As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
Note: Since I had written this, board member Norberto Alvarez, the only one who even notices the anger of the Associate Members, wrote back with a short message saying that he fully supported the Tango Society's stance. I had, of course, wrote back with a much longer reply explaining all the holes in his argument. I hope he forwarded to the rest of the board of directors.What's even more interesting is that the Society finally sent the message regarding the annual meeting to the Associate members (at least I think they did; it may have been an accident); as far as I can see, the Associate Members pretty much thought it was a slap in their face (as it probably was). The Associate members did not hear about the notice in the mail regarding this meeting this year until they read about it here on this website and had not heard about the meeting at all last year until after the fact. I would like to believe that this website has offered a voice and some hope to those Associate members who have felt disfranchised from the Tango Society that has been taking advantage of them since its formation.
Alas, the Tango Society still isn't playing on a level field. Several Associate Members have written to me about "distortions" in the Tango Society's memo and I've asked some of them to document those issues. However, I'm not really interested in the Society's use of propaganda to pre-empt the Voting Rights issue. I'm more interested in getting *our* message out to all the members, just like the Tango Society did with their message.
The Tango Society used its mailing list to present its side of the issue to its 1500 members (a number reported in the Boston Herald on January 23, 2002) without offering an opposing view from the Associate members pushing for the right to vote. It also has not acknowledged the concerns or the existence of the January 13th editorial or of The Petition. Yet, at the same time, it has forbidden members from soliciting Tango Society members for signatures for a petition on this matter *at member functions*. Two members were verbally chastised at a recent Wednesday Tango Break by a board member for this issue: one for soliciting the signatures and one for signing it. A board member said that the events shouldn't be used for political purposes, yet the mailing list is being used for that purpose now.
I've sent notes to the board inviting them to write into this editorial space to comment on the Associate Members' concerns. They have not offered to let the Associate Members send their message to the entire membership. That is not a true democracy, but then, that *is* the complaint on the table from the Associate Members.
The Tango Society offers itself as a model of amateur perfection without considering the difficulties that Associate members go through to derive *any* income from dancing or that some of them *might not* make money off dancing. These Associate Members are the ones who cared enough to continue teaching and dancing, even if they make little or no money from dancing.
It says that "our model works" (why mention this unless they were worried about the voting rights proposal?) This tells me that the Board wants to keep the status quo: "if it ain't broken, don't fix it!" It isn't interested in changing or taking a chance of making the Society better. It wrote the bylaws and doesn't want anyone to tell them that there's a flaw in them.
They sow fear and uncertainty that the Associate Members will work for their own profit and benefit if given the *right* to a vote and an opinion. Let's face reality here: the Associate Members have day jobs and a real life in addition to their classes. They *don't want* to take over the Society. The Associate Members just want to be treated fairly, as fair as the Regular Members are getting treated.
Note that other non-profit dance organizations manage to operate and still treat their non-amateurs with some measure of respect.
The Hooked on Swing Society in Northampton has one committee member, Tricia Lee, who is a well-known Lindy Hop teacher and teaches all over New England. Another committee member, Mary Witt, (who was *asked* to join) is a band leader whose band played at their dance in January (yes, they were paid!). However, I have heard no reports of nepotism, no mention that these committee members are taking advantage of the community. I heard the club is going through a revival now. *AND* they pay the teachers who give the lessons before the dances. Every time. This organization has been around for over 10 years, too. Jacqui Maidana who teaches Tango out in western Massachusetts says that the teachers "often are expected to and do give free lessons all the time to fund raisers" and that it was gratifying that Hooked on Swing Society "gives the respect due to the ones who have walked the miles and try to scrape together a living doing dance professionally. As my [Jacqui's] teacher says, nobody is getting rich off Tango."
Hartford Swing Dance/Jam in West Hartford, Connecticut, is a member-run group that offered dance lessons and workshops at one point. They hold two monthly dances, one with live music. One member decided to go off and start teaching full-time, with the club's blessing. Now all inquiries for lessons to the club are directed to this local teacher. The club doesn't feel the need to compete with the people who depend on dancing to pay their mortgage. They are also the most "profitable" (losing the least amount of money) organization in the Hartford Country Dance family of dance organizations.
Shoreline Swing Dance Society in East Lyme, Connecticut, has two board members who are disc jockeys at swing dances in the area. Their president used to teach regularly scheduled classes. They also offer workshops and classes taught by "local professional teachers" (who are typically members of the club who feel like teaching). In deference to the feelings of the local teachers, they let their teachers give classes on a rotating basis so that no teacher feels slighted.
The Connecticut Swing Dance Society down in West Haven, Connecticut does not let anyone teaching privately outside the club vote on instructional matters; however, they are welcome to participate on the board and vote on other matters.
These organizations have their own rules and regulations. However, they also recognize that the "local professional teachers" are also their friends and are the same people they dance with. They use common sense and trust their friends to do the right thing. The "non-amateurs" are an important part of the community and a valuable resource. Instead of denying them the right to vote, they find ways to get the local teachers involved with the club and the dance community. Furthermore, they make no differentiation between the "local teachers" and the visting teachers: if they're good enough to teach, they're good enough to get paid (even enough to pay for gas!).
