Thanks to all who took the time to share their feedback re: the ‘Lady in Red’ Sweetheart Dance with the SPHF Board.
Please note some feedback has been paraphrased or edited for the sake of brevity or to preserve the anonymity of our correspondents.
Wanted to leave my comments of the Lady in Red dance. I have attended several in the past and I was a little disappointed this year. The location although nice did not make me feel welcome.
The location was not prepared for our business booking a second dance and not having adequate staff on hand ie bartenders. The dress of those attending was not how it has been in the past. This dance has always provided an opportunity to dress up in formal wear and been made a special occasion. L
L-I agree with some of your points and appreciate your feedback. As this was our first time at this new venue, it has been a learning experience for all of us. We are already investigating to see if we can expand our seating capacity, increase the number of bartender stations and move their stations so that we will have exclusive access to them. One station could be devoted solely to non alcoholic beverages to further shorten the lines.
The dress of those attending this year was actually better than any previous years as we enforced a dress code of business casual to formal. ( No jeans, no shorts, no sweat suits, no t-shirts and no torn clothing) Please keep in mind that not everyone can afford to purchase or rent formal wear for the night. We may consider increasing the requirement to “dressy to formal” for next year.
Hi, I have been attending the dances for years…I can understand why you don’t use the Coliseum anymore because of the cost. I attended the most recent dance at the Largo Community Center, I have to say I was a little disappointed. It was very crowded, seating was hard to find, some of the women were very snippy about sharing tables. Sometimes, there were just two people sitting at a table for six, and it stayed that way, I kept an eye on some of them and they didn’t have any friends that were up dancing either. I am going to try to find a suitable facility and maybe suggest them to you at a later date. The six of us that attended together came to the same agreement. We came a little after 8:30 or so, the food was already snapped up…the cheese was melted together, etc. maybe food could be excluded and a buy the first drink and the second drink free ticket given at the door.
All and all the night was a success, or so it seemed. The DJ was good. C
C-Thank you for your feedback as it is essential to making improvements in the coming years. As I noted above, the board is working with the Largo Community Center to see if we can expand the area exclusively available to us. It was very crowded and I did have the staff add additional seating without tables around 9:30 PM.
I do agree about the food as well and plans are also underway to make improvements in that area by asking local restaurants to donate appetizers in order to get their name out at our event. We will also allocate more money for food we purchase and make some other changes to make things a bit more elegant.
As a health fund, we do not possess a liquor license and cannot dispense alcohol nor can we control how any venue prices or dispenses their drinks.
(Note: The Fund does not, nor has not received any money from liquor sales at our dances. That money goes to the venue.)
By changing venues, we have already reduced our overhead by close to 50% from the Coliseum. The Largo Community Center also boasts the second largest dance floor in Pinellas County behind the Coliseum. We have not increased our early bird ticket prices in a decade and continue to strive to make the dance as affordable as possible. Even with lower overhead, we still raised only $4000 to be directed towards women applying for financial assistance. (That is the equivalent of helping 8 women with dental needs at the limit of $500 per person for dental).
First, let me thank you for all the hard work that you all have done for the womyn’s community and for the dance we attended last Saturday night.
We had a wonderful experience with the photographer who was professional and rendered a great photo of the two of us.
However, we feel that the dance venue was inappropriate for a womyn’s dance. The room was too small and the music deafening. No matter where you were in the room, conversation was impossible. At the Coloseum the sheer size of the room mitigated the sound of the music. Also, a much smaller number of womyn could be accomodated in Largo leaving six hundred people out.
Most importantly, we did not feel safe having straight people at the dance. In addition, the idea of straight men in our special space was distasteful at the very least. We do not wish to come to a dance in the future if there is an open door policy.
Perhaps a solution would be to rent a hall in a hotel or an organization which allows us to have private parties. In Massachusetts an organization that contributed to breast cancer, contracted for a room at the Holiday Inn in Brookline and it was totally all womyn.
