Salsa Idea Box

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by toan-hoang, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. toan-hoang

    toan-hoang Descarga


    I have been trying to think of ways to help spread and share knowledge among teachers and promoters in order to assist the scene to grow. Whereas the dance has plenty of resources (Facebook, YouTube, Congresses, Classes etc), the arena of the promoter has very little information. Most new instructors either join an established school (tow the line and have limited creativity) or venture out on their own (trial and error).

    In London over the past few years we have supported and offered assistance and advice to new promoters who wanted to run events who had the passion but not necessary the know how. But last year I decided to take things one step further and put together a website to act as a idea knowledge base that people can contribute to...

    This is not an advertisement for a website as this site was never completed and although I liked the idea I did not think that like this would ever work in Salsa. Think tanks and knowledge bases works in IT and other professional fields from what I have seen.

    What are your thoughts? How can information be shared among promoters and instructors? I personally believe that although the scene is driven by the dancers, it is the instructors, promoters and schools that will primarily grow the scene.

    I would love to know your thoughts,
  2. TwoLeftFeet

    TwoLeftFeet Shine Officer

    I think too many people rely solely on facebook for promo. Most people are now inundated daily by salsa promoters not just in their area but from all over the world, and I for one am sick of it, I have left the vast amount of salsa groups now and removed a lot of promoters/teachers from my friends.

    I think if people went back to a more traditional approach (at least to get newbies) they might have more success.
    EMOYENO likes this.
  3. toan-hoang

    toan-hoang Descarga

    I agree about Facebook being overly used as a promotional tool and do think that p2p (person to person) is the best way for Salsa to go.

    The thing is that most new promoters and instructors do not know any better. There are no business conferences for Salsa, or any avenue for learning more apart from copying what is already there. As an example, we were going to document all the things we did to run our Cha Cha night and then put it online, someone in Singapore could see how we did it and then make some tweaks and do it there. Or someone who loves Cha Cha in the middle of no where can have a go.

    I am actually surprised that TwoLeftFeet is the only one to comment on this thread as 137 have view this thread at the point of this response.
  4. thepresenceon2

    thepresenceon2 Rhythm Deputy

    THe biggest problem might be getting those elements to work together because from a casual look it seems these promoters and schools really see themselves as competitors and I'm not sure you'll be able to convince them to come together to put together business practices that might make them more viable business entities. It's a great idea, in particular if you can find those schools that are successful business ventures locally and separately as a traveling team and impart knowledge that should only help new and old alike . Seems like there is a lot to learn without everyone having to reinvent the wheel. So many people would benefit from advice on brand management and tips on how to grow and nurture a scene from those successful at it.
    EMOYENO likes this.
  5. toan-hoang

    toan-hoang Descarga

    I do have a feeling that most schools are too focused around themselves to look at the bigger picture of how the scene is doing. I very rarely see any activity from any promoter which solely benefits the scene...

    I know that there are bodies for other professional dance community to encourage growth etc. Is this something that might be useful for the Salsa scene?
  6. acpjr

    acpjr Tumbao

    This is an interesting question, because it assumes common goals of promoters or instructors. I wouldn't expect managers of Indian buffets holding conferences to grow the market for Indian buffet patrons.

    The goal is to steal market share not only from your salsa promoter/instructor competitors, but from other forms of social dancing or entertainment - hip hop clubs, Ballroom socials, Swing socials, etc.

    For such a niche market like Salsa dancing, I feel like holding events and promoting them should be a response to growing demand. I think the power to grow a scene mostly rests on instructors and social dancers.

    Why would they care how a scene is doing as long as business is good? Nevertheless, schools and instructors can behave in a way that furthers their business goals and incidentally grow the scene at the same time. As long as business owners are getting together and sharing strategies on how to create new beginners (and not steal them from one another) and retain them, i.e. make the pie bigger, then I think we'd see growth in the scene. One instructor I had, who was very business minded, loved to repeat that "beginners are the lifeblood" of his business. He argued that it makes better business sense to create new beginners and earn their loyalty rather than compete for students from the same pool of people.

    Can you give an example of a body that encourages the growth of a dance community? I would like to visit their website and see what they're all about.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
  7. toan-hoang

    toan-hoang Descarga

    In the UK I use as they provide quite a bit of information about general dance events.

    I personally think that most Salsa communities globally are very small and very interconnected. Therefore, I don't think the actions of one school are independent of the scene as a whole. Comparing Salsa which is a specific and tiny niche of the dance industry is not the same as looking at Indian restaurant business which is a massive global industry.

    Speaking of London, I know that though some people are doing well, but most are reactive as opposed to proactive which has meant that some of the once biggest schools in London have taken a big hit. I really think this is due to 1) Lack of information, 2) Lack of foresight. For me, each time a school closes or a club closes I see this as the scene becoming weaker.

