As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
Many of us stood outside in the cold on Friday as we waited in line to get into the funeral home to pay our respects to JoEllen's family. I saw people from New York and western Massachusetts in the line around me. I don't think anyone had expected there to be so many people that we would have to wait outside; I heard that the line had been the same length a half hour *before* the start of visiting hours. At some point they shunted us into another doorway to get more of us inside so they could get people off the *street*. It took at least 90 minutes before we could finally get to the end of the line to offer our condolences to Myke Farricker and their respective families. All told, it was estimated that around 1000 people showed up at the wake.
On New Year's Eve, the church was packed at least half an hour before the funeral started and they had to direct the rest of us into the overflow room. *That* room alone had over 200 people in it with many of us standing up for the whole service.
I heard that there were some who didn't attend the wake or the funeral because they felt they didn't know JoEllen very well. I thought that was unfortunate because it would have been their last chance to do something nice for JoEllen. I think those people deprived themselves of one last chance to know JoEllen and find out just how many hearts she touched during a life that was cut too short. We had a chance to not just mourn her passing, but to also celebrate her life. Those of us who knew her only as a dance promoter missed out on the other activities into which JoEllen threw all her energy and enthusiasm. Anyone who's ever danced at or started dancing at the Longfellow owe their thanks to JoEllen for building up the dance program at the Longfellow from scratch.
Of course, we knew about all the dances she organized. Someone's birthday? Hey, let's have a party. Charities and natural disasters? Let's have a fundraiser (dance). She turned the Longfellow Clubs, of which she was part-owner, into one of the Northeast's hubs of dance. Yet, how many of us know that she was a swim teacher? How many knew that she was a force to be reckoned with when her church ran an event and needed help? How many of the adults attending the funeral first met JoEllen at the children's programs she organized years ago? How many lives did she influence during her short time with us?
Those of us who dance owe a great deal to those who have put a lot of sweat into building up the community. We owe a great deal to those who provide for and maintain the community. And those dance promoters in our community now know the yardstick by which their success will be measured.
I've been sending out my dance newsletter since 1991 (when I started dancing). This website has been in operation since 1996. As far as I can remember, I've never asked for any freebies. I've paid for all the classes I've taken, even when offered a free lesson. This is because these teachers dance for a living and I think they've earned the right to be able to earn the money to pay their rent or mortgage,
I've also never asked for free admission for dancing. It is true that I get into a lot of dance venues (and weekends) for free. Many of the venue promoters have known me or known of me for years, and they know the amount of work I've put into my newsletter and website to promote swing dancing in New England. And they know that I send customers to them. Many of them want to show their appreciation, even if I don't attend their venues. I remember one promoter chasing me down to give me my money back after he found out I had paid to get in.
And there are people who don't grant me any special privileges at their dance venues. And that's okay.
I pretty much go to the various dance venues that I like with my money in hand and if they take my money, that's okay. I'm there to dance and I would have gone there regardless of whether I get in free or not. It's been my policy to *not* ask for free admission. As a matter of fact, I pay for admission at a dance of one of the *sponsors* of this website. I don't maintain my newsletter and website for profit. Asking for freebies, even for barter or exchange, is work and that's not why I do this. And asking for something after making what appeared to be a free and generous offer reveals ulterior motives and shows duplicity.
The person with the mailing list should modify his tactics. This person should either display true altruism (not wanting or expecting anything in return) or be upfront about wanting something in return. To offer a favor and then ask for something in return only generates resentment. And the community isn't so big that word of this won't get around.
This past Saturday, I would have normally gone to the Hop To The Beat dance in Cambridge (a sponsor of this website), but I got invited to the Hooked on Swing Society of Western Massachusetts dance. The fact that The O-Tones were playing meant that I could support two DanceNet sponsors at the same time, plus I got to dance with people I don't normally see in Boston.
The two-hour drive is not all that onerous, particularly if there was also someone else along (a perfectly good excuse for a road trip!), though, for some reason, they're never awake on the ride home to help keep *me* awake. There are several venues away from Boston that are within driving distance and they usually start a little earlier so it's possible to get back on the road before midnight. I need to get down to the monthly Hartford Swing again and Shoreline Swing is one place I've never attended. And, of course, the Swingin' 88's is only an hour away in East Providence.
It's not a bad idea to do a little bit of cross-polination. Besides meeting new dancers down in the other areas, it's also a way to find new people to invite to dance in Boston. And dancing with new people once in a while is a way to keep one's own dancing fresh.
I had considered buy tickets for the January 28 Powerball lottery drawing. For this adventure, there's a gas station just over the border in Nashua, New Hampshire and Providence, Rhode Island, both about the same distance/time for driving. It just so happens that the Swingin' 88's have their monthly dance on the 4th Saturdays of the month in East Providence. From the Shell gas station at exit 27 off I-95 to the Swingin' 88's dance is only 10 minutes. What a great excuse to make the drive.
I met someone from Providence Swings and he said that their bi-monthly lindy hop dance is coming up. Another good excuse to go down and pick up lottery tickets.