The Soapbox Archives:
I've been attending this monthly dance since April of 1991 which was my second time out dancing (the day after my first dance at my dance studio). I figure I might have missed maybe four dances in 17 years and that includes getting onto the first United flight out of San Francisco after 9/11 and getting back to Boston three hours before the dance. If there's one dance that the "old-timers" come back to, this is where they go and there's always someone there they'll know. And this venue has one of the best reputations for being "beginner friendly".
Doc Scanlon's Rhythm Boys has to be my favorite dance band to play in Boston. They always put their hearts into their performances. I'm always impressed that their playlist and energy are deep enough to last the entire dance, much better than any other band I know. And when you hear them, you know they play for dancers. I think a lot of other bandleaders who want to play at this venue should come out and check out the only band invited to play twice in the same dance season.
My favorite dance and my favorite band on the same night in the same place. I'm looking forward to dancing this Saturday.
It's that time of year again: Election Night on November 4.
Regardless of where your political views range these days, the time for talk is over. It's time to act. Each and everyone of you with the right to vote has a moral responsibility get your butt in gear and get down to the polling station to get your two cents in. There's no excuse of not knowing which candidate to vote for; their views and political stands have been blasted out on the airwaves and in print for a long time. Some people like to criticize people with different opinions on the political environment. I think that people with *no* opinion at this point are just *stupid*.
I've seen some pretty lame excuses for not voting. I know of one person who couldn't make up her mind two hours before the polls closed for the 2004 election, even after much prodding from her friends. And after I asked "Do you know whom you're going to vote for?" in 2004, another person said, "What's the point? I voted in 2000 and it was the wrong choice. Why bother?". We live in a country where one of the highest principles is the franchise of every citizen, the right to vote and determine the direction of the country. History will be made this week, regardless of which way the vote goes, and you should be a part of it. Don't be a spectator on the sidelines. If you don't vote, you're giving someone else the right to determine the fate of you and your country. If you're going to stand in the middle of the road, you're going to get hit by traffic going either way. Vote and be heard.
I'm looking forward to Election Night. I remember going out to buy an attenna for my TV in 2000 just to make sure I could tune into the election returns. I had my map printed out from the Globe and I was ready with my red and blue crayons, eager to fill in the map (I found that map recently, too). I think I'll frame this year's map.
It's going to be an exciting night. I hope all the cable channels were showing the movie Swing Vote this past week.
A public service announcement:
The website for the Mass Registry of Motor Vehicles indicates that they will no longer be sending out renewal notices when it's time to renew your driver's license. It'll be up to you to remember when to renew your license.
Of course, if you get pulled over and ticketed for an expired license, you should get your license renewed that day and then appeal the ticket. The courts are fairly reasonable if you admit that you forgot to renew and then show that you took care of the problem right away.
Thanks to Stacylyn McArdle for the heads-up.
The swing dance community seems to going through a rough period these days. As of this moment, I've heard of a bunch of venues that are supposedly endangered. I also heard of dance teachers who are looking for other and/or additional employment outside of dancing.
Being in the dance business is tough because it's so dependent on the economy and the customers' availability of disposable income. With the price of gas these days, a lot of dancers are less inclined to drive any distance to get to a decent venue.
What can be done?
The biggest problem I see is that some of the newer dance venues have not gone through the different waves of dancers. I remember a time when West Coast Swing ruled and we thought Lindy Hop was going away (since reversed). The newer dance promoters need to establish a rapport with older venues to get their advice on establishing some longevity in the community.
None of the venues seem to be all that active in attracting *new* customers. I can see other venues that could be tapped for new customers.
There needs to be more cooperation between the dance venues. Everyone should be *actively* promoting each other's venue, just like the old days. Back earlier this year when Swing City closed, a group of East Coast Swing/Lindy Hop promoters met a couple of times to discuss the state of the dance community. We had hoped that this would bring in an era of more support and cooperation between the different swing dance venues but the idea seemed to have faded away.
Those of us who have been around the local dance scene know that people come and people go for a variety of reasons. Some people get married and start a family so their priorities changed. Some people just get tired of it as a hobby and move on to something else. I wasn't expecting the GAP crowd of 1998 to last more than three or four years and we witnessed the dropoff in attendees about five years ago. It happens on a regular basis and the dance promoters need to be ready to pursue the next wave of potential dancers, people who've never heard of partner dancing. I don't think it's productive to just chase after the people who are committed to other venues or people who have already decided to stop dancing.
A friend of mine was on her way to some place of business, a restaurant, I believe, and she witnessed someone trying to park an SUV in a space where it would clearly not fit. This vehicle didn't just bump the cars in front and in back; it *pushed* them out of the way. Some guy got out the SUV with his daughter and wandered off. He came back to the car alone so he must have dropped the kid off at a party (or brought the kid back to the ex-wife; I wouldn't be surprised) and proceeded to muscle his way out of the parking spot.
The owners of the two cars that were hit were lucky because my friend managed to write down the licence plate of the SUV that hit them. The car in the back didn't appear damaged because the SUV's trailer hitch was positioned right at the license plate of the car in the back and the plate was so damaged in such a way that it was hard to tell if it had just been hit or if it had been damaged in the past.
The car in front was less fortunate because it was a much newer car; it sustained damage to the bumper (or more). The story has a happy ending because the police called my friend for her eye-witness account of the incident, followed by a phone call from the owner of the car in front who thanked my friend because now she'd be able to repair the damage to her car.
I hope the owner of the SUV is cited for deliberate vandalism and leaving the scene of an accident. Too bad the law couldn't assign punitive damages just for being a self-centered jerk. I wish it were possible to sentence this guy to sell his SUV (at a great loss) and force him to drive around in a small car so he'll understand how it scary it is for other people who have to drive around this bully and his oversized vehicle. This guy was clearly one of those people whose sole purpose in this world is to make the rest of us look good.
One person decided that he didn't need to include times for his New Year's Eve dance because it was advance ticket sales only. Dancers would call for tickets and he'd tell them the time; there was no need to make an announcement to the world when this event was going to be held. What a stupid way to market a dance.
If you make it harder for people to decide if they want to attend an event, they're going to go elsewhere where they don't have to guess when an event starts. Customers shouldn't have to call in or write in to find out what time an event is going to be held. Customers should be able to get all the information they need to decide if they want to attend a dancing event, and what better way than on this website's calendar.
The whole point of the online calendar is to enable dancers to look up the information themselves so dancers won't have to call or write email to check on information for a current event. Or would the dance promoters want to take all those phone calls for updates? Suppose the time of the event interfere with their plans? Would the promoter want to get a lot of phone calls only to find out the caller can't make the event because of a conflict? Avoid the hassle and get *all* the information out there!
I told this person that I didn't want people to be bothering *me* for information on that event. That finally made some sense so I eventually got the information.
That reminds me: I should probably bug Ed Sheer for that same information. His weekly or monthly newsletters never include the times when his band will be playing at their numerous gigs. The band's fans might show up more often when they know the specific time when the band will be playing that evening without having to write or call for more information (the venue's websites usually don't have that information either). Or schedule dinner at the venue just before the band starts playing and avoid any cover charges.