The Soapbox Archives:
I'm slightly annoyed, though. They exchanged vows back in 2000, I think, and Jim never gave me a straight answer whenever he came for a visit and I would ask him "Are you married...YET?".
Someone suggested "As the dancefloor turns" for the name of this editorial space, but I said "uh,......no".
"Thanks for all that you do!" - Heidi (and Larry) Mongeau, Seaside Swing.
There was no other context to this note from Heidi and Larry so I assume they were talking about the years of support I've given them on this website. You're very welcome and I'm glad I was able to help. I should probably introduce myself to them one of these days.
Yet another week and I have to rewrite the Soapbox again. I hope this trend doesn't continue.
I have Elizabeth's response from last week's editorial. I was trying to decide if it was worth posting the note because it was more or less just a list of statements indicating compliance with the conditions for reinstatement. Only the first three were relevant to this website; the rest were suggestions I had made that might encourage better relationships with the other dance organizers and will be shared with them as needed.
- I did move some fliers at Swing City on December 12th that were not mine and I promise never to touch again, fliers that are not mine.
- I promise never to move anyone else's fliers at any dance event ever again!
- I promise not to cover up any one else's fliers at any dance event ever again!
- I promise to make sure to understand the approved location for fliers, and to ONLY put fliers at those approved locations.
- I will completely stop talking about my events or classes at other organizers' events. I won't put any fliers on chairs or anywhere else that is not approved.
I was hoping for something more verbose, to demonstrate some reflection or remorse on these issues, perhaps to demonstrate some understanding of the spirit of these words, but this is good enough for my purposes and the information on her dance venues will be restored on Sunday, January 11 (as opposed to the January 18 date I was shooting for or the original March date). I should have included a note about making an honest effort to talk to other affected dance organizers before scheduling future events (e.g., the West Coast Swing dance organizers), but I guess it's a bit late for that.
To be clear, this temp ban was not intended as punishment or to hurt Elizabeth's business, not that I have the power to do so. It was intended to encourage compliance with community rules. What are the community rules and who determines them? You can start with, "What would you not want people to do if they competed with you?" Anyone who wants the help of this website to further their dance business and to attract paying customers need to know that I want all the dance organizers to play fair and to play nice. Similar (bad) things happened back in the "old days" and there was no one to make people be nice back then. Competition is okay, but let's play fair.
A long time ago, you couldn't even put out your dance flyers at a studio dance if it had the words "Beginner Lesson" on it. How many of you remember when Deborah Good stood outside Dancing Feats and handed out her class and workshops flyers to people as they left the dance? No one was around to stop her from doing so. Remember when JJ put his flyers on all the cars on that street? The individual venues had to take their own actions. I remember one teacher threatening to break someone's legs for trying to hold dance classes in the same physical location after they had been there for years. And we couldn't stop JJ from holding a similar dance at the same location as the BSDN's "IC Dance".
I remember the days when all the teachers liked each other. There was competition but it was all friendly competition. At every dance, the organizer would introduce and announce all the (competing) teachers who were in attendance. That stopped when a lot of wannabe-teacher dancers hung out a shingle and started teaching, even if they weren't qualified. The teachers used to hang out in each others' home and were friends. Those days are long gone.
However, this website is here.
I can't force anyone to do anything they don't want to. I can't make people play fair. I can't make people play nice. However, I can use this website to indicate my disappointment and encourage people to do the right thing and now everyone knows I'm not afraid to do so.
While we could go on and on about the whole checklist of good things to remember, let's focus on the current flyer issue:
To the one person who wrote in with his own personal rant about my abuse of imaginary power, thank for writing in; no one else did. However, all you did was make me clarify my actions and made it clear that I was doing the right thing. And those decisions were made while consulting established members of the dance community. It should be known that this website is my little sandbox and I invite everyone to come in and play. Note, though, that I don't force anyone to come in, but once they come in, it's my rules, especially since I do all the work so they don't have to. And it's a lot of work. And I bet a lot more people think my rules are fair.
PS: I heard that the lady with the basket sometimes plops her information on top of other flyers, obscuring other venues' flyers. Please don't do that again. You've been warned.
