This title of one of Dusty Springfield’s songs is appropriate right now, following the move to new home for the forum which remembers her legacy to the world of music and celebrates her memory.
The “Let’s Talk Dusty!’ fan forum recently settled into a new little corner of the internet and to celebrate the move, two of the forum’s stalwarts, Nancy J Young and Corinna Muller, kindly gave their time to speak about the reasons for the move and how it will benefit the forum members.
1. What made you decide to move to new software?
Corinna: The software we were using previously was in need of an upgrade in order to fix some security problems and other technical glitches, and the question was if we want to put the required amount of work into a software that only offered basic features and wasn’t totally up to date technology-wise, or if we would move on to top notch software with possibilities and features we had only dreamt of so far.
We also switched to a new web host, since we experienced some instability and downtime with the old one. We hope that our new host remains stable and reliable, so our members won’t notice this change at all.
2. Were there any downsides to the move?
Corinna: Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to take all the threads and posts with us to the new forum due to the different technology that is used.
The decision to leave three years of our community’s history behind was a tough one. For the time being, our old forum is still accessible for viewing, and Laura is creating a PDF archive for the essential parts of our community’s history.
3. What are the benefits of the new software and web hosting to the members?
Corinna: Ah! Our new forum offers such fantastic features! When I was building the forum and started to discover all the great stuff it offers, I felt like a child at Christmas. I received everything on my wish list and even more.
The first thing that meets the eye is, of course, the layout. We have chosen a lavender/violet scheme, as those were Dusty’s favourite colours. This has met with great approval from our members. So much so that webmaster Will O’Mailley has decided to change the website to the same colour scheme. Site and forum match very nicely now!
The forum software is very user-friendly. When you post, the buttons - instead of depicting tiny, cryptic icons - actually say what they do (New topic, Post reply, Edit, Quote, Submit etc). Uploading images and other files directly from the computer is another convenient feature, as well as viewing YouTube videos in the posts, without having to leave the forum. We are also able to offer private messaging, a feature that has been requested by many members.
Other features that we hope members enjoy are the ability to subscribe to favourite threads and topics and get email notifications when there are new posts, and the ability to bookmark threads so that you can access them quickly. Also, I hope members enjoy our new animated smilies and topic icons.
4. How has the forum grown since its birth?
Corinna: Our forum was born out of the vacuum left by an earlier Dusty fan forum that suddenly folded. We were privileged to start out with a loyal bunch of Dusty fans from all over the world and of all ages, several of whom knew each other personally from Dusty Days or even from way back in the ‘60s when they’d wait for Dusty at backstage doors!
Carole G, one of our founders and moderators, with her seemingly infinite knowledge of all things Dusty, gave Let’s Talk Dusty! instant cache. We’re growing at a slow but steady rate, and have now some 300+ members.
Nancy: Before the previous version of the forum was locked, members had made 160,000+ posts in 5788 different topics. That’s a lot of ‘talking Dusty’ and other talk as well.
I think we’ve also matured as a forum and individuals. A lot of trust has been built over the years, and judging from comments by our members, we enjoy a reputation as a well-informed, fair and inclusive forum. This is something we’ve really worked on, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of the rest of the team (Rob, Laura, Carole G and Paula, as well as others who have had positions on the team) who dedicate much of their spare time to make the forum what it is today.
5. What do you think the forum has provided to its members over the years?
Nancy: Let’s Talk Dusty! has given its members a place to ‘talk Dusty,’ of course, but also a place to meet other Dusty fans and learn from them. In addition to Dusty fans from the 1960s, we have academics like Annie Randall, who has written a scholarly text on Dusty, as well as Douggie Reece, Dusty’s guitarist with the Echoes.
Having members in their teens on up to their 70th decade has also given us different perspectives on Dusty. LTDers from Australia, Europe, the UK, the US, and Canada allow us to share in a universal fandom. It’s provided many of us with an important source of identity as Dusty fans. When you’re as crazy about Dusty as we are, it can be challenging to find others who ‘get it’: here we all get it, and encourage it! We do not need to spend time defending our fandom to others or trying to convert the uninformed: we can devote our energy to appreciation of Dusty and fan productivity.
The forum has served different fans in different ways. Sometimes a new Dusty fan will join and want to learn everything about her life and music. Sometimes older fans will want to share their memories of Dusty’s performances.
As a doctoral student, the forum has been a great resource for me to learn about other Dusty fans. For some members the forum plays a small or short role in their lives; for others it is a sustaining source of enjoyment and community.
6. The members seem to think of the forum with great affection – why do you think that is?
Corinna: I believe that one of the reasons why new members are drawn to us is that we are a very knowledgeable site. Several of our members have known Dusty – as Nancy said before – they’ve worked with her or been loyal fans so that Dusty would recognise them and even remember their birthdays. And you have to remember that Dusty was huge in the 60s, and had an immense following. The stories these people have to tell and the photos they share make, of course, fascinating reading and pleasurable viewing.
I also believe our members appreciate that we’re a very friendly site. We encourage discussion, but we won’t tolerate slander or bullying, and I believe this is greatly appreciated by our members. It makes for an enjoyable and pleasant experience of our forum.
Nancy: Also the “Dusty friendships” that have been formed via LTD have often been profound and lasting. Fans travel across their country and even globe to meet up with other fans. LTDers tend to be supportive of each other, offering advice, understanding, and sometimes even financial assistance to their fellow Dusty fans.
Let’s Talk Dusty! fans also have traditions of meeting up in Henley the day prior to Dusty Day, and then for a party in London that night.
Our LTD “Dusty charities” are another reason members think of the forum community in such great affection. As a way to honour Dusty and contribute to causes she held dear, we have raised thousands of pounds for animal charities and the Royal Marsden Hospital (where Dusty was treated for her cancer).
We also contract with a florist in Henley to have flowers placed on Dusty’s marker twice a month, along with Christmas and birthday displays. I think fans enjoy being able to raise money for these causes, whether through donating items for the raffles, coordinating sales of t-shirts and other merchandise, or buying raffle tickets.
To name a few examples—Cas has offered Dusty autographs, Wendy her original Dusty artwork, Kathy has expertly run the raffles, Tom has coordinated production of a Dusty calendar, and Rob has served as LTD’s principal “banker” to collect and distribute the funds.
Finally, the sense of history humour shared by many Dusty fans keeps the forum a place they want to return to. As in any community, anecdotes, shtick, and rituals evolve that bind people together. A primary example is the knitted toy “Miss Pigfield” who has visited LTDers around the world, raised money for charities, and posed for innumerable photographs along the way.
7. Where do you see the forum going in the next few years?
Nancy: I never cease to be amazed at the directions the forum takes. It constantly evolves, as new members join and new friendships form.
I am particularly delighted when younger fans join LTD, as they are critical to keeping the legacy of Dusty’s supremacy as a popular singer before the public. I know many fans disagree with me on this, but I also hope a (good) biopic of Dusty gets made, to draw in the younger generation.
I know many fans agree with me that once people with open ears—and open hearts—hear Dusty, their lives will never be the same. As long as there are Dusty fans, Let’s Talk Dusty! will continue to spread the word that Dusty is simply the greatest.
Many thanks to Nancy and Corinna for their time in giving this interview. Thanks, also, to all the team and all the forum members who make LTD what it is.