As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
The subject had to do with certain individuals who attended one or two of several workshops given by some visiting teachers. The promoter said that some of these students wanted to "sit in" on the remaining workshops without paying for the workshop. Some of the dancers said that they were wanted to stick around to say hello to friends or write down notes from the previous workshops (and the promoter was a jerk). Who's telling the truth? Perhaps both.
"What we have here is a failure to communicate..."
It's funny how both sides (probably) jumped to conclusions. Both sides were outraged by the behavior of the other person and were themselves so caught up by the moment that they didn't (and couldn't) see the other person's point of view.
Appparently, it is not that well known (particularly among amateur dancers) that these visiting teachers are traveling around the world to teach their craft *not* just for the glory of the dance. They *are*, in fact, out to make a living. They studied long and hard over the years, perhaps performing and/or competing to make a name for themselves, here and abroad, with the goal of combining their love of the dance and the hope of making enough money so they can just keep on dancing.
Some of the deals involved in bringing these teachers in might include taking a percentage of the headcount. Any freebies come out of the pocket of the dance promoter; as a matter of fact, the promoter is probably losing money since most promoters will give partial or free admission to those who had helped at that event.
Why can't people just hang around and watch, or videotape the lesson? Because these people are paying just to take the workshop. If they pay for a particular workshop, should they expect to get a second one without paying any more? Is the promoter completely unreasonable by clearing out the people who didn't pay for the workshop? This applies especially to those who teach dance for money. I've seen real teachers' rates for private lessons start at around $150 an hour because teachers are expected to be at a higher level and can learn faster. If you're a teacher and you're getting by on the regular workshop fee, consider yourself lucky.
The promoters want these visiting teachers to be happy so they'll return for future workshops. Also, the happier they are, the harder they will work, and the happier the customers will be. This creates demand for more workshops by these teachers in the future. If the promoter asks non-workshop attendees to leave the room, is it really unfair for him/her to do so or are they trying to keep the teacher happy?
"But he was mean! I just wanted to consolidate my notes from the workshop I took! I just wanted to say hello to my friend [in the next class]!"
Good point, but ask yourself from the promoter's point of view, did you really need to write those notes in the classroom or could that *really* have been done elsewhere. Did the promoter get rude *before* or *after* the refusal to leave? Was the promoter wrong in trying to do the right thing for the visiting dance teacher? Was the promoter really rude or did he merely get agitated because it *seemed* like some people were trying take the next class for free? Was it necessary and really worth the trouble to give the promoter a hard time over this? I think life is too short to even waste two seconds on this.
The prices that these dance teachers and promoters are asking for are not particularly arduous. They are fair. The numbers of people who attend these workshops keep the average price per student within a reasonable range. If a few individuals plant their feet in the ground and refuse to move when asked, this just hurts our (group) image in the eyes of the teachers. At best, they'll think twice about returning; at worse, they won't return and they'll pass the word about Boston dancers to other teachers. That's already happened in one of the other dance communities in Boston.
Thanks for Roger Weiss for coming up with a good analogy for this situation: "What do I do if I'm holding a dance and someone wants to get in for free because he's not going dance? I just say the dance is free, but there's a music charge. " :-)
I'm not quite sure which band it was at Ken's Place on Tuesday (someone said it was Herb's Herb, but it might have been the Acme Big Band), but it had to have been the hottest music that I've ever heard at Ken's Place. I've never heard any of the Ken's Place bands play this well. I was surprised, however, how little appreciation the dancers showed them; many of songs' end resulted in the buzz of quiet conversation but very little applause for the efforts of the band. I think that swing dancers need to encourage these bands to play better by showing them how much we appreciate them. As Ken's Place's Jim Calderone said to me, "These bands aren't playing here for the money."
