Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Minutes 11/17/2015

Minutes of the COTMD Board meeting of November 17, 2015
Attending were:
Natalie Weston
John Wetzel
Dianne Britton
Virginia Winn
Connie Robinette
Fred Druseikis
Marguerite Frongillo
Victor Gascon
Poonam Dhull
Tim Piesch
The meeting was opened, and began by approving the minutes of the previous meeting.
Virginia presented the treasurers report.  We lost $111 at our most recent dance (some of this may have been funds disbursed between dances, not funds "lost" at the dance).
The losses at our most recent dance was discussed, this included a long discussion about beginner classes.  The board voted to begin all beginner lessons as close as possible to 7PM, using either the hired caller or any available member of the board, whenever possible, regardless of the size of the group being taught.
The mailing list status was briefly reviewed.
Marguerite presented the current status of her booking efforts.
COTMD booking policies have been completed and posted on our website.
COTMD safety & comfort policies have been completed and posted on our website.
Natalie Weston and Poonam Dhull agreed to serve on the board, and were voted in as members at large.
Recruitment among students was discussed at some length, and Poonam agreed to post wherever she could at USC.
Recruitment among non-students was discussed at length, including many ideas for recruiting from churches and other non student community groups of all sorts.  
The "Summer 2016" agenda item for this meeting was tabled for future discussion.


  1. Tim suggested that we add links to dance videos to our website.
  2. Poonam suggested that we post our dance events on other dance groups Facebook pages (not limited to Contra groups). We already cross-post with Lake Murray and Charleston, but we can expand to include Swing and Ballroom dance organizations, and perhaps even Meetup groups that we belong to.
  3. Connie mentioned the related possibility of joining Midlands Gives with other non profits, to garner some contributions and hopefully a lot of attention.
The next meeting will be on January 12, 2016.
Meeting was adjourned.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Minutes 10/20/2015

Meeting minutes, October 20, 2015


Fred Druseikis
Dianne Britton
John Wetzel
Tim Piesch
Virginia Winn
Connie Robinette
Marguerite Frongillo
Victor Gascon (by phone link)

Victor telephoned in, and called the meeting to order.

The meeting began by approving the previous minutes, as posted in draft form on the
Board blog/website.

The treasurer's report was presented.  We lost roughly $270 at the September dance, and lost $111 dollars at the October dance.  With those losses, plus a substantial donation by an anonymous donor, our available funds (cash+banked) now stand at $3,425.  The treasurers report was approved.

Virginia mentioned that we are expecting a form from CDSS, and John said he had the form in his car, and would continue to recieve mail from CDSS until their database was updated to show Victor as the current point of contact.

Mailing list status was briefly discussed.

Marguerite reported on the booking situation.  This developed into a discussion about the possibility of collaborating with neighboring contra organizations to bring a band called The Contrarians to our region and to our own dance.

The group voted to approve the posting of our booking policy and our Safety and Comfort policy (authored by Victor) on our website.  Victor will post these policies sometime soon.

The issues of REVIEWING MISSION and REVIEWING VISION (from the agenda for this meeting)
have been set aside to be dealt with at a future meeting, owing to difficulties with telephone conferencing at this meeting.

For the same reason, the issue of having a live band and doing a techno contra for the two dances we anticipate having next summer was set aside, to be handled at the next meeting.  This also includes discussion of sharing an event with another dance group, such as the swing dancers.

The current possibilities for recruiting new board members, and the status of that effort, were discussed.

The pressing need to increase efforts to reach out to students was discussed in detail.

The fact that there was no pricing information available on recent iterations of our website presence, and that some folks were confused about whether we were still even collecting required ticket money at dances, was discussed.  We decided it was important for "somebody" (this probably means all of us) to make sure that pricing information is always present and easily findable on any websites, posters, documents etc.  This probably resulted from taking down the pricing info during the "donations only" summer dances, and then forgetting to put them back up.  We discussed the need to make it VERY CLEAR that such arrangements are temporary, if we use them again in the future.

