The Soapbox Archives:
One dance organizer found it useful to look over the calendars on a regular basis now. Those of you who use the various calendars on this website will have notice that I've added band pictures to the listings. I am a great fan of live music and feel that the pictures highlights those listings and generates more enthusiasm for people to go out dancing. One dance organizer noticed that a band playing at his event was also playing at another local dance venue during the *same* weekend. Normally, this wouldn't have been noticed until the last minute except that this organizer noticed the band's picture twice in a row on the same weekend. Since this was noticed way in advance, there was plenty of time to reschedule.
Of course, I always wonder how bands decide which venue to cancel whenever there's a conflict.
I just fixed yet another laptop or two or three. It reminded me of why I think people should go with desktop computers if they can.
The easy part of the problem was the fact that the laptop was running slow. At one point, this Dell Inspiron 1521 was a pretty hot laptop (in more than one sense of the word). The owner filled up the hard drive to the point where there was only about 5GB left on the hard drive (~3% free space left). That's not enough to do anything and the owner had to use the power button to shut it down because it was taking forever to shut it down with the pulldown menu. With a desktop computer, you can just add another drive and continue on. I consider external hard drives an inconvenience unless it's permanently plugged into the computer.
That wasn't the hard part.
This computer was also hanging during long virus scans. I figured that it was overheating so I took it apart. Gotta love those Dell laptops: you can find the service manual online that tells you how to disassemble it. I took it apart and found the *thickest* hairball I've ever seen in a computer fan that would have choked any cat. I didn't know how the fan could spin. My clothes dryer couldn't produce a lintball this thick. And, like the other laptops I've fixed, the heatsink wasn't properly connected to the processor with good thermal heatsink compound.
After cleaning it out (plus replacing the hard drive with a bigger one), the laptop is back performing as well as it did when it came off the store shelf.
The point? Laptop computers have the same maintenance problems as desktop computers. However, laptops are harder to take apart to clean them and it's more of a pain to upgrade them or maintain them so most people just ignore the problem. It's hard to see the dust clogging the fan inside the laptop. I know someone whose laptop crashed so they simply bought a new one (and gave the "broken" one to me. Yay for me!). Get a desktop if you don't need to move the computer anywhere. From now on, when anyone asks me for an opinion about buying a laptop computer, I'm going to ask if the service manual is available online because I know they're going to come to me for help.
"Hi Benson, Just wondering... I was hoping that you would start posting the WCS Saturday dances, but why post only Wayland [i.e., Longfellow Club JoEllen] dance. I understand your not posting Neal's [i.e., Dancing Feats] dance because of your relationship*, but there are two other Saturday night dances that deserve support. Remember, it's all swing...
I knew what my response was even as I read his note so it took only a couple of minutes to type it all in:
"Uh....what dances am I missing? I know I have the Club JoEllen Dance listed in the Boston and MetroWest calendars for the rest of the year, and Seaside Swing is listed in both the Boston and MetroNorth calendars because they sent their 2012 dates to me. I even now include the Longfellow *Sunday* dances. I've reminded Jon Schimmel that he needs to get his (first Saturday) listings to me and I'm *still* waiting for his list. I don't list Dancing Feats' dances for one and *ONLY* one reason: They don't send their information to me. That's it. I also don't see their flyers at the venues where I go dancing. That's pure laziness on their part or they don't think my website is useful to them. The staff at Dancing Feats stopped sending information to me about 8 years ago and it's not my job to go chasing them for that information, especially since everyone else makes the effort to send me their information.
Now, I *could* make assumptions about when they hold their dances every month, but a certain dance organizer taught me a big lesson about NOT doing that. I once got an email telling me that [the old] Swing City was going to be open every week for some particular year and I had no reason to assume it was not accurate. I added Swing City to the calendar for every Friday for that year. It turns out the organizer didn't bother to check the calendar because Christmas was on a Friday that year; however, I assumed the organizer knew what he was doing. I ended up sending people to the place on a night when it was closed. I'm not going to make that mistake again. If the venues don't send me their list of dates that they'll be open, I will NOT add them to the calendar. They'll just have to settle for being on the list of regularly scheduled dances. They're the ones making money off dancing, not me, so they have to do *some* work to take advantage of my website. Sending me an email once a year is not asking much for getting access to the 21,000+ readers who visit this website every month."
Is this policy fair? Absolutely! Why? Because this policy applies to *everyone*.
Editor's Note: There was the year when the people at the Boston Independance Exchange didn't send me their information and I copied the information off their website for my calendar. Well, they changed their information and since they didn't give it to me in the first place, it didn't occur to them to send me their updates. I barely noticed the change before the event. This will not happen again.
