Chairman’s Corner, February 2012
Happy New Year! Hogmanay came and went, and the Exec busy with the business of 2012. Looking back at our one-of-a-kind New Year’s celebration, there is much to consider. Many people, who expected to hate the gym venue, were pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. Yet Germantown Friends was by no means perfect. Here is my best attempt to capture the themes expressed in feedback.
The plusses to GFS were the large, expansive floor that allowed for easy mixing of dancers and kept people from being stuck at one end or the other. Many liked the abundant closer parking and the vigilant security officers who greeted dancers and showed the way in. Good acoustics were a surprise to many who dreaded an echoing gym. The increasingly large number of dancers/teachers who live in the Northwest sections of Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs also liked the proximity, just as Newark and Delaware County folk found it a longer drive, especially heading home in the wee hours. More chairs and tables were positive additions. From an organizational point of view, Germantown Friends was cooperative and helpful.
On the downside, several items surfaced. Most people missed the elegance and ambiance of Tarble at Swarthmore. The carved Gothic arches and elegant ceiling have given Hogmanay a distinctive feel and many people really missed Tarble with its old world setting. However, several people commented that after their initial entry, they hardly noticed the cavernous gym, but spent their time looking at and interacting with other dancers. Another challenge was the floor which was – not as bad as it might have been – but definitely harder than Tarble. A few people missed the bleacher seats behind the band, which has been a good place to watch from.
The Executive has listened to all the feedback and is considering Hogmanay for next year. We have already engaged Terpsichore for music. This includes master fiddler Elke Baker, pianist Liz Donaldson and Ralph Gordon on cello and bass. Our own Dan Emery will probably supplement the band on pipes and flute for some dances.
The Executive is exploring—yet again—possible options with Swarthmore. Will they write a -snow contingency clause – as Germantown Friends did, that would allow us to pay for snow removal if needed? If that eventuality happens, could we pay just the overtime extra rate that Buildings and Grounds workers would be compensated with, and have the College pay the base rate, since they would have to pay for snow removal anyhow, for any snow event. All this remains to be seen.
In the meantime, we have a band, at least one ball chair in place already and we know that if the Swarthmore option does not work out, we have an acceptable, even if not ideal, location in Germantown Friends. Quite frankly, given our long association with Swarthmore and Tarble, I expected to have a revolution on the Exec’s hands. Yet a great many people seemed to find Germantown Friends more than acceptable. At least a dozen people personally told me they were – pleasantly surprised.
And so, fellow Branch members and friends/guests, please know that the Branch Exec will do what we can to get us back to Tarble but if not, we’ll do all we can to make the next Hogmanay a wonderful and memorable event. Anyone willing to help with the work of putting this big event on will be most welcome. If anyone has further suggestions about other venues, please let the Exec know.