The distinguished(able) Roger Weiss of the BSDN monthly dances announced that he is working to get the Talk of the Town Diner in Watertown Square to open later on the night of the dances so that the swing dancers can go there afterwards for food. I've been to this particular diner and I think it's a great place for food at any time. I like it better than going to IHOP over in Brighton and it's alot closer (for me, anyways). Thanks to Roger and Lise for this effort.
Note that many people in the dance community have already figured this out and have taken advantage of this. Many of the long-winded commentaries in this soapbox were a result of conversations with dancers who got upset about something on the dance floor. If there's something that might cause the swing dancing to be less fun, let me know about it and perhaps we can start a discussion on it. This website exists to take care of the *dancers*.
I have a story to tell you. Those of you who have been dancing for as long as I have might be able to figure out who was involved.
A certain young lady, who I shall call "Candie" (that's a clue), mentioned a time where she met some guy of some dance talent, who shall remain nameless, at a dance venue a couple of weeks ago and, considering where they were, they managed to get in a dance or two.
At this point, this could have been the start or end of a perfectly average story in the life of a swing dancer.
This same young lady had an encounter with the same guy at some other venue (or even the same venue) during the next week and, of course, he asked her to dance. Apparently, he had forgotten that he had already met this young lady (and you can probably think of what happens next). He told her, "Be easy on me, this is my first time [dancing]." (FYI...he's an experienced swing and ballroom dancer who's known for doing acrobatics with unsuspecting beginners.)
She let him live, in spite of the urge to make him sing soprano. The words she used to describe him are not fit for polite company, however.
That last bit served as an introduction to this next topic because it involved the same two people. It was also intended to prove that some people on this earth live only to serve as an example of what not to do. The comments below is from a follower describing one of those people.
"The whole point of social dancing is to have fun, not to be made to feel like a bad dancer, right?"
Most of this is from "Candie" but it's not something I haven't heard before. He is an experienced dancer; she is not. He grabbed the "lead" and took off, more or less dragging her along for the ride. The point of partner dancing is for the two people to have fun dancing *together*; both dancers must participate in the dance. If only one person had fun, then it's not dancing.
"[He] likes to add  moves to swing, which isn't my cup of tea, but I guess it would okay if I knew some of those moves, but I don't. There were a lot of fast turns and complicated pretzel-knots that I just had no clue how to get out of, which resulted in bumping into him a lot (I'm sure he loved that). "
Dancing is not suppose to be about mind-reading. If she can't follow it, the lead was bad...or worse. The comment above also reinforces some women's complaints about guys who use dancing as an excuse to grope them.
"And his lead is like a vice-grip. I didn't feel like he'd let go of me, which makes some women nervous, or at least never want to dance with that particular partner again. I was actually dizzy by the time the song ended, and had to go outside for some air."
...which is where I met her. :-) This sometimes happens when a beginner follower doesn't appear to be following a beginner leader; he just thinks she needs a stronger lead. The more experienced leaders will/should think, "Oh shoot! I must have messed up that lead. I gotta be clearer next time." This guy? Well, I know he's been dancing for at least eight years...
"I felt like he was thinking, "I'm such a good dancer, you should be grateful for the chance to learn from me." Of course, I learned nothing, except for the fact that he's an [expletive] and I need to high-tail it in the opposite direction next time he approaches me."
It's amazing what some people will do to avoid dancing with someone who hurts them. I was once forced to dance a waltz with a teacher because a bad dancer was approaching her. (No, I don't do Waltz!) I hope I never cause that reaction.
"I watched him dancing with a few other women through the night, and he was the same with them (and I felt so bad for them. I wanted to come to their rescue somehow)."
It should be noted that Candie is a relatively new dancer and I was amused that she came to this conclusion so quickly and without any prompting. :-) Unfortunately, I know that she's not the only one.
"Do you really have fun by throwing your partner the point she's almost ready to puke on you? No. That's not what swing dancing is about, right?"
The name of this particular individual is not that important; however, his attitude and his actions are. He violated one of the most important rules of partner dancing: for the duration of the song, his partner is most important person in the world and he should treat her as such. There are other examples of dancers who make the dance experience less than optimal and, yes, there are followers in that category.
