Blog

First Friday FAQ

Starting on November 4, 2022, the Flying Shoes First Friday Dance Series will be at the First Church in Belfast UCC, with the original format and schedule:

  • 6:00 pm ~ All Comers Band warms up
  • 6:30 pm ~ Community Dance with music by the All Comers Band and calling by Chrissy Fowler and Lisa Newcomb
  • 7:30 pm ~ Social Break
  • 8:00 pm ~ Contra Dance with various musicians and callers

Why the FAQ?

It’s been a very long time since First Fridays looked like this (32 months, in fact!) Some things have changed, and other things remain the same. We hope this FAQ will be useful to old-timers and new folks alike, as we joyfully tie on our flying shoes.

Why so much information?

Well… we know it’s kind of over the top, but we want to be transparent about communicating various aspects of First Fridays, from the comfortably familiar to the brand new. We welcome input from our community; send an email if you have questions or want to offer constructive feedback.

What is in the BFS Community Care Policy?

Available via links on the BFS website, the Community Care Policy articulates our nonprofit’s guiding principles and values, asks people to do three things (act with kindness, respect our chem free status, and be responsible), makes note of special considerations related to illness, and outlines what BFS will do with respect to the topics in the policy.

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What is the Community Dance?

Fun and simple dances for all ages, such as those presented at weddings or schools. Calling by Chrissy Fowler and Lisa Newcomb. Music by the All Comers Band, led by a core ensemble and open to all musicians. New dancers, experienced dancers, families, and musicians all collaborate to create the event.

What is the Social Break?

A sociable half-hour between the Community Dance and Contra Dance, with emphasis on strengthening community connections through shared conversation.

What is the Contra Dance?

Zesty dances and tunes in a program of contras and other dances presented by a variety of talented callers and musicians. All participants collaborate to create the event.

How can I help to make these Flying Shoes dances happen?

  • Volunteer Many hands make the shoes fly! To lend your hands for dances or other programs, and to learn about ways you can help, complete the BFS volunteer info form or send us an email.
  • Contribute Tax-deductible donations to the BFS Annual Appeal provide critical support to our small nonprofit and its many programs, including dances. Find out more at belfastflyingshoes.org/support.
  • Become a First Friday SponsorThese local businesses are First Friday Sponsors in 2022: The Green Store, Coyote Moon, First National Bank, First National Wealth Management, Thomas Fowler Professional Engineer, and (of course!) Colburn Shoe Store. Let us know if you want to be a sponsor in 2023!

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Where is the dance? 

The fellowship hall at the First Church in Belfast, UCC, located at 8 Court Street*, Belfast ME with entrance on Spring Street (to the left of the rainbow flag in photo).

    • A beautiful wood floor and lots of windows
    • The second floor fellowship hall is accessible by elevator
    • Multiple areas to change and/or clean your (flying) shoes

Why the new venue?

During the pandemic, the Legion leadership changed their policies for rentals, doubled the rent, and considered reconfiguring the hall for other purposes. As we researched other possibilities, the First Church emerged as a great fit.

Plus, it’s got some history!  As many know, Flying Shoes is just one thread in the longstanding fabric of participatory social dancing in Belfast. (For example, a map displayed at the Belfast Free Library shows local contra dance venues from the 19th century.) In more recent years (1980s-1990s) a bunch of folks played, called, and danced at First Church, including the Tugmutton Trailsiders, Bennett Verbeck, Gregory Moore, Small Craft Advisory, Shana Hansen, Oakum Bay String Band, Calliope, John McIntire, and Joanne & Morten Moesswilde, to name a few. We’re tickled to bring dancing back to the First Church!

Where’s parking?

Street parking (or Post Office lot & Camden National Bank plaza off Main St, and City parking lot off Church St)

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How much is admission?

  • Community Dance – $1 for kids, $2 for adults, and free for the All Comers Band musicians.
  • Contras – $15 requested. Everyone is welcome. Pay what you can.

Is the admission different than it was 32 months ago?

No and yes.

No, the community dance admission is the same. (In fact, it hasn’t changed since our very first dance, back in December 2005. Wow!)

Yes, admission to the contras is different. And the situation is a bit more complex. First off, the contra admission covers the community dance too – in other words, you can come early and dance the whole time, play in the All Comers Band, or visit with friends.