And a hello to fans of this website, Amber & Bill, which goes to show that getting mentioned in this space doesn't mean you're in trouble.
Editor's Note: This was the original editorial I had planned for final Soapbox of 2008
I was hoping to close off this year with something thought-provoking to say.
Words of wisdom have more profound and lasting effects than moments of genius. You can say something witty and people will admire you for it but they're going to forget it shortly. When you come up with something "wise", you can see lightbulbs going off over people's heads and you know that they're going to incorporate it into their lives (and probably take credit for it too).
My thoughts for the end of the year? Well, I doubt it's original; I'm sure I must have heard it somewhere and it must have been percolating through my head all this time.
"A mark of a true friend is not in what they say or what they do; a true friend is judged by how much they listen."Hmm....I like that. A wise saying makes people think and this thought made me go through my list of friends to see who fits that description the best. A true friend just listens and doesn't interrupt you with comments, criticisms, and action items; they might even make off-hand remarks that make you think even more. After all, what is a therapist but someone paid to listen to you and make *suggestions* that cause you to come up with the right answers yourself?
While I have a couple of people in mind (including the person I consider my best friend), I was thinking of one particular person who's been characterized as being secretive and not very open with her personal life with her friends; she doesn't say much at all unless poked vigorously. I had been wondering about that for a long time now and the truth just dawned on me because I had the counter-example of people around me who spent a lot of time talking to/at me and not all that much time listening. This particular person was quiet because she was too busy being a friend who listens; I must admit that I was even more impressed when she said she'd "take all your secrets to the grave".
Do you have any true friends?
On a lighter note, I recently had a stressful time dealing with AAA (the American Automobile Association) while trying to get my car towed. After the third or fourth time trying to call them, I tried dialing from memory. Did you know their 800 number is just one digit away from a sex hot line? I wonder how many people accidentally dialed that wrong number.
Also, if you lose your keys, get the dealership to give you a physical key to unlock the transmission *first*. *Then* call for the tow truck. They can't tow your car if the transmission is locked. They can *drag* your car onto a flatbed but that probably won't do your tires any good.
"Days of our Dance Floor"Uh......no.
Because of the nature of this website and the fact that I'm not really associated with any specific dance venue, I get to hear a lot of interesting information from many of the dance venues and from the dancers themselves (or their friends). Since most of it is hearsay or gossip (or third-hand forwarded email), it's not fair (most of the time) to mention the names of the people involved. However, I think it's fair game to talk about their behavior and hope that others can learn from them.
It should be noted that a lot of every-day dancers (non-teachers and non-professionals) read this weekly editorial space so if you're in the business, you should pay attention to what your customers are saying, especially if you're in the public eye and a lot of people will know and recognize you. And people will especially remember anything you did to them.
I'm almost sure I talked about it before, but every once in a while, I'll find out that there's an almost urgent need to revisit some ettiquette guidelines. I can typically excuse beginner dancers because they don't know any better until educated, but it's reasonable to expect better from people who have been on the dance scene for a while. Some of it is just common sense, but it surprises me how often it's *not* common.
When you ask someone to dance, you're asking someone for a "date". You want to enjoy their company and get to know them a little better. That's all it really is: the original "three-minute date". During those 3 minutes, you're really in a relationship at some level and all the normal rules apply for a date. During that "date", you're suppose to be focused on your partner and *only* your partner. You watch out for them so they don't get hit by another dancer; their happiness and well-being should be your focus, whether you're a leader or a follower. You're not suppose to be looking for a dance partner for the next song. Much of your behavior on the dance floor can be symbolic or a clue as to how you'd behave in a personal relationship.
Suppose you're dancing and you decide that there's another opportunity up for grabs, perhaps a better dancer, a better *looking* dancer, or even something that looks more fun than the person you're dancing with. I suppose if you were selfish or self-centered, you might choose to abandon your partner and go dance with someone else in the middle of the song, even if it broke all rules of protocol or ettiquette just because it was important to you. What would that jilted partner think? How would that abandoned partner feel? What would they *say* about you? And how many of their friends would they tell? And how many other people (yo! Hallo?) would find out about it. Imagine the damage it would do to your reputation. I can tell you that people *will* remember how you made them feel....for years.
