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Welcome to the spring 2016 issue of the Promenader

In the “Photos and Features” section of this issue you'll find a Roving Reporter article about Chip Kellogg and Sue Yara. You might not know Sue, but chances are that you dance wearing a badge that she made. (Look for the CS Engraving label.) And if you've been dancing long enough, you'll remember Chip's unique calling style and laid-back demeanor.

In the same section there is also an article describing a new all-clubs dance and dinner event planned for September 24, 2016.(See further down this page for additional details on how this idea developed.) There is also a reminder about the reward offered for the club with the highest percentage attendance at this year's Dance-O-Rama.

Sadly, you will also find obituaries for Bob Everts and Harriet Austin.

In the Federation section, the President's Corner page includes an update from Warren Olson on Dance-O-Rama, 2016, and other RAF initiatives. Also, in the Federation's RAF Documents section you will now find a copy of the Constitution and Bylaws.

Special Thanks To Jim Gotta

You wouldn't know it from looking at the RAF/Promenader website, but nearly all the content in this Promenader cycle has been formatted and posted by Jim Gotta. Jim took the time to work with webmaster Sidney Marshall and learn the mechanics of maintaining and updating the site. Over the past few weeks Jim has filled in while Sidney was traveling. So, please join Sidney and me in thanking Jim for this valuable contribution. We're lucky to have two such dedicated and competent people to maintain this important database and clearing house for area dancing information.

Anyone can submit a Promenader article

Putting this issue together has revealed just how dependent we are on our Roving Reporter, Dick Halstead. When he and Irma are in town and actively dancing, we receive a steady stream of lively articles about the dance events they attend, each one accompanied by interesting photos of Rochester area dancers enjoying one another's company.

However, when they are out of town, or out of circulation convalescing from one of the medical challenges that life puts in our way now and then, well, we notice. The Promenader inbox gets noticeably thinner.

With that thought in mind, I'd like to do two things. The first is to say “Thank you” to Dick for his important contributions — past and future. The second is to remind our readers that anyone is welcome to submit an article and/or photos to the Promenader. (Send text and JPG photos via email to Promenader@rochester.rr.com.)

The only rules are that your article should be something of interest to dancers in our area, and it should make a positive contribution to dancing. News or interesting observations are most welcome, but opinions will also be published if they make a positive contribution. We do proofread and “lightly” edit submissions for punctuation, grammar, and clarity.

RAF Secretary

At the February RAF Board meeting I learned that the RAF is looking for a new secretary since John Benesch is stepping down after three years in the post.

I know. It's hard enough to fill club leadership positions, so what's the point of trying to pull yet another volunteer out of such a small pool for a role in such a “distant” organization?

That's a good question, and hard to argue with, but keeping our dancing programs alive depends on more than just club-level organization. There are activities that need to be organized across all clubs. Coordinating these activities depends on a few people who give a small extra portion of their time each month to that purpose.

The role of secretary is one of the best for someone who is new to the RAF organization since it does not require decision-making or problem-solving. It only requires attendance at monthly meetings (Sep–May) to take notes and circulate them afterward, and to circulate the agenda for the following month.

It's a great way to get to know the dedicated folks who take care of dancer insurance, maintain the website, organize all-clubs events like Dance-O-Rama and the new Fall Friendship Ball, and work in other ways to promote square dancing in our area.

As with any board position, the secretary also takes part in discussions and votes, so it's also a great way to bring your club's voice to the the RAF Board.

If you care about the vitality of organized dancing in our area and have a small amount of time each month to devote to a role outside your own club, please contact Terry Pratt or Warren Olson. (Click HERE for their contact information.)

Daphne-Norma and Circle of Service Award Nominations

Most of us know folks in our area who deserve special recognition for outstanding leadership and/or service to the dancing community. You can help them receive that recognition by nominating them for one of the awards listed on the AWARDS page of the website. Please take time to click HERE and read about the Daphne-Norma and Circle Of Service awards, and to download and submit a nomination form. The deadline may be past, but nominations remain active from year to year, so its never too late to recommend a deserving person.