Over the last 17 years, the contra dance admission rates gradually changed. By March 2020, there were tiered admission rates for kids, teens, and adults, with discounts for people who played in the All Comers Band or who brought a fan. That structure worked in many ways, but it was a bit complicated, especially for our greeters at the door, so we’re moving to a single suggested admission for the contra dance:  $15 suggested admission (Everyone is welcome. Pay what you can.)  

What does “pay what you can” mean?

We have determined that we can cover our costs if most people pay $15 admission for the contra dance, so that’s what we’re asking. And, everyone is welcome!

BFS dancers come from all walks of life, and financial accessibility for dancers is as important to us as is fiscal responsibility for our nonprofit and equitable compensation for performers.

We’ve set a suggested rate for the contra dance, knowing that some folks might pay a little less, and other folks might pay a little more. We don’t need explanations or justifications for your admission choice. When you come to the contra dance, knowing that $15 is the suggested admission, we trust you to pay what you can.

Why is the admission different than it was in October 2022?

Short story:   The October 7 program was a different format.

Long story:   For the past two years, BFS has presented a variety of public programs, including concerts, music workshops, dance workshops, all sorts of dances all over town, a multimedia celebration of ragtime music, and even a movie about a beloved dance musician.

At most of those programs, including the recent October 7 dances, we used a sliding scale admission structure of $5-20. In an effort to balance our program budget, we also solicited outside funding from sponsors and program partners.

And, all but one of this year’s public programs was a financial loss. (This is not necessarily surprising, given various factors including a commitment to equitable performer pay, low attendance at many events, rotating venues, varied start times, and the ambiguity of paying admission for outdoor programs in public parks.) Thanks to grant support and generous contributions to our annual fund, our director and board think we might cover these losses, but we also think it’s useful to be transparent about the admission rates that we’ve determined will help us break even.

In other words:   As the dances return to a consistent venue and a clearly-defined schedule, we’re returning to a clearly-defined admission structure for both dances.

How can I pay?

Cash or check is best.

However…  If you have a smartphone, you can use a QR code to pay with credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Please select “Admission” when the payment is for admission. We’ll ask for your name, email address, and the amount paid (in case something goes awry.) And we’ll contact you if the payment doesn’t go through.

Why is cash or check best?

Sometimes things don’t work smoothly with electronic payments, and our greeters aren’t necessarily savvy with this process (which can slow down things at the door.) Also, even as a nonprofit, we have to pay processing fees when we accept electronic payments, and we don’t like that. Finally, we need to know the total admission income in real time, so that we can pay the musicians, callers, and sound providers at the end of the dance. (Our performer compensation structure is based on overall income from the dance. We pay a minimum guarantee plus a share of whatever income is left after covering expenses for that dance.)

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What do Larks and Robins have to do with contra dancing?

At the contra dance (and occasionally the community dance), dance partners assume two different dance roles – one role for each person. At the BFS contra dance, callers will use  gender-neutral role terms: Larks and Robins. If you’re curious to learn more or are accustomed to other role terms, see “Role Terms at BFS Contras”.

What should I wear?

  • Clean-soled shoes that won’t mark the floor
  • Comfortable layers

What else might I bring?

  • Reusable water bottle (for hydrating)
  • Extra shirts to change into (in case you get sweaty)
  • Masks if you want to wear one (and a variety of masks will be available at the door)
  • Your favorite hand sanitizer (simple, low-scent ones will be available at the dance)
  • A warm layer, for when you are sitting down or playing in the All Comers Band (the windows will be open, with fans going)

Anything to not bring or wear?

  • Heavy perfumes or deodorants (some folks are sensitive to strong scents)
  • Alcohol or drugs (BFS events are chem free)
  • Pets

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Why are you collecting names and email addresses?

We’ll ask for contact information at the door because we want to be able to share any health updates with the participants for each program, as needed. (See Community Care Policy)

Will I get the Flying Shoes e-news?

If you check that box when you share your name and email on the contact list, we’ll sign you up for the e-news. Or you can sign yourself up at www.belfastflyingshoes.org

What is the BFS Board considering with regard to reducing the spread of Illness?

We all know that the kind of dancing we do at the Community Dance and Contra Dance brings together people from all walks of life in really beautiful ways. It is high touch and high joy, and is incredible for building face-to-face community among the participants!

At the same time, we acknowledge that this close contact activity carries an increased possibility of transmitting illness. While this is a relatively low concern for some folks, for others it’s a significant issue, especially with Covid still circulating and flu and cold season commencing.

