[Callers] The Beginners' Lesson Tips?

Greg McKenzie grekenzie at gmail.com
Mon Oct 3 17:20:32 PDT 2011

Donald wrote:

 I particularly like mixing everyone together at the start of the
> night.. I also ask that at the end of the mixer.. you ask whomever you
> ended with to dance the next dance.  Thus new dancers and experienced
> learn from each other.

Well,...actually, only some of them do.  Mathematical chance pairings like
this can easily put some first-timers together as partners.

The basic idea of integrating the hall at the very start is a great one.  I
see integrating the hall as one of the central tasks of a contra dance
caller.  But how can you best assure that *all *of the first-timers are
matched with regulars?

The fact is that the regulars are the ones who can identify the newcomers
and partner with them.  Any kind of random pairing or other forced mixing
will come across as manipulative and will disempower the regulars who--I
have found--are more than willing to actively seek out newcomers.  The trick
is to make sure that dancing with first-timers is fun!

The best callers assume the support of all the regulars in the process of
integrating the hall.  If you want *all *of the newcomers matched up with
regulars it has to be a voluntary process that empowers the regulars to take
an active role in the integration.  Then the process is done with
intelligence and goodwill.

This is one reason I seldom call mixers.  I put my confidence in the
regulars to pro-actively seek out newcomers and partner with them.  This is
much more effective than any random mixing strategy.

- Greg McKenzie

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