To all my readers:
If you would like to help, tell the people at Dancing Feats and DanceBoston that *they* need to send me their dance schedules. It doesn't have to be the organizer; one of their helpers can send that information. I have too many emails from other willing contributors to sort through every week such that I don't have time to look for information from people who are unwilling to spend a few minutes to send me an email. If they don't think my website is worth the effort, then I'm okay with that. So are their competitors. I'm really tired of reminding people to send me their information.
P.S.: I don't always pick up flyers at dances. It's not my job and I usually assume the information is already on this website. If that assumption is wrong, guess whose problem it is?
*Editor's Note: I don't
bring this up unless someone else does. Neal Klein once shoved me off his dance floor
while I was standing on the side (back in the days when I was still relatively "unknown").
I was standing on the edge of the dance floor waiting to talk to my friend Ellie Nager
when I was pushed from behind. That
was many years ago but I stopped going to his dance because I didn't think anyone should
do that to their paying customers. You shouldn't have to be a "somebody" to be immune from
that sort of treatment. I'm sure my friends at
are grateful because this freed up my third Saturdays for their dance.
PS: I'll never go to Swingin' New England, either.
I felt this theory was based on the incorrect notion that if there were no other opportunities to dance, everyone would go to the dance weekend. That's not the case.
The community *is* divided.
Dancers nowadays are pretty stubborn about what they want. Some people want Blues, others want Lindyhop, and then there's the West Coast Swing people. Some dancers don't want anything to do with anyone who doesn't like what they like. I've seen some Balboa dancers who don't seem to be interested in venues that have Balboa but aren't exclusively Balboa. There are people who like live music while others like the old "classic" (and very scratchy) record sound. Some snobs don't want to dance with beginners. Some newer people just don't want to do what the "older" crowd of dancers are doing.
Sounds like every new generation of dancers, doesn't it? And the result is that some group will splinter off and do their own thing because the established venues can't/don't/won't cater to them. That's the way it is and it's normal. These days, it's the Blues crowd. 15 years ago, it was West Coast Swing. We've seen this before.
Yet, I still remember a time when there were barely enough people to run *one* dance a week.
Competition is good.
If people choose to abandon an established venue and go elsewhere, then that means they found something more to their liking. The abandoned venue then needs to do some soul-searching to decide if they want hold the course or adapt to the new trend. Gone are the days when there were a limited number of dance venues such that people had no choice but to go to those events. Otherwise, they just stayed home or did something else besides dancing. Now people have a choice and they're voting with their feet.
Quite often the loss of those customers is permanent (and painful). The dance organizers can do one of a couple of things. They can whine and lament about the unfairness of the other dance venues. And spend ridiculous amounts of resources to regain those lost customers. Or they can have faith in their product and work on attracting a new crowd of customers who *will* like their product.
Some people just don't want to go to dance weekends. Someone else is going to be enterprising enough to scoop up those malcontents and take care of their needs. Giving them no choice except to go to the dance weekend or stay home could lead them to find out that there's life outside of dancing.
I want a choice
Sitting home and pouting about the lack of alternatives is not much of a choice.
One person wanted the local dance venues to defer to the big dance weekends and not do anything that would draw people away, such as hiring a good band for a local dance. Would that really change people's mind about going to the weekend? Some dancers might not want to go to the dance weekend and would welcome an opportunity to go dancing *somewhere* that weekend. When a local venue *does* cancel a dance, it's more likely that the organizers wanted to go to the dance weekend themselves, not to just "defer" to the event.
Many dance weekends are focused on competitions, as in, you pay to go watch someone else dance. Some people don't want to watch others dance. Am I the only dancer who doesn't watch Dancing with the Stars? When I go dancing, I want to *dance*. I don't want to hear great music and spend all my time watching *other* people use the nearly empty dance floor. If some people choose not to spend their money to go and stand around to watch other people dance, then perhaps those dance weekend organizers should consider arranging for more dancing opportunities at their event.
Of course, that's not to say that a local dance should work *against* a dance weekend. I remember a local dance weekend paid good money to bring in a popular band from out of state. Another local dance venue hired that same band to play on the night when they weren't playing at the dance weekend; the local venue got a good band to play without paying the travel expense. However, this *hurt* the dance weekend event because the local dancers had no incentive to go to the dance weekend if they could see the band closer and for less money. (FYI: That band actually violated their contract by playing at another local venue that weekend.)
What I'd do
One thing I don't see much of is cross-promotion between genres. I think that Lindy Hop and West Coast Swing venues should promote their dancing events more at each others' locations. I think there are probably more ballroom dancers than WCS and Lindy Hop dancers combined so ballroom events might be a good place to recruit new dancers. Instead of clinging to every existing customer and preventing them from checking out other venues, I think the dance venues should be cross-promoting their events to *new* customers who might never have heard of the other dance venues.