In our local community and in cultures worldwide, people wear masks to reduce transmission of illness. (See CDC for one study, which cites other research.) Since the onset of Covid, dance organizations around Maine and across North America have established a variety of policies, including universal masking (such as in Montpelier VT). The BFS Board has all of this in mind as we move our first Friday dances indoors.

The BFS Community Care Policy (on our website, and posted at dances) asks attendees to consider wearing a mask, especially indoors and when dancing. If you want to wear a mask, you can bring your favorite one or get one at the dance. (BFS is offering masks at the door, including N95, KN94, and FFP2 types.)

We also have fans. Ventilation and air exchange are good for keeping us all healthy. Plus, when shoes are flying and the music and dancing is hot, it’s nice to have fresh air!

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Is there anything else?

We look forward to seeing you on the dance floor! But if you aren’t feeling ready to join us on First Fridays, we understand. We hope that you’ll find other places to fill your cup of participatory music and dance–-whether at different BFS programs or at other dance and music offerings in Belfast & beyond. Keep in touch and keep your flying shoes ready!

Co-op Common Cents: Vote for Flying Shoes

Please Vote for Flying Shoes!

Before Oct 30 — Choose Flying Shoes as a recipient of the Co-op’s 2023 Common Cents register roundup program!

The Belfast Community Co-op has a program called “Common Cents”, which supports community organizations that contribute to local resilience. Each month, a different local nonprofit receives a substantial donation from customers who round up at the register.

We’re thrilled that Belfast Flying Shoes is one of the 2023 nominees! A Common Cents donation in 2023 could make possible one of these Flying Shoes programs:

  • The fourth season of “Sing Along & Tap Your Toes” outdoor concerts for older adults
  • Music lessons, instruments, and community dances at the Maine Coast Regional Reentry Center
  • A new school residency program in RSU71, using participatory music and dance to cultivate social-emotional learning in grades K-2

It would be amazing if Belfast Flying Shoes was chosen for Common Cents donations in 2023. But, we need your help!

If you are a member owner of the Co-op,  you should have received an email with a link to the online voting page:

Select the Common Cents voting

The Common Cents ballot page looks like this:

From here, you can vote for Belfast Flying Shoes and up to 11 other worthy organizations, ask questions, and learn a bit more about the nominees.

Please select Belfast Flying Shoes as one of your choices to be a 2023 Common Cents recipient!

Thanks for voting before October 30 and please spread the word!  (If you aren’t already a Co-op owner, it’s easy to join.)

Incidentally, several of the other Common Cents nominees have Flying Shoes connections! Some are BFS program partners, while others employ or are founded by BFS musicians and dancers. Yeah for community!

Check out the alphabetical list with links to each organization: belfast.coop/common-cents-2023-nominees/

Participatory Citizenship & Participatory Arts

Last Tuesday, September 20, was National Voter Registration Day, which is “a day of civic unity. It’s an opportunity to set aside differences, enjoy the rights and opportunities we all share as Americans, and celebrate our democracy.”

With all the unity, celebration, and setting aside differences to enjoy shared opportunities, it sure seems a lot like a contra dance or the All Comers Band!  … But, what do democracy, citizenship, and voting really have in common with a local arts nonprofit?!?

Hypothetical label for a bottle of BFS elixir

Well… our social dance and music traditions are, as a past BFS board member put it, a bit like a magic elixir. The label could make all sorts of legitimately lofty claims, but the elixir’s effectiveness entails participation.

Which circles back to democracy, citizenship, and voting. Active engagement is the key!

Maine has one of the highest voter turnout rates in the nation, and that’s partly because of things like same day voter registration for in person voting, no excuses absentee ballots, and more. Let’s keep rocking the vote, with high participation by eligible voters of all ages & demographics! (Yup, just like the All Comers Band and the BFS contra dances.)

Here are some nonpartisan resources. Use them, share them, and get out there and vote! (If you’re from away, and can’t register to vote in Maine, get the scoop on voting in your state!)

Democracy Maine is a collaboration of three nonpartisan organizations, partnering on advocacy and education efforts:

The Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions has a bunch of info, including these useful pages:

One more thing — Just like dancing and playing music with other people, voting can be really FUN. Absentee or at the polls, it’s a great chance to smile and see your neighbors.

So, go out there and have yourself some participatory fun!

