Ballroom Dance Society – Dance Report, March 12, 2011
The March 12th dance was unusual in that we used prerecorded music instead of a live band, for perhaps the first time in the history of BDS. The decision to try this experiment was made after lengthy deliberation by the BDS Board in response to a couple of factors:
- The high cost of holding dances at Midland Country Club – The Country Club's charges for setting up the floor, providing the meal, and associated tax and service fee amount to around $33/person. This means that we'll never be able to cover the cost of a band (which averages around $900) using dance proceeds alone.
- The gradual loss of access to quality affordable live music – It seems that fewer groups are playing danceable ballroom music nowadays. We lost a key musical contributor last year when Little Big Band retired, and we now have access to only three local bands who play good quality ballroom music (Jazz Alley, Don Turner Band, and Sipriano Swing Band). Orchestras such as Fanfare and Bobby Layne are too expensive to book on a regular basis.
Recognizing that this was an experiment, the Board decided that we would solicit feedback from those in attendance at the March dance. We provided comment cards to each attendee and asked that they be filled out and returned after the dance. The cards asked two questions, and also solicited written comments and song suggestions. There were 53 people in attendance at the dance; 29 cards were returned. Here is a summary of their feedback (thanks goes to Trish Canon for tabulating the feedback):
- How much did you enjoy tonight's music?
- Very enjoyable – 26
- It was OK – 2
- Not at all – 0
- No box checked – 1
- Would you recommend using recorded music again as a way to reduce BDS expenses?
- Yes – 27
- No – 0
- Once a year (1 write-in comment)
- No box checked – 1
- Loved the "Cut Outs". They need to hit the road….
- Enjoyed tremendously!
- The sound system of Max's is great.
- I was skeptical but pleasantly surprised. If we need to save $, we need to do this. We appreciate all the work that you did for tonight. Great music.
- Invite Cutouts back! How about lighting behind the band? The lady needs earrings.
- "The Band" decorations were wonderful. Music excellent. Great soloists! Really enjoyed it. Thank you. Might do longer breaks.
- We appreciate all of the work that everyone did to make an enjoyable evening.
- Great idea - good way to catch up on the financials.
- Lighting behind the band stands. Invite the Cut-outs back!
- Maybe consider ending by 10pm.
- We loved the "Cut Outs"!
- Awesome! Great job! Love the Cut Outs!
- Try doing sets of 3 with short breaks. Longer breaks - just as a band would every 30 minutes.
- We want regular bands (verbal feedback)
Note: "The Cut Outs" is the name given to the musician silhouettes custom designed and fabricated by board members for this dance. See this page for a photo.
Attendees also suggested almost a dozen new songs to be added to future playlists. (If you're interested in having a copy of the playlist used for the March 12th dance, you can download/print it via this PDF document.)
In addition to the written feedback, board members received a lot of oral comments during the dance. Perhaps most telling was the oft-repeated lament, "This is wearing us out; all the music is so good that we don't want to miss dancing to any of it!"
Based on the feedback described above, as well as the fact that this was the first dance in a long time where we broke even financially, the Board can only conclude that the experiment was a success and should be repeated at some point in the future.
We do recognize that attendance for this dance was very low, and we can only guess at the reasons more members did not attend (spring break-related travel was undoubtedly a factor). The Board welcomes additional comments, suggestions, and questions, not only from those who attended but also from those who were not there. If you want to email your feedback, feel free to use the address at the bottom of this page.
We will continue to look for ways to keep our dances enjoyable and elegant affairs while ensuring the financial viability of the Ballroom Dance Society.