[Callers] Thoughts on "Gents' chain"

tavi merrill melodiouswoodchuck at gmail.com
Sun Oct 9 15:17:24 PDT 2011

I've noticed that Gents' chains are rather infrequent in contras, and i
started asking "why?". Chaining the gents(/men/bands/leads) opens up new
flow opportunities with star R, more intuitive circle R, et cetera. Why do
we use them so little?

After a year or so of mulling on this, i think it's due first and foremost
to confusion! While ladies' chains are ONLY ever done by the right hand,
some dances call for a gents' chain by the right, while others call for a
gents' chain by the left. If the gents give left hands, then a REVERSE
courtesy turn (reversed promenade hold) is required.

Last night i danced Gene Hubert's "Triskadekaphilia". The caller made no
effort to explain the reverse courtesy turn. Looking up the dance online, i
noticed that in his choreography, Hubert makes a distinction between "gents
chain" (by the left, which necessitates the reverse courtesy turn) and
"gents do a ladies chain" (by the right).

EITHER WAY, most dancers need to be oriented to the unfamiliar mechanics of
the role reversal when ladies(women/bares/follows) give their partner or
neighbor a courtesy turn or reverse courtesy turn, especially in the latter
case. I think if we callers are a bit more attentive to the difference
between the two, and take the time to clarify it in walk-throughs, gents
chains of either stripe could be much more familiar and user-friendly to the
dancers and, becoming more common, open more choreographic and programming
opportunities for us.


"Tavi" Merrill

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