The urgent need to have another meeting to discuss items passed over in this one was discussed.  We decided to have our next meeting on November 17th, 2015

The meeting was adjourned.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Minutes, August 18, 2015


The minutes of the previous meeting (June 30, 2015) were modified using updated financial information, and then approved.

The treasurer's report was presented by Virginia, and we have a total of $1891 in funds available as of the end of July.  There were no new reimbursements.

Victor presented a brief report on our two over-summer dances, which went quite well.

The regular mailing list and the Board mailing list were discussed, and we also decided to combine these two items into one on future meeting agendas.

We discussed publishing our booking policies on our website, and decided to do so, as recently edited by Marguerite.

We decided that our Safety & Comfort policies, which have already been posted at dances, can be posted on our website.

We decided to keep our new caller stand/ladder, even though it is not always needed.

We discussed the need to review (and if needed Write or rewrite) our mission statement, and also to develop a vision for the nearer term.

The "Newsletter" concept was discussed at length.  We decided that in future, that we will forgo newsletter creation and dissemination, and replace this with:
1.  email "notifications" (two per dance), one at 2 weeks and the other at a few days out from each dance, with all essential info in subject line, to minimize the spamming effect.  This to be handled by Dianne.
2.  Fliers, to be created (most likely) twice per season, then posted on our website (and other vehicles) for distribution, but not emailed out (unless requested).  This to be handled by Virginia.
3.  Event photos and videos, to be created on an ad hoc basis, and disseminated via postings to our website and facebook, to be handled by various people as available.

We discussed where our calendar should live, and decided to maintain our calendar on both Google and Facebook.

We discussed what happens when somebody tries to contact us, and decided there is no pressing reason to publicly list our board member names/positions.  We can revisit this decision as needed.

We discussed having a local "combo band" centered on (constructed around) Fred, Dianne and John for the December dance, and that we will almost certainly be forced to hire an out of town band for the June dance.

We discussed having dances next summer, and trying out a live band on one of those dates.  We also agreed that we would need to make a firm decision about that before the end of 2015.

The next meeting is scheduled for September 22, 2015

Meeting adjourned

Friday, July 31, 2015

Minutes, June 30, 2015

ContraCola Board
Meeting Minutes, June 30, 2015 - not yet approved

Meeting came to order: 7:45 pm

Present: Virginia, Marguerite, John, Fred, Dianne, Sandra, Connie (by phone)

Minutes approved.
Reimbursements: none.
Dancers' email list: up-to-date.

Treasurer's report was combined with an analysis of our situation.  Predicted balance for end of June, including estimate of income/expenses for June dance, is $2162.  We had a seasonal loss of $512, which would have been $805 had we not received extra donations.  The extra dance at the end of April was a "wash".  Given our current treasury balance and a loss
rate of approximately $50 per dance, we can operate for another 4 years.

Treasurer's report was approved with amendments to be submitted.

We decided not to change the policy regarding bands and rates.  We plan to combine local bands for a fifth date -- i.e., for the season, five out-of-town bands, two dates each for two local bands, and the combined band on another date.

Marguerite will rewrite the booking policy to be posted on the website.  Connie to continue doing Facebook and social media.

Motion passed: Due to the time crush, we are abandoning the proposed survey for summer dances and we will hold a dance event with caller workshop on the third Saturdays of July and August.

"Dance Etiquette" draft was presented to the Board for posting on the website.  The draft will go out to the board via email for comments to be returned to Victor.  It was suggested that the title be changed from "Dance Etiquette" to "Responsible Conduct".

John brought up whether we should buy a caller platform, and a couple of designs were discussed.  Motion passed: Purchase a two-step stool for approximately $30.

Signatures were added to the thank you letter to the Methodist Church on Heyward Street.  The letter thanks the church for the use of the facilities.  Virginia will deliver the letter to the church.

