The Soapbox Archives:
The other weekend a carload of us drove down to New York City to attend the monthly New York Swing Dance society dance. The featured band was Roy Gerson (who spoiled us for other bands for at least the rest of the month). I had last driven down to this dance back in April of 2006 ago to see this awesome band; Roy Gerson had played for the weddings of two different dance friends so I was looking forward to dancing to this band.
Again, I was not disappointed. The music was exciting all night long, regardless of the tempo played. Watching the bandleader just inspired dancers to expend as much energy as him.
This particular dance was held at St. Jean Baptiste Church (184 East 76th Street, at Lexington Avenue). It's better than the previous location because the subway was nearby and it seemed like there were more restaurants in the area. However, the room itself was smaller and put a limit on the number of people who could fit into the place. We got to see the current crop of Big Apple Lindy Hoppers.
A trip like this was nice as I took the opportunity to see old friends at the event. It was worth the drive. We normally would have stayed overnight at a hotel in Connecticut so we wouldn't have to drive back to Boston late at night but we chose to make the attempt at getting home. It helps to have a co-pilot who actually stays awake to keep the driver alert. Also, listening to the comedy channel on XM Radio is more likely to keep you awake than a music station. If we hadn't taken time to pig out at the 24-hour bakery before leaving the city, we might have gotten home before 6:30 am.
It was also the first night of bad weather for the season. We got all the way down to I-95, off I-91, in Connecticut and traffic was backed up to a crawl. It turns out that over the stretch of about 3 miles we saw about 6 accidents involving about 10 cars. We thought we might not get to the dance until 10 pm; however, we knew that a lot of people were having a worse day than us so we couldn't complain. It's amazing that people forget to drive slower when bad weather hits. It did inspire me to drive my new car at a reasonable speed and we got to the dance with plenty of time to get dinner before the dance.
I had a couple of old cellphones that had been lying around for a while. I had always intended to bring them into the recyle bin at Best Buy or the Sprint store.
However, my neighbor indicated that her son's school collects old cellphones for recycling and they get money for it. Now I have an incentive for getting those old phones out of my house.
The same applies for laser and inkjet cartridges. Ask your neighbors if they have kids whose schools have the same program and start donating your old phones and printer cartridges to them. (and don't forget the soup can labels).
Sara Brodsky of Best Foot Forward has announced that she is officially retiring from the dance instruction business.
Sara's been around on the dance scene for a long time and taught a lot of Bostonians how to dance. Her main business of late has been the "Wedding Crash Course" to help newlyweds with their "first dance".
Sara was one of the teachers involved with running the Boston Swing Dance Society 15 years ago. Back in 1992, the organization was turned over a group of dance "non-professionals" and held its first big event, a New Year's Eve dance. We lost a ton of money on that event and Sara was one of the dance professionals who offered to cover our losses that evening (Dance teachers really don't make all that much money so it was a big deal to me).
Boston loses a dance teacher who had an important skill: being able to work well with beginner dancers and get them confident enough to come back for more.
Sara will be honoring any outstanding gift certificates. For more information, contact Sara at 617-916-5757 or through email.
These days it's normal to go into some service-oriented business and see a "tip jar" appropriately seeded with tip money. Somewhere along the line we've forgotten that tips are intended as a reward for "extraordinary service".
The person who just gets your coffee at the local Dunkin' Donuts doesn't deserve a tip; that's their job. The other guy who greets you with a big smile and says "Good day, my friend! What can I get you today?", Well, he deserves something for that extra effort. Likewise with the guy who fills my "large" coffee cup to the top even though I asked for a "medium", yeah, he gets something extra. I get annoyed with business owners who expect the customers to be directly paying for his employee's time.
Likewise with the person who delivers the paper. The person who puts the paper on my porch gets a big tip. The person who just delivers a paper should get something. However, the person who throws the paper on top of the big pile of snow in my front yard (so I'd have to climb it) or put it where I'll find it under 6-inches of snow with my snowblower? *coal*.
