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Beantown Stomp Retrospective

In April of last year I started thinking about maybe organizing some sort of contra dance weekend in Boston. I've been to a lot of weekends playing with the Free Raisins and I thought it would be fun to bring this format to Boston. In early May I talked to Amy and Audrey, wrote up a description of what I was thinking, and started pitching it to JP and BIDA.

Dates were still up in the air, but looking for times when the Masonic Hall, Amy, and Audrey were all available, and avoiding conflicts with other events, the weekend of March 22nd looked best. I signed a contract with the hall and confirmed with Amy and Audrey in early June, and then sent out a progress report. This started a long process of getting feedback from people on specifics of the weekend, trying to make sure I was thinking about all the things people like and don't like in a weekend.


In October I bought a wagon. It's 38x21", 800lb capacity, with removable sides. I've been able to move an enormous range of things with it. After it helped me get a huge barrel fan to BIDA yesterday, preparing for Beantown Stomp next weekend, I was thinking about how glad I am to have it. Here are some things I've used it for:
  • Your normal out-with-the-kids stuff:

The wagon is
Ten Years

As of about 4pm today, Julia and I have been married for ten years. [1]

I've really enjoyed this time, and am excited for the future. I'm proud of what we've done together, especially raising our kids and helping support the early EA movement, and our steady mutual support is something I value enormously.

Equal Parenting Advice for Dads

It's pretty common for a male-female couple to be intellectually on board with the idea of splitting the work of parenting equally, but then for the mother to end up doing a lot more. There's a lot in our society that pushes towards mothers having primary responsibility for kids, and it can be a very easy rut to fall into even if it's not what you want.

Pregnancy and birth are very asymmetric, and then breastfeeding continues the pattern: nursing isn't going to be equitable. This means night feedings, more ability to calm the baby, and even just her smelling more familiar to them. While this asymmetry isn't permanent, it pushes you towards starting with an unequal division.

Then with parental leave it's very common for the mother to take more time off work than the father. Many jobs give more leave to birth parents, and someone who has just given birth often needs substantial recovery time. Fathers commonly earn more than mothers and so if leave is unpaid many couples can afford more if the mother takes it than if the father does.

If you're the dad, what can you do? I see two main aspects: sharing the work, and sharing the parenting.

Beantown Stomp: Low Fragrance

In an effort to welcome dancers who are sensitive to fragrances, many contra dances have decided to go fragrance free. For example, the Concord MA Thursday dance flyer has:

Similarly, the JP contra dance says "These Dances are Fragrance free", linking to the Houston dance fragrance free policy.

One thing that isn't very clear in a lot of this is what sort of expectations the organizers have for their dancers. Writing about what it means to be "fragrance free" can range from just "no perfume/cologne" to something much more thorough like Think Before you Stink, which includes not using public laundromats and quitting smoking.

On top of this, it's common for organizations to have these policies and then not enforce them. If you advertise an event as fragrance free, include in a linked policy (that most dancers won't read) that, say, dandruff shampoo (as JP does) is not allowed, and then someone shows up having washed their hair in dandruff shampoo, what happens?

Beantown Stomp: Handling Registrations

Now that Beantown Stomp has sold out and we're on to a wait list, I wanted to quickly document how I've been handling registration. It's not perfect, but it works decently well.

People register by filling out a Google Form at which then drops their answers into a spreadsheet. I have the form configured to send me notification emails when people register, and I handle these about once a day.

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