"Boston's host of fine Swing Dancing since 1994"
Concerning the Conflicting Dances of June 1, 2013
A local blogger wrote the following this week:
May 26, 2013
From the corner booth...
This is a stupid dance weekend: both the Boston Swing Dance
Network and Swing City are holding dances on the same night
within a mile or two of each other. Each is presenting a
band and more or less target the same audience. (There's
a third swing dance that night in Brookline but they serve
a different audience.)
It's unfortunate that the two venues could not negotiate
a solution that would allow their customers to attend both
events. I know that the BSDN could not get their preferred
date and had to pick another. I would imagine that Swing
City probably has the same issue with getting another date
(otherwise, they'd probably be open very week). Still, I've
seen some of the email from Swing City refusing to negotiate
except on their terms so I'm not going to feel sorry for
I'll be at the BSDN dance on Saturday where I've been going
every month since April of 1991. I think I've missed no
more than 10 dances there since I started going there. I
was stuck in California on 9/11 and I still managed to make
it home in time for the dance that Saturday.
Normally, we find these sort of jabs to be unworthy of a
response, but the fact is people do read this stuff and end
up--accurately or not--seeing Swing City in the poor light
that is thus shed upon us. Therefore, we do need to publish
a rebuttal, especially since this is not the first time this
A few critical facts were either disregarded, or said writer
wasn't aware of them. Namely:
- The organizer of the other dance this weekend in fact
declared that he would be having his dance on the date that
Swing City is normally open and had published a good six
months prior. This was not done with any sort of "negotiation",
and especially not with any sort negotiation involving terms
that we had anything to do with, as insinuated in the blog.
The choices we thusly faced were: a) move our date which
was already scheduled for well prior to the rise of this
conflict, b) cancel our dance, or c) open our doors as usual,
scheduled, and advertised.
- Swing City has had a long standing policy of accommodating
other dances that faced schedule conflicts and did so many
times, usually to our own detriment (i.e. low turnout, confusion
amongst our patrons, etc.). However, in the one or two cases
last year where Swing City was faced with conflicts of its
own (an extremely rare occurrence), other organizers--including
the organizer of the conflicting dance this weekend--steadfastly
declined to reciprocate. Moreover, these same organizers
also informed us in an internal discussion last year that
they would generally decline to do so in the future as well.
As one might imagine, all this prompted a policy change
on our part last fall, namely to publish our regular/consistent
dates well in advance and be done with it.
- In this case when we learned of the conflict, we reiterated
our willingness to cohost a joint dance, or to even organize
a special night, something we have also offered at least
three dance organizers in past when schedule conflicts arose.
That too has been steadfastly declined each time over the
past few years, including this time.
One can wonder why this sort of behavior exists in this
supposedly harmonious dance community where everyone purportedly
"plays nice in the sandbox". Swing City has earnestly
tried, but the fact is the sandbox is a fascade when it comes
right down to business. Make no mistake, every organizer in
this region, even the "nonprofit" that exists, is
running a business with real world concerns like profit and
loss, competition, strategic partnerships, barriers to entry,
marketing gimmicks, etc. etc. Some people even depend on the
income, or their dances are part of a larger, integral dance
program they offer. That said, it is important to note that
the business nature of organizing dances doesn't make the
endeavor mutually exclusive of other factors, such as personal
enjoyment or a sense of community service. However, it still
is business when it is all boiled down.
Also, how long a dance has been operating and who should
be"entitled" to what nights is irrelevant. (Note:
Swing City incidentally has been operating since 1994, only
a few years less than BSDN, not that it matters.) It comes
down to "business decisions". In this case the organizer
made the business decision to run his dance head-to-head with
Swing City. He certainly is entitled to do so.
More generally though, my theory on the bigger picture is
Organizers don't want to change their schedules because,
a) patrons depend on consistency and changes cause confusion
and disappointment, b) it takes a lot of work to change dates
in the media and in other marketing outlets, c) the resulting
typically lower turnout hurts the dance, not just because
of profit and loss, but moreover because the patrons
who do attend have a less than great experience on account
of the lower turnout and are therefore less likely to return.
The only upside to the organizer is that they get to make
egalitarian claims, but that hardly makes up for the downside,
or so has been our much repeated experience.
Organizers also don't want to host joint dances because this
exposes their hard earned, loyal patrons directly to other
dances that they might jump ship for. That is certainly understandable.
It takes a lot of money and effort to bring in patrons, especially
new ones, and thus from a purely business standpoint organizers
don't want to lose them to another dance.
There is however another expression: "The rising tide
raises all boats." This is something we at Swing City
embrace, but some people don't see it quite so simply. Nothing
says they need to.
Happy dancing to all, regardless of which dance(s) you attend,
and thank you for your patronage.
-the Swing City Crew