  • Get ready.
  • Register.
  • Find out what’s on the ballot and what issues are important to you.
  • Remind your peeps to join you.
  • And VOTE, whether you do it early or on election day, Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

Remember… Democracy, Citizenship, Voting + Flying Shoes are all about participation!

Your Support for BFS and Participatory Arts

Happy late summer!  Since the start of 2022, it’s been uplifting to witness how music & dance can sustain a community. So far this year, more than 1,800 participants have connected with each other at Flying Shoes programs. Yes! In these uncertain and sometimes divisive times, such collective engagement and shared purpose is vital to the health and well-being of our entire community–neighbors, visitors, families, friends, and individuals of all ages.

We’re definitely committed to keeping the healing power of music and dance flowing in Midcoast Maine! 

  • First Fridays – The All Comers Band is back in all its glory, playing for exuberant dancers at Steamboat Landing in July and the Armistice Footbridge in August (+ upcoming at the YMCA in Sept)
  • School ResidenciesUkuleles donated by BFS were played by the Tri-Town Music Program participants at the Searsmont Library and by RSU71 students at their year-end performance. (Plus, BFS teaching artists gave uke lessons at two of the schools in the ‘21-’22 school year.)
  • Programs for Older Adults – Assisted living and congregate care residents sing along, tap their toes, sway, clap, laugh, and smile during the outdoor concerts featuring local musicians.
  • Music at the Reentry Center – Residents at the local corrections facility are taking lessons, jamming together, and even playing for audiences—on guitar, vocals, percussion, and fiddle!
  • Other Programs – WBFY radio show highlighting contra dance music; Resources for libraries and educators; Ragtime, Irish, Armenian, & Scandinavian music programs via partnerships with other local groups.

It truly feels like we’re emerging from a chrysalis and unfolding our wings to soar on the summer breeze. Such joy!

Indeed, our small nonprofit is kept aloft by all of YOU, our dear community.

We’re fortunate to have a mix of support, including grants and sponsorships, but we rely on the generous contributions of people like you, as we bring participatory dance and music to a wide swath of our community: those who already cherish it and–just as importantly–the folks who might not otherwise encounter its joys.

If you are impassioned about supporting participatory music and dance, there are many ways you can help Flying Shoes achieve the 2022 Annual Appeal goals. This year, we hope to raise $17,000 from 170 contributors, with 17 of those donors choosing to make monthly gifts. Here are two ways you can participate: Make a gift to the Annual Appeal and Spread the word by encouraging others in your network to join you in supporting Flying Shoes!

Give online:
Use PayPal, credit card, or debit card. Click the green “Make a Donation” button (scroll down, or visit www.belfastflyingshoes.org )

Mail a check:   
Bypass the service fees! Belfast Flying Shoes, 93 Kaler Rd, Belfast, ME 04915

Be a “Frequent Flyer”:
When you give online, check the box for “Make this a monthly donation.”

Thank you for participating in Flying Shoes programs–as a musician, dancer, leader, teaching artist, student, attendee, volunteer, and contributor. Your involvement in music & dance helps our local and regional community thrive!

With deep appreciation,

Chrissy Fowler, Executive Director

Belfast Flying Shoes Board of Directors

  • Jennifer Armstrong
  • Margo Burnham
  • Cedar Callahan
  • Alex Mann
  • Alessandra Martinelli
  • Ethan Tischler
  • Kay Zegel

Scandi Shoes + Flying on the Bridge

Looking forward and reflecting back, shoes are really flying in August!

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

Scandinavian Dance Party Ahead = Finnish supergroup, Frigg

  • Saturday, Aug 13
  • 7:00 pm ~ Workshop on easy Scandi dancing with Andrea Larson of Virginia, accompanied by a local spelmanslag led by Bennett Konesni
  • Frigg plays for the Scandi dance party after the workshop! Open dancing any way that your shoes want to fly (whether you do a slangpolska, schottische or hambo,  or you wiggle your toes, cavort, tap or sway!)
  • $5 – 20 sliding scale suggested donation, to help BFS and Summer Nights cover costs.
  • Belfast Boathouse, inside, with a smooth dance floor & the big doors wide open
  • Jointly presented by Flying Shoes & Belfast Summer Nights, with support from Viking Lumber and Worth Real Estate
  • + Local Hero! Belfast’s own Noah Fishman is joining the Frigg tour as a sub for one of their regular members. We’re thrilled that Noah will be with Frigg to kick off the tour in our dear hometown!
  • 5:30 pm ~ Come early for Frigg’s concert at Steamboat Landing, presented by Bagaduce Music. The BFS/Summer Nights program follows the concert ~ first, the workshop by Andrea & our local spelmanslag; then Frigg plays for the Scandi Dance Party.)
“Nordgrass” supergroup, Frigg on Belfast Waterfront – Saturday, Aug 13 – 5:30 Concert presented by Bagaduce Music; 7:00 workshop & scandi dance party presented by Summer Nights & Flying Shoes

