Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to Add Members to the ContraCola Mailing List

1. Log in at as the contracola user. (Or if you are already logged into, type "" in the address bar of your browser, and hit "Enter".)

2. Click on "My Groups", then click on the "Manage" link under "Columbia Traditional Music and Dance".

3. Under Members (on the left-hand side of the page), click on "Direct add members".

4. Enter the new email addresses in the "Enter email addresses to add as members" box.  Include each person's name (enclosed in double-quotes) and email address (enclosed in angle brackets). You can add several people at once (up to 10 at a time), one person per line, with a comma between each person:

"John Smith" <>,
"Jane Doe" <>

5. In the "Write a welcome message" box enter text similar to "This is a general announcement list. You will normally get only one or two emails each month, one of which will be a reminder for the upcoming dance."

6. Make sure the radio button for "All email: send each message as it arrives" is checked.

7. Click the "Add members" button.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Minutes 12/8/09

Virginia Winn (hostess)
John Wetzel
Dianne Britton
Fred Druseikis
Marguerite Frongillo
Lucy Gordon
Stephanie and Scott McCravy

Previous minutes approved.

Treasurer's Report:
We had 66 dancers in attendance at November's dance. We have $343 from that dance, and combined with what is already in the bank, we now have $1001 total. Scott has not yet deposited the $343 into the bank as of yet (12/8/09). Much discussion ensued when Lucy brought up the idea of creating what is essentially a savings or emergency fund for either unforeseen costs (i.e. hall rental increases) and/or projects that would benefit the organization. Everyone agreed that we should have such a fund, but we have not decided how such a situation would be managed. One idea is that we would put a percentage from each dance in which we are in the black. Another idea is that we would put a percentage of our yearly profits after the current dance season is over. After much discussion, Fred volunteered to compile data from the previous two dance seasons and come up with percentages that reflect our financial situation, so that we can address this issue more fully. Treasurer's Report is approved.

Form 990
John is going to call CDSS to see if we need to coordinate our fiscal year to theirs, which runs January to January. He can't submit the electronic form until after January 1st. There is a possibility we may need to change our bylaws.

Reunion Dance List
John, Dianne, and Connie have compiled their respective lists, so all that needs to be done is to incorporate Lucy's information and trim down the information to exclude people who will probably not be able to come, i.e. those who live too far away.

Email + Reply To
Dianne will separate the reply functions so that we can respond to either the individual or the entire group. Note that if you only reply to the individual, your response will not be archived. You must Reply All for the information to be archived.

Musician Outreach + New Caller Outreach/Community Development
John, Fred, and Dianne decided to come up with individual ways to garner new musicians. Fred suggested creating opportunities for musicians by having one or two dances a year where "guest" musicians can play, so that they can get experience playing music in a dance setting. Lucy brought some information on CDSS about the grants, etc. that they offer for callers and musicians.

Virginia reports that we do have one person who is interested in learning to call, but the person has not been contacted. We decided to put this person in contact with Kenny and/or Patrick to see what develops. Although Kenny lives out of town and Patrick has not officially called any dances there is potential there for developing a new caller. We could also invite the person(s) interested in calling to one of the dances where Kenny will be calling, so that he might begin showing/mentoring them. Fred and Lucy suggested having more active New Dancer's Workshops, where experienced dancers explain and teach the various dance moves. This could also become the first step in training new callers, so that they would not feel as if they were going in "cold", so to speak.

Lucy proposed that we get a more concrete organization of volunteers to do such things as helping new dancers. We could put some defining mark on the name tags, or create a special button so that experienced dancers who volunteer are easy to identify. Virginia suggested that we add the requests for volunteers on Connie's Facebook and Twitter accounts. Virginia also mentioned that she knows a freelance writer who may come and do a writeup of the dance for one of several publications.

Next meeting is scheduled for February 9, 2010.

Meeting adjourned at 9:37PM.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Minutes 11/10/09

Stephanie and Scott McCravy
John Wetzel
Dianne Britton
Fred Druseikis
Virginia Winn
Connie Robinette (hostess)

Previous minutes approved.

Connie reported that the schedule looks good regarding bands and callers.

We briefly discussed the musician outreach idea and decided that John, Connie, Fred, and Dianne would continue to head/develop such a committee.

John will take care of the Form 990 situation, which requires submission of a statement regarding our financial gross within three months of our fiscal year. This would mean that the statement needed to be submitted by October. John also suggested we set some kind of reminder in place so that this form get filed on time.

Treasurer's Report: We currently have $658, and we need over $700 for hall and organization fees. As a result, we will defer any extraneous spending. Treasurer's Report approved.

