Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Signs


We love BIDA, and we love our inclusive welcoming community.  The signs we put up on the walls each dance cover a wide range, from how to have a good time at our dance, to protecting yourself and others, to helping the dance run smoothly.  We recently had a bunch of conversations with people all over the dance community around what kind of signs would work best, and we decided to update our signs. The original ones have served us very well over the years and now we're improving them. We're keeping many of the original ones, tweaking some, and adding some new ones:

  • Ask about volunteering if you'd like to help out.
  • Ask different people to dance.
  • Ask partners what roles they like to dance.
  • Ask people sitting out to dance.
  • Dance so others feel comfortable.
  • Dance with people of all ages and genders.
  • Dance with the whole set.
  • Everyone makes mistakes.
  • It's ok to say no.
  • Share your enthusiasm with the band and caller.
  • Take your time finding a partner.
  • Talk to others about what makes good dancing.
  • Try dancing both roles.
  • Talk to the organizers if something is bothering you.
  • Welcome and encourage newer dancers.
  • We're happy you're here.
  • You don't have to dance with anyone you don't want to.
  • You don't have to wait to be asked.

These just came back from the printer; look for them next time you're at BIDA!

We've heard that other dance communities have also experimented with similar signs.  If you've been involved with this we'd love to hear from you!  What signs do you use?  Do they seem to have an effect?  We're also happy to share our template (open in Inkscape) if you're thinking of making something similar for your dance.

See you on the dance floor!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Family Dance series

BIDA is excited to be launching a new series of Family Dances! These will be family oriented dance afternoons before our regularly schedules dances. 




Bring your kids! Tell your neighbors and schools! Come without kids of your own, ready to be friendly. 


Did you know that BIDA stands for Boston Intergenerational Dance Advocates? Well, kids are the upcoming generation, and a vital part of our community... So it's never too soon to begin fostering a love of folk dancing and music and togetherness. 



For our inaugural event on October 18th, we will have Marcie Van Cleave leading both New England and International family dances, to great music by Audrey Knuth and friends. We'll dance from 5-6:30, and eat together from 6:30-7. At 7:30, our regularly scheduled contra begins! 


The dance will be in our usual location, in the Masonic Hall at 1950 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA. 

Admission is our standard sliding scale of $5-12 for adults (and counts for the regular dance following, should you choose to stay) and $3 each for children. 

Potluck: please bring something to share, a serving utensil, and label what you've made for allergy courtesy. 


If social media is your thing, please help share the buzz!
https://www.facebook.com/events/425726524280305/   and 

http://www.meetup.com/BIDA-Contra-Dance/events/225596331/


See you there!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Caller Mentoring

Want to get into calling?  Already call but want some mentoring?  Looking for places to call?  BIDA would love to help!  We have several ways we try to support callers as they learn and grow:

  • Initial teaching: if you're completely new to calling and want to learn how to teach dances and then how to prompt them with the music, we can try to match you up with a caller who is interested in teaching you the basics.
  • Introductions: if you're looking for places to call, for fun and practice, we can introduce you to the people who book callers at other dances so you can get more experience.  This includes both dances that do multi-caller evenings and ones where you would handle the whole evening yourself.
  • Shadowing: if you're looking for a chance to learn from the great callers BIDA brings through, we may be able to set you up to shadow one of them.  You would meet with them beforehand to talk about calling and discuss the evening's program, watch how they handle the beginner's lesson and teaching, call a couple dances, and get feedback from them afterwards.

If any of these sound useful to you, or you don't know and just want to talk, write to our caller booker,  jeff@bidadance.org.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Bylaw Change Discussion

As some of you may know, at our membership meeting, one of our proposed bylaw changes didn't reach consensus.  We should have done a better job communicating our reasons for the bylaw change in advance.  Our goal had been to give a 60 day discussion period so that we could take input from the community. Unfortunately we ran out of time and the process ended up more rushed than we wanted it to be.   We did post the proposed change 30 days beforehand in our blog, but the post didn't get any comment traffic, which made us think that this change was uncontroversial. We'll explore additional ways to have conversations and get the word out in the future.  We'd love ideas about better means of communication.

The BIDA board welcomes feedback, ideas, and comments at any time.  Feel free to come up and talk to any of us at dances, send us an email, or attend a board meeting. As always, our board meetings are open to anyone.  If you'd like to attend a meeting, just write to us at bida@bidadance.org . 
We work hard to keep the BIDA dance going strong and to give it a real community feel.  It's everyone who participates who makes it what it is!

Sam Auciello
Angela DeCarlis
Sarah Hirsch
Jeff Kaufman
Audrey Knuth
Daniel Ley
Julie Vallimont

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 19th Annual Meeting Information! BIDA Board Elections and Proposed Bylaw Changes.

