Good news: our Jan 14th dance is ON! We’ve been keeping an anxious eye on Covid community transmission levels, which were worrisomely high in neighboring counties last week. Luckily, the map released yesterday shows Berkshire County, AND also our north-county neighbors, all at medium transmission levels.
Please come if you can! Remember, we dancers share responsiblity for our dance community’s health. Use your discretion; stay home if you’re not feeling well, test before you come out. You can review registration terms here: https://tinyurl.com/NorthBerkshireDancePreReg
We’re thrilled to resume our second Saturday monthly series on Saturday January 14, at a new location in the community hall of the First Congregational Church, 906 Main Street in Williamstown, MA.
The night will begin with a brief introductory lesson at 7:30, by caller Andy Davis. The early part of the evening will be particularly welcoming to beginning dancers and families with children. Music will be provided by Arthur Davis on keyboard and banjo, with Cedar Stanistreet on fiddle.
Come dance with us on January 14th, 2023! Andy Davis will call, starting with a brief introductory lesson at 7:30 p.m. The early part of the evening will be particularly welcoming to beginning dancers and families with children; at the end, we’ll have Chorus Jig. (What’s Chorus Jig? Read on to the end!)
New in 2023
New location: the community hall of the First Congregational Church, which is at 906 Main Street, Williamstown, MA.
Vaccination & Mask Requirement: unfortunately, some elements that make our dances wonderful community events are also great for spreading respiratory disease. Luckily, it’s possible to have most of the fun, and minimize the misery, with suitable precautions. To this end we’ll be requiring everyone in the hall to wear masks and show proof of Covid-19 vacination. We’ll follow the rules outlined by the Friends of the Greenfield Dance: http://www.friendsofgreenfielddance.org/covid-19-policy/ , and we’ll have an optional pre-registration system to help ease lines at the door.
Optional pre-registration: Save time the first time you attend our dance by pre-registering with your vaccination status here!
New Admission Fee Schedule — Pay What You Can: Pre-pandemic, we put a lot of effort into setting admission fees to both cover expenses and also let as many people as possible join us. Charging different amounts by category got complicated, and still didn’t work for everyone, so we’ve decided to let you decide for yourself how much to contribute. You may choose to contribute by helping with practical matters, like checking people in at the door, or sweeping the floor at the break. However, we do use money to pay our performers (though never quite enough for their specialized skills) and to pay rent for the hall, so contributions from $5 to $15 per person are most welcome.
New Dance of the Year — Chorus Jig! Admittedly, Chorus Jig is old, not new, but dancing it every month here in Williamstown is new for us. Chorus Jig is a dance with a name, and a history, and a reputation for boisterous fun.
North Berkshire Community Dance is coordinating a dance at the Clark Art Institute’s Free Sunday on Nov 6th. Paul Rosenberg will call several short sets of family friendly traditional dances, with a harvest theme to match the overarching event. Music by Eric Buddington and friends. Masks supplied for Covid safety. https://www.clarkart.edu/event/detail/2083-89800 Bring your friends and family, wander the galleries, take a hike, try your hand at drawing, and join us for the dance!
Separately, NBCD is planning to resume our regular second Saturday monthly dance schedule in January 2023.
The organizing committee of North Berkshire Community Dance met last Sunday and decided to return to a holding pattern regarding when we will try to restart dancing. We do not anticipate returning to scheduled indoor 2nd Saturday dances before the end of this year. We will continue to evaluate the pandemic situation, and be very much guided by the experiences of larger and more active organizations in the regional and national contra dance community as they lead the way.
Factors in this decision:
As organizations around the country have begun dancing again, we are seeing a lot of starting and stopping, disagreement and even acrimony about what are appropriate Covid precautions and policies, and in some unfortunate cases, records of dances becoming Covid “super-spreading” events. No doubt that people are ecstatic to be dancing again under responsible Covid policies and we would love to follow their lead, but to our thinking, we have not reached a point where we feel confident that we can organize contra dancing that is joyful and safe.
We decided that it is not useful to keep trying, on a month to month basis, to out-think this pandemic. Every time we think we have figured out what the pandemic is doing, it pulls a new rabbit out of its hat. We want to wait until we feel confident that when we announce the resumption of monthly 2nd Saturday dances, we will not need to be in constant Covid monitoring mode and always prepared to cancel.
We are a small organizing committee and we need every one of us to be enthusiastically on-board and ready to pull together when we announce our first dance. Even as we started making tentative plans to organize our first dances earlier in the summer, it was never clear that we had the internal consensus that we must have to be successful. Thankfully, we have now recognized this, and are content with this decision to let other dance organizations lead the way for us.
We will continue meeting as an organizing committee on a regular basis to monitor and discuss the situation in the broader dance community. We will be getting out to try dancing in nearby communities, ourselves, both to see how they’re doing, and to nurture our own love of and connection with social dancing. We encourage you to do the same, to the extent that you are personally comfortable. Maybe we will see some of you there!
With gratitude to all of you in our dance community!
