As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
This week someone commented or yelled at me for listing things with their venue that was not what they wanted. It's hard to tell in email if someone is making normal conversation or getting mad.
My response to this person was that I put in what they gave me...months ago. I'm not around on the dance scene much these days in Boston so I imagine that I'm not always on the radar screeen in the minds of some dance promoters and they don't always remember to keep me updated, even if it is in their own best interests (and the service is *free*). They just forgot to include me in all the followup messages after the initial conversation. Maybe, if they had to pay for the listings on this website or if their customers got angry about the misinformation, they might be more diligent about checking the correctness of the information on this website.
I think that I've certainly justified my current policies about not typing in information that I haven't gotten directly from the dance promoter. I've spent a lot of time this week typing information into these webpages. I prefer getting information in email because it's harder for me to lose it, especially when I travel on business. I definitely prefer cutting and pasting directly from the email so the promoter can't blame me for getting the wrong information. I can't afford the time (and money) to call everyone to see if they have something new for this website. I get really annoyed when someone asks to me look on their website for the information I need.
In this current situation, I got the update this week and I went to type in the changes. Of course, I noticed some inconsistencies in the (new) information and that some things just didn't make sense. It turns out that the promoter got the (current) information wrong and had to redo everything before I could put it on my website.
I can't win. :-(
Since I'm already in a bad mood...
I think that everyone should consider getting some sort of firewall software for their computers. Hardware firewalls (such as routers) protect against someone getting *in*; software firewalls protect against information getting *out*.
I'm using Norton Internet Security (which includes their firewall software) and I've noticed that some (dance) email was trying to get my email program to go out (outward) to some website on the Internet. Some of those websites did not have any apparent association with the email that I was getting. One thing that I thought was interesting was a link on a picture of a band that was in an email message and that was a link through another website, like a pass-through, that would eventually get to the website I was looking for. I figured that they may have been gathering statistics on the number of visitors or they might have been trying to "harvest" my email address for spam.
Death to all spammers and marketeers. Death to all dance promoters who help them.
Maybe it's a phenomenon only in Silicon Valley, but...
Down in Los Gatos (next to San Jose in the Valley), I see a disportionate number of SUV's on the streets. This is pretty weird when you consider California's reputation for health conscious left-leaning "green" enthusiasts. I mean, when I left a local coffee shop today, I had to wonder if someone really needed a Ford Expedition to get their afternoon fix of expresso. Some of these people have way too much money than is good for them. I mean, gas is about 20 cents per gallon higher than in Boston; this is *normal*.
As usual, I was backing *SLOWLY* out of my parking spot at the outdoor mall (slowly, because I had a Ford Expedition on one side of me and a Ford S-150 on the other side of my Pontiac Sunfire rental car and I couldn't see *any* cars coming). I'm backing out slowly so that approaching cars can see that I'm backing out and I really *can't* see other cars approaching. It must be obvious that if they can't see me in the car, then it must be logical that I can't see *them*.
More often than not, some jerk will zoom by me, past the back of my car such that I have to slam on the brakes. It amazes me that these people are in such a hurry that they would risk getting their nice expensive cars damaged just so they wouldn't get delayed by 10 seconds. It bothers me that they weren't courteous enough to let someone back out of a parking spot without worrying about causing an accident.
Even Boston drivers aren't that bad.
And don't get me started on SUV's that park in "compact" spaces.
At least one thing went well this week: I joined in on a West Coast Swing class with Michelle Kinkaid in Mountain View. She offers classes in the area near my home office so I'm going to start taking WCS classes again whenever I'm out here. I usually don't get around to taking classes in Boston because when I'm home (in Massachusetts), I usually just want to stay home. I'm surprised that Michelle isn't seen more often at dance weekends in the Northeast; I last saw her at Boogie in the Mountains about 6 years ago.
Burger King always had these hard sell promotions, talking about how they broiled instead of fried their burgers or how their food tasted so much better. They advertised for the moment, for the instant, compulsive sale.
McDonald's, on the other hand, advertised for the long run. They didn't talk about the qualities of their food (not a winning proposition for a fast food chain, anyways). Instead, they talked about "feeling good" while eating there. Remember the commercial where the kid would take his baby sister to McDonald's after the playground and he'd feed her french fries? And ten years later, they'd be hanging out there with their respective friends and he'd look over to her from across the room and wave a few french fries and she'd smile? McDonald's hadn't spent their advertising dollars promoting the food, they spent their money telling people that eating at McDonald's is an enjoyable experience. 20 years later, I still remember those ideas and that's probably why I'll go to McDonald's instead of Burger King if given a choice (besides McDonald's french fries still rule!)
