Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Blues Muse 2008 - running my first major event

How does one decide if a dance event was successful?

For some, the answer is, “Did I make money or good contacts to market myself?” While both are important for your wallet, they don’t speak to the quality of the experience. Others will say, “the dance floor was pretty busy, so it was a good night”, but that ignores the fact that people have paid to dance and will try to do so to anything.

Interestingly, registration for the Blues Muse Workshops was about double what I’d expected. If I were still working for a Japanese Corporation I’d have to apologize for so shamefully miscalculating my expectations. Clearly lots of attendees isn’t the answer either.

I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback and healthy constructive criticism about this blues weekend LAB put on in Philly; notably there was no single thing that stood out. Each teacher and DJ was praised for their individual styles, the band appreciated, the toaster and the candles at the late night noticed, solo blues celebrated, partnered blues championed, and each host labeled as the friendliest. I think that’s a testimony to the collaborative approach the organizers took – there was no single rock star or headliner, everyone was equally challenged to be an inspiration and to foster growth in those around them. Clearly that was successful.

I also had my own measure of success. You frequently hear about the west coast or Texas blues scenes but never an “east coast blues scene”. In fact, leading up to the event I was repeatedly told we needed to hire a rock star from one of those areas as a headline draw or nobody would show up for Blues Muse. But we knew there were a lot of tiny pockets of blues tucked away throughout the east that are supported by very talented people—all we needed to do is start letting people know about each other.

So, each time someone said it was their first time dancing in Philadelphia, hearing one of the DJ’s, taking classes with an instructor, or dancing to Gordon Webster, it made me smile. For me, one of the biggest successes of the weekend was introducing organizers and dancers from different scenes and telling them about each other’s events and their key people. I think many people met lots of new friends and contacts this weekend.

For me, success would mean the Blues Muse Workshops might be a step towards fostering a more integrated East Coast Blues scene that celebrates our own local talents and inspires organizers and dancers travel more between Boston, Connecticut NY, Philly, Baltimore, DC, Virginia, and on down to Knoxville, Atlanta and even into Florida. Granted, we’ve spotted those folks out west a bit of a head start, but if this weekend is any reflection, Philadelphia and the rest of the east coast certainly know how to throw a blues party!

Many, many thanks to Philly's Lindy and Blues for believing in us and helping us to throw this awesome party in your town. Thanks to everyone who came out and helped create such a wonderful weekend. Extra special thanks to our wonderful Muses.

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