The Soapbox Archives:
This website strives to be as up to date as possible, though I don't always have the time to go through everything. If you know of any dance businesses that no longer need to be listed here, please let me know.
This piece had been on the community/editorial page of the Tango side of this website for a couple of years, mostly because I didn't have anything to put in there, but I suppose it's been there long enough and everyone must have read it by now (though some people have proven quite clueless). In any case, I figured I should put a copy here so that it'll get saved into the archives. The content is also relevant for the Swing/Ballroom side of my websites.
If you're in the dance business, this is for you.
The Swing and Ballroom communities are much larger than the Tango world so strange behavior tends to get drowned out and ignored. The Tango community is much smaller such that unusual actions will to stand out more. For some reason it feels like *some* dance promoters in the Tango world seem to be "obsessive" about how their information appears on this website (compared to everyone else) and they get weirded out if I'm not consistent in how I present the information from different venues.
I run this website mostly because it's *fun* and it continues to be fun. I don't do it because I dance tango; I haven't attended a milonga for....oh, it's gotta be 5 years or more now. I *did* dance tango once and I'm pleased to run this website to support those friends of mine who supported my tango dancing back in the days when I was clumsy and clueless.
Because I'm not in the dance business and I don't run this website for a profit, I might be somewhat lax about my rules on this website. I take a lot of pride in how the website looks and how the information is presented, but it may not always seem that way. I try to write down the rules as they come up but let's be honest about it: the rules are whatever rules I feel like implementing at the moment. And I'm not always consistent. And that's okay. I might not have had my coffee yet so I might not put your information on the website at this very moment. Perhaps a pretty young lady might have just bought me dinner so I was in a great mood and didn't mind staying up until 3:30 am to update my Tango pages.
In any case, some of you out there have seen other people have their information listed on this website in a certain way and you were concerned that your information and your event was not given the same equal treatment. Maybe it was the wrong phase of the moon when I typed that information in. Who knows? For some of you, this might be important to you and might affect your business. For others, it's just your ego on the line. Get over it.
The *only* reason I started this website (actually, the Swing dance side of this website) is because I wanted to learn how to create a website. It just got out of control and you see the result. This is *not* a job for me and I'm not sitting at my desk waiting for you to send me your information.
Those of you who are in the dance business and want your activities and events listed on this website need to consider a few things:
People who run calendar websites tend to do so for the benefit of the community. They don't get expressions of thanks very often. Most times they don't even know if people care about their respective websites. These webmasters all deserve some measure of respect and appreciation for what they do; they could always find something more fun and gratifying to do if all they get is grief and rudeness.
Again, if you run milongas [i.e., tango dances] and/or teach classes, please take a few minutes (actually, a lot of minutes) to read my list of Frequently Asked Questions. It describes many of my policies concerning the way I run this website. And yes, they're subject to change without notice. And I'm equally as likely to change them back. Without notice.
September 30, 2006
One thing I've noticed is the tendency of newer teachers to be more impatient with beginner dancers. I suspect that these new teachers forget how long it took themselves to become decent dancers or that they expect everyone to "get it" right away. I remember when dance teachers would recommend that a student take a class over.
With all the dance venues open these days, there are a lot of people who are teaching the free beginner lessons at these dances. Sometimes I think it's too bad that there's no test required to become a swing/Lindy Hop dance teacher. Some new teachers get impatient, flustered, or are just unprepared for standing in front of a lot of people and pretend they know what they're doing. Other teachers have a more mature and realistic attitude and expectation of what they have to work with.
When teaching the beginner lesson at an open dance venue, there's no control over who shows up at a lesson so you're just likely to get people with *some* experience as well as rank beginners. This is where you separate the amateur teachers from the professionals.
The newer teachers will try to gloss over the typical initial default "rock-step, step, step" basic and move on to more interesting steps, including triple-step dancing. They might turn up their nose at having to spend a lot of time dealing with people who can't get past having to move their feet and listen to the music at the same time.
The more experienced teachers will have gone through this scenario many times and they are constantly reminded of what it was like to step out on a dance floor for the very first time. They try to make sure they take care of everyone's needs without leaving anyone behind or boring their audience. The experienced teachers want to be remembered as good teachers, not good dancers.
The more experienced teachers know that it's very difficult to create good dancers in one hour so they don't try. Why? Because that's not their job. When an experienced teacher gives the beginner lesson at a dance, they know that they'll be judged on one thing and only one thing: how many people had a good time dancing and how many will want to come back.
There are some of you who ask to have your venues and events listed but don't seem to understand (or don't care) about the amount of time or energy I spend working on this website just so that you can get customers through the door to give you money. To be honest, I have *no* incentive to chase after people for their information. At this point I've reached a critical mass of information and recurring visitors such that it's reasonable to expect that any dance promoter would want to get listed on a local dance website that gets over 20,000 unique visitors a month. I think it's reasonable to expect that the dance promoters understand that it's in their best interest to get their event information to me as early as possible and as complete as possible so it takes me a minimum amount of time to enter it into the website.
I end up wasting a lot of time whenever I get incomplete information and have to go looking for the parts I'm missing. Sometimes it's a minor matter of the address missing the word "Street", "Road", or "Avenue". Such details are minor....except that it might cause the user to get the wrong directions from GoogleMaps or MapQuest. I care about those kinds of details and so should the dance promoters.
What really annoys me is when a promoters says "It's all on my website" as if it's my job to go "fetch" the information. It's not my job and I don't get paid for what I do with this website and I'm not going to accept being told to go get the information myself.
What's even worse is when the promoter's website is *missing* the data I need, such as the location of a workshop. I consider that a serious waste of my time because I'll spend a lot of time reading a webpage many times to make sure I didn't miss it.
From now on, if I get incomplete information for a listing, I will send it back and ask for information. It's not my job to go looking for it. If the promoter misses the deadline for inclusion in that week's update because I had to ask for more details, it's their fault. If the promoter is too lazy to put that information in a simple email message, it's not my problem.
On the flip side, having to spend time to read a *long* press release is also a serious waste of my time. When I'm typing information into the calendar, I really only need the name of the event, location, date and times. Band names and websites are useful. Links to information is also good. Having to dig through several pages of text just to get one sentence's worth of information is bad. I've already said many times that I'm going to start ignoring generic mailings that often have the same information as in previous mailings.
A good example to follow? I've learned to ignore the group mailings from Hop To The Beat. Those generally include a lot of text that include embedded useful information that has to be excavated. But I really don't need to dig out those tidbits. Why? Because Hop To The Beat also sends me a separate mailing with *just* the necessary information I need for my calendars *weeks* in advance. And they address those notes directly to me so I pay attention to those emails. And they always say "please" and "thank you". Even better, they sometimes send me the formatted HTML code so it takes me about 2 seconds to copy it out of the email message and paste it into the calendar page. I wish everyone sent me their information this way.
What people need to understand is that their venue is not the only one sending me information every week that needs to be *manually* typed in. Yes, I could probably set up a system where people could enter their own information but I've seen the quality of other websites, such as the New England Swing Dance Server, go down because there wasn't anyone who spent time making sure the information followed any standard. Another website, Best Coast Swing, was a pretty good website but it never reached the critical mass of users that justified the time spent on it so that went away. I get a lot of information every week to type in and I spend a lot of time thinking about the presentation of the information on this website and making sure that there is a required level of objectivity and quality in every listing. Every promoter who wants a listing on this website should remember that there are many other dance promoters who would be happy if their competition wasn't mentioned on this website.
My goal? To spend more time dancing than I do editting this website.