I was forwarded the message below as part of a private discussion about
appropriate behavior at dances, and one community's response. I checked
with the author and was requested to forward a version that removed
references to specific people and the actual dance. The author's
modified version is below.
I really enjoy the emphasis that the author places on people's tendency
to misinterpret other's intentions and having a bias of acceptance in
I hope that you find this as thought-provoking as I do.
The issue of male dancers dancing too close to women or appearing to
act inappropriately has come up on at least three occasions in our
dance community, and the dance's board members were involved in the
email discussions and decisions about what to do.
First, we need to recognize that different people have different
conceptions about their comfort zones when it comes to physical contact
with others. Thus, what one person feels is a violation of her personal
space may not be recognized as such by another. Second, we need to be
aware that different cultures view personal space in different ways.
Still, we want everyone to be comfortable at the dance, and therefore
we need to educate both the dancers whose behavior might be considered
offensive and those dancers who might feel offended. We have to let the
former know that their behavior is making people uncomfortable and the
latter know that they can establish and reinforce with male dancers the
amount of closeness that they are comfortable with.
One problem dancer was not at all adept and, as a result, might have
appeared to "butt chests" or "grope butts," although most of the board
members believed that this is because he was somewhat "challenged" and
a poor dancer at best. As a solution, one of our board members took him
downstairs and gave him a dancing lesson.
Another dancer is very demonstrative when he dances. Not only did he
hold women too closely (although some of them didn't mind), but he also
danced very energetically, kicking up his heels and not paying
attention to the dancers around him. Our board members spoke with him
about modifying his dance techniques, but his exuberance would
eventually overtake him, and he had to be spoken to again. In the end,
he decided to stop coming to the dance.
A third instance involved an older male dancer who had made a young
female dancer nervous with a comment about her T-shirt. This male
dancer is not native to this country, and his remark could have been
misinterpreted. Since all of the board members know this dancer and
feel that he is not a threat to the dance community, it was decided
that we would speak to him about the incident to reinforce that we want
everyone to feel comfortable when dancing. The fellow seemed to
understand what the complaint had been, but he was surprised by his
remark being taken in that way. He was serious and concerned. There
have been no complaints about his dance behavior since then.
Those are the incidents that come to mind. Besides speaking to the
offending males, we need to reinforce with women dancers--especially
those just starting out--that they don't have to put up with
objectionable behavior. They need to know whom to address if they have
a complaint. They also need to know that they can simply push back to
establish the space that they are comfortable with when they are
dancing with men who hold them too closely.
Also, soliciting the help of younger female dancers who are regulars
can help assist in identifying any problem dancers.
So these are the things that are recommended:
1. Have committee members speak to the offending males, even giving a
dancing lesson (preferably in a side room, out of view), if necessary.
2. Encourage women dancers, especially beginners, to alert the dance
organizers if they feel that certain dancers are holding them too
closely or being too familiar. Also point out to them that they can
push back to establish the space that they are comfortable with.
3. Solicit the assistance of responsible young female dancers, asking
them to alert your dance organizers if certain male dancers are making
4. In a general email, the dance organizers can remind dancers about
courteous behavior and encourage them to let the organizers know if
they have complaints about inappropriate dance behavior.
And just so you'll know that the problem can go both ways, one young
male dancer has reported that sometimes he finds some of the older
women dancers being too "attentive"!
Our Thursday Night dance in Rochester is rather small - about 45 attendees on
We charge $6 for members or students and $7 for non-members.
We do not differentiate the band payment based on the number of members.
The rationale is that in a smaller band, the members have to work harder to
the constant flow of the music, so they earn more.
Our guaranteed minimum is based on distance travelled.
Local, Medium (up to 100 or so miles), and Far:
Callers $30, $40, $50
Bands $75, $120, $200
We count the take at the door, subtract rent ($1.5 per person), and food,
Caller = larger of (21% of remainder, or guarantee)
Band = larger of (71% of remainder, or guarantee)
In the summers we run at a slight loss, but when college is in session we
Extra money comes from memberships, donations, and the profit from our
Thanksgiving Weekend Dance.
Our group is also considering re-tooling the formulas. We would go broke if
we paid what has
been noted in other posts, so those dances must be much better attended. We
are in a bind because
if we charge more, we're afraid the attendance will drop - that would be very
bad. One thing we're considering is to have an increased admission to cover
bigger name bands.