There is additional parking for the Emerald Ballroom directly across the street.  Virginia will make a sign with the words "More parking" and an arrow.

We discussed the problem of inebriated dancers.  Any confrontation needs to be motivated by behavior or visible evidence of alcohol.  Any such problem will be addressed on an as-needed basis.

Adjourned: 9:30 pm
Next meeting: 8/18/2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Minutes, May 19, 2015

ContraCola Board
Meeting Minutes, May 19, 2015 - approved June 30, 2015

Meeting came to order: 7:40pm

Present: Marguerite, John, Fred, Dianne, Sandra, Tim P., Virginia, Connie, Victor (by phone).

Absent: Kenny

Minutes read and approved.

$1616.92 end of April
$105 loss/dance avg.

Donations received at Emerald Ballroom dance in April.
At current rate of loss, estimate 12-15 dances left.
May dance had a profit of $53.

Virginia presented a table of season costs for bands, sound, callers which showed moderate increase in cost relative to use of out-of-town bands.

Agenda item for next meeting: variety of bands, rate, policy, student rate, etc.

There were no reimbursements requested.

COTMD Board list - no change.  It was noted that this agenda item needs occur annually, in the first meeting following the election of officers and board members.

ContraCola dancer email list: Outstanding updates to the list are to be sent to Dianne.  Dianne is to send email reminder each month to the contracola dancers list.  Victor will research a self-service email list, which will become a future agenda item.

The board voted that the Vice President would be the booker generally.

Connie agreed to be re-added to the slate.

Motion unanimously passed to elect entire slate of officers and members-at-large as amended, to whit:

President: Victor
VP: Marguerite
Treasurer: Virginia
Secretary: John
Members at large: Fred, Sandra, Dianne, Tim P., Kenny, Connie

The booking policy was amended, in agreement with Marguerite.

July and August: It was briefly discussed why we abandoned holding dances in July and August, citing historical poor attendance of dancers and unavailability of key board members during those months.  Victor offered to call dances in July and August of this year for free, using recorded music, if there is enough interest from the dancers.  The dances would also function as a callers' workshop with an "open mike" for would-be callers.  Donations would be accepted but not mandatory.  The dances would be on 3rd Saturday of July and August, with reservations available through EventBrite. To determine a likely attendance number, Victor will put together a survey, pass it through the board for comment, and email it out subsequently.

Virginia read suggestions/feedback on the Demo Dance at Red Bank Elementary

The draft of the document concerning our "slowly developing 'emergency'" needs to be revised for a more positive tone.  Everyone agreed to the "So, What to Do" section, which promotes community.  Sandra and Virginia are to rework this document, written by John, with the intent of disseminating it to the dancers via as many means as possible - email, FaceBook, Twitter, website, etc.

Agenda item concerning our disruptive dancers policy skipped.

Health risks of dancing:  Discussed signatures and a warning sign.  Sandra came up with a wording that we all liked:  "Contra dancing is a strenuous activity!  Please be mindful of your own health and respect your dance partners by dancing safely."

Adjourned: 9:18pm
Next meeting: 6/23

-- Dianne

Friday, May 8, 2015

Minutes, April 21, 2015

Meeting Minutes -- April 21, 2015 - approved 5/19/2015

John W.
Victor G.
Marguerite F.
Fred D.
Sandra K.
Virginia W.

Dianne B.
Kenny G.
Tim P.
Connie R.

Fred agreed to take minutes in Dianne's absence.

Previous Meeting Minutes were approved.

Treasurer's Report:
$1774.92 balance in checking account
$821 loss for dance operations as of 4/21/2015
No Reimbursements
John & Virginia will formulate an e-mail to the dance community regarding our financial health.

List Maintenance:
General discussion about "Who should be able to send to the general e-mail list?"
All board members? or some subset?
There are currently three people authorized.
Add John Wetzel to the general list.

Discussion about potentially setting aside moneys for restart after an extended suspension of operations.
No specific action was decided.

