Dear PSDC members,
It’s a wonderful thing to have lots of members—342 as I write this—but such large numbers mean that many of you are “occasional attenders” rather than “regulars.” What’s great about that, in my mind, is that a much wider variety of people with lives full of many interesting hobbies and passions are trying West Coast Swing and including PSDC dances in their weekend plans. We’re getting many newcomers and beginners which is what any dance community needs to thrive. However, the downside, of course, is that it is harder to get to know each of you as individuals (something that has always been my favorite part this club) and it is a challenge to draw you into seeing club membership as an opportunity to contribute a little bit of your time to help at the door, provide refreshments, take photos, work on a committee, volunteer for BridgeTown or Swing Blizzard, attend monthly Board meetings, or serve on the Board, etc. These things also need to happen if we are to continue to thrive. It also means that sometimes many of you are not aware of how and why some things at PSDC happen the way that they do. Keeping so many new (and seasoned) members up to speed on PSDC’s history and encouraging them to be a part of creating its future is a bit like wrangling cats! On the face of it, that’s OK, because, from the Board’s point of view, setting the stage so that members regularly enjoy themselves at a dance with few to no noticeable problems is our number one priority. However, when something isn’t going smoothly, it might be helpful share some nuts and bolts with you so you know what happened or why the Club operates as it does.
One of those “not-so-smooth” times occurred at the 4th Saturday dance in September at Norse Hall. PSDC has an agreement with Norse Hall to rent the “best available space” for around $335 a month. We usually get the downstairs for that price plus $50 for the bar which is a bargain for a venue that size, BUT the Norse Hall does have the option to bump us to the Lodge Room upstairs if they need the first floor for Grieg Lodge activities or a singular event such as a wedding reception that allows them to change a MUCH larger rental fee. Norse Hall appreciates our consistent business, but, clearly, being able to book their venue on one of our Saturdays for a high-dollar event helps their bottom line and indirectly helps us if it enables them to continue to offer us the space at our much-lower-than-market-value rate the rest of the year. PSDC agreed with compromise with the stipulation that Ray would let us know via email when we would be moved upstairs so that we could inform the PSDC membership in advance, as we know that some of you will choose not to attend when we are in the Lodge Room. For the most part, this agreement has worked, but, last month, that key piece of information was not conveyed to the Board until we arrived at Norse that evening and saw that the downstairs was full of wedding attendees. The communication breakdown left us scrambling to adjust our dance set-up—my apologies that the beginner’s lesson was held in the anteroom to the ladies’ lounge and that we did not have any fans set up to deal with the heat we usually expect to encounter when we go upstairs—and gave us no time to announce tothe membership that we would be upstairs. We were unhappy about it, and those of you who were also unhappy about it certainly let us know! The Board has also let Ray know that, although we will continue to work with Norse and move upstairs when needed, we MUST be notified well in advance. We believe in the good faith of the folks at Norse Hall, that the lack of timely communication was an unintentional oversight, and that they will do a much better job by us in the future so that we can do a much better job by you. The one upside is that, despite the warm conditions, those who decided to stay had a lot of fun because the intimacy of the room and the openness of the seating make it easier to strike up conversations and grab partners. Call me an optimist—it’s a characteristic of the counseling profession—but I choose to cope with what’s thrown at us, learn what’s needed to improve things in the future, roll with the things I can’t change in the present moment, and enjoy what is working now.
The other venue question or issue that tends to crop up is the big question of “Why Sunnyside?” Some of you love that we have a dance there because it’s close to where you live, is appropriate for all ages, has a large meeting space downstairs, and has a certain down-home, rustic charm and intimacy. Others complain that the place lacks ambiance and is too far out to drive to from where they live. In my 20′s, I spent my weekends clubbing in hip hotspots all over L.A. If you’d asked me then if I’d ever see myself spending a Saturday night at a Grange hallâ€¦but the place has grown on me in direct proportion to how much I have enjoyed the people I’ve met there. Who knew? For those of you who still have your doubts about Sunnyside, the Board is looking at the possibility of a temporary move to an air-conditioned space during the month of August. It was heatstroke hot at the Grange this August, which dropped attendance to an all-time low and brought much misery to those who did show up. We sure don’t want to put you through that again next year. Please keep an eye out for a membership survey or poll as we figure out our options and ask you to weigh in on what we should do on this one. I’d also like to add a real “biggie” to the plus column of our assessment of Sunnyside Grange when it comes to non-profit club economics: the rent on the Sunnyside Grange is cheap, and I mean really cheap, so cheap that 9 out of 10 times we make a modest profit at Sunnyside. That modest profit generally subsidizes our Norse Hall dances so that we stay “in the black” each month. Finally, because neither of these venues is a “studio,” renting space from Sunnyside Grange and Norse Hall helps PSDC remain a neutral supporter of West Coast Swing in Portland. While we sometimes need to rent space from a local studio for smaller events like Swing Blizzard, we generally strive to keep regular club dances in venues that welcome students and teachers from all of the studios and businesses in the greater Portland area dance community. PSDC is lucky to exist in a community that has a large variety of quality dance instruction and we encourage our membership to get out there and find the teacher and location that keeps them learning and fired-up about dancing.
Regular PSDC Board meetings are usually held at either 4:30 or 5pm before the 4th Saturday dance at Norse Hall unless there is a scheduling conflict that necessitates moving the meeting to the same time before the 2nd Saturday dance. Please feel free to attend these meetings and/or to call a Board member to confirm the meeting time. Also, if you would like to be formally added to the Board meeting agenda, please contact the President.
Finally, and I know this has been a long one, elections are upon us again. Please consider serving on the Board in 2011. New energy and bright ideas are always welcome, and, as many of you noticed, we had some vacancies as well as some “dropping of the ball” by members who were either unclear or unable to meet some of the meeting attendance or task responsibilities of their position. Some board positions require more time and commitment than others. All offer the rewards of community, a chance to support dance, and the opportunity to grow. Also, in regards to the Annual meeting, the Board heard you when you said you didn’t want to have the Annual Meeting and Election on Thanksgiving weekend. Please expect to see an important ballot measure asking your to approve changes in the wording of our bylaws that will allow the Board to select a different meeting date and timeline in those years that our 4th Saturday dance does coincide with Thanksgiving, along with candidate descriptions (there is still time for nominations from the floor at our October Norse Hall Dance this coming Saturday) and a ballot in your mail the first week of November. This year, the 4th Saturday dance and meeting is the weekend does fall on Thanksgiving weekend. Please get there early, enjoy some pizza, and know that there will be no lesson that night so that we can get down to business as soon as we reach a quorum. Food, dancing, a meeting, and more dancing— that’s the ticket!
So those were some behind-the-scenes issues that needed to be communicated more clearly. Thank you to those of you who are taking the time to read this epic message. Please know that the Board works to serve the membership and we want to hear from you when things are working and when they are not. See you next week and keep dancing!
2010 President, PSDC