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

First Friday Recap = Euphoria on the Footbridge

Wow, another amazing 1st Fri! The weather cooperated, with breezes off the water and clouds that held their rain. Everyone was beaming, including the bemused pedestrians who wove their way through the joyful chaos.

Gratitude goes to Julia & Benjamin and the 23 talented musicians who joined them, scores of happy dancers and listeners (over 100 at the peak!), generous contributors to the admission can, the City of Belfast, Belfast Parks & Recreation, our First Friday Sponsors, and the folks fishing for stripers who kindly moved their poles and gear so we could set up.

Extra-special thanks to the volunteers who helped out before, during, and after the dance ~ All 23 of the ACB musicians, Christina B, Steve C, Joanne M, Lauren McP, Tara A, Ruby A, Alex C, Kate D, Gary B, Casey, and others who lent a hand on the fly! 

Enjoy these photos + the first verse of the newly-composed lyrics from a BFS dancer/musician.

(to be sung to the tune, Sentimental Journey, the foxtrot played by the ACB on 8/5)

Tonight’s the night, at last we dance a contra.
Gonna set our hearts at ease.
Like a child in wild anticipation,
We’ll renew old memories.

All Comers Band warming up

 

Julia McDonald-Plumb & Benjamin Foss leading the musicians
Long lines, forward & back
Dancing early on
Two contra sets, east and west
Shoes were still flying at sunset
What if someone wrote a tune called “Bonaparte Crossing the Passagassawakeag” as a change tune for “Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine”?

Photos of Belfast’s Shoes Flying Again!

We’ve sure had a lot of sunshine in Belfast … there’s so much to celebrate. Here are a few rays to share — with lots of photos!

This Week’s BFS Radio Hour Features T-Acadie!

Tune in this week for our second “live” show on the Flying Shoes Radio Hour. Pam Weeks, Bill Olson & Jim Joseph of T-Acadie offered up a bunch of tunes, songs, and stories in the WBFY Belfast Community Radio studio. (Chrissy Fowler hosted, and Vic Tredwell was our engineer.) Catch the good times on 100.9 FM WBFY-Belfast Community Radio at 6:00 pm on Fri. July 8, 1:00 pm on Wed. July 13, or streaming on demand all week!)

Bill Olson, Pam Weeks, and Jim Joseph getting ready to play a tune at WBFY during our in-studio recording session.

BFS Shoes Are Flying Again at First Friday Dances!

Wow, after 2 years and 4 months, we’re back to do-si-dos and stars and allemandes on first Fridays! July 1 was a perfect evening for our inaugural dance at Steamboat Landing. A band of 20+ All Comers joined T-Acadie in an overflowing gazebo, scores of dancers of all ages frolicked on the grass right up until dusk, and scattered groups of onlookers on lawn chairs watched cheerfully. As one person exulted via email afterward, “Hurrayyyyy!!!!”

Huge gratitude to everyone who came out to play, dance, and watch — especially folks who contributed to BFS for admission. Special thanks to Neil C, Nick S, Kay Z, Christina B, Liza O, Gary B, and others for helping out with setup, cleanup, and other essential tasks!  Additional thanks to Belfast Parks & Recreation Department and our amazing First Friday SponsorsColburn Shoe Store ~ The Green Store ~ First National Bank ~ First National Wealth Management ~ TFPE Civil Engineering ~ Coyote Moon.

Join us for the next First Friday Dance on August 5 on the Armistice Footbridge. All Comers warmup with Julia Plumb at 5:30, dancing 6-8pm. Details on our calendar.

All Comers Band and T-Acadie rehearsing in the gazebo
Circling left for La Bastringue
All Comers in good form
Looking upriver at the dancers and sky
All Comers Band and boats in the bay
Learning the schottische
Promenading in the walkthrough
Dancing in the park
Dancing under pink clouds
Joining hands in long lines