As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
One reader took the time to respond to last week's editorial:
Regarding your [last week's] editorial's last paragraph:
I am of the very strong opinion that you are remarkably and admirably balanced in your remarks on your web site. It's not many folks who set up a soap box for the purpose of being reasonable and even-handed! Whatever you're doing, keep doing it.
The only times you've editorially shown even a hint of ire, it's been well justified. I'm thinking of the time you mentioned that you told off that couple at the Juke Box who was smashing into everyone, including yourself and your partner several times. I was right behind you in the same corner, dancing with a novice friend that night, and boy were you justified in telling them off! And restrained relative to what they deserved!
In other news, I've heard very good feedback about your workshop on Saturday. If I hadn't been [busy]...I would have signed up myselfI'm willing to learn anything anytime from anyone, especially if it will help my students in the future. Just looking at things from a new perspective can be a great benefit. Kudos. And kudos to Ron and you for letting the money flow to charity. Very nice!
Which brings up a point I wanted to talk about. Most people think of "dance professionals" as people who make money through dancing. I think that there is another kind of dance professional which includes those who are constantly working hard to improve their own dancing, whether for themselves or their customers. They don't accept that what they know is "good enough" and that they don't need to learn anymore. I had at least four dance teachers (I had forgotten about the other three) in my workshop and several others had wanted to attend (including Maxwell Ho and Sue Sheppard), even if just to listen to what someone else had to say and they were willing to listen to an "amateur".
Anyone who takes money for teaching or holding a dance has a responsibility to the paying customers to put out a good product, whether it be a class or a dance. Anyone who stops learning because "it's good enough" is doing a disservice to their students and customers because they just don't care and the students will figure that out fairly quickly. Judith and I had *alot* of fun preparing for the workshop because we learned new information from each other and we were able to share that with the students.
At least one person, who did not attend my workshop, questioned my "right" or "qualifications" to "judge" someone's dancing habits. He thought the title of my class, Creating Good Dance Habits and Break Bad Ones, was arrogant, and that I must be putting down everyone else's dancing. It is possible that this person does not know the difference between observing and judging. If I saw someone use a large rock-step, I would be judging if I said that it was stupid. I would be observing if I said that using a small rock-step takes less time and energy AND is less likely to kick an innocent bystander. Over 40 people who showed up for the workshop (and the people who got closed out or couldn't make it) wanted to hear what Judith and I had to say that might help their dancing or teaching. Some of the advanced dancers said that they had learned some new material that day. The things that I touched on included issues to which EVERYONE should pay attention. For example:
I am writing to say that I enjoy your web site and your comments; I read this week's Soapbox comments and thought I can't BELIEVE that people are sending you hostile email! Or telling you that you are too biased or too neutral or too arrogant!Feedback is always welcome. It lets me know when I'm doing something right and when I'm making a mistake and when I'm full of hot air. Writers should understand, however, that the writing style within a letter has a big impact on how well the information is received. Criticism with incomplete information destroys credibility. "Yelling" at me is a good invitation for me to tune out. Instead of automatically assuming the worst, please consider asking yourself, "What if he meant....something else?" If in doubt, contact me directly first.
Anyone who doesn't like your site or comments is welcome to not read it. I don't see why they should send you email, especially hostile email, criticizing your site. I appreciate how regularly you update it, that it is an easy site to use, that I can always find out where to dance, and I can get your personal view of things happening in swing if I choose to read the Soapbox (I assume that's why you called it that - so that people would understand that's what it is!!).
So you need to know your site is greatly appreciated; the fact that you don't do it for a profit is especially appreciated, and those complainers can just go somewhere else on the world wide web for their swing info!!
From a loyal fan
Frankie Manning, in a workshop at the recent New England Swing Dance Championships, said that when a man asks a woman to dance, in a microsecond, she will look him up and down (even if she doesn't realize it) before saying "yes". In that instant, she draws a conclusion as to the kind of person she is going to dance with. I believe that we, as the leaders who have to ask women to dance with us, should do whatever we can to improve the odds of a good first impression. It really doesn't take much effort to do so and it shows our respect for the followers. Who knows? We might want to dance with this follower again.
Mind you, I understand clothing is an expression of our tastes and personality *AND* opinions. However, does it make much sense to go dancing in a t-shirt from Hooters®?
"Loved your "opinionated" opinions...oh! so appropriate [the Feb. 14 comments]! How many men bother to think of the benefits they will reap themelves - with "partner thoughtfulness".
Since our society tends to focus on how men could treat women better, we can sometimes forget that manners applies to both genders. The following came from someone whom I consider to be one of the most sought-after dance partners in the Boston area, one whose dance skills I admire; he's been dancing for 8 years and lindy'ing for 7.
"Are you a good dancer?"It's one thing to refuse to dance with someone who has hurt you in the past; it's a whole different ball game to assume that every new dance partner is going to hurt you (or is a bad dancer) until proven otherwise. Letting them know ahead of time that your arm hurts gives them no excuse for a hurtful lead. Instead of assuming the worse in potential (but yet unknown) dance partners, perhaps it might be better to think, "hey, let's take him/her for a spin [i.e., a dance] and find out."
Last night [at a popular swing dance venue] when I asked a woman to dance, that was her response. In fairness, her complete response was "Are you a good dancer? I injured my shoulder and can only dance with good dancers. It's nothing personal if you're not a good dancer".
I, unfortunately, forgot to pick up my dance ranking at the door (although I always thought we were supposed to check them at the door) and having left my dance resume at home (I'm in the process of revising it). I could only smile at my lack of being unprepared for such a response. Given she asked about my ability she appeared willing to dance with me. If thoughts of beginners being snubbed by her had not entered my mind I would have told her I was a fabulous dancer but instead I smiled and told her I'd ask someone else.
