[Callers] Recruiting new dancers

Martha Edwards meedwards at westendweb.com
Tue Sep 27 13:46:43 PDT 2011

Just to set a record straight, I believe it was Spider Vetter who came up
with the "Ants-Pants-Contradance" idea. My kid went to UChicago about the
time she started the UChicago dance, and I heard the story back then. It was
such a great idea I've been bragging on her ever since, and feel she should
be given a whole bunch of credit from us!

Here's what she said when I checked with her about it:

That's absolutely true. I came up with the Ants-Pants-Contra dance promotion
idea in November of 2001, and put it into circulation for the Hyde Park
contra dance in the first week of January 2002. We accompanied the flyer
with a huge campaign of sidewalk chalk, all around the University of Chicago
campus, which Jena Barchas Lichtenstein and I spent several hours doing one
cold January night in the snow. The flyers went up the same night. The
guerilla approach to advertising was a huge success--the next day, people
were talking about it nonstop, and I believe we had almost 80 attendees at
the dance, most of them just interested parties who didn't have any idea
what the event was.

This was, incidentally, right around the time that we started holding the
Hyde Park dances consistently every month, so the Hyde Park dance is now
almost 10 years old.

I met Julia Nickles only once, at a New Year's Eve party at the end of 2004.
At that time, she was interested in new ideas to promote the dance at Brown,
which she had just become involved with. I told her about my experience with
the Hyde Park dance, and about some of my ideas, and I suggested that she
try something like that. Julia asked if she could use some of my ideas and I
said "sure, they seem to have worked in Chicago."

Not a Big Deal, and Julia deserves a lot of credit, too, for getting the
idea well-promoted.

Spider also taught me NOT to tell people that "contra dancing is sort of
like square dancing." Sometimes, she won't even tell people what it is. "You
have to show up to find out," she'll say, or "it's fun dancing to live


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