North Berkshire Community Dance Pat Dunlavey – president Eric Buddington – treasurer Doone Mackay – secretary Kate Abbot Nick Adams John Seto
We (the organizing committee) met this past week to review your responses to our survey about resuming dancing and to consider next steps. Your responses were largely positive, and enough of you indicated that you would like to return to in-person dancing (subject to Covid protocols/cautions) that we decided to go ahead with working out the details of resuming dancing. The biggest “detail” at this time is finding a venue, since the Williamstown Preschool will not not be available to us until some time in the fall due to construction.
As some of you may know, contradancing is starting to appear on the calendar in Greenfield, Worcester, and Lenox (click links for details). Organizing committees like ours are meeting across the region to make decisions about starting dancing again. That said, Covid continues to bedevil. It is likely we will adopt a policy, similar to that used by the Greenfield Guiding Star Grange, of canceling our dances any time Berkshire County falls in the CDC Community Level “High” category.
Here are the survey results:
Indoor dance: Pre-registration with proof of vaccination required. Masks required for both dancers and performers.
We would come! 26
I’m not sure 4
We would not come 6
Outdoor dance: On lawn with caller and open band. Masks required for dancers.
We would come! 28
I’m not sure 5
We would not come 3
Outdoor concert: Seating available, masks optional. Informal (unprompted) dancing on lawn in family groups.
We would come! 22
I’m not sure 9
We would not come 5
We are currently investigating possible venues for both indoor and outdoor dancing and will meet again on May 18th to review. We will keep you posted!
If you would like to help us make the decisions and do the work of restarting dancing, do please contact Pat (413-458-9273).
– Your North Berkshire Community Dance organizing committee:
It was our plan to announce that North Berkshire Community Dances would be resuming on the second Saturday in September. We had begun booking bands and callers. We had a survey prepared to send to all of you to gauge your level of interest and comfort in resuming live dancing with proof of vaccination.
So it is with huge disappointment that we have decided once again to put our plans on the shelf. The rise of the Delta variant and super-spreading events even among vaccinated has forced us to cancel plans for this fall. We hope that our pandemic fortunes change for the new year and we can resume dancing in early 2022. By that time, hopefully, children under 12 should be able to be vaccinated, and overall vaccination levels will get us close to the “herd immunity” level needed to bring community infection rates to a safe level for dancing.
We are also heartbroken at the passing of one of our founding Board members, Maarten Pelligrini. Music and dance were the joys of his too-short life, and he shared that joy with us unstintingly. When we resume dancing, we intend to commemorate Maarten in some way. We will always hold him in our hearts.
Meanwhile, part of our mission is to support dance bands and callers, and we will be paying the bands and callers that we have booked for this fall, whose performances we are having to cancel, 50% of their fee. Your donations to North Berkshire Community Dance will help ensure that we can continue this policy and return to dancing in the spring with a little money in our treasury. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation. Donate via PayPal, or send a check made out to North Berkshire Community Dance to:
Eric Buddington 23 Warren Street North Adams, MA 01247
Please stay tuned to our Facebook page and website for updates on our plans and announcements of events happening in our larger virtual community of dancers, and watch for future emails from us.
Matthew Christian and Max Carmichael playing for our July 2019 dance in Williamstown.
Musicians and callers are almost literally the beating heart of our contra dance community. North Berkshire Community Dance has provided what support it can to them during the pandemic, when much of their livelihood has been taken away. We have continued to line up performers through the summer and fall, and as the pandemic has caused us to cancel those dances, we have compensated the musicians (at half a normal fee). It’s not much, and Lord knows, we don’t pay our performers enough in normal times, but it’s something.
This holiday concert is one small new way we hope to lend some support to our musicians, and it will be great to see all your faces again! Please come, and donate if you can, and enjoy! A night of (virtual) music in the pandemic You may remember fiddler and North Bennington native Matthew Christian, who came up from Brooklyn to perform for us in our first summer. He had planned to lead the band for our December 2020 dance also, but since we can’t have a dance, he’s giving us a concert instead.
“If contra, bluegrass, klezmer, and Woody Guthrie had a baby, it would be this evening of piping hot music,” Chistian says.
You can join the concert on zoom, and we hope you can come and smile with us! The same date and time as our once regularly scheduled dance: second Saturday this month (Dec. 12) at 7:30 p.m., we will get together virtually for a concert.
Tickets will be a $10 suggested donation to support the musicians, and you can contribute through Paypal to email@example.com, or to Matthew-Christian-5 on Venmo or write to 716 Ocean Ave #17, Brooklyn, NY 11226. “I know Ben from college at Bard, where we were half of the student contra dance band the Annandale Ramblers,” Christian says. “Since college, Ben has been a labor organizer, singer and instrumentalist on piano and guitar … and this year Ben and I have collaborated on the Meadowport Arch concert-jam series in Prospect Park.”
Sepcial guests may join them, including Tobi Erner, a Harlem-based social worker whose working-class bluegrass songs speak to her work at the intersections of violence, immigration and pandemic; David Kinder on DADGAD guitar and perhaps an Ella Fitzgerald cover; and Hannah Sloane-Barton, another quarter of the Annandale Ramblers.
We are sorry, but not (now) surprised that we have to cancel our planned fall 2020 community contra dance series. We hope to meet you on the dance floor again in the future. Please be safe and stay well until then.
And enjoy this picture of our January 2020 dance, from the days when we were able to take hands and look in one another’s eyes, all casually.