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KEEPING SWING DANCING ALIVE!

READ RUSTY'S LETTER

On June 17, 2008, I sent out an open letter about keeping swing dancing alive through thick and through thin.

READ THE RESPONSES

I received many wonderful responses, not only from local Los Angeles dancers,
but from dancers around the country and the world, and swing band leaders. Take a look.

An Open Letter From Rusty Frank

Regarding High Gas Prices And Keeping Swing Dancing Alive

June 17, 2008


My dear friends,

I have been giving this a lot of thought over the past two months, and finally decided I would like to share my reflections with you all.

We who live in North America have been so lucky for years with our low gasoline prices; so lucky we just didn't even know it. I travel to Europe once or twice a year, and each time I was astounded at the high prices they have been paying all along. As a matter of fact, last month when I was there, they were paying over $100 to fill up a basic car! They always think we are so "funny" to be complaining.

So now that our prices are going up, how will that affect our lives? Our choices of what we do? What we buy? Where we go?

I want to appeal to you, in these musings, to make sure that you consider the following:

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Keep supporting those things you truly love! If you don't, they will go away.

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How does that affect swing dancing? Well, bottom line, if you don't support the swing dance clubs that keep it going for you year round, well... you can fill in the rest. It's America; you know how it works here.

Swing Dancing was "killed" once before, right after WWII. For many reasons, people stopped going out to the nightclubs that featured live bands. Venues just had to shut their doors.

So many of us remember the decades when there was no place to dance, no place to hear live music. It was just a dream of the years gone by.

It wasn't until our Swing Dance revival in the late 1990's that loads of Swing Dance venues began opening for all of us to enjoy. Imagine how thrilling it was to be able to finally live that dream. Live bands! People to dance with! People who shared the same passion! It was euphoric!

Please - don't let what happened in the late '40's happen again! Keep the Swing Dance clubs alive this time.

How can you do it?

1. Make a commitment to support with the good ol' American dollar those people (like myself at Rusty's Rhythm Club, the Stevens family at PBDA, Lance Powell at Lindy Groove, Maxwell's Cicada Club, and so on) who keep this scene going for you year after year.

2. Go to their venues and pay your entrance fee with a smile on your face and a thank you in your heart for the fact that you have a place to go dancing.

3. If they have a bar or serve dinner, put extra in your budget to support that, too.

4. Especially make sure to support club nights with live music! By doing so, you are also supporting our wonderful local musicians and their ability to keep doing what they do.

5. Carpool! It's not only good for your pocketbook; it's good for the environment... a double good deed.

6. Take your pocket change and put it in a "dance fund" pot. You'd be amazed at how quickly that can add up.

7. Look around and see which regulars are missing, and call them, invite them out.

8. I don't mean to pick on Starbucks, but think about how much you spend on one drink there, and maybe decide to share the wealth with your beloved swing dance venues.

9. Maybe you've got some more ideas? Share them with others.

What about all these great summer free dances?

Yes, they are terrific. (I've always said "free" is one of my favorite words, for many reasons.)

Go out to these free summer dances, dance up a storm, have fun, spread the good word of Swing Dancing. Why not put a few business cards in your pocket from local clubs and hand them out to people when they talk with you about Swing Dancing? I've always contended that you dancers are the very best word out there!

So what is the bottom line?

During this time of gas prices going up and the summer free dances, don't forget about the clubs whose ongoing survival depends on you. Make sure you include them in your regular dancing plans. You'll be the ones who benefit!

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you.

I have been amazed and delighted that we have kept swing dancing alive again for so many years.

Let's keep it going and going!

Dancingly,

Rusty Frank http://rustyfrank.com


RESPONSES TO MY OPEN LETTER

I want to thank everyone who sent in such beautiful and encouraging responses to my "Open Letter" about rising gas prices and keeping Swing Dancing alive through it all.

CAN YOU POST FLYERS AT YOUR WORKPLACE?

Some of you came up to me and mentioned that you could put some of Rhythm Club & Lindy By The Sea materials in your workplace. That's GREAT!

If you have a "coffee room" or bulletin board where you could post our stuff, let me know, and I'll get you the materials. Or... just grab them at the club or classes. Thanks again.

HERE ARE THE RESPONSES

Hey Rusty -

Just finished reading your open letter re swing dancing, and I must say that I agree with all your points. I give you much credit for keeping swing alive for all the dancers and musicians.

Keep pluggin' away!
Take care,
Tom - Flattop Tom & His Jump Cats



Rusty,

That was a timely and moving letter about keeping swing dance alive. You have such a great thing going at the Rhythm Club - the music, the dancing, the social aspect. After my divorce, I decided it would be better to spend money on Lindy classes than on a counselor - and I was right! Your classes and the Rhythm Club have been so good for my sense of joy and well being. I would rather cut back in other areas than give up the dancing.

Warm wishes,

Ava



Beautifully written - and everyone's talking about it online (it's been forwarded to me by several folks with "I agree" messages!).

Steven Smith



Right on Rusty! Keep on dancin' everybody!

Miss you.

Pops & Mrs. Pops
San Francisco Bay Area



Hi Rusty,

That's a great letter.

I can draw so many parallels to the dance scenes here in Australia... I think sometimes newer dancers can be a little complacent as they have always had an abundance of places to go and dance... they have never known it to be any other way.

Denise Cox
Australia



Rusty,

This is a very well thought and nice letter. Thank you for putting your great thoughts out there in a way that shows how much you care. I agree with everything you said. We live in Ventura county and have always carpooled and we don't plan to stop dancing!

Claudine



I agree.

Cheers, Peter
Drummer, The Jive Aces, United Kingdom



Great letter!

Lots of life happening here...but Walter and I hope to come back to class soon!

Best regards,

Rose-Cherie



Nice letter, Rusty. It reminds me of the fact that we have been able to enjoy swing dancing for more years now in this renaissance that we have been fortunate to be a part of than the original folk did the first time around! There is much to be grateful for.

Chandler, Texas



Hi There Rusty,

I appreciate this letter. I am one of the "original" swing dancers - I learned at the age of 10 in 1946. From that time on to the present, it is my favorite activity. I would hope that there would be a place for my husband and me, or just me alone, to go closer to home - Westwood. It is not so much the gas at this point, it's the "driving at night."

Thanks! Nickie Miner

(Anyone come over from Westwood that could pick her up on occasion?)



Nice letter, Rusty, and you are so right. It applies to many things in our life, that when we let them go, including ourselves, they just waste away or go away.

Linda



Good Girl Rusty;

Sometimes, it just needs to be spelled out........

The gas prices end up influencing SO MANY other day to day issues... Like ripples in a pond. It's crippling a lot of people (families especially) but it's about priorities....and keeping a community afloat.....with so many good reasons to do so. And yes, American's are a bit removed from the general European mind-set which I think simplifies things, is less impressed w/ the glitz and bling, and holds Things dear, that are easy, basic, work, and make sense... Americans' are being forced to pull in their belts, but we need to anyway - That still doesn't mean we have to give up our healthy habits!

Again, my hat's off to you for verbalizing some basic, important reminders... And sending an S.O.S. out there for our beloved dance community.

Jann Olson, Santa Barbara



Rusty, that was a WONDERFUL message and I'm so glad you said that. THANK YOU for your support of dancing AND live swing-music!

-Pete Jacobs, Bandleader Wartime Radio Revue