The question for the rest of you (leaders and followers) to consider is: Is this how other dancers see you? What are you doing to make a dance better or worse for your next dance partner? Will this dancer ever want to dance with you again?
Dancing with a beginner should not be an unpleasant time for either dance partner. The mark of a good dancer is someone who can show a beginner a good time on the dance floor and still have a good time himself/herself. Dancing with a hurtful dancer or someone with a bad attitude can be a agonizing or frightening (and painfully long) time.
I stopped by the Kinvara Pub in Allston the other night for food and drink and got in a conversation with Tom, one of the managers there. Former swing dancers who dance at the Kinvara on Mondays might remember Tom as the dj for the swing music. He seemed open to the idea that playing swing music for anyone who wants to dance on Monday nights would be a win-win situation since there's not much else happening on Monday so he's going to look into the prospect of pushing the idea at the bar again. Stay tuned.
What about the place? Imagine a place that's about twice as big as the entire Upstairs Lounge. Now imagine a place that has a *totally* hardwood floor! The regular dance area (the area in front of the band) is about 20' x 15'. However, since the whole place is covered by the wood floor, it's no problem to move the tables to enlarge the dance floor. Now, imagine paying $7 to hear a great band. Smoke? I didn't notice any at all (is there still smoking in bars in Cambridge?). With high ceilings, there is "good air"in the place.
Downside? Well, to be honest, there's really no easily accessible public transportation. I'm not sure of the bus routes and Harvard Square is a pretty decent walk, more so at night. If you have a car, though, and want good live dance music, then I'd *highly* recommend the Kirkland Cafe on the third Thursday of the month!
Reebee Garofalo of the Boppers told me that the venue could easily go twice a month. What a thought! Dancing to live music...to a good band...for only $7. I hope you will all join me at the Kirkland Cafe next month (November 18). Perhaps we can encourage them to have the dancing more often.
One note about the Kirkland Cafe: the floor is very slippery. I would suggest wearing sneakers.
One thing to think about: if you find the floor (or any dance floor) slippery, think about your balance and whether or not the center of your weight is over your feet. I learned this by dancing on a marble floor in shoes with suede bottoms and nearly hurt myself because I was off balance.
DanceNet readers are invited to write for The Webmaster's Soapbox. I got two requests for topics for this space the other day while attending a dance and one reader was offered the chance to write his own editorial. The other subject was offered by a dance teacher who got injured by someone who tried a move that was taught incorrectly. I'll write about that one next week.
In doing a "lindy whip", on beats 5 and/or 6 when the follower goes back out to open facing position, there is the "illusion" that the leader is "pushing" the follower out with his left hand. Sylvia pointed out that the leader is *not* suppose to push the follower out because he could hurt her wrist.
As if on cue, Maria Lawlor (of Dancing Feats Studio), who was helping Sylvia to teach the workshop, came forward and showed off the support on her wrist. It turns out that she was man-handled in that exact manner and her wrist got sprained. The person that she was dancing with said that it was the way he was taught to do the Lindy Whip (we think we know who the teacher is...).
Sylvia talked about the times that she and Jonathan Bixby watched all the old films and practiced doing all the moves until they looked good. She also mentioned that they nearly killed themselves trying to duplicate those moves each time, because that's the way those people looked like they were doing those moves!. She said that Dean Collins had watched them practice those moves and showed the how to do those exact same moves and look just as good, but without working very hard (and hurting each other). The same approach applies t some of the dancing out there now.
Many of the dance figures in swing and lindy have some leeway for incorporating personal stylings that highlight or exaggerate a move. Pushing and/or pulling on a part of the body that can flex or bend involves the potential of hurting the partner (leader or follower). If one of the best swing dancers in Boston can get hurt this way, then anyone on the dance floor is a potential candidate for an injury.
By the way, there's no "push" in a Push Spin.
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