- Marketing comes first.
- Marketing drives the product.
- Marketing drives the process.
- Marketing is king.
_In a marketing class I once took, the professor talked about a "Marketing Mantra:"
_We've talked a lot on this blog about marketing crossover contra events to contra dancers, and some of the challenges that come with that. In fact, sometimes to get funding, crossover contra organizers have to frame it as an outreach project. This is all well and good (and generally seems to work), but what is the crossover contra community doing to actually make this an outreach opportunity to welcome more people into the fold?
_Terra Price talked some about how they did just that for last fall's Deca-dance event in Spokane, Washington, and it was apparently effective. On the other hand, I mentioned that to a would-be techno contra organizer while I was in Tennessee and she replied, "You mean advertise it to the gen pop [the general population]?!" while looking at me like I'd just sprouted an extra head and possibly a prehensile tail.
Contra dancers are a niche, and techno contra enthusiasts are a subset of that niche. There have been some really interesting stories coming from people who were DJs first and came into the contra scene second. And I -- as well as other dancers -- have successfully "converted" folks who originally thought contra sounded "too dorky" for them, once I actually
_One of the main tenets of modern marketing is to go to your target and bring them to you, rather than just waiting for them to stumble upon you. To do that, you convince the target that you offer a product that is either original, or is better than the one that already exists. Right now, the movement is focused on marketing itself as an alternative to contra. I think we need to go the other way, too, and present techno contra as an alternative to the club -- that is, somewhere to dance in a different way to the same music, rather than somewhere to dance the same way to different music, as you advertise it to contra dancers. Perhaps the folks in Miami and Saratoga Springs had the right idea, setting their events in taverns and (smokeless, at least in Florida) bars. Relocating the Contra Sonic series to Artisphere (a local arts facility) from Glen Echo Park did attract some new dancers. Having dances in churches and colleges and granges has attracted many people; could there be an untapped (and possibly underappreciated) market in taverns and clubs?
_Spokane (WA) Folklore Society (SFS) board member Terra Price took one look at the now-famous "My Cool" video and said, "I want that!"
"Not only did crossover contra look fun, but nothing like that had been done in this area. I wanted to have the dance, not jut for entertainment but for honor. For once I wanted the Inland Northwest not to be a decade behind the times. Also, I believe that genre mixing is essential to the health of the arts. One only need look back at any number of royal families to see what too much tradition and exclusion lead to."
_Dennis Gagaoin (pronounced "GA-ga-win") was looking though Spokane, WA's Craigslist when he came across an ad looking for an event DJ. "What caught my attention was the emphasis on electronica music, which is what I am particularly fond of spinning," he explains. In fact, DJ Gaga used to host "Spintronica" on radio station KYRS. "Little did I know that it was for a contra dance until Terra Price contacted me about the details." The event in question was Spokane's Deca-dance, held on October 29 and called by Ray Polhemus. I had never even heard of a techno contra but the idea intrigued me, and when I researched it online and saw videos of techno contra events in other parts of the country, I was extremely excited to DJ the event. I thought it was a great concept and I knew I had to be a part of it."
This project has concluded as of mid-2013 (with an epilogue posted mid-2016) but we hope to see you soon on a contra dance floor! Meanwhile, head over to our Facebook page for upcoming techno contra events and other items of interest.
The 100+ Friday Flourish videos can still be found on YouTube.
I dance with abandon. I play with glowsticks. I look for music that is conducive to one or both. I play behind cameras. I write about all of the above. I'm based in Glen Echo's contra dance community outside of Washington, D.C., but I'm happy to go dance afield when I can. Lather, rinse, repeat. Always repeat.
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