Website Status:
Dianne reported that the website looks good and the transition is going well. The emails are in the system, and Dianne can inform others on the board on how to add emails and send out announcements. She will continue to do the announcements and the Q & A portion of the website.

Community Development/Membership Committee:
Virginia and Lucy are still collecting and updating emails. Virginia provided samples of the outreach CDs that may require editing. There is also a signup sheet for volunteers at the community development table in addition to email signup. We discussed splitting the Publicity Committee from the Community Committee, but as of now there are not enough people to split these functions up.

Fred discovered that the Free Times are not so free for people wanting to place ads, so that venue is not viable for our organization. We discussed Public Service Announcements as another publicity device, but those are not viable either. However, WUSC is run by students at their own discretion, so perhaps Marina could plug COTMD when she is on-air. Fred and Dianne agreed to ask her opinion on this idea.

Reunion Dance:
Fred suggested that we use the idea of a reunion dance but not the function. Essentially we would promote one of our regularly scheduled dances as a "Reunion Dance" to hopefully bring out dancers whom we haven't seen for a time, while giving our regular dance a little something extra. We decided to dig up the old email list to send out to board members, so we could all go through the names and compile a new list with updated information of former regulars to notify.

Our next meeting is scheduled for December 8, 2009.

Meeting adjourned at 8:56PM.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How to Make a Flier Available

We're assuming  that there is a post somewhere on the website that is tagged with the label "Fliers" and which includes a link to our "Fliers" folder at Google Docs.

We'll also assume that somewhere on your computer you have a flier, stored as a .pdf file, that you want to make available to people for distributing.  After you upload your flyer, it will be available from the afore-mentioned post tagged with "Fliers".

To upload your flier:
  1. Log into using the contracola  google account.
  2. Click on the "Upload" button (upper left-hand side of the page).
  3. Select one or more files on your computer, using the "Select files to upload" link.
  4. Select the publicly viewable "Fliers" folder: click on the "No folder" button, then select "Fliers".
  5. Make the fliers themselves public: click on the "Private" button, then select "Public on the Web".
  6. Click the "Start Upload" button.
If you need a link to the newly-uploaded file, do this:
  1. When the upload is complete, click on the "Back to Google Docs" link.
  2. Navigate to your newly-uploaded file, right-click on the file name, move your mouse to "Share", then to "Get the link to Share".

Monday, November 2, 2009

How to Send to the Mailing List

The general mailing list for dance announcements corresponds to the membership of the "contracola" google group, i.e.,  We are careful to send to this group using the contracola gmail account (, so that we can tell people what email address will be sending them reminders.

So, to send an announcement to the mailing list, simply log into the contracola account ( at (or and compose an email to

An easy way to send a reminder for the next dance is to copy the dance announcement (including the picture, if any) from and paste it into the email to be sent to the mailing list.  If you include the blog announcement title in the message body, it becomes a link to the website.  You can also use the title as the subject of the email.

How to Post an Announcement for the Next Dance

There is really no need to keep old announcements around, so the easiest way is to simply edit the previous dance announcement, changing the title, date, and details, as necessary.

Go to
  • If  "Sign In" appears in the upper right-hand corner, login by clicking on "Sign In".  Then click on "Edit Posts" for "Columbia Traditional Music and Dance". 
  • If, on the other hand, "Sign out" appears in the upper right-hand corner, you are already logged in.  In this case, click on "New Post", click on "Edit Posts", and click "OK" in response to the  "Are you sure you want to navigate away from this page?" popup.
Locate the "Announcements" link  in the list of labels on the left and click on it.   This will bring up a list of all posts that are tagged with the label "Announcements".  Click on the "Edit" link for the previous dance announcement, and wait a little until the wysiwyg ("what you see is what you get") editor appears.

Make the necessary changes to the title and body of the announcement.  Note that you can preview as often as you like by using the "Preview" link.

When you are satisfied with how the announcement looks, set the publishing date to the current date:  click "Post Options" and choose "Automatic" under "Post date and time".

Click "PUBLISH POST", then click "View Blog" to see the final result.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Responding to Mailing List Replies

Occasionally, an announcement sent to the mailing list may result in some recipients sending a reply.  The mailing list has been set up so that replies go to contracola gmail, where we have set up a filter to forward them to a COTMD board member, usually someone on the Community Outreach committee.  (This is similar the way we handle emails from the "Contact Us" form.  Usually the person handling the mailing list replies is the same person who handles the "Contact Us" emails.)

