As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
"Be thankful that I chose to follow up on your site..for without bands like us..you have no website."Since I don't make *any* money off the website, or from any ventures associated with dancing or webmastering, I really don't care if a venue (studio, dance club, band, etc...) doesn't get listed. It doesn't hurt *me* if a particular band doesn't get listed. My website is comprehensive because most venues want to be listed, including those from parts of the continent that I'll never, in my right mind, visit. Those businesses send me their information unsolicited. If I don't get *any* information, I would gladly delete all the files on this website and go out dancing more often.
Looking at websites takes time, for which I do not get compensated. I was on Martha's Vineyard this week and while I was willing to dial long distance to get my email, I was not interested in surfing websites (on my dime) when I would much rather be hanging out on the beach. This band didn't send me the information I needed so they didn't get included with this week's update. If they had sent me the mere three sentences I needed through email, I would have taken the time to type it in while sitting on my balcony after breakfast.
Venues, whether they be in Boston or elsewhere, benefit by getting their free listings here. I certainly do not gain anything by including or excluding a particular dance venue. Since I do this for free and the dance venues make a living off music and dancing, it's *their* responsibility for getting the information to me in a timely fashion if they want to get listed on this website.
This is an issue that I've noticed for a while and I don't understand it. I've always wondered why some people give so little respect to the art of teaching these days. A person who spends so much time and effort taking lessons and practicing hard to achieve a high level of knowledge and quality to become a teacher should be given a certain amount of credit and respect, especially from those who can't.
In this case, I refer to the tendency of some venues to get highly qualified teachers to come in and give the beginner lesson before a dance and yet not pay those teachers. That means those venues and promoters do not value or respect the abilities of those teachers, and those promoters lump the good teachers with those who merely know how to walk through and demonstrate a dance figure. These promoters use the excuse of "well, those teachers are getting visibility in front of a new group of potential students". Well, that's a bunch of crapola (Is that spelled with one "L" or two?). If they're good enough to hire to teach at a dance, they're good enough to get paid. Especially guilty are those non-profit, member-run organizations who think that all professionals should be donating their time for free (you know who you are). The dance promoter should want the very best teacher in front of his customers to make the venue look good.
One local venue used to pay only visiting "national-level" teachers. This is the same as spitting on the local teachers and telling them they weren't "good enough". Any promoters holding a dance event these days should dig deep into their pockets and give at least *something* to the [local] teachers. Not being able to afford much is one thing; being cheap is another. If the good teachers aren't paid (anything), then there's no real incentive for them to work very hard at that event and the venue ends up with *bad* teachers giving the beginner lesson...and, well, that's how we end up with bad dancers.
I remember one instance at the Backbeat club in San Jose, CA where someone was teaching the beginners how to dance. This alledged teacher couldn't figure out why she kept finishing her lindy turn on beat *7*. If the promoters don't *hire* good teachers, then the customers end up being really bad dancers. How long will those dancers stay with dancing? Paying teachers should be considered an investment, not a liability.
While I'm already on my soapbox, I think that there are a lot of people out there who should *not* be teaching. I've seen this many times in my 10 years of dancing: a student takes so many lessons and then figures this qualifies them to be a teacher, to start raking in some serious bucks because it's all profit and low overhead. Merely knowing how to demonstrate a dance figure does not mean knowing how to dance. Whether it be Swing, Tango, or ballroom, the result is the same: students who "dance" with really bad habits.
If you're a promoter, pay your help. Encourage them to be good teachers to your customers. Do that by respecting their talents. If you're a teacher, continue to take training; you're never too good to take a dance class. If you're a dance customer, take a real dance class. The lessons at the beginning of a dance are intended to get you moving on the dance floor, not to turn you into Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. If you don't take *any* lessons, don't be surprised if you don't get asked to dance much.
One last item: There are those who thrive on always trying to get the "best deal". They apply this philosophy of life to trying to talk down a teacher on the cost of a private lesson. Don't insult a teacher by trying to "talk down" their price; rather than appearing to be a sharp business person, they actually appear to be a cheapskate.
Rather than trying to talk down a teacher, find out how good they are. Then make a decision on what you'd be getting in exchange for your money. Either they're worth the money they're asking or not. It's a free country and you can take lessons from anyone. Don't try to pull a fast one on a teacher by saying "...but what's-his-face is offering a private lesson for $20 cheaper!" Chances are, that teacher is laughing inside and daring you to take the lesson from the other person. A good dance teacher knows how much they're worth and will not negotiate. If the less expensive teacher is a better deal, then the market will figure that out soon enough and other teachers will lower their price.
