[Callers] sidelines

Kalia Kliban kalia at sbcglobal.net
Fri Jan 25 19:01:01 PST 2013

  > "If anyone wants to discuss the ways callers...and others can lead, 
I would
> love to have such a thread."
> Although we might not all agree on what is acceptable dancer behavior, do you have more ideas for callers and organizers, perhaps a list of what has worked for you to make your dances more inclusive and friendly to all.

In my beginner sessions I make a point of demonstrating how to ask 
someone to dance.  A lot of new dancers may not have done this since 
high school or earlier, and it's a very different ball of worms at a 
contra dance.  It can be super simple (offer a hand, raise the eyebrows) 
or you can say "would you like to dance?"  But it doesn't have to be a 
big deal.  That can take some learning, so I like to give folks a head 
start on that very important process.  And I describe the overall shape 
of the evening as well (when the breaks happens, whether there's a 
snack, is there always a polka before the second set...), since it's 
nice to have a bit of a clue about how things work.  When I'm new at an 
event, I really appreciate knowing stuff like that.

Which brings up an important learning opportunity for those of us who 
are old hands at contra and may have forgotten what it was like to be 
the new kids.  Take a night or two and go to something completely alien, 
either a really different sort of social dance or a class in something 
you really aren't familiar with, and pay attention to what helps you 
feel more at home.  Is it learning peoples names, or knowing where the 
bathroom is, or how the event is structured, or specifics of how you do 
the thing you're there to do, or something else entirely?  Step outside 
your own comfort zone and be a beginner again.  It's illuminating, and 
you might learn something really cool!


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