[Callers] Gender free dances

Lewis Land lewisland at windstream.net
Sun Dec 5 11:08:08 PST 2010

I feel compelled to comment on this very fascinating discussion about 
calling gender-free dances, especially now that the subject of 
eliminating "dominant/submissive" moves like the courtesy turn has come 
up. I have a gay son, and one of my students once described me as the 
most politically-correct person he'd ever met, but come on, people. One 
of the things that adds zest to contra dancing, and in my opinion to 
life in general, is the interplay of men's and women's roles... as one 
of the earlier correspondents put it, "when do they match and support 
each other? When do they work in opposition, it's what makes dances so 
unexpectedly yummy. We have to acknowledge and embrace those issues, 
because if we get too neutral we'll lose the story lines that make some 
of our best dances come to life". I couldn't agree more. I am not sure 
what new language could be developed to replace "ladies" and "gents". 
Some of the suggestions seem valid. But when the discussion turns to 
eliminating some of the most pleasurable aspects of contra dancing 
simply to make the event more gender-neutral, I cannot help but think 
we're becoming absurdly politically correct.  -Lewis Land

As one who's life has been a little gender-role-freeish, I feel politically
 >entitled to come out and say I DON't like the band/bare thing, just 
 >the verbiage is less than euphonious to my ears. That said, I don't 
have any
 >better ideas .... yet. But I'm thinking, I'm thinking.
 >In many dances the roles of the "gent" and "lady" are NOT the same -- 
one is
 >a little  more active, one is more reactive.
 >In any given pair of people, one PERson is often more active than the 
 >It's the interplay of these two things (when do they match, support each
 >other? When do they work in opposition?) that make dances so unexpectedly
 >There must be a way to acknowledge and embrace this -- if we get too 
 >we'll lose the story lines that make some of our best dances come to 

On 12/4/2010 10:08 PM, Jim McKinney wrote:
> There's my inexperience showing.  Beckett formation never even crossed 
> my mind.
> Something I have been thinking about in regard to this gender free 
> discussion is ladies chain with a courtesy turn.  Having 
> Evens/Ns/Bares chain removes gender from the language but the act of 
> courtesy turn still seems very dominant/submissive to me.  My wife and 
> I tried walking through a couple options: a skater's/promenade 
> hand-hold in front or a no hand-hold, kind of gypsy to maintain the 
> interaction and still get turned around the right way.  The thing we 
> decided we liked best was evens chain across to an allemande left.  
> That seemed to keep the roles more neutral no matter which part was 
> danced by a man or woman and still get everyone into the right places.
> I love ladies chain with a courtesy turn and as a dancer would hate to 
> give that up but as a caller I think I need to be prepared for the 
> occasion when neutral is better.
> Jim

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