Blues Organizer Dinner at bluesSHOUT! 2017

After the success of our first blues organizer dinner at bluesSHOUT! 2016, we decided to bring together organizers again. While the previous year we generated discussion topics based on crowd-sourcing, this year we started with a specific theme to guide all of our discussions. We then selected sub-topics, generated several starter prompts, and invited knowledgeable organizers to lead each discussion.


How can organizers curate positive environments for our scene to grow?

Organizers are the people responsible for creating and maintaining the environment for our scene to thrive: we create places for people to dance every week, to gather at weekend events, to learn at workshops, and to celebrate talent through hosting competitions. Our decisions affect our community by choosing venues, schedules, competition types and formats, instructors, DJs, and live bands. This year, our goal was to discuss how organizers can create positive environments in a few different situations: annual events, local events, competitions, and the creation of community.


We started with several breakout discussions. Here we discussed each topic with the goal of coming up with as many actionable items as possible. We then came together for one big discussion where where each group shared their main points to everyone.


Annual events: Caroline Leitschuh from RDU Blues

  • How to organize a successful event for your community/target audience
  • What types of events help our community?

We are currently missing the notes for our annual events discussion

Local events: Krystal Wilkerson and Briana McIntire from Backwater Blues

  • What are the hallmarks of a successful local scene?
  • How can you avoid organizer burnout?

Competitions: Katie Belsky and Ross Blythe

  • How can we organize successful competitions that promote good blues dancing?
  • How can we make competitions a positive experience for competitors?
  • How can we make competitions a positive experience for non-competitors?
  • Competition levels (all-star, novice/newcomer)

We are currently missing the notes for our competitions discussion

Community: Kara Fabina

  • How do we promote positive behavior in our communities?
  • What are the hallmarks of a positive community member?


We had 35 participants representing 20 different scenes. All but one of these scenes were in the US, we had one representative joining us from Sydney, Australia!

You can also zoom in on just the United States to see the different scenes represented. California and the NE corridor dominated our participants.

The above maps were created in Tableau, thank you Josh Davis for helping me better understand this software!

The Notes

All (available) notes are publicly available in my Blues Resources on Google Drive.


Laura hails from New York City where she runs around like a chicken with her head cut off as a part of Blues Dance New York. She likes tea, twirly dresses, and spreadsheets.

Kelly lives in sunny Los Angeles with a pooch lovingly called Demon. She once accidentally organized a mini-exchange for a surprise birthday party.

Kenneth resides in Nashville where he organizes both a workshop event and a weekend exchange pretty much out of thin air through Blues Dance Nashville.

Thanks to everyone who came out! This is turning into an annual tradition to bring organizers together.