When hanging out in northern California, I always go for my usual fix of Jack In The Box tacos (much better than Taco Bell's). The food at this chain is about as good (or bad) as any other, but their advertising campaigns always give me a laugh when I'm in there. The "mascot" Jack with his big round "head" and silly grin is enough to brighten any cloudy day and their slogans offer a lot of humor, such as:
For their hot and spicy chicken pieces: "I've fired people before, but not like *this*"
Or their triple decker cheeseburger: "Think of it as a challenge...with cheese"
Or any of their posters in their restaurants featuring Jack in a nice suit and big white round ball head and cap offset to the side while doing "normal" things like participating in a Hungarian folk dance or coaching a sports team. I walk into their restaurants and instantly I'm in a good mood.
I'll probably forget all the individual special promotions these restaurants offer, but I'll always remember how I felt in there. Or rather, I won't forget how I felt there.
Of course, these examples apply to the dance business. Dance promoters are in the "service" business, they're offering a service to their customers. It's in their best interest to make their venues a pleasant place to attend and they must think long-term because they need return customers. It takes a lot to build a loyal customer base but it takes only one incident to lose that customer forever.
The owners of two of Boston's most visible swing dance venues went out of their way to treat me poorly years ago when I was a mere dance customer and still a beginner dancer. It really doesn't matter whether it was me or some other dance customer: they had an unhappy customer who decided to stay away from that venue and would probably tell all of his/her friends. I don't waste any energy holding a grudge against them and I don't spend any time working against their business, but now I don't have any urgent need to attend their venues (anymore, if ever) nor am I interested in giving them my support and endorsement. I wonder if they feel that it was worth what they did to me (and to their other customers).
As I've said in this space before (and I don't know who made the original quote), but
"People will forget what you said,
People will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel."
I typically don't have much fun at dance weekends because many of them have a focus on competitions and my opinion has always been, "Why watch *other* people dance?". This event was focused on workshops and *dancing*. There were a few competitions (this was also the Northeast Lindy Hop Championships) but the focus of the event was being in a place where the emphasis was on meeting the maximum number of new dance partners.
Beantown is situated at Wheaton College in Norton, MA, which has been used as a substitute setting for Harvard University in some movies. Attendees got plenty of exercise walking between buildings for workshops and food. As usual, the dance floors were provided by Events by Dance Pros. I helped assemble the dance floors before the event started and I can't believe Bill Cameron does this all the time.
We stayed in the campus dorms. Many of them were air-conditioned (!) and they had ethernet (RJ-45) jacks so I'm updating this website even as I pack up for the trip home. Walking outside to the workshops and meals reminded me of my college days and was more interesting than taking an elevator to a hotel room.
The food service was provided by the college which eliminated the worry of deciding where to eat at meal time. Everyone eating in the same place and time meant that we got to meet a lot of new dancers at every meal, like we used to do at Boogie in the Mountain and Pinewoods Swing Camp (I miss those events). By the way, Wheaton is a alcohol-free and smoke-free establishment (!).
The event was all inclusive; you didn't have to worry about paying for anything once you got on the campus. All the food was paid for (providing an incentive to attend the meal!). The entertainment on Saturday night included serious audience participation, especially the "Mix 'n' Match" contest. The antics of all the 4-person teams had the attendees rolling on the floor. The ice cream party on Saturday provided a lot of sugar/energy replenishment late at night. (Anyone catch that cat who crashed the dance?)
I thought their "Beantown Cafe" was a nice touch, where you could sit down in a slightly quieter setting at tables to talk to people (and it was also air-conditioned!). The Camp Store offered t-shirts and other dance paraphenalia that *anyone* wanted to sell. Instructor Jon Callahan was selling kits for "chroming", putting chrome leather on the bottoms of sneakers and other shoes. I suspect that we're going to be seeing a lot more people dancing in sneakers soon (including me).
My personal favorite part of the weekend was the fact that there were no (additional) costs for the workshops. As had happened at the New England Swing Dance Championships, I had taken some workshops because I "happened to be hanging out in the room". I was talking to someone before Jane Ford & Rayned Wiles' Hustle workshops. There were two women and one guy, so everyone (including the teachers) looked at me and said, "Do you want to take this class?" I looked around and said, "I guess so...". :-) We ended up have a *very* small class with a lot of teacher attention. This would never have happened to me if I had to pay money just to be in the workshop hall. (It was thought that Lindy dancers don't know or understand Hustle so the class was small; it might have also been the "Flashy Moves" class in the next room). And many of the instructors were attending each other's classes. One dancer commented that this made the teachers feel more "normal" and down-to-earth...even approachable. (I even got brave enough to ask two of the instructors to dance with me)
I believe that having "free" workshops encourages dancers to take the maximum number of workshops at an event and to take classes that they might never consider. I mean, this was a Lindy Hop event and they had West Coast Swing classes! Tony Tye of Hop To The Beat Dance Studios, the hosts for this event, said that attendees didn't have to worry about shelling out any more money once they arrived at camp. They just had to think only of dancing.
At this point, I'm starting to feel jealous of all the people who are coming in or are already here for the 5-day full Beantown Lindy Hop camp. Maybe next year...:-)