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Yes, You May Video, But . . .

By Sandi & Dan Finch

Once upon a time, back when 8-track and Beta constituted the new technology, no one perceived a camera-toting videographer as a threat at a dance event. When you look back at videos taken in the 1980s, you see wide-angle shots of dance floors full of dancers working through the intricacies of a new teach or enjoying old favorites at a party dance.

Somewhere along the way, someone must have complained. It became the policy of dance festival organizers to ban videotaping of general dancing and to allow it only of demonstrators and teachers. What were we afraid of? Who complained? Was it a philandering spouse afraid to be undone by the new moving pictures? Was someone that concerned that a possible mis-step could be recorded for posterity?

In legalese, the concepts of “invasion of privacy” and “misappropriation of one’s likeness for a commercial purpose” were suddenly issues. With any new technology, there are always a few who push the limits. A few tapes appeared for sale without permission of the persons in the recordings, and new policies about videotaping began to appear. When the pendulum swings, it usually goes as far in the opposite direction as possible. To avoid any legal questions, we got what we live with today.

Lately we have been hearing comments like “Isn’t it nice to see those 1980s videos and recognize the dancers on the floor? Why can’t we do that now?” Some of the dancers in the 30-year-old videos we have seen recently are no longer with us. All of us (sadly) look a bit different.

We had to agree: It is fun to see ourselves and friends in The Good Old Days. Those old videos are an historical record. How else will we remember those 100-yard petticoats of the 1980s? What will we have to memorialize the 21st Century of our activity? Does anyone viewing the tapes really “judge” what they see? Aren’t we photographed every day in the grocery, driving through an intersection, by tourists (if you happen to live in Southern California or some other vacation spot)? How much expectation of privacy is there in public these days when video cameras are everywhere?

So, at this year’s Palmquist Palm Springs Round-Up (in September in Palm Springs, CA), we tried an experiment. We announced that general dancing during two specific dances Friday night and two on Saturday could be videotaped, as well as the teaches and exhibitions. Any video made was for personal use only. No one was authorized to make copies to sell. When the two dances open for recording were announced, applause went through the hall. The floor remained full when the music started. When it was over, we were asked to open the entire party dance program for taping next year. Not one person has yet complained or expressed concern. Our pre-registrations for next year were about as normal—by the end of the reviews on the last day, half of those in attendance had already paid to come back next year.

What will be done with the videos that were made? Like in the 1980s, they will go into personal collections, likely to be brought out on occasion for the memories. We would like to think that one will make its way to YouTube, that modern video blog that has made video-sharing an every day expectation. (YouTube has said that 48 hours of new videos are posted every minute to its site.) From there, round dancing can be seen for the fun and elegance that it is, in a modern-day forum where new devotees can find their way into our activity.


Sandi & Dan have dance essays and helps on their site. This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, December 2011. © 2011



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If you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.



If you are not a member of DRDC, do consider joining. The group sponsors quarterly weekends with great dancing and teaching, and the newsletter is one of the most informative available.

Past DRDC Educational Articles by
Jim & Barbara German, ca. 2000-2001
Chris & Terri Cantrell, 2001-2005
Harold & Meredith Sears, 2005-present

Some articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid (see Notebook)



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