If you are the person assigned to respond to the mailing list replies, here's what you do:
  1. Make sure your email client doesn't treat these messages as spam. Note that all these messages have a subject that begins with "[Contra Columbia] Re:".
  2. When you receive an email message that is a reply to a mailing list announcement, don't reply directly from your own email account, as your reply may wind up being treated as spam.  Instead, log into the contracola gmail account to reply.
  3. Each mailing list reply in the inbox will be starred to help you see which messages need a reply. After replying to each starred message, un-star it (by clicking on the star next to the message in the inbox) to indicate the message has been replied to.
  4. Your replies will be received as having come from "Columbia Traditional Music & Dance", i.e., the contracola gmail account.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Minutes 10/20/09

Minutes provided by Lucy Gordon as posted by Stephanie McCravy, secretary:

CoTMD Board Meeting Minutes: October 20, 2009

Present: John, Connie, Dianne, Fred, Lucy, Virginia
Absent: Stephanie, Scott, Marguerite, Patrick, Kenny
(it was duly noted that neither Patrick nor Kenny had
received notice of the meeting, and this will be corrected
in the future).

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM.

Old Business:

Previous board meeting minutes were approved (are posted on web).

Treasurer’s report: Deferred
Discussed need to complete IRS form (John will work with Scott) and for a “reminder” system for future years. Dianne will start a calendar system on website (?) to prompt important functions.

Arsenal Hill Building: CoTMD will be able to continue to use the building at the current rate and has dates booked through June of 2010. We have received confirmation of this arrangement in writing; Connie will post the letter or copy for other board members. Since there is no guarantee this arrangement will continue past 2010, we discussed the advisability of both planning for a potential rent increase, and continuing to pursue other venue options.

New Business:
Allocation of resources: Discussed the benefit of utilizing local caller(s) more often, which would both support their development and possibly allow for an additional out of town band. Voted to allow Connie to contract with a third out of town band for this season. Connie has a number of new bands and callers lined up and is working on completing the schedule. Discussion of issues involved and ideas for potential candidates. We will also reconsider changing the week of our monthly dance next season to allow us to coordinate bands/callers with Charleston dances, which are now held on the first and third Fridays.

Website/E-Mails: Discussed the issue of limiting the number of e-mails that go out. Dianne is working on a new system that will allow more discretion/control so that information can be posted without automatically going out as an e-mail. There will be a separate e-mail list and the address will be : (?). Virginia has been working on the updating of a new/current e-mail list from the sign-ups at the dances. It was discussed that, for the time being, we may want just one person (Dianne for now) to manage e-mails going out and pictures that will become part of the slide show. Other pictures may be posted to albums. We have had very positive feedback re: the new site.

Community Development/Membership Committee: Still working on recording called dances for development of outreach/education program. Virginia continuing to compile new contact information. Discussed concerns re: decreased publicity (see Publicity Committee below). Continuing to try to get brochures into businesses and appeal to Free Times to re-instate listings.
Discussed idea of a “Reunion Dance”: i.e., targeting a dance(s) to appeal to former dancers/more experienced dancers and ways of attempting to recruit former dancers back into the dance community. Virginia will send out copies of the old e-mail list. Each board member will review and mark persons which they know/might contact. We will share these at (next?) board meeting and make a plan for contacting.
We will bring brochures to dances and ask members to take them to post wherever appropriate.
We need to also continue to announce our goals and volunteer needs at each dance. Virginia has done a super job with bulletin boards, nametags, posters, contact lists, etc.and sprucing up our environment. We also have the best food around, as well as now one of the best websites.

Discussed the need for further development of a committee structure, and the need to recruit more dance members/volunteers in order to accomplish goals. So far we have identified the need for either committee or contact person to organize:

New Musicians/Bands—John will head.

New Callers---Possibility of inviting Marolyn and/or Kenny to help.

Publicity Committee—separate from membership/community development committee, to focus specifically on more exposure in papers, community bulletin boards, networking, etc. This has become increasingly difficult. We, and others, are no longer getting listed in Free Times; despite various approaches; we are listed on their website only. It is unclear if we are listed in The State. Discussed ways of getting more publicity, possibly an article written. Possibility of visiting Free Times office discussed, as well as whether we may have to pay for an ad.
Also discussed possible networking with other dance groups re: shared goals (i.e., publicity/ads; dance calendar on web; mutual promotion with brochures, etc.).

Next Board meeting scheduled for November 10th. We will plan to hold board meetings on second Tuesdays so that people can plan for them. Also discussed the need to meet on a more regular basis for the time being, until we get our foundation/plan/etc. more firmly established. Tentatively scheduled for meetings on Dec. 8th and/or Jan. 10.

