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Thread: What could kill MJ?

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    You could be right - it may be impossible to turn the "beginner-oriented" model into a "cater for all stages" model. But if they don't, I think they'll have problems, simply because partner dancing in general is now more popular, more accessible, and less novel.

    In other words, competition forces you to raise your game, and unless MJ wants to be known as "the beginner's dance", Ceroc may need to improve accordingly. FWIW, I think Mike mostly realises this, but it's far from easy to get franchisees to think long-term.
    The biggest potential market still consists of non-dancers who want to learn to dance, and I believe Ceroc should continue to serve that market with the setup as it is now.

    The MJ organisations have created a new market for people who want to dance different and/or better. The range of workshops available, at least in the Ceroc Central region, shows that Ceroc is capable of serving this market too. I believe other regions are responding too. "Storm" shows that Ceroc is rising to the challenge nationally as well.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    then it won't be such a selling point to tell people "yes, even you can partner dance", because the potential customers will know this already.
    I wonder, though. Maybe the "Strictly Come Dancing Effect" on the ballroom/latin schools as described by the article is closer to this aspect of the Ceroc selling point than you might think...

    They both start with a bunch of beginners and turn them into dancers.

    Ok, so SCD has some obvious advantages in terms of very advanced experts and intensive coaching, but what the television viewer sees is similar in some ways to what goes on in Ceroc... people with no dance experience turning gradually into people that actually don't look too bad on the dance floor, and who obviously are having a great time despite having to work at it.

    And at risk of stretching the analogy a little, there's an entertainment factor in both as well.

    The net result is that people that otherwise wouldn't have previously thought they'd ever be able to do it, somehow find the motivation to have a go and in some cases, keep at it. In SCD, it's by no means the worst dancers that are voted off early - sometimes the viewers seem to be sympathising with those that aren't necessarily all that good, but are still working really hard and want to improve.

    I don't think SCD would have had the same effect on all the people that, according to that article, are swamping the ballroom dance schools, if there wasn't the clear evidence that non-dancers could learn.


    I think one of the things that could kill Ceroc is a dumb-ass short-term attitude by Ceroc franchisees, that "We're only here to get money off beginners..... And the inherent flaws of teaching the quick-and-dirty way will be more immediately obvious to more people at an earlier stage...
    I agree, and the provision of a clear "career path", with genuine choices, for people that take up partner dancing of any kind will become increasingly important.

    There needs to be accessibility in the early stages (which Ceroc does very well), and the availability of plenty of good quality teaching that allows people to develop - to either social or competitive dancing or both. So that with effort, you can become a good social dancer in less of a hit and miss way than it tends to be at the moment, and if you want to, also develop the more glitzy competitive side if that attracts.

    With SCD, it's now cool again (well, compared with the way it was some years ago) to consider ballroom and latin.

    And I can't get away from the feeling that in SCD's case it's a combination of the "beginners learning to dance thing" and the "glitz and glamour of the competition" thing that somehow attracts people on both levels. If either was absent, I don't think SCD would have been the hit that it's been, and I think there are lessons there for the MJ world too.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Ceroc manages to show people that they can enjoy dancing, and enjoy learning to dance. SCD, with its mix of injuries and stressed out sobbing sessions gives a mixed message on the joys of learning. I have seen a great number of times where someone has been dragged along by a friend "to watch", then to try it, and then become hooked, never believing that they could enjoy dancing.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by bigdjiver
    SCD, with its mix of injuries and stressed out sobbing sessions gives a mixed message on the joys of learning.
    The joys of learning are mixed.

    That's the whole point.

    Clearly, if hordes are indeed flocking to ballroom dance schools as a result of SCD as implied by DJ's news article, those that are going are capable of noticing that the dancers are finding the process worthwhile despite the fact that it isn't an easy ride.

    It actually gives me a certain sense of optimism - if it is really true that in these days of instant gratification, people in quite large numbers are taking up dancing, without being fed a saccharin-coated lie that says it's easy to learn to dance.

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    Registered User Lynn's Avatar
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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    Clearly, if hordes are indeed flocking to ballroom dance schools as a result of SCD as implied by DJ's news article, those that are going are capable of noticing that the dancers are finding the process worthwhile despite the fact that it isn't an easy ride.

