My appreciation of David Kaynor is deep and broad. Here are a few memories and some observations.
I started to contra dance in NH in the early 1990s. When I began organizing dances in 1996 and calling dances in 1999, David was an important mentor. I devoured his witty, thought-provoking, and well-written treatise on dance leadership: Calling for Beginners by Beginners. And I still go back to it, like drinking from the well. His all-in-it-together philosophy and core values resonate deeply. Not to mention his entertaining prose, which is littered with words like perspicacious, consternation, idiomatic, and gestalt.
In 2003, I moved from Newmarket, NH (in the tiny seacoast) to the Pioneer Valley. When I landed there, I stayed at David's place in Montague Center (in a tiny bedroom). Vivid memories of that time include David roasting coffee on the back deck, I think in a popcorn popper; walking across the village green to the Montague Grange for Swedish dance workshops, dances with David's "(assorted superlatives) All Comers Band," community potlucks, and other delicious offerings; visiting David's studio space and being agog at the quality and quantity of his artwork, primarily on dance fliers; and enjoying raucous tune sessions in the living room.
I remember David's good-natured attitude and his willingness to engage in "deep conversations" about this thing we both loved (dancing, leading, and organizing dances.) It also caught my attention that he didn't cancel a dance when there was a conflicting festival – to David, his dance existed not just for those enthusiasts who loved huge crowds of highly skilled dancers (and who would "all" leave town for the festival), but for the locals of all ages who never traveled to dances beyond that particular series. It was deeply informative. After I moved to Sunderland so I could walk to work, a friend explained that I was now in an elite club: "People who lived at David Kaynor's!" (Evidently, a large proportion of regular dancers in the region had either lived with David, worked at the Button Box, or both.)
One time, we were double-booked to call a wedding dance – a giant blessing, because I could fully observe and absorb David's leadership skills at a private event. I scribbled pages of notes about how he specifically brought joy to an all-ages community dance of mostly neophytes. (And I think of David every time I use the vase I got from the wedding couple for my partly bartered compensation.)
In December 2004, I moved to Belfast, ME. Shortly afterward, I began to plan a contra dance series with three close associates (my brother, his sweetie, and our family friend). As we dived into the visioning process, we knew we wanted to include an open band component (which was a feature of the bygone Belfast series). And yes, we shamelessly adopted David's name for that merry assemblage. In some cosmic way, I think that audacity helped us channel David's spirit, because the Belfast Flying Shoes All Comers Band is a truly inclusive and incredibly wild happening every month – and for many people, it's the best aspect of our monthly series.
One thing I really love about David is his stubbornness and determination. He was sometimes inadequately appreciated in his own region, perhaps because public opinion is quick to move on to 'the next great thing.' And yet, he still forged onward with his vision – a vision that helped keep two beautiful halls in widespread use for dancing, that brought music and dancing joy to thousands of people, and that influenced countless dance leaders and musicians around the globe.
David's own words (on page 72 of Calling for Beginners by Beginners) say it beautifully: "If you do it well, and happiness spreads, and communities evolve, and horizons enlarge, and friendships deepen, and lives settle into better living, and YOU had a hand in it, it will all someday come back to you."
Thank you, David, for all of your gifts to this world. I'm glad they are coming back to you.
With much love and admiration,