience others?
I realize that there *are* people who don't care about others, but you'd think that these people would at least not leave these shopping carts in the middle of the *handicapped parking spots*. I see this all the time at Home Depot where I would expect that shoppers there would be the most able to walk the carts back to the store...
I've been trying to get on the mailing list of a certain local favorite band for over a year now. I've sent off email to the band and I've even walked up to the band leader and handed him a flyer a couple of weeks ago. I would think that they would want their adoring fans to show up at all of their events to give them support and encourage others to show up.
Of course, I then hear through the grapevine that they're playing at a local park about a mile away. What did the band say? Absolutely nothing.
If your favorite swing dance band plays gigs where you'd like to go and see them, make sure they know about this website and that they should get listed. While I try not to list venues that are really "shows" and not very dancer-friendly, I like to show good bands some support by helping them get the word out to the dancer community who might make a trip out for a free concert.
Editor's Note: The following is from a certain member of the dance community who shall remain nameless. While this person gave reasons for remaining anonymous, I think this person is actually embarassed that he/she was the one who gave me the information for this website's calendar... :-)
During the summer, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department runs an outdoor series called: The Dorothy Curran Wednesday Evening Concert Series at City Hall Plaza. It has at times attracted 8.000 people for the 2-hour show. It's underwritten by about a half-dozen commercial companies, local media outlets, and unions, and several Boston City Government offices. In years past they had a dance floor, but this year the floor only appeared twice.
This year the series included The Glenn Miller Orchestra (with dance floor) and the U.S. Air Force Swing Band (no dance floor). It's a shame the dance floor wasn't available both times, but more shame is on the quality of their series Finale last Wednesday evening! [August 14, 2002 - Ed.]
I had read somewhere, and verified on the phone with the city, that this would be "Big Band Night" and would feature a dance floor. So, despite the admonitions of the public health officials over the air quality, several of swing dancers schleped out in the 99 degree heat to get an outdoor swing fix.
The first part of the evening featured an amateur break dancing performance by some kids, and they were pretty good. But it was hard to see how the rap "music" could be considered "Big Band", and the frequent and violent use of the word [...a colorful word that can assume the characteristics of a verb, a noun, an adjective, an adverb, an interjection, and, usually, an expletive. - Ed] in the lyrics of the "songs" was not the most pleasant thing.
This was followed by some 71 year old gentleman who said he used to sing in nightclubs performed a couple of ballads to recorded music.
Then the first band came on: a group of "musicians" billing themselves as the "Copley Cats" which consisted of: accordian/frontman, female vocalist, drummer/singer, and trumpter/vocalist, and two more horns. The lead female vocalist was pretty good, I thought.
I was a little perplexed to hear a bass, though, because I didn't see one on stage. But when the male vocalist did a Louis Armstrong tune, it became obvious that he was shamlessly lip-syncing to an actual Louis Armstrong recording. And not doing a very good job!
After that, on the other songs, it was easier to see that the previously-impressive female vocalist was lip syncing, too. (I had wondered how they were getting reverb effects going for her, without a sound engineer!) Looking closer at the other players, I noticed that at least sometimes, the wrong notes were coming out of their instruments! Apparently, the whole show was fake!
Of course, none of the music was remotely swingable or "Big Band". It was a series of long medleys featuring mostly latin and disco. Well, for about one minute during one of the medleys they "played" (that is, their fake-o CD played) a little bit of "Ride Sally", so WCS was an option if you happened to be already up there for the "We Are Family" part or the conga line or whatever.
When those [hey, that's not a nice thing to call someone. - Ed.] finally left the stage twenty minutes late, the next band came on. We were hopeful for some swing music.
Joey Dee and the Starliters are a third-rate band that plays rock and
roll numbers -- but not swingable ones -- and none of them can sing.
Their miserable croaking makes most drunken karaoke bars sound good.
Their lead singer is Frankie Valli's brother, who can't sing.
Their show consisted of medleys of poor renditions of Frankie Valli
and Four Seasons songs: oldies like "Dawn (Go Away)", but mostly
late disco era stuff like "Swearin' To God". Well, I guess you
could do Hustle to that last one. Maybe a miracle occurred in
the last 15 minutes of the show after I
So, "Big Band" night was not only devoid of anything resembling Big Band music, or any kind of music you could swing dance to, but this season finale to the concert series didn't even put decent musicians on the stage. It was a complete waste of time, and even disregarding any "Swing" aspect, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department should be seriously embarrassed.
I didn't go anywhere, didn't go dancing, didn't hear anyone complain. All nice and quiet.
Oh wait. I imagine that most of you (probably 80% or more) are using dial-up modems to get your email and to go surfing. How many of you look at websites that are paid for by advertisement? How many of you are tired of waiting for pop-up ads to finish loading before you can get the information that you need?
If the dance promoter is trying to get information to you, they shouldn't be making money or getting free webspace by forcing you, the one who wants to spend money and go out dancing, to look at ads. You, the reader, are not getting anything special by having to read ads. As a matter of fact, you're *paying* for those ads, too, since it's cutting into your monthly quota of connect time and tying up your phone. It's not like the TV or newspaper which uses advertisement to subsidize the rest of the medium (and it's easy to ignore those ads).
Everyone should consider yelling at any dance promoters who uses an ISP (such as Geocities) that forces ads on the readers. Tell them that you don't have the time to waste to download ads while trying to find times, dates, and directions for their venues. Tell them that you don't feel like subsidizing the costs of running their website. If they're too cheap to pay for a standalone website, their business must be so bad that you wouldn't want to go there (yeah, tell them *that*). And let's not get into pop-up ads that *COVER* up the information you're looking for.
Yes, this is an old issue, but even with a fast connection, it annoys me to have my monitor get cluttered with pop-up windows from a website that's suppose to be attracting customers. Pop-up ads for non-related businesses just encourages me to go elsewhere.