[Callers] ideal contra tunes

Michael Barraclough michael at michaelbarraclough.com
Thu Oct 25 09:54:47 PDT 2012

No-one seems to have mentioned that the tempo should be appropriate for
the situation. 

How about considering some of the following:

Presence or absence of air conditioning
Floor surface
Number of beginners
Where the dance is in the program and what went before and what is
coming next

At our local dance (Glen Echo) I have seen new dancers leave in their
droves because the band was playing 120-124bpm for the 1st few dances
(and the caller didn't change this).  They were exhausted!

Winter speed here is typically 118-120 but in the summer 116 is much
more comfortable.

If it is taking longer than you would expect for the line to reform
(people are drinking, changing T-shirts, resting etc) then consider that
the pace (or the length) of the last dance was too much.

Michael Barraclough

On Thu, 2012-10-25 at 09:00 -0700, Kathryn Bowman wrote:
> Out in the Pacific northwest, we generally tend to play quite a bit lower
> than 120.  We get complaints about 118 that we are playing too fast from
> the dancers and callers.  Kind of depends on the dance, how many four or
> eight count moves, how far apart the lines are if its a big hall, the
> experience of the dancer, some of the moves like hays and wavey lines.  I
> generally like about 114 if its not too hot.  Some callers ask us to call
> as slow at 110 which feels pretty draggy to me.
> On Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 10:47 PM, tavi merrill <melodiouswoodchuck at gmail.com
> > wrote:
> > 120 bpm is generally considered normal - but one of my best dance
> > experiences ever, with the band "Old Grey Goose" left me both feeling
> > sublime, and realizing their tempos were on average a little lower than i
> > was used to. Ralph Sweet has a great thought about tempo - the idea that,
> > based on the length of the average human leg, there is a frequency of
> > motion at which the least force is expended to set it swinging (imagining
> > the dancer's leg as a pendulum)...
> >
> > And i suppose that, like everything about dance music and calling, what is
> > ideal really depends upon the dancers present. Suffice it to say i've had
> > great experiences as a dancer around 118, but when i'm really "into" a tune
> > on the fiddle, it's easy to warp up to 126 without realizing it. As a
> > fiddler new to playing for dancers, if your technique on notey reels is up
> > to snuff, it's easy to get carried away and confuse "energy" with speed -
> > sometimes the hardest thing is slowing down. On the dance floor that
> > confusion never happens, fast is just fast... and less enjoyable to dance.
> > Hence my making a somewhat conservative suggestion.
> >
> > tavi
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