[Callers] Best gigs

Alan Winston via Callers callers at lists.sharedweight.net
Sat Mar 5 17:35:38 PST 2016

I would like to associate myself with Rich's sentiments here:
On 3/3/16 10:28 AM, Rich Sbardella via Callers wrote:
> Although I have had many good nights as a square dance and/or contra 
> dance caller, My best gigs are often one night stands/party dances.  
> It is a thrill to see non dancers learn to move with the phtrase of 
> music and see those great smiles when they succeed.  40-100 people are 
> a good size for such a gig, and great music is always a plus.  Success 
> is much more important than challenge.
> Most of these parties are for a "community" that is already 
> established, so the dancers are already among friends.  I am simply 
> bringing them a new, and joyful, way to interact.
> No matter what kind of venue I call, a good way for me to judge a good 
> dance is to look at how many dancers stick around to the end.
> Rich Sbardella
> Stafford, CT
The kind of gig that makes me feel like I'm bringing new good into the 
world is this kind of gig, which for me is usually more often people 
with some kind of historical interest (Civil War, Regency, academics at 
the Dickens Universe conference).  Get people who think they can't dance 
to try it and enjoy it - I feel like that's fulfilling my mission.

That's sometimes hard work - and in some ways easy, because you don't 
have to make up a new program for every gig - and it requires close 
engagement with the crowd and continual attention, but is' quite rewarding.

On an entirely different front, I've had some pretty great nights 
leading English with great bands whose strengths I know when I make the 
program / pick the tunes and when I know what level the dancers will be 
at and push them just enough; there's a huge collective high and I've 
also gotten to deploy all my artistic judgment and make an evening 
that's just how I wanted it - I had the fun of planning a menu with an 
intention to delight and watching the meal get eaten.

I've also really enjoyed leading contras for mixed crowds where the more 
experienced dancers were good at sweeping in the newcomers. Doing that 
kind of a night where the music's good and communication with the band 
is easy and my read of the floor is really working - it kind of feels 
like Mickey Mouse in "Sorceror's Apprentice" before he realizes he 
doesn't know how to stop the brooms from carrying water, during the 
early euphoria.

But those things - dances for dance hobbyists - while I think valuable, 
are mostly helping people have a kind of fun they already know they want 
to have.  They're fun to do and fun to plan, but I don't think they're 
as big a contribution to general happiness as the dances for non-dancers.

-- Alan

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