Does anyone have a varied price at the door, depending on the performer(s)?
How does it work?
Are the attendees agreeable?
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Your formula seems fair and well-reasoned. I think that any formula can work, but the most important thing in my opinion is to be transparent with the performers. It's really important to know what to expect and I value working with "open" organizers when I have my performer hat on.
For our monthly Belfast Flying Shoes dance, we do the following:
1. Each performer gets $100 guarantee, regardless of band size.
2. If a performer brings sound, they get an extra $50. If we hire someone else do sound, we pay them $125. (The $50 plus $75 for the hassle factor of hauling it separately and for monitoring the sound closely all night.)
3. We take out all standard expenses (about $315, to cover hall rent and other expenses like door prizes, publicity expenses, website mgmt, tasty treats, etc.)
4. Any remaining money is divided as follows: 20% to our kitty (to cover for snowstorm attendances, etc.) 80% to performers, divided equally. (We have never had a five person band with a separately booked caller, but if we
did, we might consider something different, so as not to "penalize" the
caller for being paired with a larger than usual band. If the caller "comes with" the band, we wouldn't worry about it since they'd know going into it that they'd not make as much as with a smaller group.)
In times of lean attendance (ah, snow and sleet in Maine!) we pay out the performer/sound fees first, and just cover the rest from our kitty.
Also, we have occasionally flexed our formula and given the performers a few dollars extra if attendance was lean and their take was particularly small and their drive particularly long (taking a bit less than our 20%) Once or twice we paid the caller a bit less than the musicians (if the caller was me, and the same circumstances of small crowd and long drive applied.)
We don't have a maximum payout, but I'm curious if others do. And if so, what their formula is.
Fun to hear how others handle these questions!
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> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 13 May 2008 08:29:43 -0400
> From: Dave Cain <eatbikenap(a)madriver.com>
> Subject: [Organizers] Payout formula when there are 4 muscians?
> Hi All,
> My husband is on this list, while I'm on the caller list... so I am
> using his sign-in to post this message.
> Our dance committee is revisiting our payout formula and I'm
> wondering how other dance organizers work their payouts when the band
> isn't the typical trio. (For us, a trio is the standard.) When the
> band is a four - person (or larger) group, do you adjust your
> guarantee and payout formula? Do you do anything different when the
> band is a two-person band?
> Currently, we split everything after expenses evenly across all
> performers (band and caller), when the band is comprised of two or
> three members. If the band is a four-person band, we pay our
> guarantee, and then we split the overage 75% to the band, and 25% to
> the caller. Our thought in doing this was not to "penalize" the
> caller for working with a band greater than our standard of trios.
> I am looking for feedback on our existing payout formula and for an
> understanding of how other groups operate. I plan to bring any
> feedback generated from this list to our next dance committee meeting.
> Nancy Turner
Stay in touch when you're away with Windows Live Messenger.
My husband is on this list, while I'm on the caller list... so I am
using his sign-in to post this message.
Our dance committee is revisiting our payout formula and I'm
wondering how other dance organizers work their payouts when the band
isn't the typical trio. (For us, a trio is the standard.) When the
band is a four - person (or larger) group, do you adjust your
guarantee and payout formula? Do you do anything different when the
band is a two-person band?
Currently, we split everything after expenses evenly across all
performers (band and caller), when the band is comprised of two or
three members. If the band is a four-person band, we pay our
guarantee, and then we split the overage 75% to the band, and 25% to
the caller. Our thought in doing this was not to "penalize" the
caller for working with a band greater than our standard of trios.
I am looking for feedback on our existing payout formula and for an
understanding of how other groups operate. I plan to bring any
feedback generated from this list to our next dance committee meeting.
I wasn't sure what subject to give to this thread. You can tell me what
words you think sum up this topic in your replies. :)
In the Boston area, we are having a discussion that has covered many
topics. From men who only dance with young, new women (and make them
uncomfortable) to people who dance poorly and don't improve to people
who dance in ways that are dangerous to others.
I would be interested in hearing from people what they have done about
these issues, what has worked and what hasn't. Whether or not they ask
their callers to give style/etiquette tips from the stage (and if so,