Hello dear BIDA community,

It is approaching the time of the year when BIDA holds its annual membership meeting.  For those of you who are new to the community, this is the time and place where important decisions are made to help keep BIDA running smoothly.  

As an organization that is dedicated to serving our wonderful dance community, we want to maintain transparency about any fundamental changes to BIDA as well as give our members a voice so that our organization best reflects its dancers.  

This is where you come in.  Our current BIDA board has some key changes planned for BIDA's bylaws that will allow us to run more effectively as a group.  However, in order to remain true to our representative and transparent nature, we can only enact these changes to our bylaws by consensus of the community.  

As such, we will be voting on the proposed changes at our annual membership meeting at our April 19th dance. In order to pass these changes, we need a two-thirds vote of agreement.  This also bears the implication that those who abstain will make it harder to reach a consensus.  Therefore, we would ask you as a member of our dance to look over the intended changes which will be elaborated below and come to the membership meeting with an informed idea of the changes we hope to make.

Statement of Intent for proposed changes:

- simplify the language
- remove ambiguities
- elaborate situations which are unclear under the current bylaws
- provide added flexibility
- streamline administrative processes

Highlights:
- Amend voting process, changing to a slate system that is more efficient/organized.
- Increase flexibility by allowing for more members to be on the board.
- Empower the membership to enact changes more than just once a year at the annual meeting.
- Install contingency plans (i.e., in case of excessive board member turnover, if our voting system fails, etc.)


Proposed changes to Bylaws, by article (detailed):

Article III: Membership

Current -
1. BIDA membership is open to anyone who attends a BIDA meeting*. Anyone who attends a BIDA meeting will be considered a member for all purposes.

Proposed -
1. Anyone who attends a BIDA meeting will be considered a member for all purposes.

Reasoning -
Here we are trimming down unclear language and making it unambiguous that if you are present at the meeting, you will be counted as a member (important for purposes of voting count).

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Article IV: Board of Directors

Current -
2. The BIDA Board will consist of four officers plus three at-large members.

Proposed -
2. The BIDA Board will consist of four officers plus three to five* at-large members.  In the event that there are fewer than seven board members when new board terms begin, BIDA will have 6 months to operate with interim board members or without replacements.  The minimum number of allowable board members is four officers.

Reasoning -
We wanted more flexibility in terms of how many board members we can have at a time.  This would allow us to have more at-large members as needed, for purposes of training to take over officer positions in the future, assistance with leading larger projects, or to meet an increase of interest for board positions etc.  

We also needed a contingency plan in case BIDA falls below the previously allotted number of board members.  This change states a clear plan of what will happen and what to do in case of a large turnover of board members.  This wording also more clearly states that BIDA needs at the very least 4 officers to function.  

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Article VI: Operating Procedures

1. Meetings of Membership
Current -
   4.  ...the membership will elect the board, officers and at-large Board members, and will approve any Bylaw changes.

Proposed -
   4.  ...the membership will elect the board* and will approve any Bylaw changes.

Reasoning -
We think that division of roles among the board should be made after the board members are elected.  This makes it easier to specifically tailor division of labor to accommodate for strengths and preferences of responsibilities once we know who the board will consist of.

Current -
   5.  ...If a proposal fails to reach a consensus, any member may request to take a vote on the proposal, which will pass only if two thirds of the membership approves.

Proposed -
   5.  ...If a proposal fails to reach a consensus, any member may request to take a vote on the proposal, which will pass only if two thirds of the membership approves (not counting abstentions).

Reasoning -
We do not want abstaining votes to count negatively against both 'yes' or 'no' votes.  This allows abstaining voters to remain truly neutral without impeding the voting process of those who have a definite positive or negative opinion on that issue.  In times past, there have been an overwhelming volume of abstaining voters that functionally blocked any changes from being passed.  This also takes pressure off the abstaining voter, knowing that they will not have an effect on overall voting percentages.

Current -
6. ...Members will be able to vote for up to seven people to join the Board, and the seven candidates with the most votes will become members of the Board. BIDA will use any method of vote-counting that its Board approves. Anyone may be nominated for any position at any time, subject to the nominee’s approval, up to one week before the annual membership meeting, at which point nominations will close. The Board will decide by consensus which members will take which officer positions. All officer and Board terms shall be for one year, starting on May 1.

