Your Scene Needs You! (Part Two)
Part Two: Be There or Be Square…
In part one of this blog we explored the habits and good practices that you can adopt to ensure that the events you attend are enjoyable for everyone of all ability levels, and that your local scene can prosper in the future.
Part two of this three-part blog series explores what dancers in a local scene can do to help promoters with the events they’re organising. These are small interventions and ideas that attendees at social dances and workshops can do to assist promoters and ensure that local events are a success.
1: Support your promoters by attending their events
This seems a bit obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: the events won’t survive if no-one turns up! Clearly people have lots of different reasons for learning to dance, and some prefer to just attend classes – and that’s totally OK. But if you’re into the social side of things, and if you really want to make sure your scene thrives, get out on that dance floor and throw down your best moves! (even if they’re the two that you learned in this week’s class).
2: Book early for local events and pay on time
As a promoter I’ve sat at my computer watching the bookings trickle in from out-of-towners, quietly wondering where all the locals are, and I’ve even seen locals miss out on tickets when events have sold out quickly. Make sure you’re not one of them!
Running events is a costly business, and most promoters do it as a hobby, not to make a profit. You can help your local promoters by booking on early and paying deposits and fees on schedule. Promoters don’t want to spend their valuable free time chasing payments; they want to spend it planning the best event possible! Paying on time also helps promoters with cash flow for venue and band deposits, as well as overheads for boring things like flyers, labels, paperclips and bin bags!
(The Remix shoes come out of a different budget... ;) )
3: Book early, no matter what role you dance!
Many promoters regularly find it difficult to balance numbers between followers and leaders.
Generally speaking, events are overwhelmed with followers who book as soon as registration opens so that they aren’t too far down the inevitably long waiting list. Leaders have the luxury of booking at their leisure, but this can often lead to something counter-intuitive happening: Followers book early, go on a long waiting list, leaders take their time and wait to book later, followers lose hope and make other arrangements, leaders try to book just before the event but all the followers have planned other things and leaders now can’t get a spot.
It's 'Catch-22' - if planes were dance events, and pilots were swing dancers...or something. So, no matter what role you dance, if you want to go to an event, secure your spot by booking early!! (and then pay on time, as mentioned above!).
4: Work together to get to and from events
Car share, buddy up, share taxi, bus and train journeys. In the UK, this is reasonably easy as the distances aren’t too far, but some of the American dancers I have spoken to will travel over two or three hours each way to get to an evening dance…that’s commitment!
I talked to some organisers in Reading and Oxford and their local dancers have a set up Facebook groups to organise journeys to and from events; it works well. See if something like that exists in your area, and if it doesn’t, ask about setting one up.
5: Travel outside your scene and bring people from other scenes back
This is where the last point about sharing journeys gets more important. If a group of dancers travel together to a neighbouring scene, you can make new friends, share knowledge, practice together and invite the people you meet back to your own scene. This will widen the dance gene pool and help improve your own dancing.
If you only ever dance in your own scene you may start to form bad habits and ‘isms’ that make your technique poor and your dance scene will stop evolving. A social dance scene thrives from cross-pollination and shared intelligence.
Don’t be a dance Dodo!
6: Host out-of-towners
If people are travelling into your scene, offer them a place to stay. This could be your fully equipped guest room, a spot on your sofa, or a tent in the garden - unless there's deep snow, in which case, use the garden shed.
Most swing dancers are nocturnal folk, and you’ll most likely spend the night after the event chatting and laughing. I’ve learned so much about dancing and the people in the worldwide scene by sharing time with them away from the dance floor. You’ll make lifelong friends, and when you travel elsewhere, the favour will be reciprocated and you’ll have a place to stay too.
In the third, and final, part of this blog, we’ll look at how scene members can be a little more proactive and directly assist promoters when events are announced.