The Tango Society's Associate members are not looking for the right to be on the Board of Directors. Again, working on the board wouldn't leave them any time to work a full-time job and teach dance classes, not to mention having the time to dance for fun. None of them wants to be a director. They are, however, looking for the right to vote on issues that come before the Board, the right to speak out on matters pertaining to the Club, and to be invited and admitted to the annual meeting. Let's not paint them as the evil moneygrubbers who seek to take advantage of the Tango Society and its members; that's just not right.
Me? I'm a "Regular" member. I want the Associate Members to have their own vote and voice in the Society so they can fight their own battles. Right now, they are powerless individually but this website helps get their collective voice heard in parts of the Tango Community.
While I pride myself on the numbers of people who read this website, I don't delude myself into believing that I'm reaching the 1500 tango dancers of the Tango Society. The Tango Society does not mention the editorial that appeared on this website. It's disappointing that the Tango Society is so afraid of the power of these "10 local professional teachers" (the real number is actually quite higher) that it withholds the right to vote from them. It still withholds their right to speak out on issues that affect the club and the community, not to mention the issues that affect their businesses. I have to wonder if it manages to catch all the people who shouldn't be "Regular" members, people who teach without the Tango Society knowing about them. The Society says that the "Boston Tango community" supports these "10 local professional teachers", but it didn't say that the *Tango Society of Boston* supports them. Those teachers certainly don't feel any support from the club and doesn't feel that the Tango Society board of directors is interested in budging from its rigid stance, not even a tiny bit. Note that the recent email notice from the Tango Society's board of directors offers the rules as a protection for the club against people who make money in Tango. It doesn't mention the fact that the organizations' bylaws also discriminate against any people who make money in *ANY* dance, not just Tango. If someone runs a *Swing* dance workshop, does that make them such a bad person that they should be denied a vote in a *tango* club? I am disappointed that the board of directors has not offered a concession on that minor wording change. Even chef Jody Adams of the famous Rialto Restaurant wouldn't be able to vote just because she graciously opened her restaurant for tango dance during its year's run (and lost money every week!).
I believe that refusing to allow these Associate Members the right to vote and the right to speak out on club issues is un-American and immoral, as immoral as it was for the government to take away the rights of Japanese-Americans in World War II who were law-abiding citizens. It's ironic that the Society chooses to hold its annual meeting in a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall which honors those veterans of the US Armed Forces that fought to preserve our Constitution and our right to Freedom of Speech and our right to assemble freely, not to mention the right of our citizens to vote.
Furthermore, refusing to give even a token fee for their Wednesday lessons (whereas other clubs do pay for the lessons) means that the Tango Society has no respect for those who have spent the time, money, and effort training to be teachers. I believe that paying the teachers creates competition among the teachers to give the lessons. This could only benefit the members who would get better teachers. Competition is a good thing.
Like the Tango Society, I urge all Tango Society members to attend the annual meeting on Wednesday, February 6; to discuss the issues relevant to equal rights for all members; and to vote to have the Tango Society's bylaws changed to be fair to all members. I also urge all members to consider running for the board. The Board has become complacent these days and implemented what it thinks the Society should want. I've always believed that competition is good. I don't think the current board should necessarily be removed because they've provided excellent services for the membership, but the club stays fresh by bringing new blood and new ideas, particularly ideas that aren't set so deep in concrete. I also think that the members should let them know that the Board *is* answerable to the membership and that they should treat all members equally. Fair is fair. Psst! Don't forget to ask why *all* positions aren't being open for election and why some people were recently *appointed* to board positions when an election was coming up.
P.S.: I was informed that one Tango Society board member told two Society members that "The Petition" was "a lie". I invite that board member to write into this editorial space and explain why she thought the petition was a lie and why she forbade those members from discussing club business during a club event. She is also welcome to write in, for the record, to deny that the incident ever happened if that is the case.
Since you get much grief and little praise, I suspect, [I] decided to write to say, great editorial on the Tango web site.Thank you! :-)
Abby and Steve Thernstrom
Over the years, I've found valuable "insights to honest living" in the various science-fiction/fantasy books that I've read. One that I've thought to be interesting is the one I saw in Piers Anthony's Golem in the Gears, ninth in the humorous Xanth series.
The moral of the book boiled down to this:
Piers Anthony might be onto something...
Being nice to people is an investment. Some investments pay off big while others are a total bust. The wise invester manages his/her investments, dumping bad investments and focusing on those investments that might pay off. Occasionally, someone will hit the jackpot with their investment.
Demoting people to "acquaintances" while promoting others to "friends" is similar to managing a portfolio. Put more time and effort into those investments that look good. Occasionally, I like to think that I hit the jackpot.
Is there a theme here...?
I was honored to be witness to the payoff from a lifetime's investment of loving, caring, and giving. Someone lived a long life giving of themselves to friends and family, losing some "investments" along the way and allowing themselves to focus on those people who were really important. As a life closed to an end this week, that investment paid off and that person must have considered themselves the richest person in the world...
