The Soapbox Archives:
To be honest, that sort of attitude bothers me. I'm thinking "Hey, weren't *you* a beginner at some point? And didn't some nice more-advanced dancer dance with you anyway?" While I can imagine that some people have these thoughts, it amazes me that some of those same people would choose to verbalize those opinions, particularly around people who *do* attend those "beginner-friendly" dances.
I think, though, these same dance snobs ignore the practical benefits of going to venues that are friendly to beginners: they meet new people.
Many, most, if not all, of these same people are also out there looking for that "special someone" in their life. They'll join dating services, subscribe to Match.com, E-Harmoney, J-Date, etc. If they attend only dances with all the "good" dancers, they're dancing with the same people over and over again. They're *not* getting exposed to new people on the scene.
My former and most favorite dance partner met her husband at a singles dance. Several of my other friends met their spouses at these "beginner friendly" dances. Many of us dream of going out with someone who dances (because dancing is something you can do together for the rest of your lives). If you meet someone at a dance, you at least have that in common so it's one thing off the "checklist". And a beginner dancer doesn't have to be a beginner for the rest of their lives; today's beginner might be tomorrow's highly sought-after professional. I've been around the local dance scene long enough to remember when many of the current dancers were themselves "beginners". I remember all the nice people who danced with me even though I was a beginner at one time. And in this holiday season, I wish some of these dance snobs would be a little more charitable and a little more forgiving in the temporary apprenticeship of the people they meet on the dance floor. Consider the time you dance with a "beginner" as an investment; it might have a big payoff later.
Note to teachers: if your students don't want to dance with beginners, you're not doing your job. Your income depends on new people coming in through the door; you're not going to get rich on the established dancers.
These days there are more dance teachers plying their trade than ever before. When I was starting out, the local swing dance scene had maybe five major players. It becomes harder and harder to stand out among all the teachers out there so some teachers might be tempted to take shortcuts and liberties to get any advantage over the other players.
Since I'm headed towards the topic, it seems that the flyer tables at the different dance venues are becoming more and more crowded and it becomes harder to find space for one's own lesson flyers. The obvious temptation is to move someone else's flyers to make room for your own. And it happens. The question is not "Can I...?"; instead, it should be "Should I...?".
Let me say that moving someone else's flyers so that you can occupy a prime location on the flyer tables is somewhat anti-social, even malicious. It wouldn't be right to "steal" someone else's location just because they were more diligent about getting to the dance venue earlier in order to stake out some good real estate on the flyer table. It's just not right to move them out of the way so you could grab the best spot on the table.
And note, when the question "Should I....?" comes up, you *should* ask yourself...."what if someone notices?".
Now you must be asking yourself..."Where the hell is Benson going with this?"
Well, the nice folks over at a local swing dance venue had put out my flyers on their flyer area so that my flyers were in a prominent location. I suppose it's probably because they appreciate the work I do on my website that hopefully sends them customers. Of course, I'm also sure they know that this website is a valuable resource to the kinds of customers they get so they want my flyers to be the first one their customers see.
Someone had noticed that my flyers were removed from their prized location and moved to an unfavorable location. Like no one's going to notice it. Luckily, I had some good and loyal friends there who noticed and swapped the flyers around so I regained the best spot.
Again, the questions "Could I (get away with it)?" and "Should I (steal someone's spot)?" need to be asked. This really isn't that big a deal, but a third question should be asked: Is it worth annoying the guy who gives you a lot of visibility and *free* advertisement on what has to be the most visited dance website in New England, just to gain a minor and marginal advantage in advertisement over other dance studios? What if Benson gets annoyed enough and choses to offset that marginal gain in advertisement by moving that studio's listing on this website to a less favorable position? or even move it off the website? I'd rather that person be thinking "Gee, it wouldn't be nice of me to move someone else's flyers and steal their spot".
Note to the other dance promoters: it's probably not worth your time, but it'd be nice if you were to let the dance teachers know, if they put flyers out at your venue, that they need to play nice and that you're paying attention. Civility has to begin somewhere and peer pressure can be pretty effective.
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However, some actions must be answered in kind; otherwise, it just continues and builds up as people figure out what they can get away with. I can boycott a venue but it's pointless to tell everyone not to go there. I tried that 14 years ago and even my friends ignored me. I don't have control over where people go dancing but I do control this website.
The December 14, 2008 editorial was written because the flyers for this website were moved from a prime spot on the flyer rack at Swing City to the bottom shelf. In its place someone put out flyers for the Blues Café. While it's rude when different dance venues do that to each other, it's despicable for a venue to do it to me whose dance activities help them generate income. I suppose it was my mistake for not notifying the owner(s) of the Blues Cafe of their indiscretion, but then I'm tired of having to complain to Elizabeth Miller (nee Ravitte Gall) that she did something wrong...again. I'm tired of being a referee and a babysitter.
On December 26, I was at Swing City While I was talking to someone, I saw Elizabeth Miller walk by in front of the flyer rack. I remembered what had happened two weeks earlier so I checked out the flyer rack. My flyers weren't moved this time, but the advertisement cards for the Blues Café were placed centered in front of my flyers!, completely covering and hiding the words. Some other expired flyers from November were left in place and uncovered and there were also empty places on the rack. If a venue is nice enough to provide a table or rack to display flyers, most [other] organizers would be appreciative enough to find an available space for their flyers. It is not appropriate to move others' flyers to other spaces, or place your own on chairs, on cars or to hand them out (unless specifically asked by the venue organizer). It's not right to "steal" a good place to put your own flyers. And of course, a visiting dancer from Los Angeles told me that he could not find my flyers to get more information about dancing in the area; I had to get one for him.
Throughout her presence in the Boston dance community, Elizabeth Miller has been a disruptive force in the area, including scheduling dances that conflicted with established venues and handing out *class* flyers at another dance studio's events (probably the worse thing a dance teacher could do). When Elizabeth had the title "Boston's Dance Website" on her website, even I had to step in and complain; I felt it was an insult to me because of the 20,000-25,000 unique visitors (i.e., 462,036 hits this month) to my website every month, visitors that I've earned over the last 13 years. And it gets really tiring to hear the same complaints from the other dance organizers.
Well, all my complaining only seems to be temporary fixes for individual problems; the big picture or mindset hasn't changed. There seems to be a repeat pattern of doing something inappropriate and then apologizing when caught. A serious change of behavior has to take place and that can only come about with a stronger response. Therefore, all information regarding the Blues Café and Elizabeth Miller's classes will be removed from this website for the next two months. I've written many editorials deploring inconsiderate behavior and many of them were a direct result of actions by Elizabeth Miller. I left out names in the past because I wanted everyone to ask themselves if I was talking about them. Apparently, that hasn't worked. Not having read about it in this editorial space is no excuse; there's no reason to not know what the right thing to do is. Elizabeth and I had a long talk about getting along in the community two years ago.
I do a great favor for every single dance venue listed on this website. Let's face it: a lot of people are making money from what I do for free. I don't deserve this kind of treatment. I don't ask for much (other than they get their information to me earlier); I don't even ask for free admission to dances. However, I don't think I should have to tell people that they shouldn't treat me poorly; they should be old enough to figure that out. Covering up my flyers, at worse, is juvenile and mean-spirited; at best, it's just ignorant. (FYI: I do not believe Elizabeth is mean-spirited; I'm actually not angry with her; and I almost feel sorry for her).
To be honest, I feel bad about doing this; however, when everyone else is playing nice or at least pretending to, I don't seem to have much choice in order to prevent similar behavior in the future. At the same time, I resent feeling guilty about having to protect myself from rude people.