[Callers] Social engineering

David Lawrence Harvey dave at nycbarndance.com
Sun Oct 9 06:31:06 PDT 2011

I agree with you, David, and the comments of Bruce Hamilton's that you point
to.  Where there's a caller that is needed, you might say the caller is a
unfortunate necessity.  I suppose many callers would prefer to, and perhaps
do when given the chance, join the dance when all of the decisions Bruce
Hamilton is talking about are made.

Dave Harvey
NYC Barn Dance

2011/10/8 David Millstone <David.Millstone at valley.net>

> A brief response to Greg, and then I'm turning my attention elsewhere...
> lots of other things to do!
>   Social engineering is at the heart of what a contra dance caller does.
> At the heart? C'mon, Greg. Really? Choosing an appropriate selection and
> logical sequence of dances? Is that social engineering? Teaching clearly,
> with enthusiasm and warmth? Working with the musicians?
> Using your terms, I'd encourage you to reconsider the frame in which you're
> viewing an evening of dance. If indeed you see yourself as a social
> engineer, that can lead to some poor decisions, IMHO. I think of the dance
> as a party, with the caller in charge because that's the way everyone agrees
> things will work well.
> Bruce Hamilton says it best. Here's an excerpt from his booklet, "Notes on
> Teaching Country Dance" published by CDSS and available from that
> organization. Highly recommended.
> David Millstone
> Lebanon, NH
> ====
> Country dancing needs a single individual making dozens of decisions every
> minute--Which dance do we do next? Which version? Does it need another
> walkthrough? Are all the sets long enough? Is that tempo too slow? etc. It's
> usually not as important which answer gets chosen as that some answer is
> chosen. Otherwise things stall, and people don't get to dance.
> It is crucial to understand this: people accede to your authority be cause
> that's the shortest way for them to get to dance. Generally speak ing, they
> do what you say, not out of respect for your experience, because they think
> you know more than they do, because you have a big voice, because it's a
> habit they picked up in school, or anything like that. They do what you say
> out of enlightened self-interest.
> Every one of those decisions mentioned above could be made democratically,
> but then we'd do less dancing. For every decision made there is some dancer
> who wanted a different choice; but if she speaks out to dissuade you,
> someone else will speak up for a different choice, and while we get that
> resolved we're not dancing.
> So this is a textbook example of government by the consent of the governed.
> ======
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