    Yes, it is always best to bring in your own fresh students and do your best to ensure that even though they will eventually go to other places, they will always come back. But as a new promoter, how do you get these new students? what is the best way of doing so? is it better to pay someone to hand out flyers? or invest money in google adwords? or is Facebook more effective for the Salsa scene? We have had to try all of the above and put together our own research base, but it would be good to have something for new promoters and instructors...
  8. nowhiteshoes

    nowhiteshoes Pattern Police

    I agree with the above.

    I knew of one promotor who was a dreadful teacher but had the market in the city and there was another promotor who was more technical + taught on2. When the smaller promotor created an event the established promotor would then create an event on the same night. When the smaller promotor changed nights then so did the bigger promotor to match that night!!!

    One thing I look for is how many people are attending events on Facebook and who is attending. A trick to notice is that when the event was created ie has the owner simply changed the date, giving an artificially high attendance figure. Quite a lot of promotors do this and it fools no-one...althought I have also dropped a few promotors from facebook.

    I'm not a huge fan of fliers but can see this working for a new company.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
  9. acpjr

    acpjr Tumbao

    Very interesting site. For those of you who visited the site, make sure to read their vision statement and see if it applies to this discussion.

    This is obviously true, especially in cities that don't have a large Latino population. Maybe I misunderstood your OP, but I thought you were asking about how information could be shared among promoters and instructors, and I'm saying it doesn't make sense business wise unless your business goals align. If there are many businesses hustling Salsa lessons, and they maintain their existing business and keep generating new business, I think it's inevitable that a strong social scene would emerge.

    These are all very good questions that deserve their own thread. But I think you keep mixing the idea of growing the scene with growing a business, which are related but different things. Yes, strong schools = strong scene, but having a strong scene is a consequence of having strong schools, not a business goal. And if people come in to the game trying to take existing market share, and not grow the market, then yes a potentially weak or stagnant scene may emerge. Again, businesses can behave in a way that further their business goals and incidentally grow the scene at the same time.

    The answers to your questions deserve a separate thread, but here are the things I've witnessed that have worked:
    • ask your beginners to invite their non-dancing friends to class (and offer the first lesson free for the friend)
    • create class levels that require "promotion" in order to advance
    • offer the lower levels free of charge to upper level students
    • have regular open houses with free sampler lessons
    • have regular student performances (adult recitals really cuz they'll invite their non-dancing friends and family)
    As a social dancer you can:
    • always dance with beginners and pretend to like it
    • attend the socials of other schools
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
  10. toan-hoang

    toan-hoang Descarga

    This was actually the very question I have been working on for the past 2 years. Bare in mind that I run my own school, actively compete with other promoters and teachers, I still share my ideas openly and with anyone who asks.

    Taking London as an example I cannot believe that there are more than 5,000 people (give me a lot of rope here) dancing Salsa. This is a city of 10 million people so therefore I do not think that the hundred or so teachers cannot work together for the greater good of the scene as a whole. If the scene became 10,000 people every one would benefit from the promoters to the dancers.

    Again this may be idealistic, but if goals don't align within the Salsa scene there will be massive fragmentation and the salsa dancer suffers. Do you not agree?
  11. nowhiteshoes

    nowhiteshoes Pattern Police

    Sorry, but that will never happen imo. Almost all others promotors won't take that view - maybe the samller ones will be keen :D
  12. salsaflix

    salsaflix Son

    In Scotland there's been a couple of attempts to introduce coordination, though with very mixed success. Things were really bad with clashing events, people not speaking to each other etc. Edinburgh isn't a big scene and clashing nights usually meant two failed evenings while other nights were free. A couple of people made an effort and the Salsaholics website was born, together with a regular email of events.

    Did it make a difference? Well, sort of though this was almost ten years ago so things have ebbed & flowed a bit. There are less clashes, but the scene is still smaller than it was. And politics remains as bad as ever :( with little promotion of the scene as a whole outside the salsa community.

    Coming back to Toan's original point I think there is a case for promoting event management skills. I see some people who try really hard, but phrases about pissups & breweries spring to mind. A few years ago there was a 'Salsa Development Day' before the UK congress which was excellent. Perhaps something like that is needed again?

    Re Facebook I don't think its dead, but open groups will be soon. Success will come to the moderated ones. But I don't think many have got to grips with it can't be just about your and your friends' events. You have to get a reputation for trust & reliability and that means passing on relevant stuff, possible even a competitor's event on a weekend you have nothing on, while filtering out sunglasses and events 1000km away.
  13. salsamarty

    salsamarty Rhythm Deputy

    You can go out just about every night of the week in San Francisco. The weekly scene has been pretty static for a decade with a few changes every 2-3 years. A new club opened up in the underserved South Bay on Monday nights. Word spreads by word of mouth, Facebook, and flyers on windshields. Slowly we've begun to have some monthly socials that are advertised through Facebook, word of mouth, and classes. These compete with the existing clubs but they are smallish events and I don't think they really compete much with the club crowds. There are two promoters in the area that are very successful. One gets a constant stream of newcomers to his club night, salsa cruises, and other events. The other puts on fairly large vinyl DJ parties every couple of months. Everything seems pretty friendly here. Facebook and word of mouth seem to be the effective promotion methods.
  14. acpjr

    acpjr Tumbao

    I am not a business owner nor am I someone who consciously bears the burden of growing the Salsa scene I am a part of. Therefore, I commend you for your efforts and if I ever find myself in London Town I will be sure to attend your events and maybe even take a class with you.

