pennsicdance: Dance Suggestions

Sean D. Sorrentino sdsorrentino at
Wed Aug 24 15:44:14 PDT 2005

if you can avoid taking what i have to say personally,
please do so. if you can't, i am a big boy, i know
what i am saying.

--- Gwommy Anpurpaidh <gwommy at> wrote:

> First, I'd like to say that I like the idea removing
> the no GOOP
> before midnight rule at the barn.  As long as
> there's a venue for
> period dancing, then I don't see where there's a
> problem.  

i disagree on this point. some people have decided to
choose up sides in the Tent vs. Barn war that seems to
be going on. the false choice that seems to have
sprung up where if you are "serious" about dance you
go to the tent and if you are "not" you go to the barn
is a disservice to the dance community as a whole, and
insulting to both groups. the dance floor was not
build to split us up, and those who have been using it
to do so are wrong. the intention was to move dance
off the cement of the barn and into a nicer
environment. the complaint that "no one knows about
the dance tent" is spurious. to pretend that the Barn
is a better location is also spurious. if they don't
know, tell them. if they wanted to dance, they would
come. pretending that more people would dance in the
Barn is fantasy. they don't dance, they sit and watch.
they can make the oh, so long trek another three
blocks and come to the dance tent. 

> Next, I think that the 'dance parties' should be
> ditched.  Even though
> we try to get the word out that everyone is invited,
> it still seems
> like a private thing to many outsiders.  

i would like to know how it is that a dance party in
the tent looks any different to passersby than open
dancing in the dance tent. the problem is not one of
perception amoung the passersby, but one of marketing
amoung those who believe the "Dance parties have been
the death of dancing at Pennsic." we keep offering
people the opportunity to go and dance with the
"unserious" in the Barn, amoung people who pretend
that they are avoiding the "stuffy dance Nazis" and
their "private" parties, and we wonder why the new
people think that they are not welcome at the parties.
here's a news flash for everyone. i was there at the
genesis of the Dance Party. the idea was to move away
from the idea of unstructured open dancing and to move
to a more community idea where people gathered in a
party atmosphere and dancing occurred. it allowed
people to have decorations and food, and a theme
without having to pay for it. i spent about $150 last
year on my party. i brought munchies and taped the
poles purple and white. we danced my basic dance class
list, plus a few harder dances for the 16th century
show-offs. i got to play host and lord of the Manor
for a couple of hours, and your reward for letting me
was you got fed and didn't have to make up the set
list. if you want to make the set list and play host,
go ahead. don't say that Lyev didn't offer you the

> I think
> that they are also
> too concentrated on a certain kind of dance.  I know
> that's the point,
> but the average SCA dancer doesn't concentrate on
> one type of dance,
> they know bits and pieces of all different venues of
> dance.

the original overly focused dance party was the Caroso
Ball hosted by Ellen. it was in the afternoon and was
specifically done that way so as to not interrupt the
"normal" evening dance. i thought that was pretty
classy on her part. i agree that the dance nights have
gotten too focused on the genres. this is why my two
(last year and the year before) did not have the
focus. (people whining that having more than 2 Italian
dances constitutes a focus can sit down at this point,
i won't be listening) i think that it should be made
clear that focused dancing should be done in classes,
not social dance. to say that focused dancing was the
point is to miss the fact that it was a unneccessary
consequence, a bug, not a feature. 
> Now to my suggestion.  I think that we should have
> open
> beginner/intermediate dancing in the barn at night
> where the dances
> are taught and newer people can have a chance of
> learning them. 
> Meanwhile, in the dance tent, we should have open
> intermediate/advanced dances going on.  We should be
> able to dance
> dances with little to no walkthrough and for the 3
> hours we have in
> the tent, the dances should be able to flow one
> after another.  The
> more experienced dancers don't have to sit through
> learning dances
> that they've already learned 100 times and the
> musicians get to play
> more as well.  The less expierenced dancers will
> have somewhere to
> learn dances at their own pace.  So to me, this
> sounds like it'll make
> everyone happy.

we already have too much us vs. them. this just
codifies it. i think a better solution is to ditch
dancing in the barn except for the Pennsic ball, which
until we have a MUCH bigger tent will have to remain
there. the more "experienced" dancers will have to pay
their dues by dancing with newbies and teaching them
the dances. the newer dancers will have to pay their
dues by sitting down and not whining when a
complicated dance comes up. 

the egocentric idea that everything needs to revolve
around the self rather than the community needs to
stop. this Us vs. Them BS is simply an ego conflict.
some people feel that they aren't winning under the
rules of the "new" regime and are trying to take their
marbles and go home. it needs to stop. the kingdom of
Atlantia suffered through a period when a certain
group of performers, led by an person with
elephantitis of the ego, decided that they were not
getting their due rewards for their non period
efforts. they formed their own "society" and gave out
their own awards. they looked like fools. that is
where this argument is going. we seem to have it every
year, and it needs to end. the simplist solution is to
stop dancing in the barn at all, and recognize that
any attempt to split the group is basically all about
the ego of a few. don't make me relate the reason open
dancing occurred during the dance parties at all. it
would embarrass the dance party host, and it should
have embarrassed the people (myself included) who
participated. we were wrong then, and we have come to
this place because of it. 

if there is to be a (flame) war, let is start here.

Sean Sorrentino
sean at
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