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. ©