[Callers] Triple Minors in the Midwest

Alan Winston - SSRL Central Computing winston at slac.stanford.edu
Thu Jan 17 23:36:28 PST 2008

> Hello All,

> I was considering adding some of the Chestnuts to my calling repertoire, and
> I was wondering if I could get your best advice on approaching triple minor
> dances in the Midwest (Lawrence Kansas). I believe most of the contra
> dancers here have never seen such a critter, although a very few will have
> seen it at an English Country dance.

> I was considering calling a triplet or a duple minor dance with contra
> corners in the first half to make sure everyone was comfortable with that
> figure, and then calling "Sackett's Harbor" in the second half, which turns
> the minor set 90 degrees (or 270 degrees, to be technical) so all the men
> are all facing the stage and the women are facing down.

> I want to lay out the rules of triplets very succinctly: Ones remain ones
> all the way down the hall, while the twos become threes and then twos again
> as they progress up. Threes also alternate roles, becoming twos and then
> threes again. At the top, the first couple out waits out two iterations of
> the dance before becoming ones. At the bottom, the threes must trade places
> with the ones or they will remain out indefinitely.

> Are these rules accurate as stated?

No, because triplets are three-couple sets, and the progression is different;
typically, you'll dance each of the three roles in three times through the

Substituting "triple minors"  I think these are essentially correct, as stated.

I tend to lay out the rules with somewhat different verbiage (when calling to
English dancers, anyway; I haven't called triple minors for contra dancers).

I say to the ones "you can't come in until you have two couples of your very
own to dance with."

"Ones have it easy - they do the same thing all the way down.  Eventually
you'll only have one other couple - dance with a ghost couple, or at least
trade places with them, or they'll *never* get in."

"The secret to triple minors", I'll say, "is not to fuss about whether you're a
two or a three.  If you're not a one, you want to look *up* the set to where
the 1s are, and then do what they need.  If somebody's trying to do a
right-hand star with you, do it."  [What I'm trying to do here is to get the
dancers out of their heads and out of counting, and into their senses, looking
outward and seeing the whole dance.  I *think* this is at least marginally
helpful, although some people are still going to spend the whole dance looking
inward and constantly being surprised when they're supposed to do something.]

I think you are correct not to mention the rather peculiar process of going
from being a 2 to being a 1.  You've gotten up near the top, you do the dance
as a 2, your 1s migrate past you, and you're out one round even though you have
a couple above you.  Then you're in one round, then you're out two rounds and
come back as 1s.  I generally try not to discuss this and just use the "until
you have two couples of your very own" rule.

> Any suggestions from New England? Elsewhere in the Midwest? Points beyond?

I hope you'll accept California.  I'd suggest, as a first-ever triple minor,
"Young Widow", if your band knows the tune.  No swings, but a killer fun dance
with balancing, etc, and it isn't all solos for the 1s.

-- Alan

 Disclaimer: I speak only for myself, not SLAC or SSRL   Phone:  650/926-3056
 Paper mail to: SSRL -- SLAC BIN 99, 2575 Sand Hill Rd, Menlo Park CA   94025

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