We're quite committed to supporting, preserving and improving folk dancing throughout the United States and Canada. So, it's very important you know exactly who we are, what are our goals, what we've done in the past to achieve these goals and what we're doing now.
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We have three major goals. First, we want to help newcomers discover folk dance, contra dance, international dance, square dance and other types of traditional and ethnic dance as a rewarding new hobby or pastime, as an excellent method to keep fit and get enough exercise, as a great way to make new friends and as a recreation for the entire family. Second, we want to help folk dancers broaden their folk dance experience by having easy access to information about the dances they do and places to dance at home and during trips. Finally, we want to help folk dance leaders get word of their groups, special events, activities and services to the largest possible audience of interested people.
During the 70's, our first decade of existence, we produced three important publications. From 1970 to 1979, we published Folk Dance Directory, the first widely circulated, nationwide folk dance directory. From 1971 to 1975, we co-published (with Steve Zalph) Folk Dance Magazine which featured folk dance articles, interviews and a calendar of national events. From 1975 to 1979, we published Mixed Pickles, the first widely circulated nationwide tabloid folk dance newspaper.
Our first project, begun in 1970, was Folk Dance Directory, created, compiled and edited by Raymond La Barbera. This was the first widely circulated national folk dance directory covering the entire United States and Canada. The first annual edition was published in 1971 and the eighth (and final) edition in 1978.
Our goal was to enable folk dancers everywhere to know what folk dance classes, sessions, special events, products and services were taking place throughout the United States and Canada. To bring this about, we printed about 20,000 copies of each edition and sent them to folk dance clubs and special events nationally for free distribution to the folk dancing public.
The first edition covered New York City. After publication, we proposed the creation of a "federation" of regional directories to serve as a national folk dance directory. We expanded our directory to cover all of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and made it Region 3 of the proposed ten regions. When it soon became clear that the other nine directories were not going to appear, we again expanded our coverage to include all of the United States and Canada.
With the 1978 edition, the directory had grown to 32 pages and over 1,000 listings. Unfortunately, we were forced to cease publication because it was too expensive to prepare, print and mail 20,000 copies to every folk dance club in the country. Even though we charged $10.00 per listing, each edition resulted in a loss and caused us to go into debt. Moreover, only folk dancers received copies; there was no easy and inexpensive way to get copies to non-dancers who might give folk dance a try if only they knew about it.
Our next project, begun in 1971, was Folk Dance Magazine, created and edited jointly by Raymond La Barbera and Steve Zalph. This was a widely circulated magazine covering the entire United States and Canada. The first issue was published April 1972 and the tenth (and final) edition in the winter of 1975. Between 10,000 and 20,000 copies of each issue were printed, of which about 98% were sent to folk dance groups throughout the U.S. and Canada for free distribution to their members.
Originally conceived as essentially a New York area calendar of folk dance events to supplement Folk Dance Directory, the publication was originally named New York Folk Dance News. However, the first issue turned out to be a ten page magazine with several articles and a calendar of folk dance events in several states. This was followed by a second issue with 18 pages, more articles and a calendar of events in locations ranging from New York to California and Maine to Mexico. The fourth issue boasted 32 pages and succeeding issues had 40 pages. Since it was apparent from the very first issue that New York Folk Dance News was an inappropriate name for the magazine, the name was officially changed to Folk Dance Magazine in the fall of 1973.
