[Callers] spiking the 'booking ahead'

Chris Weiler chris.weiler at weirdtable.org
Fri May 19 10:14:10 PDT 2006

I do believe that there is a line that callers should not cross in 
"meddling" with the social dynamic. I have a hard time with identifying 
booking ahead "good" or "bad". It's like ice cream. It's great and 
tastes good (because you get to dance with your friends and favorite 
dance partners), but if you take too much of it, you get stomach aches, 
fat and heart disease.

What works for me is a rule (occasionally broken) that I will not book 
further ahead than the next dance. I make sure that I dance with 1-3 new 
people (people I have never dance with before, not necessarily new 
dancers) during the evening. I do try to seek out new dancers for those 
dances, but I don't want to exclude visitors from that group, either. 
When people ask me to book a dance further ahead, I just reply "Sorry, I 
don't book anything more than the next dance."

I used to book up my evening, and hurt people's feelings when I double 
booked or forgot. I also realized that I wasn't dancing with anyone new, 
just the same people. And usually in the center set all night. Talking 
to other dancers, listening to callers, eventually the message got 
through about being welcoming. That and the negative experiences with 
booking ahead convinced me to change. I think that it's something that 
we all learn about and deal with. It's a part of that transition from 
"intermediate" or "sophomore" dancer to "community" dancer that people 
have talked about before.

You can take it to the other extreme, though. If no one books, people 
get frustrated that they weren't able to dance with their favorite 
partners, and the the dance isn't as fun as it used to be. The key, just 
like everything else in life, is balance. That is what we can encourage 
from the mic. and that is what we can role model from the floor.


Seth Tepfer wrote:

>So my original post asked for pointers, not to get into a religious 
>discussion about booking ahead. I should have known better. It's a volatile 
>topic, and I've heard many people speak out against caller intervention 
>into dancer's personal affairs.
>I'm disappointed that there aren't more pointers about how to encourage 
>dancing on the fly (or not booking ahead). However, since I've invoked this 
>discussion, I might as well put in my two bits.
>I've heard :
>* it's manipulation - won't work for the long run and builds resentment 
>(and the caller loses dancer trust/caller points)
>* it's not the caller's business who the dancer's dance with
>* some dancer's only do one dance in a row
>* manipulation might pair dancers who have antipathy toward each other
>* dancers come to dance with their friends. If they don't book ahead, they 
>won't get to dance with them.
>Okay. I acknowledge the masses. Forcing partners after a circle mixer seems 
>to be bad.
>I've heard numerous defenses for choosing your partner for future dances. 
>But I do not hear discussion or acknowledgement about why booking ahead is 
>detrimental to the community.
>Booking ahead
>* creates an 'elite' micro-community - those who are dancing, and those who 
>are not.
>* makes it very challenging for those who are sitting out to get a dance 
>* makes the dance intimidating and less welcoming for new dancers
>* clumps the levels of dance experience together, making it more 
>challenging to call dances
>* creates an atmosphere of exclusivity
>* reduces the amount of social mixing, thereby reducing the primary reason 
>people come to the dance - to meet people!
>I posit that booking ahead *IS* the domain of the caller, because it is 
>detrimental to the long term health of the dance. However, I will 
>acknowledge there are plenty of dance series where booking ahead has been 
>the rule for many years, and they are still chugging along quite nicely, 
>thank you very much. 

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