Discussion about our disruptive dancer policy.
Victor will send a recommendation to board consisting of two parts:
(1) what we say about our policy in the way of a small sign at the gate (i.e., one or two sentences);
(2) what we say as a fully elaborated (lengthy, several paragraphs) policy published on our website.

Demo Dance May 9.
Five men, three women volunteers.
It's a Saturday.  But it's also USC Graduation day.
Planning to have flyers at the Emerald Ballroom dance.

Dance at Emerald Ballroom -- drive before we buy.
Prospect of Trinity Cathedral

Slate for next year's Board:

President: Victor
VP: Victor to explore possibilities.
Treasurer: Virginia
Secretary: John
Booker: Margurite

At large members:
Connie ?
Dianne ?
Tim ?
Kenny ?

Carry-over Agenda topics:
Liability declaration vs. signatures taken at the gate.
Booking document to be settled by John, Marguerite, and Virginia.

Next Meeting: May 12, 2015
Location: Virginia's

Friday, March 20, 2015

Minutes, February 10, 2015

COTMD ContraCola Board Meeting - approved 4/21/2015

Meeting convened 7:30-ish

Present: John, Connie, Virginia, Sandra, Fred, Dianne
Absent: Kenny, Tim, Victor, Marguerite

Minutes: Minutes of December 9, 2014 Board meeting were reviewed and approved.

Treasury: The treasurer reported that we have had a $891 loss for the 2014-2015 season so far. January's available balance is $1,737.92.  The treasurers report was approved.

Reimbursements:  There were no reimbursements.

Email lists: Virginia reported that a few additions to the dancer email list still need to be sent to Dianne. The board email list was not reviewed this time.

Scheduling: The need for a local band to play for the May dance was discussed.  Bonne Terre is unavailable to play for it, and whether Cabin Fever can play for it is questionable due to the undecided timing of Fred's upcoming surgery and recovery.  It was decided that if Cabin Fever cannot play in its usual configuration with Fred playing piano, that John would play guitar instead.

Logo and branding: A vote was taken, approving the use of the high-contrast (black and white) "Rhett and Julie" (two dancers doing a contra swing) as our official logo.  When words are used, "Contracola" will be in large-ish letters with, optionally, the phrase "Columbia Traditional Music and Dance" in smaller letters.

Fred volunteered to research the word "contracola" as trademark, to be reported at next meeting.

Financial woes: At the rate we are losing money, there are only 9.75 dances left until we are broke. This led to the following discussions.

a) Raising the use of local bands next season.  Currently we use local bands for four of the ten dancers.  Next season we can raise that to six or eight.
b) Raising student rate.  We would not do this until next season.
c) Emerald Ballroom Special Dance, scheduled for the fourth weekend in April.  The out-of-town band has already been hired.


a) Still trying to contact McKissick Museum representative regarding the AME church which is near Baptist Hospital and is now owned by McKissick Museum as a general arts space.
b) Emerald Ballroom.  In light of our financial situation, we discussed cancelling this dance, even though the band has already been hired.  After much discussion, a vote was taken, the result of which is not to cancel the dance.
c) Discussed possibility of partnering with Lake Murray Contra to put on contra dances.  This led to the topic of liability.  Sandra will bring a copy of the liability document she signs for swing dancing to the next meeting.
d) Sandra noted there is a building, formerly a church, for sale on Two-Notch Road.  John knew of the building and nixed it as a venue for us.

Demos: Thirteen people have signed up so far.  Lucy G. suggests we would need to have twenty dancers signed up to guarantee eight dancers for a given demo event.  Demo signup needs to be announced at each dance.

Facebook: Andrew is Lake Murray Contra's Facebook person.  Connie has communicated with him in an effort to get more Facebook "press" for our group.  She has also communicated with Susan at Lake Murray.

Meeting adjourned at 9:46pm.  Next meeting scheduled for April 14.

Submitted 3/20/2015 by Dianne