The Soapbox Archives:
It was the second time I had gone dancing in 1991, the second night in a row, and I was there in my suit and tie holding up the back wall of the Church of the Immaculate Conception (The "IC" dance) back in 1991. I had started up dancing that January but was still nervous about asking someone to dance. I still remember the first time someone asked me to dance; it hasn't been the same ever since. I'll always remember the BSDN as a beginner-friendly dance; you never forget your first.
The BSDN in its heydays was the only non-aligned swing dance venue; all the others were associated with dance studios that would not put out flyers for other studios that even remotely mentioned a lesson before a studio's dance party. At the BSDN you could find out about all the places where you could learn to dance.
The BSDN was probably most responsible for new dancers getting involved with swing dancing all these years. Local dance studios were indebted to the BSDN for all new students that were shoved their way. To this day, I think that the BSDN is the most beginner-friendly venue.
The bands will miss this venue. It was Roger's policy to pay the bands well. His theory was that they'd play harder to make sure they got invited back. Roger approved every band and had no problems telling a band that they "didn't swing". His hiring policies made sure that bands wouldn't get over-played so it would encourage more people to come out at every event. Bands understood this policy and have cancelled other gigs to play at the BSDN.
While sad about the closing of the BSDN, I find solace in one aspect of the situation: I'm going to get another monthly Saturday back, though I still have one Saturday dance I like to attend.
Come by for one last dance. Some of us are providing cake, always a good thing. There'll be a poster that we made that people can sign; hopefully Roger will frame it so he can remember "the good ol' days".
The "last" Boston Swing Dance had the third largest turnout ever in the 26 years of the dance. I know people from as far as Delaware drove up for this event. Even West Coast Swing dancers from the other local event spent Saturday night at this event.
Friends of Roger (FOR) contributed the cakes for the event; most of them spent the first hour of the evening cutting and serving the cakes instead of dancing. Ben Fong outdid himself by filling an entire table with food.
Eight To The Bar and The Love Dogs provided music all night long with short breaks only to reset the stage for the next set. It's always a great evening to hear both bands on the stage. The BSDN has always taken care of these bands over the years and they showed their appreciation for Roger Weiss and the venue.
It was interesting to see all the people wandering through the lobby as the bands were playing; the fact that there were enough people to fill the lobby while the bands were playing shows you how many people attented. Some late-comers (pretty much anyone arriving after 8:30 pm) had to park several blocks away. We saw many people who met at the BSDN dance and some showed up with their grown-up kids for the lesson. It was amazing that so many *first-timers* showed up; some of them said that they wished they weren't first-timers.
I hope everyone got a chance to sign the poster and/or book. We took the book to I-Hop afterwards to give more people to sign it.
It's been suggested that Roger Weiss hold an annual "BSDN Farewell Dance" once a year. This would let him host a reunion party where the old-timers have an excuse to come out and get together with their friends from the BSDN days. Stay tuned.
Postscript: I was talking to a friend about the fact that if a third of the attendees had showed up in September, Roger wouldn't have ended the BSDN. Someone with nothing better to do than eavesdrop said that if Roger threw a better dance, he wouldn't be shutting down. As if anyone else could attract 700+ people for one last dance. The BSDN *created* the local swing dance community. Many of us started out dancing there and most of had fond memories of the place. Many people met their signficant others at the BSDN dances and will forever hold that venue in their hearts. Perhaps these people got married, had kids, and moved on to other things. However, they remained dancers for life and the BSDN was the center of their dance lives.
The BSDN wasn't just a place where people went dancing once in a while. The BSDN was a "destination event" for which people planned their weekends; when I took business trips and had to stay in California for more than a week, I planned my trips around the BSDN, and even 9/11 didn't keep me away from the BSDN dance that week.
I was walking through the Whole Foods parking lot in Bedford the other day. Since I have to walk from one end to the other to get to Bruegger's Bagels (for their Endless Mug of Coffee), I'll grab any shopping cart I see on the way and drag it to the cart collection areas in the middle of the parking lot. I hate it when lazy (and ignorant) people leave their shopping carts in the middle of parking spaces. I have to wonder if these people are teaching their kids that they *don't* have to put things back where they found them or to just be responsible.
Well, today, as I was pulling a cart along, I saw that some dumbass had parked their car *in front* of the shopping cart return so no one could put their shopping cart in with the rest of them. I wanted to ask the driver if he *really* didn't a clue or if he just an a$$hole. I just wanted to know.
And then, on the same day in Cambridge, again at Whole Foods, I watched a woman push a cart around a SUV and then come back around without it. She had left the shopping cart in a handicap parking spot. Geez. Was she expecting someone on crutches or in a wheelchair to get out of their car to move the shopping cart out of the way? When the front of the store was only 30 feet away?
It's a paradox that these people are smart enough to know that the products at Whole Foods is probably better for them, but they're not smart enough to know that their actions will needlessly cause other people grief. Or maybe they're just a$$holes.