[Callers] Callers Digest, Vol 51, Issue 1

Martha Edwards meedwards at westendweb.com
Wed Nov 5 15:01:22 PST 2008

Well, hmmm... Since many of us (including me) are newish callers here, I'll
risk throwing my two cents' worth in here.

I think this issue is a LOT more complicated than it appears at first - some
halls seem to gather people in one corner or another (maybe, but maybe not
(!) having to do with the slope of the floor) and some dances seems to
encourage people to bunch up or spread out at certain points in the dance.
It would be useful if some scientific investigations would help us
understand when and why!

That said, I do think we as callers can help. I like for the lines to spread
out just far enough for each person in the long line to make a "W" when
holding hands with the people standing to either side of them. Not a "T"
(arms stretched out wide) and not an "I" (shoulder to shoulder), but a
kinder, gentler "W".  I think the space between partners standing across the
set from each other should be more like the "T" (arms stretched out).

If we taught that in beginner classes, some people would remember it and try
for it, and then we could mention it, say, once a night, or once every other
night if we call somewhere regularly. Just a short "Stretch out the lines
just far enough to make a "W" with the person standing next to you."

And what to do when the lines are short and the bottom couples drift to the
bottom of the hall?  I say "Wait for 'em". If they don't come join you, just
stand there, but invite them up with a reaching out gesture. If they REALLY
don't come join you, just turn around the next time through the dance and
become a two. I've never had to do that, but I can imagine someone getting
so absorbed in their swing dancing or conversation that they forget the rest
of us are there, in which case we do them a favor by giving them extra time.
Most of the time, a single disciplined couple can get an entire line
tightened up by the time they make it to the bottom of the line. You can
even do it by yourself if your partner doesn't fight you too much.

The same goes for the bunching up at the top.

   1. There are moves like Long Lines Forward and Back that are perfect for
   resetting the spacing. Taught right by the caller, it becomes fun, actually.
   Diagonally long lines ("Strech em out, stretch em out. Way out, way out").
   2. Or on a Down the Hall, don't come too far back. Just stop when there's
   enough room for the couples ahead of you.
   3. It's a little rude, but you can also swing or circle just a little too
   close to the folks below you, and they'll avoid you by swinging closer the
   the folks below *them*.

 Oh dear. I'm afraid I've put in six cents' worth.


On Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 1:00 PM, Mark Widmer <widmermt at yahoo.com> wrote:

> That reminds me of an issue I've noticed when dancing (but forget about
> when I'm calling). In a short contra line, occasionally some people will
> wait out at the bottom of the HALL, rather than at the bottom of the SET,
> putting a very large empty space between them and the other dancers.  The
> problem is compounded when it is time to rejoin the dance, and the end
> couple just stands there which encourages the next couple in the set to come
> join them at the bottom of the hall, unaware of the void being created
> within the set.
> Mark Widmer (central NJ)
> "Mortland, Jo" <j-mortland at neiu.edu> wrote on Mon, 3 Nov 2008 10:03:18
> -0600:
> Hello, all,
> Are any of you teaching the concept of individual dance space?  With so
> many newcomers at some dances, it would be a useful thing to mention.
> Do you have any good metaphors you use?  Any visual imagery?
> Thanks.
> Jo Mortland
> Chicago
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