    It actually gives me a certain sense of optimism - if it is really true that in these days of instant gratification, people in quite large numbers are taking up dancing, without being fed a saccharin-coated lie that says it's easy to learn to dance.
    I think its because SCD doesn't show that its easy to learn to dance - it shows that its possible - if you work at it. So it means that people won't try it, find it difficult and just give up straightaway, they will expect it to be a bit difficult at first, but will perservere.

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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    I think its because SCD doesn't show that its easy to learn to dance - it shows that its possible - if you work at it. So it means that people won't try it, find it difficult and just give up straightaway, they will expect it to be a bit difficult at first, but will perservere.
    Exactly - the whole "it's hard work, but it's possible for anyone" message.

    Look at Darren Gough - who'd have ever imagined a butch Northern cricketer could turn into a great and enthusiastic dancer? He really epitomises the "dancing is cool" message.

    OT, but one of the reasons I love SCD and, err, don't love SDF, is the whole "seeing non-dancers learn to love dancing" thing, and occasionally even seeing them become both great dancers, and evangelists of dancing. In SDF, they're pretty good dancers to start with, they already know and love dancing - so that factor is absent.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    Exactly - the whole "it's hard work, but it's possible for anyone" message.
    ..... It makes me wonder, if one of the reasons retention of beginners is so bad, is related to this.

    You get a beginner guy, who goes to the first few beginners classes, and can get through the lessons. Then he realises, as he starts to try and lead in freestyle, that it's hard. He doesn't really know what to do yet, either when they aren't anticipating, or when they are.

    He finds it difficult, but there are the posters saying that anyone can learn to dance in one night. So it must just be that he's no good...

    So he loses heart, and doesn't go back the following week. He's not intending to actually give up, but once you stop going, it's harder to find the determination to start again.

    Where's the teaching that will enable him to bridge the gap? Some venues provide something along those lines, but it's not common enough yet that it's focused enough.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    Where's the teaching that will enable him to bridge the gap? Some venues provide something along those lines, but it's not common enough yet that it's focused enough.
    Isn't that part of the Taxi's remit?

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gadget
    Isn't that part of the Taxi's remit?
    Taxi dancers is a new thing in Australia. When I learned yeas ago -there were no taxi dancers. We had the beginners revision class.

    How we learned is just trying to apply what we learned in class. It's also the initative of the beginner guys to ask the girls. Sure sometimes you get knocked back but that's something we all accept - no matter the level we'd progress.

    The best way to cross the gap from lessons to free style is by attempting to cross it. No short cuts.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gadget
    Isn't that part of the Taxi's remit?
    It is in some places - it depends very much on the experience and ability level of the taxi dancers at a given venue.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by dancefiend
    The best way to cross the gap from lessons to free style is by attempting to cross it. No short cuts.
    Agreed. But I'm imagining a rather unlikely world where all those people that crossed it on their own initiative, but ended up the other side with a bunch of bad habits, are instead helped out of those habits on the way, by teachers who know what they're doing.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames
    From the "teaching / real dancing experience" thread:

    This got me wondering - what could change (socially, environmentally, technologically or otherwise) to kill of the MJ scene?

    I couldn't think of anything, but it sounded very much like an OCP (Outside Context Problem). I knew excessive reading of Excession would pay off someday

    Where:
    -----------------
    "An Outside Context Problem was the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop. The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you'd tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbours were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass... when suddenly this bristling lump of iron appears sailless and trailing steam in the bay and these guys carrying long funny-looking sticks come ashore and announce you've just been discovered, you're all subjects of the Emperor now, he's keen on presents called tax and these bright-eyed holy men would like a word with your priests."
    -----------------

    (And, yes, it's a proper term - it must be, it has a Wikipedia entry )

    So, any thoughts on what could kill the MJ dance scene off?
    A pandemic would frighten people away from communal activities. Any organisations contractually bound to hiring venues or paying out regular salaries would be threatened with going out of business. Others might make a come-back at a severely depressed level of activity.

    e.g.

    http://www.newscientist.com/channel/health/bird-flu

    All together: "Always look on the bright side of life ...."

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames

    If other partner dances (salsa, AT, ballroom) reach a "critical mass" in terms of popular appeal, especially to the young, then it won't be such a selling point to tell people "yes, even you can partner dance", because the potential customers will know this already. And the inherent flaws of teaching the quick-and-dirty way will be more immediately obvious to more people at an earlier stage...

    David I've picked your post to quote, but only as it's representative of several which all seem to share a bit of a misconception.

    Firstly ballroom is still very popular in this country. Probably outnumbers mj at least 10 (if not more) to 1 in terms of the numbers participating. At many university's the ballroom dance society is the largest student society by far - Bristol University gets as many as 500 new beginners to their ballroom dance society every year.

    Running a beginners class for 500 is something of an interesting proposition for the teachers I'm told.

    On top of that there's plenty of non student adults who ballroom of all ages and a youth ballroom scene as well (the latter being pretty much competitive rather than social, but it's there).

    Salsa has more than reached a "critical mass". Actually I think it's gone past it's height of popularity but it the numbers dancing it will still outnumber modern jivers by a significant percentage - several salseros to evey mj'er. At it's height the biggest salsa night in Bristol was getting around 300 every Thursday night for classes followed by dancing (till 1am) in a biggish nightclub and that was only one of 5 or 6 classes spread over all the weekday evenings. There was even another (reasonably successful) class on the same night as the biggest one!

    MJ only get's away with it's quick and dirty approach to beginners because there are still very large numbers of people in this country who have never partner danced. Assuming the resurgence of interest in partner dancing doesn't fall away as a whole, there may well reach a point at which a "quick and dirty" approach stops being viable.

    At the present time those who come to MJ with experience elsewhere (as I did about 5 years ago now) simply leap pretty much straight in to intermediates - as I recall I only did two beginners lessons although I subsequently did a few more alongside intermediates simply to pick up the standard beginners moves.

    I think what will happen (and to some extent already is) is that we will see MJ moving away from standard named moves into a more improvisational approach and that we will see an improved level of technique and styling being applied to the dance.

    How the Ceroc organisation will cope with that I know not and I'm not particularly sure I care. I'm sure there will be plenty of people to teach MJ and run MJ clubs whether or not as part of a franchise organsiation.

    Either way (and whatever publicity Ceroc or any other MJ teaching organisation may use) it's a big mistake to think it's the majority partner dancing form in the UK, it's simply not true.

    Andy

    PS - not complaining about the publicity though - there's still a lot of people in the UK to get dancing!!!

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybroom
    David I've picked your post to quote, but only as it's representative of several which all seem to share a bit of a misconception.

    Either way (and whatever publicity Ceroc or any other MJ teaching organisation may use) it's a big mistake to think it's the majority partner dancing form in the UK, it's simply not true.

    Andy
    Just out of interest, where are you getting your figures from?

    I'm not questioning them, you understand, so no need to defend them. But I'm interested if you have actual figures, or whether this is just your impression.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA

    I don't think SCD would have had the same effect on all the people that, according to that article, are swamping the ballroom dance schools, if there wasn't the clear evidence that non-dancers could learn.
    The problem with SCD (I think, anyway) is that it gives the impression that you can learn to ballroom to the apprent standard seen on TV in a week.

    Actually the programme demonstrates that if you take either an actor/actress (who will have done dance training at drama school - even if they haven't done much since) or a fit and active sportsman/woman and put them together with one of the best dancers in the world as their personal tutor and dance partner they can learn a few showy competition moves and pull them off (kind of) in a week. The odd celeb they've had on who doesn't fit those catagories becomes a lame duck dancer and may or may not stay on the programme for more than a week depending on (a) how popular thet really are as a celeb and (b) how far they can milk the public sympathy vote.

    Then people go to a ballroom class and realise that doing even a few simple steps is actually quite difficult.

    I agree, and the provision of a clear "career path", with genuine choices, for people that take up partner dancing of any kind will become increasingly important.
    We've had a couple of threads going recently on advanced dancing/dancers.

    There needs to be accessibility in the early stages (which Ceroc does very well),
    Make that MJ rather than just the Ceroc franchises and I'd agree essentially.

    With SCD, it's now cool again (well, compared with the way it was some years ago) to consider ballroom and latin.
    SCD is a response to the upsurge in interest in partner dancing and ballroom dancing generally that had already taken place. Obviously it is itself feeding that upsurge, but it didn't start it.

    And I can't get away from the feeling that in SCD's case it's a combination of the "beginners learning to dance thing" and the "glitz and glamour of the competition" thing that somehow attracts people on both levels. If either was absent, I don't think SCD would have been the hit that it's been, and I think there are lessons there for the MJ world too.
    I dunno about that. At least, it's the glitz and glamour of the outfits that attract a lot of women into dancing - the question I'm most asked by female non dancers I meet who find out I've done ballroom is "where do they get the outfits from" ! - Sorry if that sounds sexist, but it is the case.

    I think the world is slowly re-discovering the pleasure of partner dance after a very short period of maybe 20 or 30 years when it fell out of fashion and SCD is a response to that rather than something that's leading it. It's also going to be partly because the resurgence of interest in Ballroom in Universities dates back to around 15 or 16 years ago or so and the people who were student dancers in those days will now be amongst the decision makers at the good ole BBC!!

    Andy

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheTramp
    Just out of interest, where are you getting your figures from?

    I'm not questioning them, you understand, so no need to defend them. But I'm interested if you have actual figures, or whether this is just your impression.
    Local experience in the Bristol area. To some extent an impression, but based on having been to most of the classes at one time or another and/or knowing the teachers concerned.

    Ignoring the influx after freshers fairs (and subsequent drop out) Bristol and Bath Uni dance socs typically have somewhere in the 800/900 dancers between them. The biggest (adult) Ballroom school has probably around 300 (more after the advertising he does at the begining of each term, but 300 is a reasonable average), the various others have smaller numbers but they support full-time ballroom dancing teachers and several of them own halls they use as their studios. Conservatively I'd estimate another 1,200 between them (won't bore you with a list!) and that takes us to around 2,500 ballroomers in the area. Again from experience of going to most of them at one time or another I'd say there were around 250 MJ'ers in the area (lot less than the total class attendances as large numbers go to several classes). Hence my ten to one.

    Salsa is a bit more difficult to say at the moment. It's somewhat on the decline in the area at present resulting in a number of classes closing (some closing and re-opening). A couple of years ago or so when it was at it's height I would have similarly estimated around 8 or 900 Salsa dancers - again by knowledge of the sorts of numbers going to the classes and reducing it a bit to allow for people attending more than one class.

    Whilst local conditions may mean that this is not identically repeated across the country (and actual numbers will vary depending on where you are and the number of people living in the area) I'm lead to believe by a combination of national level teachers I know, personal observation at events I've attended and discussions I've had with dancers from other areas over the years that the Bristol area is reasonably typical. That is, admittedly, more of an impression.

    Andy

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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybroom
    Firstly ballroom is still very popular in this country. Probably outnumbers mj at least 10 (if not more) to 1 in terms of the numbers participating.
    Do you have any figures or sources?
    I tried to find out in the "How many dancers are in the UK?" thread, but no-one seemed to know, despite my increasingly-plaintive requests for information. I'd be very interested if someone could come up with some concrete figures.

    I think it's reasonable to say that there are on the order of 100K regular MJ dancers (i.e. dancuing once a week), based on the figures Ceroc give out and our own back-of-a-fag-packet calculations. I'd be quite surprised if there are 1 million regular ballroom dancers; it's not impossible, but I'd need to see some sources.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybroom
    At many university's the ballroom dance society is the largest student society by far - Bristol University gets as many as 500 new beginners to their ballroom dance society every year.
    Yep, but let's face it, many (most?) of them have dropped out after the first few weeks, once they realise how hard it is. At the end of the year, there's probably only 50-100 left; at least, that was my experience when I did ballroom at Uni. Of course, that was back in the Stone Ages.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybroom
    On top of that there's plenty of non student adults who ballroom of all ages and a youth ballroom scene as well (the latter being pretty much competitive rather than social, but it's there).
    Absolutely - but do you have any figures?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybroom
    Salsa has more than reached a "critical mass". Actually I think it's gone past it's height of popularity but it the numbers dancing it will still outnumber modern jivers by a significant percentage - several salseros to evey mj'er.
    I agree it reached a zenith a while back, but again I dunno about numbers. We discussed this a bit in that other thread, before I flounced off to find out - well, nothing really.

    It's so difficult to tell, any fool can call themself a salsa teacher (I know...), and there are no national statistics for the scene.

    But my gut feeling, based on doing quite a bit of salsa, and using the London scene because that's the only one I know, is that the Salsa scene was probably bigger than MJ a few years ago, but that they're probably roughly the same size now. Note the huge amount of caveats - and again, I'd love to have some hard data.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybroom
    MJ only get's away with it's quick and dirty approach to beginners because there are still very large numbers of people in this country who have never partner danced. Assuming the resurgence of interest in partner dancing doesn't fall away as a whole, there may well reach a point at which a "quick and dirty" approach stops being viable.
    I agree - which is why I think MJ needs to sharpen up it's act. The very fact that Ceroc has been training hundreds of thousands of people to "partner dance" who otherwise wouldn't have, combined with the resurgent popularity of partner dancing in the media, to me implies that the teaching of MJ needs to rise to the challenge, or they'll lose out to other dance forms. (Like AT )

    Quote Originally Posted by Andybroom
    Either way (and whatever publicity Ceroc or any other MJ teaching organisation may use) it's a big mistake to think it's the majority partner dancing form in the UK, it's simply not true.
    I'd have no problem with this, but I'm picky; I need data before I believe stuff. I looked at various ballroom dancing organisation websites - apparently in England alone there are over 100 registered dance teacher organisations - but I briefly went through the sites of the International Dance Teachers Association, the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance, the British Dance Counci, the English Amateur Dancers Association ... then I gave up.

    But I'd still really love to know the answer.

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Just an addendum - I'm very happy to accept that more people are learning ballroom than MJ - in schools, colleges, etc. Ballroom's been around for long enough, and has thousands of teachers compared to MJ - so the 10 to 1 figure may make sense for classes.

    But I don't believe the social scene in ballroom is that large - there are no major ballroom venues around my manor of North London I believe, but there are 4-5 MJ venues within a 10-minute drive.

    And I don't think there are many ballroom weekenders - whereas the number of MJ weekenders seems to have exploded over the past couple of years.

    Again, we're hampered by no data

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Interesting, your figures for Bristol/Bath area.

    From my experience of living in several other areas, I'd say that if your figures are correct, they are totally area-specific, and bear no correlation to the country as a whole. Which is why I asked where you got your figures from, suspecting I was going to get the answer that you gave, hoping that you'd have actual figures.

    As David James says, I doubt very, very much that there are a million ballroom dancers in the UK.

    Speaking for Dundee (from my experience, and I'm willing for someone who knows the area better than me to correct me). I wanted to do Ballroom dancing. Neither of the universitys in Dundee, or the college have a Ballroom dancing society. There is one couple advertised as teaching ballroom in Dundee. Apparently (so I've heard - I can't go as I work for Ceroc on the night they teach) they are both about 80, and don't really have that many students. I also wanted to do salsa. There was a night class advertised at the local college. But it didn't run because they didn't have enough people signed up to it.

    Tonight, at the Ceroc night in Dundee, we had over 100 people. From this (and using your own countrywide assessment based on one area scheme), I'm forced to conclude that, countrywide, Modern Jive dancers outweigh Ballroom Dancers by somewhere between 5 and 10 to 1, and Modern Jive dancers outweigh Salsa dancers by at least 10 to 1.

    Course, I don't actually know the countrywide figures. Unfortunately, I'm forced to conclude that neither do you. Sorry. (I don't mean for this to sound rude though, but it probably does. Sorry again).

    And just a thought. Maybe a lot of Ballroom Dancers go to Bristol and Bath Uni's specifically because of the Ballroom Dancing scene there. Which might help to account for the numbers. Where are you Sparkles (I know that she was heavily involved in the Bath Uni Ballroom Dancing team just a few years ago)?

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    Re: What could kill MJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheTramp
    Speaking for Dundee (from my experience, and I'm willing for someone who knows the area better than me to correct me).
    Don't have any better knowledge than you, not of Dundee anyway, but I think that where you might have found a ballroom society at an English university, you'll find one or more ceilidh-dancing societies in most Scottish universities. (At Glasgow Uni, IIRC, as well as there being a dedicated ceilidh dance society, many of the other societies ran their own monthly ceilidhs. There was always one or two ceilidhs on each week during term.)

    Pretty much every school kid in Scotland gets taught some amount of ceilidh dancing at school.

    Feel free to make up your own random statistics based on this...
    Let your mind go and your body will follow. Steve Martin, LA Story

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