Proposed -
6.  ...Members will be able to vote for up to seven people to join the Board, and the seven candidates with the most votes will become members of the Board. The BIDA board will present a slate of board members, for which the membership will vote yes or no.    BIDA will use any method of vote-counting that its Board approves.  Anyone wishing to be on the BIDA Board must let the Board know of their intent at least one week before the annual membership meeting. The board will then choose a slate. If the slate is not approved by 2/3 majority (not counting abstentions), BIDA will revert to individual voting. Members will be able to vote for up to seven people to join the Board, and the seven candidates with the most votes will become members of the Board.  For the individual election (if the slate gets voted down), anyone who announced their intent to run (at least a week prior to the meeting) must be included on the ballot. After the board is elected, the Board will decide by consensus which members will take which officer positions. All officer and Board terms shall be for one year, starting on May 1.
Reasoning -
We are reworking our voting process from individual voting to an elected slate where the board is elected as a whole, rather than one person at a time.  This will simplify and shorten the whole election process.  However, if the proposed slate gets voted down, we have a contingency in place to return to individual voting.  
---------------------------------------------------------

Article VIII: Amendments to these Bylaws

Current -
Any changes or amendments to these Bylaws must pass a two-thirds vote of the BIDA membership at its annual meeting. Any proposed changes or amendments must be distributed electronically to membership at least one month prior to the vote.

Proposed -
Any changes or amendments to these Bylaws must pass a two-thirds vote of the BIDA membership at a membership* meeting. Any proposed changes or amendments must be distributed electronically to membership at least one month prior to the vote.

Reasoning -
This will allow us to enact changes to BIDA's structure more than once a year.  Only allowing ourselves to perform this kind of maintenance once per year has been slowing progress, and this will allow the organization to be more adaptive over shorter time-scales.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spark in the Dark! Halloween edition

Hello dear dancers,

Happy rainy cold gross October to you, too. You know what's a great a way to stay warm in the midst of this yuck? You got it. Spinning and twirling and stomping and laughing a lot, preferably with your friends, and to live music.

And lucky for you, BIDA has an extra goody to offer this month. In addition to our regular 1st and 3rd sunday dances, we have one more (trick or) treat: a Halloween night Spark in the Dark! We'll have Lisa Greenleaf calling to Delta Wave (Julie Vallimont on piano, synths, jawharp, and computer and Jon Cannon on fiddle). It's also Halloween night..... so once you're done handing out candy or trick or treating, come on over -- perhaps still in your costume finery?



Spark in the Dark is BIDA's techno contra series, and we run them usually once a semester or so.

Techno...contra? Allow me to break it down:
1) fun lighting (black lights, some sparkly fairy lights, glow sticks....)
2) "alternative" music (electronic, sampled and remixed, sometimes working in elements of more traditional fiddle tunes, sometimes playing more with contemporary hits, always groovy)
3) the same contra dance moves and community as always.

BIDA is all about embracing the evolving tradition that is folk arts, and we welcome you to come experience and enjoy another aspect of contra dancing with us.

Please note: different place and time! We'll running from 8-11 pm. And we are trying out a shiny new space to us, the Cambridge Community Center, located at 5 Callender St, Cambridge, MA.

p.s. We'll need some extra hands to help put up all the fun lighting! Please contact us if you're interested in volunteering (and as always, you'd earn your way in for free).


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sliding $cale

Hello BIDA, 

We are so excited for this coming year, and hope to see you this sunday for our regular contra dance in Porter Square! 

As you amble in the door this sunday, you may notice a slight change to our sliding scale admission rate. For the last few years, we have kept our sliding scale at $5-10. This week, we'll be putting up a new sign that reads $5-12. 

What's with the $12? And actually, what's the deal with sliding scale? 

Well, dear reader, let's start with why we use a sliding scale. Entry fees are a necessity for keeping great arts and music organizations alive -- specifically, for feeding the wonderful talent that grace our stage. But for some, a steep admission ticket is a barrier that even good tunes and community cannot overcome. One of BIDA's core missions is to make dancing accessible to more people, geographically, socially, and financially. We have kept the entry fee as low as we can, and offer many volunteer opportunities too (did you know? For one shift, you can enter free). Our hope is that no one will turn away for financial reasons. 

Howsoever and but so, a dance needs a little more -- and for some, paying a few extra dollars is no burden at all. The sliding scale allows people to pay what they can, when they can, by choice. And the best part is that it usually leaves us well in the green, thanks to your generosity! (This in turn lets us give our musicians, callers, and sound people a little bonus for the night). Thanks BIDA people! 

So, back to the 12. This year, our beloved hall is undergoing some renovations and accordingly needs to up their fees for us. We really didn't want to raise the cost of coming to BIDA, but we also don't want to pay our people any less -- and so we decided that we'll just gently lift the upper limit. If you feel that you have 12 dollars you won't miss, please, feel free to pay the full amount! If you have 5, pay 5 as always. If you're strapped (or just feeling helpful), please inquire about volunteering! We need you, each and every dance. 

See you sunday! 

S