Path to a New Area-Wide Dance Event

One of the “Photos & Features” articles in this issue describes a new RAF-sponsored annual dance that will debut in September. The dance is tentatively named the Fall Friendship Ball, but other suggestions are welcome.

This new event is the result of two different “re-imagining” processes that began last spring and have now converged.

One group of callers and dancers began re-imagining the Promenader Dance. Given that the Promenader is now self-sustaining on a small fraction of its former budget, it became clear that its traditional late-September fundraiser dance date could be better used for other purposes than raising money to support the Promenader.

The question was whether it should become a “Dance Party” for new recruits or a “Welcome Back” dance for folks returning from summer vacation and plus classes. There was a wide range of opinions on this, with strong supporters of both concepts, but they boiled down to two main conclusions.

The first conclusion was that a Dance Party for new recruits would have to be scheduled (and VERY carefully designed) to support and enhance — rather than compete with — individual club open houses and beginner classes. It would need to be scheduled either before any open houses or after all beginner classes have started. Otherwise it would interfere with clubs' individual activities and partially defeat its own purpose.

Therefore a late September date would be just about the worst time for such a dance. An August dance party was tried some years ago and it proved hard to draw support from established dancers. As for a later date, it's hard to find one in October/November that doesn't conflict with important club dances.

The second conclusion was that a “Welcome Back” dance could be a great way to kick off the new dance season. It would give established dancers a chance to renew their dancing friendships and to welcome the summer's plus class graduates. For this purpose, the format could be a mix of mainstream and plus, and since it would not be geared toward new dancers there would be no interference with new dancer recruitment by individual clubs.

In fact, the dance could retain its fund-raising role by donating net 50/50 and any other proceeds to the RAF Recruitment and Retention Fund, as was done with last year's Promenader Dance proceeds. Late September would be the ideal time for a “Welcome Back” dance.

Separately, another group was in the process of re-imagining the RAF Cabin Party that has traditionally been held in the early spring. The Cabin Party was originally conceived as a time to gather the leaders of all RAF clubs for the purpose of recognizing their contributions to dancing in our area and encouraging them to get to know their counterparts from other clubs. It was an afternoon event that included a potluck lunch, followed by a business meeting and then a few dance tips with a team of CCR callers. For various reasons, attendance has been declining in recent years, with some clubs only represented by one person or couple and many not represented at all.

This group, in thinking about how to revitalize the Cabin Party, was very impressed by a dance and dinner event they attended last June in Middleburg, PA. The dancing ran from 2:30–5:30, followed by dinner in the same hall. It was a lot of fun and successfully promoted the kind of inter-club mixing that the RAF has tried to achieve through the annual Cabin Party. The group set out to find a venue and date to hold a similar event here that could accommodate all clubs. Several suitable venues were identified, but the process slowed down over the question of a date: A spring date might be too close to DOR, and a fall date would be too close to the Promenader Dance and other club dates.

When these two separate threads bumped into one another at the September RAF meeting, the conclusion was obvious: Blend the two proposals into one “Welcome Back” event on Saturday, September 24th. Canandaigua American Legion Post 256 was chosen as the venue, where the hall is inexpensive and there is plenty of room for dancing and for an on-site catered meal. The dancing will tentatively run from 2PM to around 5PM, followed by a social break and dinner at 6PM. Hopefully the early timing will make up for the extra distance, and the Canandaigua location should make it more accessible to our Finger Lakes area clubs.

Please click HERE and scroll through the “Photos and Features” section to an article with a more complete description of the new event, which is tentatively called the “Fall Friendship Ball” … but other suggestions are welcome. To make a suggestion or offer to help, contact Warren Olson or send email to Promenader@rochester.rr.com.

Peter Emmel, Interim Editor