Volunteers: The Wheels that Make BIDA Run

In much of BIDA's publicity, you'll see us emphasize that BIDA is an "all-volunteer organization." This is by no means a feature unique to BIDA - indeed, I imagine you would be hard pressed to find a community contra dance that pays its organizers and helpers. At BIDA, though, it forms an essential part of our identity as an organization. There are many ways that the spirit of volunteerism keeps us going strong, some more obvious than others.

The volunteers you are probably the most familiar with are the ones who sit at the door during dances to collect admission. In addition to filling this essential role, though, they also act as the public face of the dance, greeting dancers with a smile and helping newcomers feel welcome.

Slightly less visible are the volunteers who come early to help set up the hall: putting out chairs and water pitchers, hanging up signs, displaying flyers, and generally turning the Masonic Hall into a cheerful and welcoming place to have a dance.

In addition to these "official" volunteer roles, there are also scores of others who, each in their own way, help to make the dance a success. Some stay a few minutes late to help clean up the hall. Some reach out to new dancers with tips on how to swing, or even just a friendly hello. Some take BIDA flyers with them to other dances, while others invite their friends on Facebook. Some even drag along skeptical first-time dancers, telling them, "I know it sounds crazy, but you're going to love it." Without the generosity of all these volunteers, the dance would simply not be possible.

Lastly, while on the topic of volunteers, it is worth mentioning that the BIDA board members all volunteer an incredibly amount of time and energy to put on these dances twice a month. I, personally, am inspired by the level of commitment and dedication I see in my fellow board members.

So you see, the claim that BIDA is an "all-volunteer organization" is a lot more than something we put on our posters and e-mails. It is a philosophy that pervades ours and many other dances, and which makes them possible in the first place. And I, for one, wouldn't have it any other way. By involving so many volunteers in the running of all aspects of the dance, it gives the community as a whole a sense of ownership and solidarity that would be absent otherwise. BIDA is an organization of dancers, by dancers, and for dancers (and musicians, and callers, and sound technicians...), and that fact makes it a truly special community.

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If you are interested in being a BIDA volunteer, watch for announcements via e-mail or Facebook, sign up on paper at an upcoming dance, or e-mail bida@bidadance.org to join our volunteer mailing list. Set-up and admissions volunteers earn free admission in exchange for their help.


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