I'd like to point out for special recognition a certain resident of Allston who decided that he was entitled to park anywhere he wished on the night of the big storm.
This special person decided that he was more important than my 68-year-old mother so he parked in front of her driveway and left the car there. My mother happened to have a part-time third-shift job so she wasn't able to get into the driveway at 5:30 in the morning.
I have to wonder what these people are thinking. It's almost Christmas and you'd think that people would be using the excuse to be extra *nice* to other people. This person was unseasonably selfish and decided that they were more important than anyone else and that they had a right to a parking spot just because they own a car. Of course, across the street was a school that had a lot of parking spaces; they were just as illegal, but at least this idiot wouldn't have prevented someone from getting home. Likewise, there's a supermarket on the next block with a huge parking lot. Would it have been that much of a hardship to walk the extra block? The snow had almost stopped by 9 pm; it wouldn't have been that much trouble to walk one block on the streets. At the very least, he could have left a note so that my parents would have known whom to call to move their car in the morning.
Thanks for being a jerk.
Tony & Aurelie's annual Movie Night for their students had an amusing ending. Those of us who closed the party were surprised to find one remaining unclaimed article of clothing: someone's underwear. We figured someone must have had an extraordinarily interesting night. Unfortunately none of us were particularly brave and none of us had any HAZMAT suits to check out if they were unused. To their owner: it's probably best for everyone if you didn't claim them.
Apparently, they will also reimburse for dance classes! You just have to provide proof, like paid receipts to a dance studio.
This is second-hand news, but it's worth checking your health company to see if they have a similar plan. No, you're not dancing for fun, you're dancing for your health. Yeah, that's the ticket!
Did anyone go to that Royal Crown Revue gig at Scullers the other week? I forgot all about it. Someone complained to me that there was no dance space. The person who had sent me the notice about it promised me that there would be space for dancing. I hadn't been there in years so I was hoping they had fixed that.
I mentioned the online radio station, Martini in the Morning, a couple of weeks ago. This is a great source of swing and ballroom music. This week I noticed a couple of songs that I want to buy that I think have "good energy" for dancing, and one of them isn't even swingable!
One thing I'd like to hear at some non-band dances is more music done by newer bands. There's alot of music being played at dances that came from old recordings where I'm hearing the scratchy records over the music and it's not that inspiring. At the last New York Swing Dance Society dance, they played some newer renditions of classic swing songs and someone commented that some of the recorded music sounded like there was a band there.
At the same time, there's some great older music, like Dean Martin's rendition of "Sway" that's great for dancing, but if you also get a copy of the song done by the Pussycat Dolls (as heard in Shall We Dance?), you have two versions to play at dances so your audience doesn't get bored listening to the same recording over and over again.
In any case, this station is great for finding good songs for swing dancing.
Sometimes it's really gratifying to hear stories of "Be nice...because you can".
One of my co-workers had a bad encounter with someone who was having a bad day. She was waiting for a parking spot where two cars were getting ready to leave. Someone had driven up and gave my friend a wicked evil glare as if my friend was doing something wrong by being the first to find a parking spot (ignoring the fact that two spaces were opening up). As my friend walked up to the store, the other driver walk up and called her a b*tch. My friend just figured she was having a bad day and walked away.
At the checkout, this co-worker had a cartful of stuff for a party, including a helium tank for balloons. The guy behind her had only a couple of things to buy so she let him through. He was so pleased that someone was being nice to him. What happened? He ended up paying for her *entire* bill....$91 plus change. She told him that he could buy her a pack of cigarettes instead in appreciation but he wouldn't hear of it. And he just walked away after that.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
Him: "Did you get [the game] Sorry!"
Him: "Do you like [the game] Risk?"
Her: "No. I think I played it once".
Him: "We played it a lot in Chemistry"
A pause here...
Him: "Maybe that's why I was bad at Chemistry".