I hope you take these comments in the spirit they were delivered which is to improve the dance and to continue serving the womyn’s community as a whole medically and socially in the safest most welcoming way.
Again, thank you for all your work which is highly appreciated.
Thanks, E. Many of the issues you raise have been addressed above. Unfortunately, we have not “left out” 600 women in several years as our attendance at the Coliseum has steadily declined over the past five years which is one of the major reasons we can no longer afford to use that venue. In fact, we would need to raise ticket prices to $75 to return there and still sell more tickets than we have in the past five years!
As a 501c3 organization we cannot discriminate against anyone and this dance has not been promoted as a womyn’s only dance in over 3 years. Personally, as someone who has faced discrimination in my own lifetime, I believe such measures only perpetuate our own inability to be recognized fully with equal rights as lesbians.
Looking at the history of the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund, men and straight people have been a part of the founding and early dances of this Fund. In the past several years, there have always been between 2-6 men at our dances and I don’t know if they are gay or straight. I also know of several straight women who attend our dances in support of our cause. They are often invited by the lesbians who attend our dances and there has never been an instance within our private spaces that has been a problem. We appreciate their contributions to women’s healthcare needs in our community.
I do like your suggestion regarding partnering with another organization to rent space at a hotel. Keep in mind, that would also present a challenge in number of people who could attend due to space unless we do so without seating or tables. Additionally, we would still be surrounded by the straight people and men who are staying there during our event.
Thanks for another great event! Some feedback: Liked the venue. It was clean and nice. Lots of stalls in bathroom and they were nice and clean. Dance floor was nice. Chairs were really comfortable. DJ was good. Nice mix of music. City of Largo staff were friendly and helpful.
Only improvements would be one or more additional drink lines so the wait time was not so long. Also, that the room would be cooler. It was quite warm at times.
F-Thank you for your feedback. We will be having more bartenders that are exclusively our own next year. Also, having one line dedicated to non alcohol sales only is a possibility. I have already spoken with the LCC manager re: the air conditioning which was turned down around 10PM at my request the night of the dance. That is something that will be monitored more closely in the future.
we just want to say ‘thanks ‘ for all your hard work & making the dance a very nice event. the décor was wonderful & it looked great. the venue is very nice & good location. the gifts were quite good. everyone looked very nice.
we hope you make lots of money. You can give this positive feed-back to your fellow board members
J, Thank you so much for your feedback and ongoing support of the Fund. Thank you for attending our events.
Subj: Re: dance
I would just like to ask why the valentines dance was not in st pete,we sure miss the other place,do you know why.alot of us would rather pay more money,to have it back at the old place,this place was nice but not as classy as the old.Can you enliten us on this at all.thanks
Thanks for writing and asking the question.
You will need to ask your questions to the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund. Their members are the ones that plan and put on these dances to raise money for the FUND. www.sphf.org I only advertise their dances. I do not have any part in making the arrangements for the dance. I am sending your comments to some of their board members also. I’m sure they will get back with you.
Bonding the Lesbian community- Together
Thank you Suzanne for forwarding this comment to us.
Thank you for the feedback. Due to a five year decline in dance attendance, we can no longer afford the St. Pete Coliseum. Ticket prices would have to be raised to $75 per person and we would still need better attendance than the 507 who attended in 2010. We also witnessed and had complaints from womyn who were being accosted outside the venue by panhandlers and expressed concern for their safety. We are trying very hard to keep the cost affordable due to the economy which has left us in a position to make some very difficult choices in the past year.
Our main goal remains to raise funds for womyn in the Tampa Bay Community who are unable to meet the financial burden of their healthcare needs. Having said that, it is still important we are able to offer some events in the community that you can attend and enjoy at a reasonable price. In the coming year, we will be working towards obtaining monetary grants to help sustain the Fund as nearly 1/2 of our applicants last year were funded at less than they requested due to having insufficient funds available for their requests.