So [to the dance organizer], where can I pick up my ranking tag? On mine, please write "I am so damn good!"
This particular woman has probably discouraged many guys from continuing in dancing; I know I'd be running for the door if I was a beginner who encountered a dance snob like that. Why bother? I can find plenty of things to do where I'll be treated better. Dancing is suppose to be a fun *inclusive* social activity; the proper social skills needed to interact with strangers should have been developed at a much younger age.
In my opinion, dancers who have been dancing less than a year should not be dance snobs to beginners because they themselves are still beginners. Anyone dancing less than 4 years should still remember what it was like to be a beginner and should not be a dance snob. Anyone dancing more than 4 years should know better than to be a dance snob.
By now you will have found out that Nick Palumbo & The Flipped Fedoras did not play at the IC dance this past Saturday; they decided to play somewhere else. Just four days before the dance, Roger Weiss found out that The Flipped Fedoras weren't coming to Boston. Granted, they said they found a replacement band, but they didn't return phone calls until just before the dance and the "replacement" band was someone that was not well-known in Boston [so no one knew if they were any good]. This is extremely unprofessional and it bothers me personally because I was the one that recommended the band to Roger Weiss. This is also unfortunate because the Flipped Fedoras is a pretty good dance band. I hope that everyone else who is considering hiring that band will be very careful in their dealings with Nick Palumbo. Luckily, Roger was able to contact Don Dworkin who brought in Doc Scanlon's Rhythm Boys to save the day.
For those of you who care to hear from Roger himself, here's the whole story.
While the content of this week's Soapbox stated what was on my mind, I suppose my mood of the week crept into my writing and probably clouded my thinking. You could probably see two different people typing away. Luckily, most people were willing to cut me some slack and gave me some insightful feedback to clarify what I wanted to say. Therefore, what you see below has been changed to reflect what I really wanted to say.
Many of us are quite self-conscious about getting turned down for a dance to the point where we're frozen with fear to ask a total stranger to dance. (This, by the way, includes *me*). At the moment that we ask anyone to dance, our senses are on high-alert, waiting hopefully for a favorable response. Our defenses are also ready, just in case we get disappointed. At this point, both the asker and the askee need to consider a few points:
A person's (the Asker) reaction to another person's response (The Askee) at an invitation for a dance can depend on a variety of conditions, most of which we cannot control (including a bad attitude or a bad hair day). It is useful for the Askee to respond to an invitation to dance politely, even to say no, in a way that there is no misunderstanding (as to intent), and no bad feelings. A beginner dancer, whose confidence level is probably already shakey, should not be made to feel that their dancing isn't good enough, even by accident. After all, it's only dancing and there are much more important things to worry about.
At the same time, the Asker should not feel obligated to imagine a reason for getting turned down for a dance. It does happen, from what I'm told, but not that often. Perhaps the Askee is tired. Perhaps the stars are not in the right alignment. Who knows? Who cares? There are plenty of people to dance with so the best thing to do, as in last week's editorial, would be to move on and ask someone else to dance.
In some ways, it's kinda amusing to see the politics of the dance environment. Dancing is suppose to be for fun, at least to us amateur dancers, but for the professionals who make money of this dance, it's deadly serious.
There are currently two swing dance weekends scheduled in the Boston area during the second weekend in November. One event has been in the planning for four years and had its debut last November. The newer event is now scheduled for the same weekend in 1999. Such scheduling makes no sense since there are plenty of other weekends available. In spite of mediation attempts by Annie Hirsch of the World Swing Dance Council, both venues are planning competing events that will split and hurt the local swing dance community. One of the missions of the World Swing Dance Council is to help schedule events so that dancers wouldn't have to choose and take sides if there is a conflict in dates, especially if they're both in the same area. Careful planning can help all dance weekends thrive by allowing the dancers to attend all events. Otherwise, deliberately scheduling conflicts pits "us" versus "them" and can only hurt the community. It's pretty damn mean.
As far as I can see it, it's now a matter of pride: who will blink first? What if neither does? There's bound to be residual bad feelings after this:
Unfortunately, I'm not neutral.
Where the dancers are concerned, I will intervene on their behalf and stand up for them. I will write, in this column, about the issues that affect the dancers. As I've stated before, this website is for the dancers and not for the professionals.
On the other hand, this website puts me in a position of knowing the dance professionals better than the average dance customer. I see much of the "politics of dancing" that the average dancer would want to ignore. That also lets me see things that I'd rather not know. I do remember being a lot happier when I started dancing years ago. I make it a point to stay an amateur dancer so that I'm not dependent on any of the dance professionals for any of my income; they have no hold over me.
One of the two dance promoters in question has been a much better friend to me than the other and there's no way to avoid feeling better about one of them than the other. If it were just two businesses fighting for market share, I'd say "Let them fight it out; it's not my problem". However, I'd like to be known for supporting my friends. I will provide consulting and help for one of the dance venues. I can say, however, that I will do what I can to make sure that the event's focus remains on putting on the best possible show for the dance customers and not on "beating the other guy".
Regardless of my help or lack of it, both sides in this feud intend to "win" and neither will give in because of pride, even if they lose a ton of money. This is too bad because the aftermath of this will be a lot of anger and sadness in the dancers who had to sit through this conflict. I hope that the two personalities involved will see the light and do the right thing for the whole dance communitiy. I will be working very hard to make sure that at least one of those people does the right thing for the dance community and not for their ego. I hope you will, too.
Ah. I feel much better now. :-)
An unattributable quote or proverb:
"We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance."Makes sense to me.
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