[Callers] ideas for callers about sidelines

Linda Leslie laleslierjg at comcast.net
Wed Jan 16 08:51:51 PST 2013

Dear Jill,
I encourage you and the Board members to go to the archives from the  
Puttin' On the Dance conference that was held in the Fall of 2011. The  
link is:
The organizers of this conference have generously shared their  
findings with all of us. You will find lots of great advice about  
organizing dances in general, and how to foster a dance community in  

It is so disappointing that dancers may have left your local dance  
because of not being able to find partners! And while there are some  
things that the caller can do, much also depends on the dance  
community and how inviting they are to the new dancers.
Just a few thoughts about each of these:
Caller: 1) At the end of a dance, warmly encourage dancers to invite  
those sitting out to join the next dance; I believe the responsibility  
for this is more with those who have already been dancing. Those who  
are sitting out may be too shy, or not know the social "rules", and  
may not jump in readily 2) Choose a dance that does not need just one  
partner, for example, a three facing three dance. 3) Related to this:  
Have a number of dances in your repertoire that have minimal need for  
gender designation. 4) Do a scatter mixer dance, and encourage the  
dancers to invite someone into the dance at any point in the fun.
Dancers/Board: The Board that organizes the dance should develop ways  
to encourage the participation of newcomers. 1) For example: "dance  
angels"....dancers who may or may not have a visible button indicating  
that they are more than happy to dance with new folks.  2) Have a  
special meeting to which the dancers are invited to brain storm ways  
in which the dance can be more new dancer friendly. This will help  
dancers develop a sense of ownership of the dance, and may give the  
Board some ideas that would uniquely work for your dance group.

Good luck with helping your dance community grow!
warmly, Linda

On Jan 16, 2013, at 10:22 AM, jill allen wrote:

> Have you as a caller or organizer had particular success in helping  
> people to find partners, especially when there is gender imbalance?   
> I welcome comments about the issue of making sure all are having  
> equal opportunity to dance. I recently received a message from our  
> contra dance board asking callers for suggestions on this issue.  I  
> believe that the organizers are addressing this issue because we  
> have had dancers leave after not being able to find partners.  I  
> will be sharing your comments with our board and they will share  
> these thoughts with callers as they are hired to call a dance.
> Thank you!
> Jill Allen
> Lawrence, KS
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