At our dance venue on Yonge & Bloor, people mess around with the temperature of the studio all the time. To combat this, Kevin Sue installed a case-lock around the studio thermostat so that you would need a key to open the case to be able to have access to the studio heating system. Great idea in practicality, except when the key is no where to be found. So if you went to the drop-in lesson and live blues dance last night (and why wouldn’t you have gone?) and were sweating buckets, there was a greater force at work :-)
But yah what a night eh? Brian Cober and Aslan Gotov, for their first time playing for us blues dancers in Toronto, were great great great. Everybody was walking up to me throughout the night and asking where I found them. Well, actually, my israeli friend Kim found them but they have been playing in venues all around Toronto for a while now (ie. Grossmans Tavern). If you know more great blues musicians, remember to refer them to me!
The first blues dance in Toronto went pretty well, thanks to our good ol’buddy Patrick Tevlin playing some sweet sweet tunes for us. For the dance, we brought in a live band to play the equivalent of one DJ set (1 hour’ish) just to mix things up. The responses from the community have been pretty positive so far and we’ll definitely be integrating Toronto’s great blues musicians into the scene as much as possible :)
So I have been driving down to Seattle the past two Tuesdays to their weekly blues event, Burn Blue (http://www.burnblue.org) and have been taking notes. The ideas? Having official hosts for the dance and unofficial taxi dancers. [Side note, if you do not know, I’m currently out in the west coast doing some what I am calling dance training but it can be more accurately described as an honest butt wuppin’.]
Dance Hosts – Burn Blue has rotating official hosts that are in charge of answering questions, making announcements, and generally being the go-to person for the dance and the organization. Wow. This is a great idea because so far there are numerous people in the Toronto blues dance scene who are a lot more charismatic than me yet default to directing to me. This is probably my fault, truth be told. Having official hosts for the dance hopefully will remove the idea that the scene is run by a single person. I also have a fear of public speaking, so having someone do announcements would be better for everyone involved.
Unofficial Taxi Dancers – at the entrance of the venue, you can grab yourself a glow stick that designates you as a “taxi dancer”. What this specifically means is that you are open and willing to dance with people who asks you. So simple, but from what I can gather, seems to put a little bit more friendless to the entire dance. You also encourage everyone/anyone to be a taxi dancer instead of pre-selecting people like our swing dance association. The costs would probably be under $5 CND but the awesomeness of knowing who to ask to dance when you are new to the dance or the scene is priceless.
So yup, there you have it. Two ideas i’m gonna “borrow” for when I get back to Toronto ;-)
Kevin and Alcina teach the drop-in class for the blues dance.
So I’m sitting here at Starbucks underneath the Yonge & Bloor Studio after Toronto’s monthly blues dance last night. I’m replying to emails and Facebook messages about classes and future dances with a giant stupid grin on my face. Why you might ask? Well we just had a fantastic dance last night that was well attended by a fair amount of aspiring blues dancers and new dancers (as opposed to 100% new dancers) and I think I can say that Toronto’s blues dance scene is here to stay. Huzzah \o/.
Time to quit!
Honestly though, it might have played out differently if we had tried to continue to push through the idea that we should try to appeal the blues dance to everybody and specifically the swing dance scene. I’m pretty convinced that this would have single handedly killed the blues dance scene before it even had the chance to take off the ground. The fact is these days, the majority of the dancers going to the dance and taking dance classes are from other dance scenes or complete beginners. Obviously, in an ideal world the dancers from swing would come to blues because, well, they already are fantastic leads and follows. However, instead of us waiting around for blues to be accepted by our friends in the swing scene, we’ll build a great scene that will be waiting for them if and then they decide to come (with open arms).
I was talking to Marvelous Martha this afternoon and she sent me a link to a leadership video about having a belief. It got me thinking about an exercise that we did for the Yonge and Bloor community about what we stand for. It took us half a year but I believe that the Yonge & Bloor blues community is starting to find its own footing in the overall social dance scene in Toronto.
Just in case you missed it, this is what we stand for at Yonge & Bloor Blues: