[Callers] Style/safety/etiquette tips from the microphone

Chris Weiler chris.weiler at weirdtable.org
Wed May 14 18:02:16 PDT 2008

Thank you everyone for your contributions. I would like to compile more 
suggestions, however. I'll take a stab at remembering a few I've heard 
from the floor. (apologies to Lisa Greenleaf and other callers if I 
misremember some of them)

- The hall is crowded tonight, take care of each other
- Allemande: curl your fingers around the base of your partner's thumb 
and gently pull straight back; the wrist does not bend.
- During the swing, each person's back is vertical and is supporting 
their own weight. Ladies can help by putting their left hand behind the 
gent's shoulder to support themselves.
- Leading a twirl is a suggestion, not a command
- Talk to each other - let your partner know if what they're doing is 
uncomfortable or painful and what they can do to make dancing with them 
more pleasurable.
- Everyone has the right to say "no thank you" when asked to dance and 
then dance with someone else
- Ladies, if you are being held too close in the swing, put your palm 
against the front of his shoulder and push

Maybe some things that should be said from the microphone occasionally:
- If you're having an unpleasant dance experience with your partner, you 
can drop out at either the top or bottom of the set before the dance is over
- Feel free to talk to one of the organizers or the person minding the 
cash box if you have a problem with another dancer

I look forward to your feedback.

Chris Weiler
Goffstown, NH

Greg McKenzie wrote:
> Thanks for the topic.
> My contribution is one of my basic rules of contra dance calling:
> Never suggest by word, deed, or implication, that anyone in the hall 
> is either behaving poorly or is not up to the task of dancing well.
> The significiant question is how the real "problem" is perceived and 
> addressed.  It might require some forethought but following the above 
> rule will save the caller much grief and will make their job much 
> easier.  The caller has the most leverage at changing behavior by 
> assuming that all dancers are invested in safety and goodwill, and 
> that the dancers have the intelligence and capability to dance well.  
> Any caller comments that can be perceived as a criticism of "some" 
> dancers will cause a loss of confidence or hard feelings amongst many 
> more dancers.  That will translate into loss of dancer confidence and 
> less effective calling all around.
> Any analysis that assumes "men behaving badly to poor style to dancers 
> who are too rough." is likely to generate words that will be perceived 
> by at least some dancers as a criticism.  A better approach might be 
> to compliment the dancers on their conscientous application of good 
> style and consideration in their dancing.
> Another way of saying this is: Don't waste the dancers time by telling 
> them what they should not do.  (This is true even when "humor" is 
> used.)  Instead compliment them on their skill and then show them an 
> "advanced" technique that emphasizes safety and consideration.
> Another way of saying this: Always assume the best intentions and 
> capabilities of all of the dancers.
> Just a thought,
> Greg McKenzie
> *******
> At 08:25 PM 5/11/2008, you wrote:
>> Hello everyone,
>> We've been having a lively discussion in the Boston area about 
>> several topics ranging from men behaving badly to poor style to 
>> dancers who are too rough.
>> My question is, what tips or information do you like to give from the 
>> microphone to help people deal with these issues? How do you give 
>> them? It would help if you could share your wording because I'm sure 
>> that brevity and humor play a big part in how effective they are. Do 
>> you give demonstrations? Role play a situation on the floor?
>> My goal is to compile these into a list that we can reference, or 
>> that organizers can give to visiting callers to encourage the 
>> atmosphere they would like at their dances.
>> Thanks!
>> Chris Weiler
>> Goffstown, NH
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