After much lively discussion and delicious desserts graciously provided by Connie, the meeting adjourned at 10-something.

Respectfully submitted,
Lucy Gordon

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How to Contribute Photos to the Slideshow

The slideshow that appears in the sidebar of the website is comprised of the photos in the ContraCola Collection, one of the Picasa albums owned by the contracola google account.  These photos also appear across the top of the website.

All board members can contribute to the ContraCola Collection,  and should have received an invitation with the following links:

ContraCola Collection
created Aug 16, 2009
by contracola
View Album
Play slideshow
Contribute photos to this album

You may edit any photos you contribute, including adding captions.  When adding a caption, please do not include the last names of people.

If you are a board member and have a problem contributing photos, please add a comment to this post and explain the problem.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Dance Venues - What to look for

At the risk of repeating or presenting the obvious, I decided that, rather than just give dimensions of spaces that would work, I would give a complete description of our requirements. This can then be sent on to folks who may know of a place, to see if it would be suitable.

The space we now dance in is about 35 X 65 (35 feet wide and 65 feet long, stage excluded). The space is more than adequate for a single line, and just a tad crowded in width for two lines. The ratio of width to length is about right, with the length being double the width. That being said, the ideal hall for our group, allowing for more people if a bigger hall came up, would be something like

40 X 80 (two lines) to 60 X 120 (three lines).

These dimensions EXCLUDE the stage, or the space where a stage would have to be. In other words, a stageless room would have to be extra long to accommodate a band, while maintaining the ideal one to two ratio for the dance floor itself.

In fact, these two sizes, and the ranges in between, represent pretty much the lower and upper limits of what we are shooting for. Our current venue is slightly smaller than the small dimension, and is just a bit crowded when our attendance is optimum. Anything larger, like a basketball gym, runs the risk of even a very well attended dance seeming "empty'. In Charlotte, this problem was so effective in robbing the dance of energy that the dance organizers ended up dividing the space in half, and using only half of the floor, just in order to give the dance the right "feel".

So, the desired dimensions of the open space available just for dancers (band and doorkeeping excluded) is at or somewhere between these dimensions:

40 X 80 (two lines) to 60 X 120 (three lines)

The other "must have" requirements are:
  • More or less centrally located
  • Safe and adequate parking area and environment around venue (lighting etc.)
  • Good air conditioning system and/or openable windows.
  • Working restrooms
Considerations that are not requirments, but which are important:
  • Flexibility of the flooring. Suspended floor, regardless of cover, is ideal. Wooden floors are hardly better than concrete if they are on concrete (ie, inflexible). Any non slab floor is preferable to any floor on a slab, but, obviously this excludes carpeted floors, which are totally unsuitable.
  • Ambience - All other things being equal, room esthetics are important. Rooms that look like a prison cafeteria are obviously not what we really need, whereas rooms/spaces that already contain artwork or other esthetic advantages are preferable.
  • Sound Considerations: As rooms get larger, it becomes more and more important to try and avoid large hard flat walls, because they muddy the sound of music and make good timing diffucult for the musicians and dancers. Rooms that have this problem, but which can easily be modified by hanging blankets, are preferable to similar spaces which we would not be allowed to modify.
Most of us know from experience what makes a good dance hall, with the exception that some of us may have never had the chance to dance on a suspended floor that can really "give" during a balance. That issue makes a huge difference to the energy of a dance, because a hard balance is impossible on a slab floor, unless you want to wreck your knees and ankles. Anyway, enough blather. Go forth and hunt......
John Wetzel

How to Update the Schedule

Go to
  • If  "Sign In" appears in the upper right-hand corner, login by clicking on "Sign In".  Then click on "Edit Posts" for "Columbia Traditional Music and Dance". 
  • If, on the other hand, "Sign out" appears in the upper right-hand corner, you are already logged in.  In this case, click on "New Post", click on "Edit Posts", and click "OK" in response to the  "Are you sure you want to navigate away from this page?" popup.
Locate the "Schedule" link  in the list of labels on the left and click on it.   This will bring up a list of all posts that are tagged with the label "Schedule", hopefully just one post.  Click on the "Edit" link for this post, and wait a little until the wysiwyg ("what you see is what you get") editor appears.

Make whatever changes are necessary, preview as often as you like (using the "Preview" link), and when you are satisfied with how it looks, click on "Publish Post".

Finally, click on "View Post" to see the final result.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Minutes 8/18/2009

Connie Robinette
John Wetzel
Marguerite Frongillo
Lucy Gordon
Virginia Winn
Fred Druseikis
Dianne Britton
Stephanie and Scott McCravy

Host: Connie Robinette

Previous minutes were accepted as written.

