As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
I'm not sure how we got on the topic, but I was asked if I did line-dancing (probably because the new dancer had done that) so that got me going on the topic of a dance as being a social event, like a "date", where you got to hold someone's hand and got to know them better. I went on about how you could find out a lot of information about this "date" by how they danced with you, such as "are they paying attention or are they distant?" or are they leading or are they "commanding"? Are they dance with you or doing their own thing? Do they *hurt* you?
The dance teacher suddenly interrupted and said, "No, it's much more basic than that!". During a dance, you find out...
It took a while for us to stop laughing before I could give the teacher a well-earned high-5.
The question came up last night...
How many people thought the Boston Swing Dance Network dance was suppose to be May 13?
Last week's editorial came about because of an on-going discussion between a dance band and an event promoter. There was an exchange of email between the two and I got involved because I saw something that I felt was counter-productive.
The band leader had made a "pitch" to play at this promoter's event, touting his band as being a great band and having played at a wide variety of swing dance events. The promoter, being responsible (and not particularly guilible), decided to check out the band's sound clips on their website and found that the music didn't turn him on. He decided that he needed to hear the band live before he could think of hiring the band.
At this point, the band leader started listing his references, list of venues where he's played, and people from his area who could say wonderful things about him. Basically, he was trying to get hired without the promoter actually hearing him. He tried to say (to me) that he's gotten hired on his reputation alone.
Unfortunately, reputations are only good if someone hears of them and if they come from a trusted source. And any intelligent dance promoter (just as anyone hiring a band for a wedding) will make sure to audition the band before shelling out good money for them. This band leader felt that any attempt to get him to "audition" was a smear on his reputation.
At the same time a friend found a request in an online newsletter that asked people who wanted to hear this band at this promoter's event to write in to the promoter. This was the same gimmick that a certain New York band tried when the same promoter wouldn't hire them (especially after telling them he didn't like their music). For fan opinion to be relevant, the band should have asked their fans to show up at the dance, pay to get in, and then ask for the band at a future dance. Meanwhile, the band was taking a chance that no or few fans would write in and that would leave a bad impression about the band, especially since the dance promoter knew about the effort. In any case, it merely served to annoy the dance promoter so the effort wasn't helpful to the cause.
There aren't too many bands that I know of that would be hired solely on their reputations unless their reputation was *nation-wide*. Reputations are earned, not freely handed out. And a good reputation isn't any good if people haven't heard of it.
In the business of bands playing at dances, it should be expected that bands will get auditioned, even if that just means someone hears them play at some event. No one should feel entitled to an exemption. And if the promoter doesn't like the music? Then the band leader has two options:
That's how most other bands do it. It is inappropriate to try to convince the dance promoter that he doesn't need to hear the band live and that the band's music is good enough for the dance. The only result is that the promoter will feel that the band leader is trying to pull one over on him and the band won't ever get hired. There are many other bands out there who are willing to put in the effort to get hired. The band leader should earn his jobs just like every other band, one gig at a time.
My feelings about the band in question? I *want* this band to compete for a slot on the venue's schedule. If they're good enough to replace any other band on the schedule, then I want to be dancing where they're playing. However, real competition means taking your music and going head-to-head against someone else's music. Reputations get the door open, but they aren't a factor when the only question is, "Does it Swing?" and the only judge is the dance promoter.
I showed up around 11:30 pm, just as visiting teachers, Andres Amarilla & Meredith Klein, were about to give a performance. As with most other visiting teachers, they gave a good impressive demonstration that displayed all the imbellishments and improvisation that were possible in the dance. And, as usual, I was bored with just standing around and watching someone else dance, probably more so because I don't dance tango anymore.
However, about 10 minutes later, after a quick change into jeans and sneakers, they came back with a choreography that included local teachers Carlos and Tova Moreno. This was *different*. The choreography put a story to the music, albeit a really funny one, so they gave us a show that was interesting and compelling to watch. It was Argentine Tango, by way of "West Side Story" and probably many others. It wasn't just a demonstration of dance skills. As far as I can remember, it's been about 10 years since I've seen a "fun" tango performance. The last fun swing performance that I can remember is the one by Marcus & Baerbl Koch at Boogie in the Mountains in '96.
I think that visiting teachers should remember that if they want to catch people's attention, they can't just do a "demo". They need to do something special and wakes people up and leaves them with a good feeling about the teachers. They need to do something that no one else is going to do. I think this inspires more people to take the workshops than just a "demo".
There are a lot of changes coming at this time of year with Hop To The Beat leaving its Cambridge location in May. If you know of any potential locations for a dance, let them know about it.
The summer dancing in Copley Square started, but it seems like the equivalent of summer school for dancing.
I finally got a chance to get out to Leominster for the weekly Sunday dance by Dance 2 Swing. I've been meaning to take the time to check out this venue for a while. The venue is at the Leominster Elks, a fair decent building that anyone would love to use for a dance. I got to see a band called Velvet Elvis. As the name suggests, they play Elvis Presley's music. The band's energy was pretty good (mostly from the lead singer), but it wasn't as "tight" as I would expect from a band that played swing dance gigs and I was concerned about an entire evening of swing dancing to Elvis Presley's tunes. I mean, it's not like the guy has had any new music for a while. I was trying to figure out if two of the band members were part of BJ Magoon & Driving Sideways; BJ Magoon was seen dancing.
Oh, and see you at Beantown.
Some of you have a setup where people who send you email must be "approved" in order for your email to forwarded to your mailbox. This is an attempt to get avoid getting spam.
However, I question why I have to go through this approval process if I'm just *responding* to a note that someone sent to *me*.