August 1, 2009
I'm sending this general email to those of you whom I have email addresses for in the hopes that you can get the word out that West Coast festival organizers have decided to move dancing back into the Martinique Room for the upcoming West Coast Ragtime Festival. After a lengthy day of meetings with Red Lion yesterday, we determined that we can fit a large rectangular dance floor (it will be 40' long by 20' wide) in the far left corner of the Martinique Room so that dancing can take place there during the festival. We will still use the room for special shows, soloists, and groups. West Coast needs the space as its largest performance venue for the special show features (such as the upcoming "Ragtime - 1909!" show) and for other popular festival performers, so we need theater-style seating in the room in front and on the sides of the stage, but I am hopeful that dancers will be happy with a large dance floor on the far left side in the room. We determined that dancers can see the stage just fine from that area of Martinique, so they should be able to see the special shows from the dance floor.
I see the Martinique Room now as an "all purpose room" for the upcoming festival. It will have both theater-style seating and dancing taking place at the same time during the festival.
I need the dancers to understand that not all of the performers in Martinique will be able to construct their sets purely for dancing, but I think that we can schedule enough groups and performers who enjoy playing for dancing in the Martinique Room to hopefully make this work. Also, since the Martinique Room will continue to be a scheduled as a concert hall type venue, I will need the dancers to understand that it won't be a set-up with tables & chairs for talking & visiting, so I'm hopeful that dancers are okay to do that in the lounge venue or outside the room. Red Lion will provide a few tables & chairs near the dance floor for dancers to put their purses, etc. but we don't have the room for tables & chairs for socializing in Martinique Room. I hope we can all work with this okay.
Although we had thought that the Sierra Room would be large enough for dancing, we determined that we could get a larger dance floor in the Martinique Room and not compromise the theater-style seating, so Martinique is the better room.
We are planning that dance instruction will take place again in the J.B.'s Lounge venue, as the attendance for dance instruction warrants a smaller space and we like the central location of the J.B.'s Lounge venue. With this compromise dancing will be permitted in the Martinique Room during all festival events that take place in Martinique, but dance instruction will be in the lounge. Click here for the Dance Instruction Schedule.
The Sat. evening "Grand March" will again be in the Martinique Room. Since it will follow the Sat. evening show, it may start a little later than in past years (perhaps more like 8:30 pm instead of 8:00 pm) to allow time in the room to set-up the Fresno Marching Band and the Pacific Coast Ragtime Orchestra. We are increasing the size of the staging in Martinique to accommodate larger groups on the stage.
We feel that this is the best solution to hopefully keep our dancers happy with the bigger and more preferred dance floor in Martinique and by opening up this space for dancing during the whole time in the room, dancers will not miss any big special events, plus hopefully feel more a part of the special events happening at the festival.
I'm hopeful that you can get the word out to dancers about this. I'm also hopeful that you'll all agree that this is a positive change for the festival and for dancing at the festival.
Also, we will keep J.B.'s Lounge venue open for dancing, too, but it will not be the main dance venue. I will be sure that the various ragtime groups do play in the lounge venue, too, and that dance music will take place in there when Martinique has to close for piano tuning.
Please let me know if you have any questions. (Click here to forward a message to Virginia.)
I hope to see you all in November in Sacramento!