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November 18, 2008

The Living History "Flash Mob"

Lately I have been pondering the situation of the "civilian re-enactor". This is someone who chooses to portray a non-military person at public history events. This civilian often finds him or herself marginalized at events that are really all about soldiers marching about and playing "bang you're dead" or gunfighters doing what ever gunfighters do, as well as also target shooting or playing "bang you're dead".

Further, the civilian is often, by choice and situation a free agent without the support provided by an established group. This can be very isolating, and seriously degrade one's quotient of fun, with nothing much to do and no one to talk to.

Modern technology however offers an interesting opportunity to mitigate the negative aspects of wanting to portray the ordinary man, woman or child of the era while increasing the fun and impact of our activities.

A modern phenomenon is the "flash mob", where a group of individuals use email, texting, social networks, cell phones and the like to create collective action. Often it's things like political protests or stunts. However, this same model of the flash mob can be applied to our hobby, and allow the benefits of a supportive group of like minded people without the complexity and constraint of formal organizations.

I would like to suggest that we who portray historical folk embrace the model of the "flash mob" and use technology to make our mark on the world.

If this interests you , please read the full entry for the details.

Continue reading "The Living History "Flash Mob""

Posted by Walter at 04:20 PM | Comments (7)

December 29, 2007

Dance Class Technology

Teachers of historical dance are not, as a general rule, the first to embrace new technology. Once they are comfortable with a particular arrangement, there seems little incentive to change.

However, the 21st Century has brought with it some very useful tools, which can make the teacher's job much easier, enhance flexibility and save a lot of time wasted looking for the right CD and the right track or (perish the thought), cuing the tape to the right spot.

What follows is my particular solution. There are other ways to do this, but this is what has worked for me.

Continue reading "Dance Class Technology"

Posted by Walter at 09:07 AM

August 21, 2007

Jazz Age and Ragtime Dance Bands in Southern California

Here is a quick list of the bands I know about that are keeping the flame of early 20th Century Jazz/Ragtime music alive in my Southern California neighborhood.

Note that I am only listing bands of which I have personal knowledge, and which I would recommend to someone putting on a period theme dance. There are others out there which I have not personally heard, or which I would perhaps not recommend for some reason. However, if you want to make a pitch for your favorite Southern California historical style jazz or ragtime band, please add a comment at the end of this post. Be sure to include their website or other contact information.

I will mention a few swing bands, since the swing/jazz age distinction is pretty blurry, but I won't try to list them all. I will leave that to those more deeply involved in the "swing scene".

Continue reading "Jazz Age and Ragtime Dance Bands in Southern California"

Posted by Walter at 11:50 AM

December 22, 2006

Another Event Sold Out

If you are on our email list, you know by now that the Social Daunce Irregulars ball is, as of this writing, sold out. This follows the Lanterman Tea and Avalon Ball selling out, preceded by the SDI Ball in June selling out (and let's not forget the Jane Austen Evening in January)--and yet people are still surprised. Every new "sell out" creates dozens of personal crises out there in the big world.

Continue reading "Another Event Sold Out"

Posted by Walter at 09:37 AM | Comments (3)

April 10, 2006

Common Website Design Mistakes

It has pretty much become essential these days for a dance or history group that wants to be found to have a website. Since most of these groups don't happen to have a web designer among their members, they have to do the best they can, and, unfortunately, many if not most, make a lot of mistakes.

As someone who actually makes a living at web design, and also as someone who has, personally, made a lot of the same mistakes, here are a few pointers I would like to offer on web design.

Continue reading "Common Website Design Mistakes"

Posted by Walter at 08:31 AM

March 25, 2006

Vintage Dances and Bands

Here are a few thoughts about bands for vintage dance events.

Continue reading "Vintage Dances and Bands"

Posted by Walter at 10:22 AM | Comments (1)

March 14, 2006

Renting a Hall for a Vintage Dance

One of the big challenges in putting on a vintage dance event is finding the right hall. Here are a few thoughts on the topic from someone who has been doing it for a few decades.

Continue reading "Renting a Hall for a Vintage Dance"

Posted by Walter at 12:34 PM

February 28, 2006

What to Wear to a "Costume Optional" Vintage Dance

Most of the vintage dance events around here say things like "Historical attire suggested but not required" or "..admired but not required". The problem is, what does it mean to someone who doesn't have the historical costume. Sure, it's not required, but what is?

This may vary depending on the event, but with nearly every event, a man in a coat and tie would not be out of place, nor would a woman in a long dress.

An observation made by the Social Daunce Irregulars on their website is that it is best, if you are not currently deeply into historical costumes, to NOT wear a costume to your first event, but take the opportunity to see what others are wearing and also see if you like this vintage dance stuff. It would be an awful shame to spend hundreds of dollars on a costume and (1) see from looking at others that it was a crappy costume or (2) decide that you don't really like this vintage dance thing after all, and you have now flushed hundreds of bucks down the toilet for a costume you will never wear again.

Posted by Walter at 07:35 PM

February 22, 2006

Thoughts on Programming a Victorian Dance

I am frequently asked for suggestions for putting on a vintage dance. Here are some of my thoughts on the elements of a successful program. I realize there are many successful events that don't follow these rules, but this has worked for us.

Good band--live music--n'uf said.

Be wary of dinners. They often cut in to the dancing due to logistics of serving a large group and people taking their time at their meal. Furthermore, even with the best intentions, they can be subject to logistical crises that can hammer your schedule.

Continue reading "Thoughts on Programming a Victorian Dance"

Posted by Walter at 07:18 PM | Comments (4)