Treasurer's report indicated we had a net profit of $342 with $954 in the bank account. Dianne paid $160 with her credit card and was later reimbursed from the treasury. All treasury paraphernalia passed to Scott, as he is the new treasurer. The board decided that both John and Scott's names should be on the CDSS account, while Scott's home would be the mailing address. The dance halls have been paid through January. Treasurer's report accepted by board.

Lucy and Virginia reported their progress with the Community Development Committee. Ideas included doing demo dances to increase awareness and understanding, setting up a public relations table at every dance, actively helping newcomers during breaks or in workshop, asking people to donate food for the dances and following up such donations with thankyou notes to encourage a sense of community. In addition, we should also try to arrange other activities as a community. Their overall goal is to make people feel like members, not guests, so that they will invest more into our dance community.

Dianne then presented her powerpoint presentation of the new website/blog. The site performs all the tasks we need much more efficiently than the old website. We are able to upload pictures, post bulletins and announcements, manage email, and post business information for board members. Lucy and Virginia agreed to answer email queries. Motion to accept the website plan was passed.

Our final agenda item dealt with our issues with Parks and Recreation. The fact that we take money at the door is causing some problems with renting the hall from Parks and Recreation. Should we pursue the issue with P&R or simply try to find a new place to hold the dances? John's suggestion is that we do both, since it is difficult to find a non-City building to rent. Lucy suggested that we find an ally on the City Council who will help resolve our issues with Parks and Recreation. In the meantime, all board members are on the look-out for prospective new venues. John set forth our requirements and agreed to email us with said qualifications.

The next board meeting is tentatively set for October 20, 2009.

Meeting adjourned at 9:51PM.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Responding to Contact Us

The "Contact Us" form sends an email to contracola gmail, where we have set up a filter to forward all such emails to a COTMD board member, usually someone on the Community Outreach committee. If you are the person assigned to respond to the email from the "Contact Us" form, here's what you do:
  1. Make sure your email client doesn't treat these messages as spam. Note that all these messages have a subject that begins with "Kontactr".
  2. When you receive an email message generated by the contact form, don't reply directly from your own email account, as your reply may wind up being treated as spam.  Instead, log into the contracola gmail account to reply.
  3. Each Kontactr message in the inbox will be starred to help you see which messages need a reply. After replying to each starred message, un-star it (by clicking on the star next to the message in the inbox) to indicate the message has been replied to.
  4. Your replies will be received as having come from "Columbia Traditional Music & Dance".

Friday, August 21, 2009

Website Setup Overview

Our organization's domain is "", and links to our website.  In the interest of using free resources as much as possible while allowing the board members to easily contribute, we have reorganized our web setup, basing it mostly on a Google account, as outlined in this brief overview.

Our organization's Google account name is "contracola". The contracola password is not to be shared outside the COTMD Board and is changed periodically.

The Google account is used to access a number of services:
  • GMail (email) - or
  • Blogger (replacing former website) - (schedule, directions, dance info, dance announcements) and (bylaws, minutes, board-related stuff) - these will eventually be named as subdomains of
  • Google Calendar (calendar) - accessible after logging into Google
  • Google Docs (documents) - accessible after logging into Google
  • Picasa Web Albums (photos) - accessible after logging into Google
  • Google Groups (mailing list) - accessible after logging into Google
When another third-party service provider is involved, we set up a similarly-named account. And example is the service provider for our "Contact Us" form:
There are/will be separate articles on how we use these various services.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Google Calendar

Can we get the Google Calendar (below) to display more than two months of events? Or can we connect to other dance groups Google calendars?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Google Groups Test

Google Groups

Subscribe to COTMD Board


Visit this group

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Schedule for 2009-2010

All dances below are held at Arsenal Hill.

Sep 19, 2009 - Cabin Fever w. Kenny Greer calling
Oct 10, 2009 - BonneTerre w. Marolyn Floyd calling
Nov 14, 2009 - Cabin Fever w. Kenny Greer calling
Dec 12, 2009 - Anna's Bananas w. Shelley Worman calling
Jan 9, 2010 - BonneTerre w. Dean Snipes calling
Feb 13, 2010 - Whistlin Rufus w. Doug Singleton calling
Mar 13, 2010 -Cabin Fever w. Kenny Greer calling
Apr 17, 2010 - BonneTerre w. Marolyn Floyd calling
May 8, 2010 - Hungry Monks w. David Glick calling
Jun 12, 2010 - Cabin Fever w. Marolyn Floyd calling
Jul - no dance
Aug - no dance