The Soapbox Archives:
She found my editorials and spent a bit of time reading them. For the record, I've been writing them long before the term "blog" came into vogue and I consider them *editorials*, used to talk about the good things and the bad things in the dance community and hope that someone might ask if I'm talking about them. I did learn about the term "Asperger's Syndrome". My friend used it to describe someone in the dance community. Of course, I had to look it up and I immediately agreed with her once I found out what it was. And as someone who's known me for many years, she's able to see my editorials more objectively and she told me that I'm being honest, not negative, in my editorials.
I'm interested in hearing from more "oldtimers" who have seen how the community has changed over the years.
Jane was my first non-local dance friend. In one of my early Soapboxes I had mentioned that I was going to the Boogie in the Mountain dance weekend and that I had hoped to finally get the nerve to ask the ever-gorgeous Blake Hobby for a dance (I never did ask Blake for a dance). Jane responded, totally out of the blue, that she'd dance with me if Blake didn't. We somehow found each other at the welcome dance at the dance camp. We've been friends ever since. It'll be sad that Jane's getting out of the business.
Jane was an early sponsor and ardent supporter of this website, very soon after starting her dance business. While I'll be losing her as a sponsor, I'll be getting an old sponsor back. I'd like to welcome the Swingin' 88s as a proud sponsor for 2012.
People have been "lindy-bombing" for a while and now I'm hearing about people getting out for a "flash mob" (apparently the West Coast Swing version). It's nice that people get out there and expose new people to the joys of partner dancing. The people are entertained and they applaud politely. And then they go about their business.
I have ask: what are these dancers doing to draw the crowd into dancing? Are they telling their audience about all the places to go dancing? Where they can take lessons? Where they can get more information?
If you're going to go and demonstrate your dancing skills out in public, be prepared to help these people find out where they, too, can learn to dance. Tell them where to get more information about dancing (Yes, this website!). Better yet, print out the Dancenet flyer and hand them out so they have no excuse to forget where they can get more information on partner dancing in the Boston area. Help enlarge the pool of people who will be showing up at local dances.
"Sax" Gordon BeadleThose stars are Gordon's to lose so I hope he keeps up whatever he did right at Uptown Swing. They played way better than they did at Swing City a few weeks earlier. What's up with that?
For more information, contact "Sax" Gordon.
(12/18/2010 at Uptown Swing)
If you sent in information for the website this past weekend, I hope you'll remember that it's the week before Christmas. If you've never considered that I might be too busy to even *read* your email and that I might not have the time to get your last minute announcements typed onto the webpages, now's a good time to think about it.
Sometimes I don't like the holiday season. I usually have high expectations of my fellow human beings because people are suppose to be happier and *nicer* to others and some people go out of their way to prove me wrong. It's usually just the little things in life like someone parking their SUV in the *two* spots closest to the mall entrance or someone leaving their shopping cart behind *my* car in the parking lot. Of course, 10 cars zooming by me while I'm standing in a crosswalk just doesn't put me in a good mood. What I'd give for a bag of coal right then...
I was just thinking that the *one* present that stands out in my whole life is the special edition Gillette Trac II razor that I got when I was a pre-teen. It came in a special plastic (not cardboard) box with a golden trim. The razor itself had the same golden trim, not the normal chrome-color plastic that you find in the stores. The box served as the shrine in which I kept that razor. When I think about it, it had to have been my most prized possession for the next 15 years and my most memorable gift. It generated great customer loyalty as I wouldn't even look at the Sensor (3 bladed) razors when they came out, much less another brand.
I realized that this is the kind of present that every pre-teen boy should look forward to: his very first razor. This should be a special moment. I think that the razor companies have an opportunity to capture customers for *life* when they buy a product based on the first one they ever got. It's not what they got that's important, it's how they *felt* when they opened that box.
I walked through the entire Burlington Mall (the *whole* mall) trying to find a similar product and I only looked in Nordstrom because my car was parked near their door. I sort of found what I wanted: a Gillette Fusion razor with 10 (or was it 8?) replacement blades in a special (cardboard) box. I also had my first Nordstrom moment; I didn't see any posted prices on most of the items ("If you have to ask...."). If you look in a store like Target, the razor and blades go for about $29. Nordstrom wanted $150; I think the product might have been worth $60. $150 is half an XBox game machine (or half of that nice KitchenAid mixer)! I'm sure most teenagers would have preferred the XBox. The nicer razor handle wasn't worth the $121 markup and the box was still cardboard.
It amazes me that the shaving companies aren't rushing to hook in a life-long customers by offering special gift sets in normal stores during the holidays. Sure, they have "gift packs", but that's just a bunch of retail items bundled for holiday gift-giving. These products don't have that special "OMG!" factor.
