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