How one treats their elderly relatives is a great and important lesson for how their child is going to treat them. Treat a parent poorly and you can expect your child to do the same to you as you get older. The mother's curse, "I hope you have a child *just like you*" holds true.
Invest *time* in your kids; be nice to them. Many of you lead very busy lives and can only afford to give a limited time to your family. Remember, these kids are going to be the ones who will be picking out your nursing home. And paying for it.
And they're also the ones who will be able to get you out.
The bane of the existence of many men and a chore done for the sake of the feelings of the women in our lives (You're not going out in *that*, are you?), it can be an enjoyable time if the proper preparations are taken (bringing along a good attitude helps). In my case, I brought along a friend whom I consider my "fashion consultant" (the same person who helped me pick out the paint colors of my rooms and the tile colors in my bathroom).
I went over to Miltons in Chestnut Hill (not necessarily a plug for them; I'm sure you can do this at other places) where I bought my last two suits. The sales representative had the high-falutin (sp?) title of "wardrobe consultant" and he certainly earned it this day. It was a good sign that *his* suit looked good on him. We (actually, she) decided that I was going in the direction of "business-fashionable" instead "business-conservative". Bless her little heart, she wanted those suits to be wearable on a date. :-)
I tried on six different suits (include a suit in two different colors) and quickly narrowed it down to two. My friend has a good eye and pointed out how the suit "draped" on me and how both the pants and jacket fit in each case, with the salesman agreeing on each point.
The clincher to this shopping experience was the look on the tailor (a little old Italian guy) who came out to fit the suit. His eyes were wide-open with a happy surprised look and his grin was side-to-side as he saw how the suit fit *on me* (it was already a nice suit by itself). He was pleased with how good the suit looked on me *before* tailoring.
I was told that while I was putting on the second suit, the tailor fitted another customer and the tailor didn't smile or say much beyond fitting this other customer. I think that this other customer didn't ask for help and just picked out what *he* thought was a "good-enough" suit. It was obvious from the looks of the tailor and salesman that they didn't share that opinion, though they probably couldn't suggest trying a different suit if that customer had already picked out a suit to be fitted.
And when I came back out in the second suit, the smiles also came back out as well as the animated discussion. It made my shopping experience worthwhile; I felt like I was making a good investment instead of just getting a painful chore over with. I was out of there in an hour. I should mention here that it's not a bad idea to shop for some new shirts and ties with the new suits since the expert opinions were already there. I'm considering color-coding these ensembles. :-) (no, not really!)
For guys who want to gain some interesting insights into clothes shopping, I recommend the book, Color for Men, which made clothes shopping fun for me. It's out of print right now, but I found copies in some used book stores. Years ago I stopped buying clothes that look good on the shelves and have been buying clothes that look good *on me*. It's amazing how much shopping isn't needed when I buy the *right* clothes in the first place. I should tell you about my favorite tie...
A travel advisory: Fly early in the day.
With the lines that develop from (much) more security screening, I've found that some people are anticipating long lines and are getting to the airport much earlier, making the lines even longer. Electronic check-in seems to work much faster. At the hour I flew (arrived at 4:00 am for a 6:30 am flight), I was in the lines early enough so I didn't have to spend much time getting stressed out from waiting in very long queues.
Another "regular" member of the Tango Society and I had pointed out during that annual meeting in February that several current board members were probably not eligible to be "Regular" members, much less become board members. I realize that I was in the minority, but I felt that going through with the election was not proper if the credentials of the candidates was in question (We were told that it was not appropriate to interrupt the meeting to bring up that "new" issue.) I was informed by another member that one of the current board members was paid $150 on June 17, 2000, for teaching a class, well within the two or three year statute of limitations for being a "professional". I'm disappointed that nothing was done about that. The same rules should apply to the board members as they do to the Associate members since one declared "Regular" member was designated an "Associate" member at the door by a board member and not allowed into the meeting. Or rather, I believe the Associate members should get the same rights that the board gets, that is, the assumption of innocence from any wrongdoing. I think that it is from this example that some members feel justified in not mentioning any income derived from dancing.
As for me, I don't make money from dancing. This website gets supported by various professional dance promoters as well as from non-profit organizations. Any money left over at the end of the year gets donated to charity. I also haven't done any Tango dancing in about two years now so I don't need the discounts to the Tango Society dances or workshops (as a matter of fact, most , if not all, the venues that I'm interested in attending have put me on their guest list for my contributions to all the dance communities). The only "benefit" I get from the Tango Society is the monthly newsletters (paper and electronic) from which I get the information I need to put on my tango webpage. When my membership expires in August, I do not plan on renewing, even though I'm a "charter" member. It seems pretty stupid of me to be "paying" the Tango Society for the sole purpose of getting their newsletter, just so I can publicize *their* events. I don't charge people to get my weekly dance newsletter (published every week since 1991) to encourage everyone to get on the mailing list. I think that the Tango Society should do the same.