I gave up on the malls and looked online. Type in "Gillette Razor Gift Set" in Google and you'll find an assortment of interesting things....including razors that might get handed down to the next generation.
The highlight of my day had to be the fact that my car was in an accident (note that I didn't say that *I* was in an accident).
A mechanic at the shop where I get my car worked on backed my car into his boss' car.
The shop owner was very embarrassed because a customer's car was damaged and he was more than willing to personally cover any repair costs. The mechanic probably felt equally bad about damaging his boss' car.
However, there is always a silver lining if you bother to look for it.
My American Pontiac Grand Prix GT (my second one) had some paint scraped off the rear quarter panel; I might have noticed it the next time I washed my car...next year. However, my car did over $300 worth of damage to a 500-series BMW. Considering that my mechanic thinks that American cars are "cheaply built" and he's always trying to get me into a "better built" German car that he always complains is very expensive to fix, I call that a win.
Americans 1, Germans 0
By the way, if you're getting phone calls that hang up a lot, I think they're from marketing contractors who work for bigger companies. I used "*69" to find out the numbers of some of these.
410-910-0621 is Verizon
877-213-2767 is the American Heart Association
You can get this information from the Internet.
I called these two to find out what the hell they were doing (I was already on the Do Not Call Lists). The AHA person was very polite about the whole thing. When I called the Verizon, I realized that I was paying Verizon for the "*69" call that told me that it was Verizon who was spamming me (Does anyone *not* see something wrong with this?). It made perfect sense to me that they should be the ones who dealt with the task of reimbursing me for the cost of finding out it was they who was hanging up on me. This Verizon sales division tried to get out of fixing the problem for me by offering to forward me to their local business office. Seeing that this was 7 pm, all I'd get is a dead end...and they knew it. I didn't think that I should have to go the effort of calling the next day to recover the cost of the call and that's what they're hoping for. They tried to get out of it by saying that they didn't have access to my records. I countered by saying that they didn't need to access my records; all they had to do was send an official Verizon email asking that a particular number be credited because the customer was inconvenienced by Verizon (one big family). After all, it was one of their hired guns who caused the whole problem.
Ultimately, we hung up; he probably thought I was an idiot and I definitely thought he was a useless drone. Whatever happens to the "customer" and "service" in "customer service"?
The guys I talked to were obviously too low level to see the big picture, that some contracting marketing sales people are ripping Verizon off by making the phone calls but not making the sales pitch (look up those numbers on the Internet to get some of the story). These peons aren't going to want to stick their necks out to stop the people ripping off their company and they're not going to appreciate the fact that I made them aware of it because they might have to do something about it.
I know that some companies are too big to fail. I guess Verizon is too big to care.
A friend of mine showed me an interesting/education webpage that helps describe the relative scale of the universe. Slide the blue box at the bottom to see the effect.
"Folks, the dance ended 21 minutes ago!"
That was the fitting last announcement at Jane Dumont's Swing DanceWorks's last dance on Thursday, November 17. No one wanted the evening to end so everyone kept dancing. After 13 years Jane closed down her dance and walked away from the business. She passed on her new email address only to some friends and I don't expect her to be answering her Swing DanceWorks mailbox.
Her business had been falling off. Many former students had moved on to other things in their lives and other people had started to other venues that were more specialized. Some people wanted to dance swing or lindy more. Others moved on to pure ballroom or country western.
Jane was a dying breed of people who believed in dancing to a variety of dances: swing, West Coast Swing, waltz, cha cha, hustle, two-step, and more. The interesting thing about Jane's last dance was that the place was packed and the dance floor was always filled regardless of which song she played.
One thing I like about this venue's game plan is that there was no excuse for playing bad music. They didn't focus on only one style of dancing so there was no reason to pull out mediocre music just to fill the time. A dance like this can pull out the best in a variety of songs and fill up the night with *great* music. At some swing dances, the music sometimes sounded like they ran out of decent music and were scrapping the bottom of the barrel for something to fill up the time. At a dance like Jane's, that was never a problem.
PS: Could someone check something for me, please? Going down I-91 near Hartford, I could have sworn the exits were numbered "29", "27", "28", and "26", in that order. Is that right?
I've heard about "Flash Mobs" recently. What surprised me about one that was done down in Connecticut was that there could be complications.
A friend participated in (or rather, instigated) a West Coast Swing flash mob at some mall and apparently, the security guards at that mall didn't have much to occupy their time that day. I was told that *every* security guard in the mall converged on that show and "detained" everyone they could catch. Since my friend was carrying one of the two *huge* boombox, it was kind of hard for her to hide and getaway.
Apparently, the excuse was that there was a liability issue and that they had to ask for permission first. Occasionally there might be some danger, too.