The magazine had quite a large number a regular features which appeared in all or most issues. The Calendar presented a extensive list of upcoming special events in the United States, Canada and abroad. In Dance Footnotes, teachers like Andor Czompo, Dick Crum and Csaba Pálfi presented articles about specific dances they had introduced. In The Interview, we presented interviews with such prominent teachers as Jerry Helt and Anatol Joukowski. In People and Groups, articles by Dennis Boxell, Larry Weiner and Pearl Atkinson explored the relationships among folk dancers and the groups they attend. In Dance Backgrounds, authorities such as Yves Moreau and Andor Czompo explored the folk dance and other traditions of the regions and ethnic groups they knew first hand. In Contras and Squares, experts such as Nibs Matthews, Ralph Page, Tony Parkes and Jim Morrison presented articles on contra, country and square dancing. Camp Comments featured articles about the background, philosophy and programs of important folk dance camps while Festival Fare did the same for festivals. Everything But . . . was David Henry's fascinating column of topical folkdance miscellany and whimsy. The Forum gave our readers the opportunity to speak their mind about any folk dance related. Folk Frolics was a column of humor, wit and satire with the premise that no person or institution in folk dancing is above some good-natured kidding. Folk Dance Scene presented articles on organizations dedicated to furthering fork dance activities in various parts of the country.
Our third project, begun in 1975, was Mixed Pickles, created and edited by Raymond La Barbera. This was the first widely circulated tabloid newspaper covering folk dance in the United States and Canada. The first issue was published in February 1976 and the 31st (and final) issue in February 1979. About 20.000 copies of each 8-page issue were printed and distributed mostly free of charge to individuals and folk dance groups throughout the United States and Canada.
During the 1980's and most of the 1990's, we did not take an active part in the development of folk dancing. We were very discouraged at not being able to realize all our goals and being forced into debt because every publication lost money. We learned the hard way that financial stability and security are two of the many necessities for a happy and prosperous life.
In 1998, with more and more people going Internet crazy, it became clear to us that this new technology now made our goals of the 1970's possible to achieve.
The Internet, something very few people even knew about in the early 1990's, has completely revolutionized many aspects of life, and none more so than publishing. In the 70's, the high preparation, printing and postage costs compelled us to employ a cumbersome system of almost 150 symbols and abbreviations to squeeze 15 to 20 lines of information down into just two lines so that 250 pages of listings could fit into 32 pages. Unfortunately, while this enabled us to print and distribute 20,000 copies of each edition free of charge, it also made using the directory difficult. In addition, since information constantly went out of date, most of the directory was obsolete when a new edition was released a year later. Finally, copies rarely got to people who might give folk dance a try if only they knew it existed.
The Internet has changed all this. Listings involving ten or 15 lines of text cost no more than those involving 2 lines. A group's information need never go out of date because changes reported to us appear on-line within a few days. Finally, with so many millions of people having access to the Internet, the number of non-folkdancers who visit this site and, perhaps be intrigued enough to try folk dancing is staggering.
Our main project right now is developing the web site you are now visiting. Begun January 1, 1999, it's now grown quite large with over 200 web pages containing detailed listings of 3,000 dance groups and 1,000 special events throughout the U.S. and Canada. It also has 200 folk dance articles and essays. We constantly add new items daily and welcome over 70,000 visitors each year.
All listings were free of charge during the first four years (Jan 1, 1999 to Dec 31, 2002). However, shortly after initial publication, we saw we'd eventually have to start charging listing fees. Consequently, the fee for all 2003 class, session, camp, cruise, festival, teacher, tour, vendor, week, weekend or workshop listings is just $15.00 (U. S. funds) for the entire year.
Our future plans are pretty straightforward. We plan to expand The Directory until it includes every folk, square, contra, English, Scottish, swing, ballroom, Cajun, zydeco, Israeli, ethnic, clog, lindy, recreational, step and vintage dance class and session in the United States and Canada. Likewise, we hope to eventually have The Calendar list every folk dance camp, cruise, festival, teacher, vendor, week, weekend and workshop in the US and Canada. Finally, we hope to expand the number and types of articles, essays and web sites in the Library.
At the bottom of the page, there's a box saying something like 108,243 Visitors Since January 1, 1999. This is our hit counter compliments of Site Meter stating how many people have visited our site since its origin. A click on this box brings you a full page of statistics, including information about our last 1,000 visitors, forecasts of future visits and lots of other interesting facts. In fact, it'll show you exactly what we're doing and how well we're doing it.
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