How would you feel if you were the person who got abandoned on the dance floor?
Now...imagine..what if you were a dance teacher and you left a dance partner, that is, a potential customer, standing in the middle of a dance floor in the middle of a song because you saw someone else you'd rather be dancing with? I can't imagine that it'd help you get new (or old) students, do you? And worse of all, do you think that anyone could ever trust you to stay with them in a real relationship if something "better" comes along?
Now, I really don't know if the above really happened because it's second-hand information and I didn't see it. I do know that someone's going around and telling this story *and* inserting names. What if story was true and you were the person I just described?
Oops! Ran out of space. More next week.
More [bad] name suggestions for this Soapbox:
Mommy! Make them stop!
Just wanted to let you know how I enter information into the various calendars.
If there are multiple events happening that night, here is how I decide how the activities are ordered on the calendar:
But what if there are two or more events of the same priority level and are on the same night? Well, then it's a matter of who gets their information to me first.
First of all, I add all the entries manually. If I get a list of dates for a venue, I'll cut & paste the entry for every instance of a venue's event into the calendar. And I'll do that in the order in which I get the information.
For example, look at Friday nights:
If Swing City were to send me all their dates for February and March before anyone else, I'll add them to the February and March sections of the calendar and I'll be able to use one of their existing January dates to copy & paste the other entries.
If Swing Central then sent me their list of dates for February through April, they'd get listed after Swing City for February and March, but then they'd have the first spot on the April dates. Swing Dance Depot has been very late in getting their information to me (if at all) so they're almost always listed last.
Beyond the obvious benefit of dancers being able to plan their nights out dancing ahead of time, it's of benefit to the dance organizers to send their information to me as soon as possible because they're more likely to get the higher spot on any calendar date.
And unless it's a late-minute weather-related cancellation, don't bother sending me information for an event that will be happening in a couple of days (and before the next update). If you can't be bothered to send your information to me at least a week before your event, I can't be bothered to make a last minute addition just for you.
As I'm really not interested in seeing only my own words in this space, I decided to ask a couple of the Corner Booth members to come up with something, in their own words, about what a leader/follower wants in a dance partner. I didn't show them the other's article. As I was typing this, I thought that this might be an interesting *on-going* series of articles and I might ask other people to submit their own writings about this very subject, but here are the first two:
Benson often says the dance is a three-minute date, and supports that analogy with good arguments. A date consists of conversations, and if both partners participate mutually and enjoy the conversation, like a date, they will seek each other out for more in the future. Like a conversation, leaders and followers with good social skills will find common ground: topics or dance steps of mutual interest which both can employ. If the conversation becomes a monologue with the leader or follower dancing his/her own exclusive way, one person will feel cut off and decide to seek others with whom to dance or converse.
One of the best points I heard an instructor make is that the lead is an invitation to do a particular step, which a follower should attempt. I perceive it is an exercise in teamwork for a team of two. It is not supposed to be a game of "Simon Says" where the follower is "out" the first time she deviates from Simon's command. The leader should recognize that the follower may miss the cue either from not knowing the move, or not wishing to do that move. Like good conversationalists, leaders with the best social skills will swiftly transition to other topics/dance moves to find common ground for him and his follower to enjoy the dance. A good follower will match his effort to keep the conversation moving in a positive direction. However, if one partner constantly dances without consideration of the other, then it may seem like each is dancing alone, one sadly surprised, the other oblivious. Result: The partner who wanted to dance with someone may decide to choose those who will dance together as partners rather than in front of him/her as performers. The other may wonder why it is difficult to find partners when the music starts.
Dancing is a social skill. It is more important to be kind than clever. I consider it more fun to dance with a kind person whose dance skill will build than a unkind person who dances cleverly. With many good instructors in this area, a kind person is likely to have the willingness to better him/herself and will learn to dance faster than the clever dancer will learn to be kind.
No matter how many years we dance, we can always learn something, and I am thinking the majority of social dancers want the same thing: to build dance skills and have positive social dance experiences in the process.
I will be reading Chris' "What a Leader Wants" (see above) with interest as neither of us will be seeing each other's commentary before Benson publishes them.