I got copies of the same worm/virus through email this week from *15* different people, including a local band leader, a local dance promoter, someone from the US Open Swing dance Championships, someone at the World Swing Dance Council, and many people that I don't even know. At least I know who doesn't have Antivirus software now. I was using Norton AntiVirus (part of Norton SystemWorks) and it caught and "quarantined" the bad files as I was downloading my email. It's kind of like insurance: you hope you never need it, but you're sure glad you had it if you do need it.
Viruses used to get passed slowly by not practicing "safe computing" (exchanging floppies with friends). With the connection to the Internet, viruses travel much faster and sometimes there's no warning before you're hit with a fairly major problem. The W32.Sircam.worm@mm virus attached itself to normal outgoing messages, usually with the name of a recognizable file, but with a .BAT or .COM suffix. It does one of the following:
With the availability of so many different products and the availability of cheaper Antivirus software, there's no excuse for not protecting your computer. Don't wait too long, though, because the updates do take time and if you have only a 56K modem, you could be sitting through a long update. For example, a relative's computer had McAfee installed after she got her new computer. When she finally got a cable modem, I sat through *42* antivirus updates and these files aren't small.
I know of two surplus software stores (unfortunately, they're in California) where I can buy original (legal) copies of Norton SystemWorks (includes Antivirus) or Antivirus for $30 and I have an legal copy for each of my computers. With the potential for damage (I don't really like rebuilding Windows 98 *that* much), this is a cheap cost-effective way to protect your data.
By the way, if you can afford a cable modem or DSL but catch a virus because you don't want to pay for the antivirus software, I'm not going to feel very sorry for you. It takes only one click to update your virus definitions and the broadband makes it go quickly. The antivirus software is about a month's cost of broadband service and is much more important for your peace of mind.
P.S.: If your hard drive gets messed up and you have to use the manufacturer's "restore CD's", you should note that some of these CDs will automatically format *all* of your hard drives before restoring the system, not just your C: drive. This costs you any data on other drives, even if a virus only destroys your C: drive's contents. (Yes, this is a pretty stupid thing to do, so that's why I prefer to build my own machines and install Windows myself).
I do think it would be fair to offer a rebuttal to that person because his comments were certainly not intended to be flattering.
The ECS/Lindy community (I call it "Swing") tends to prefer live music. Take any poll (I still have the votes from the poll I was taking on this subject from many moons ago) and the dancers of the Swing community will prefer the energy from a live band. The Swing community doesn't dance by rote; they make it up according to what the band "tells them" to do. The Swing community (as a whole) doesn't like hearing the same recording over and over again. A live band won't sound exactly the same twice in a row so there is a freshness to the music from a live band every time.
The Swing community also doesn't drink. Gee, we've known that for years. Why would all these bar venues stop offering dancing? Because they finally figured out that we didn't need to drink to have a good time and that they're not going get as much money out of us that they wanted to. The athletic nature of Lindy Hop precludes alcohol. Can you do a decent spin with a drink in you? Do you want someone who's drunk to be doing charleston kicks? Unfortunately, that means that the bars won't offer swing dancing for too long.
Low cover charges? I don't think that's a fair accusation. It's not that we want a low cover; we want *value*. Take the best values in Swing dancing, for example. There's a decent cover and that gets you a large dance floor, with a lot of like-minded dancers and live music. A regular concert would probably cost twice as much for less content. Offering alcohol would increase the cost of the event (license, police, bartenders, beverage stock, insurance, drunken dancers, cleanups, taxi rides home, the goodwill of the other dancers, etc.). Venues that offer a reasonable cover to go with good live music and a great dance floor will thrive; those that look to the profits of alcohol sales will turn to other ideas to bring in people who are willing to drink for their good time. We pay the higher covers when we think we're getting value for our money.
The venues that have lasted this long have figured out the correct business model and worked their plans to fit the model. Venues that have offered alcohol have tried to fit their swing dancing into their alcohol business model and have been disappointed that swing dancing isn't the cash cow that they hoped for. Yes, we've lost quite a few of those venues that way.
And that's fine for me. I don't need the smoke of a bar (my lungs can't take it) and while I'm not opposed to alcoholic beverages, the idea of swing dancing is that it's not necessary to drink to have a good time. I was at Lindy In The Park this week and I'm amazed at the amount of effort that a few individuals go through to provide a good time for a lot of people (dragging a long a portable generator to power the stereo equipment was cute). They do this every single week. There was no sign of smoke or alcohol, and everyone was having a great time.
I think that the Swing/Lindy world is *not* in trouble. I don't think the person who wrote that note understood or wanted to understand this community.
Now, anyone figuring out how to feed the swing dancers after a long night of dancing is probably going to make a lot of money.