    I'm curious, when you say you run a school, does that a include a physical space which you rent? In Los Angeles, most studios are 'dance' studio. Blocks of time are carved out for different programs, e.g. Hip-Hop, Argentine Tango, Zumba fitness, Swing, etc. A studio may have a very popular program like Salsa and may be known mostly for that program, but it will always sell other types of instruction. Here, even Ballroom studios sell Salsa, even though Salsa is not a standardized dance.

    I'm coming from a point of view that sees Salsa instruction as simply another revenue stream. If I owned a dance studio or bar/pub, and lets say I had Tuesday's and Thursday's 8pm-9pm available, I might pencil in XYZ Salsa company to grab those dollars. In Los Angeles, I've seen Salsa nights at different clubs/restaurants come and go because the venue managers keep kicking out the Salsa promotion for not bringing in enough money.

    I agree to the extent that the fragments are competing for students/attendees from the same pool of dancers. Let's assume your 5000 dancer Salsa scene. I agree 100% that a 10,000 dancer scene would benefit the scene, because those 10,000 dancers would need somewhere to get their fix and thus events would be well attended.

    However, those extra 5000 dancers were non-dancers who were turned into dancers. It's simply good business to keep turning noobs into dancers, then milking them by creating levels for them to advance through. Noobs are the lifeblood of your business. In looking out for yourself, you are looking out for the scene whether you intend to or not. I don't think fragmentation is the problem, I think all schools can work in silos as long as they're all turning non-dancers into dancers.

    EMOYENO Pattern Police

    this sounds a lot like the NYC Scene.
  16. salsaflix

    salsaflix Son

    Wish I could click dislike - its a real shame.
  17. Winston

    Winston Descarga

    Each country has it's development structure. There are always levels of attention in such a structure: international, national, industry, company.

    international - co-operation with other countries and defense against threats (economical as well as war)
    national - things like monetary issues, and allocation of budgets to different industries
    Industry - government and private sector working on collective issues regarding the industry
    company - where the products are made

    A salsa promoter's body is on the industry level. And your initiative is a private sector initiative. It shouldn't be in your hands only to ensure it's success, but must be 'owned' by the industry as a whole.

    Typical things such industry bodies aim for are:
    1. development of quality and
    2. development of quantity.

    Develop Quality means:
    1. better salsa dancers
    2. better salsa parties

    Develop Quantity means: more salsa dancers

    Information dissemination is necessary of course. And such a salsa idea box website is welcome.

    Such an idea box I would loosely base on the different development goals:

    1. better salsa dancers, will require better teachers, teaching standards, a standard curriculum; the idea box could offer a listing of certified teachers.

    2. better parties, will mean better music (standards for DJ's, music installation), better dance floors, better venues, (air-conditioning, restrooms, rooms for changing, parking, accessibility, etc.); the idea box could offer a description of all the clubs.

    3. More salsa dancers. In my opinion the salsa community can only grow substantially if there is good new music, that will reach the pop charts. So there must be good a co-operation between salsa dancers, salsa musicians, and radio shows. A Twilight or Dirty Dancing salsa movie would also help; the idea box could offer a salsa chart, with maybe an award show at the end of each year (best female, male vocalist, best salsa song over-all, best salsa dura, best salsa romantica song, best salsa producer, etc..

    Also incorporate in the salsa industry not only teachers, promoters, dancers, DJ's, club owners, but also musicians, performers, retailers of dance shoes and apparel and hair stylists.

    Foreign policy will include salsa festivals, and relationships with international salsa teachers.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  18. Slowdance

    Slowdance Descarga

    What about non-profit dance groups which are regional?

    In my state ( Mississippi, USA) we have a Magnolia Ballroom Association. They charge dues, which are used strictly to rent out dance floors once a month for a state-wide ballroom dance. But they are friendly with any and all studios in that usually each month a different instructor from a different studio will be invited to give a free class and/or do a little five or ten minute showcase. This has even extended to my instructor who taught a Bachata class, and to a different instructor I know who did a salsa class. This studio-independent member-run Magnolia group creates a (more or less) neutral zone where people from different studios can be seen, promoted, interact, etc, all among a group of dancers who are not, as a whole, loyal to any studio or style.

    Maybe salsa dance lovers who dont run studios could create an independent regional member-run group that does the same kind of thing?

    Also, our studios (ballroom, latin, country) have enough vision of the big picture that at their socials they have announcements briefly and tell people about other events, sometimes even ones scheduled at the same time (in direct competition). So at least studios here try to create an overall dance community vibe.

    It helps. Not sure how useful that would be elsewhere.

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