[Callers] Any Whipperstompers out there?

Adina Gordon trravelbug at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 2 23:20:37 PDT 2008

Hi Chris,

Sorry it took me a week to respond about the Whipperstomper.  Lindsay, thanks!  I'm so glad you enjoyed it that much!  It was great to see you there.

I went into the weekend with some reservations.  Who would come?  What would the general attitude be?  Would there be trouble with 100 teens and 20-somethings in a state park for the weekend?  Were people open to learning?  Would groups mix?  Was it going to be pro-youth, or anti-age?  

Short answers:  Everybody.  Positive.  Almost none.  Yes!  Yes.  Pro-youth.  I'm so impressed by what happened there I almost can't describe it.  

The general attitude of the weekend, coming from the organizers and effectively transmitted to the dancers, was that young dancers can be a positive force in their communities.  We talked about and worked on style, dance-floor safety, encouraging and helping each other, calling, playing for dances, and community involvement.  There was more intentional learning and discussion than at other weekends I've been at -- the purpose wasn't only to dance and have fun, but to build community, both with other young dancers and with the wider community.

Dancers came from all over -- the majority from North and South Carolina, but also from Virginia, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and I think a couple other states.  New England was well-represented.  As Lindsay mentioned, especially on Friday night folks danced mainly with people they already knew, but by Sunday it was a typical dance weekend love-fest.  I was looking at the leaders of tomorrow's dance community meeting each other, making connections, and becoming friends, and I left feeling really good about the future of Anglo-American folk dance.  

Lindsay mentioned both the heat & lack of fans, and the passion he saw.  Those are interrelated.  

There were supposed to be huge box fans for the dance hall, borrowed from the Old Farmers Ball in Asheville, NC.  Unfortunately, 2 weeks before the Whipperstomper the ceiling collapsed in Bryson Hall at Warren Wilson College, where the OFB weekly dance is held and the fans are stored.  (http://www.oldfarmersball.com/bryson_update.htm for more information.)  Truly miraculously, no-one was injured in what could have been a devastating catastrophe; school had ended a week earlier and the collapse happened a few hours before a dance.  Bryson was quarantined, so there was no way to get the fans out.  Hence the passion Linsay mentioned:  In the sweltering heat  -- it was an uncooled hall in 90-some degree weather, without fans -- there were no complaints or early check-outs, and the dancers danced nonstop for hours.  

And -- holy cow!  What dancing!  I've never seen such great dancing in one place, and I say that as a dance gypsy and itinerant dance caller.  I've never called to a better group, anywhere.  These kids can DANCE!  (--and do it safely, and on time!)

Watching the organizers through the process, from last fall til now, was exciting.  They did a great job, really matured in the process, and became even better leaders.  They came to see that their responsibility within the dance community doesn't end with age x; we're all in this together.  I'm enormously proud of them!  Keep in mind that the main organizer, who drove the entire process, turned 21 that weekend.  He showed incredible initiative and drive to make it happen, learned much more than he had anticipated in the process, and did a better job than most people probably would have expected.  For the future of the entire dance community, that experience was priceless.  

Having Ethan Hazzard-Watkins, the CDSS Youth Projects Intern, at the weekend was a real boon.  Some of the young dancers hadn't heard of CDSS, and Ethan added a lot in outreach, information, and helping make connections.  Hopefully it will translate both to more CDSS memberships and more participation in CDSS programs in the future.  

I call the Whipperstomper was a huge success, in numerous ways.  It was terrific fun, a new generation got immersed in organizing, the future leaders of our community made connections they'll have for the rest of their lives, and quite a few of those southern dancers will be making the trip to Vermont for the Youth Dance Weekend in September.  We started something good, and round 2 is sure to be even better!

Please note that though the Youth Dance Weekend Sept. 12-14 (http://youthdanceweekend.org/) is targeted at dancers under 35, it is not age-restricted.  Those over 35 are welcome to attend, with higher pricing.  The goal is to encourage younger dancers, and as younger people often have lower (or no) earnings, one suggestion is that older and more financially stable dancers consider paying the admission of a younger dancer.  If you're over 35 and still want to attend the weekend there are options available for you.
Lindsay also mentioned the wonderful facilities at Table Rock State Park, in South Carolina.  Harvest Moon's annual dance weekend, Moondance, is also held there, Sept 5-7 2008.  A wonderful weekend!  http://www.harvestmoonfolk.org/moondanc.htm for more information.  Space is still available.  

Thanks for asking about the weekend, Chris.  I should add one more thing -- I'm reporting this from the perspective of one of 8 or 10 people there over the age of 35, not one of the under-35 in-crowd.  It was a real honor to call there.

- Adina  
Adina Gordon

--- On Fri, 6/27/08, callers-request at sharedweight.net <callers-request at sharedweight.net> wrote:

> Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2008 10:08:56 -0400
> From: "Chris Weiler (home)"
> <chris.weiler at weirdtable.org>
> Subject: [Callers] Any Whipperstompers out there?
> Hello everyone,
> Anybody attend the Whipperstompers weekend a couple
> of weeks ago in South Carolina? I talked with Adina 
> Gordon last night about it and she had some good things
> to say. Adina, that's your cue to let us know how it went 
> and your impressions about what the organizers and
> attendees took away from it. ;)
> Anyone else attend and want to share their experiences?
> Adina and I found out that we're both planning on
> attending the Youth Dance Weekend in Vermont in 
> September. Anyone else going to be there?
> Happy Dancing,
> Chris Weiler
> Goffstown, NH
> ------------------------------
> Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2008 10:28:46 -0400
> From: Lindsay Morris <lindsay at TSMworks.com>
> Subject: Re: [Callers] Any Whipperstompers out there?
> Whipperstompers was great!
> Adina was great - dance games were esp cool! - the band was
> excellent, and the people were very fun.
> A lot of Brasstown kids hung together; a couple of people
> felt a little excluded by them, but when you've got all
> that history, yeah, it's hard not to bond even more....
> Hot - some big box fans would have been great...
> I wish I had camped - beautiful campsites close together. 
> Table Rock is a great facility.
> <rant>
> Groups that meet for primarily social reasons die (or might
> as well).  Groups that share a passion for something grow.
> </rant>
> When I sat out and just watched the dancers at
> Whipperstompers, wow! Lots of passion there.  Big 
> buckets of gotta-dance just overflowing.
> Our contra-dance language continues to morph and grow,
> beautifully. Lots of contact-improv and swing creeping in.
> Outright theatrics, ending just in time to meet the next...
> Many of these kids  youngsters  dancers grew up sleeping on
> the corner of the stage, reels seeping into their
> motion-fibers from age 1. So it's no wonder they move 
> at such a high level.  Beautiful to watch.
> We ARE part of a golden age, as someone said recently.


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