As I’m sure you have already received numerous complaints/concerns about the Lady in Red Dance that was held last month, I’d like to add my concerns as well. While it is understood that the Coliseum had become very costly to continue having the dances there, the choice of holding at the Largo Center was not very well thought out I’m afraid. Having one bar and one bartender available was absolutely ludicrous to say the least. The lines were so long that they bled over into the extremely small dance floor. The venue was far too crowded to be comfortable. Also, while we have been told that it was a “safer” location, I don’t recall there ever being any problems at the Coliseum. That being said, I can’t see how it was safer given the fact that there was another function going on at the same time which was comprised of “straight” couples. Speaking of which, why are we permitting straight couples to attend our dances? Tickets need to be sold in advance “only” to preclude individuals from purchasing them at the door and not being able to turn them away. These dances have been
so very enjoyable and the monies that have been donated to SPHF have assisted many people. However, I think you will find that the numbers will begin to dwindle if we continue on this path. I might suggest, as have many of the folks I have spoken with, that the Gulfport Casino be used for the dances, including the Lady in Red. Thank you for contacting me. I wish you continued success. C
C Thank you for your feedback as SPHF tries to use all feedback to improve our events. I am in 100% agreement that we needed more than two bartenders. In fact, one week after the dance I spoke with the director of the facility and addressed several concerns that were communicated to me that evening. We will have more bartenders exclusively dedicated to our patrons next year and are looking at several ways to increase seating without sacrificing comfort including waiting for a quote to rent the entire hall next year which would give us two ballrooms and no other patrons of the facility would be sharing the building that night.
Having worked every dance SPHF has had for the past fourteen years, I can tell you from witnessing events myself at the front doors to the Coliseum, we have had womyn accosted out there by panhandlers before, including last year’s dance. I am seldom in the ballroom so am able to watch the doors throughout the entire night in most cases.
Regarding the presence of “straight couples” I will refer you to the web site where I have already addressed the issues that were submitted including many you have shared today. We sell approximately 100 tickets at the door every year for this dance as many women will not or are unable to use Pay Pal and wait too late to get them mailed ahead of time despite advertising 4-5 months in advance in our newsletters, on our webpage and our Face book pages.
It is the ongoing decline in attendance from over 1200 several years ago to barely 500 last year that necessitated this move. The DJ is the same DJ we have had for the past several years (except one year absence due to illness).
The Board did not make this judgment without considering many things including the size of the dance floor. The Largo Community Center has the second largest floor in the county and could offer us additional space for vendors, serving food, more than adequate parking and a shuttle bus and golf cart in case of inclement weather. We would need to schedule the Sweetheart Dance in January or March at the Casino as all February dates are normally booked over a year in advance for weddings. We did not want to have to make a change but have lost money on several dances at the Casino and barely break even for the February Dance when it was at the Coliseum for the past three years.
SPHF understands that change is very difficulty for everyone. We take our primary mission of assisting women in need of healthcare very seriously. As stewards of these hard earned funds, we could no longer afford to put on events that lose money or cost more to put on than we receive in profit which is where we have been for the past 2-3 years.
I hope you understand some of our decisions given the background I have shared with you today and will continue to support the efforts of SPHF. We really do care deeply about the feedback we receive, as we believe all comments are helpful, and strive to make any changes we can to benefit the Fund and those who support it.
If you are interested in becoming a board member or volunteer we would love to have your input on a more regular basis.
Please refer to our web site at sphf.org for more details on applying and you can follow the thread of comments at our blog which is also located at sphf.org.
Again, please accept my appreciation of your feedback and ongoing support of SPHF.
If you have not yet shared your thoughts with us on the Lady in Red Dance or other SPHF activities, please feel free to do so, as we do take all of your feedback into consideration when making decisions for future events. Email us at SoniaPlotnickUpdates@Yahoo.com or register here at www.sphf.org to leave comments on our web log.
Chicky, President SPHF