I recently stopped performing at a restaurant I have been working with for over 2 years. It was one of those things where I was happy to just go there, perform, get my inspiration from the audience and ignore the mood swings of the owner. But with so much ongoing drama and negativity I finally made the choice to move on. I think a lot of dancers who do get a regular gig value it a lot (which you should) and you build friendships and it’s something known which is always more comfortable than the unknown. You find yourself putting up with the down sides such as lack of respect, low pay and them using your ‘friendship’ to score freebies and favours.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for doing favours or free shows for friends and family, it’s your talent and it’s a valuable and wonderful gift! I’m talking about not sticking to time agreements, and stretching out your shows with extra breaks so they can charge their customers more but don’t pay you more for your time etc… Plus, in my case, they would want you to be available every weekend but not confirm with you till late. If they don’t get enough bookings, they’d not need you but not leave you enough time to take up other shows. The owner thrived on keeping her dancers on edge and not getting ‘comfortable’ so would stop calling them for a month at random to make them appreciate the job.
At some point, I realised, you really need to value yourself enough to walk away.
Art by Angie Daniels
I was very thankful when I started working at a different venue that is SO much more professional. The atmosphere is relaxed, they’re appreciative of your time and talent and actually make it a joy to work there! I guess it’s like being in a bad relationship for a long time, you forget what a good one is supposed to be like, then you kick yourself for putting up with things so long. In hindsight, I’m still very thankful for all the experience and lessons I gained there. Sometimes you just have to experience the bad to fully appreciate the good BUT there’s a time to actually start moving forward and get on to the good stuff. 😉