Care and feeding of wood dance floors, and fledgling dance groups

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Care and feeding of wood dance floors, and fledgling dance groups

Post  Sonia on Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:21 pm

I've been holding a weekly dance group in my living room for a year now. I had the oak floor refinished before I moved in, so it was pretty much pristine when we started dancing. At the time I didn't know I would be starting a dance group, so I didn't get an especially hard finish.

About three months in, I noticed a series of gouges along the dance path on the floor, and asked everyone to wear clean, soft-soled shoes. It's hard for me to police that, on top of running the music and dancing, but I added a note about it to the Welcome sign on the door.

Things went along just fine after that, until a couple of weeks ago. We had a great turnout of 13 people (my living room isn't that big, even after we move all the furniture), and afterwards I noticed that the floor was covered with gouges! My best guess is that someone had a little rock stuck in the tread of their shoe.

I'm upset about the damage to the floor, but I think I'm more upset about needing to make changes in the dance group. I wanted everything to flow easily and not have to make a bunch of rules! So, I have two sets of questions here.

1) Do you have any advice for me on refinishing the floor? Are there finishes that stand up to dancing better, and that aren't too toxic? I'm sensitive to chemicals. Is there anything I can do aside from refinishing? I sweep every week before dancing, but I'm thinking I might sweep again after we move the furniture out, just to make sure there aren't any little particles waiting to be ground in.

2) I'm thinking about making a hard rule about no street shoes. As I said above, it's hard to police that, though, and I don't want to get into power struggles with people. How do you handle this in your groups? Locally, there are dance halls with the same requirement, but no one challenges people if they don't change shoes.

Also, the group has been free so far, since I didn't need to cover room rent. I'm now thinking about charging $1 to put toward eventual floor refinishing costs. That feels like a huge change to me, in ways I can't even fully articulate. Has anyone else started with a small informal group and had it gradually become more "official"? How did that go for you?

Eventually, the group will outgrow my living room and we'll rent space somewhere, and then it will be clear that I'll need to charge. The group is growing up faster than I thought it would!

I look forward to seeing your thoughts and stories!
Sonia

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Shoes and floors

Post  denismurf on Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:14 pm

That's a shame about the damage to the floor. Good question, though: now what?

You might be able to get away with instituting a charge in the name of a floor replacement/maintenance fund.

Also, it's increasingly the case that people ask visitors to remove their shoes altogether before entering their homes, so asking them to *change* shoes shouldn't raise eyebrows or affect the atmosphere. I do know that I, for one, can't dance barefoot without literally injuring my feet.

We're thinking about re-placing the Pergo floor in our new condo with something friendly to dancing. Ideally, it would be able to withstand scuffs and gouges and still look good with little exceptional maintenance. There are certainly plenty of dance floors in new and old buildings that don't require dancers to remove or change shoes. Are these floor materials suitable for residences? I don't know. I also don't know how much a real dance floor would cost compared to one made of typical residential materials. I hope there's somebody reading this who has a true dance floor in their home and can clue us in. Finally, I don't know if there's a clear liquid you can apply that hardens into a plastic sheath for the floor that's still suitable for dancing.

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Floor damage

Post  Dansingsal on Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:25 pm

Hi Sonia,

I'm sorry to hear about your floor damage.

A little humor may go a long way. Can you rotate the job of "Shoe Police" among your friends? A shiny foil badge, toy siren, nightstick (no handcuffs please!), lots of hoopla, throw offenders in "jail" for one dance (or they have to sweep the floor to "pay" to get out)? It has to stay light-hearted. Your shoe police might need to be armed with a stiff brush, rags both dry and damp, either a dull table knife or a chopstick, something to dig out dried mud and stones *before* using the brushes and rags.

You might also dry-mop the floor once in the middle of the evening. There is a spray you can put on those big wide mops that will help pick up dust and grit. And have everyone look at the pile of dust you collect. That may help drive home the point about needing clean shoes.

I also see no problem asking $1 for floor maintenance. You can't get anything for a dollar any more; an evening of dancing for a dollar is a bargain.

Some groups keep a big bin of socks or moccasins around, for those who only wore street shoes. I'm with Denis, though, I have to wear shoes to dance. You would want to wash the socks after use - maybe that job could be rotated too. What about giant socks that people can slip on *over* their shoes? Might be too slippery - add a piece of duct tape to ball of foot?

Let us know what you come up with, and good luck,
Sally

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Re: Care and feeding of wood dance floors, and fledgling dance groups

Post  Sonia on Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:45 pm

Thanks for the ideas, Sally and Denis. Welcome back, Sally!

What I did for now is send around an email telling people I really mean it about no street shoes, and that I'm going to start charging $1. I put it in the context of keeping the group emphasis on fun, including for me when I see my floor. All the responses I've gotten have been supportive, even from the dancer who said he hasn't had a separate pair of dance shoes in all these years. I did also ask people to remind each other, in a low-key version of Sally's shoe police.

I'll have to research the floor refinishing options with the people who actually do that kind of work. I'll post here if/when I find anything out.

On the positive side, it's a great group of people to dance with, and we're all learning a lot.

Sonia

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