[Callers] Politically Correct?

Woody Lane woody at woodylane.com
Sun Mar 25 20:03:59 PDT 2018

Historically, a lot has changed. Take the traditional singing square 
"Marching Through Georgia." Does anyone really think the original song 
is about ambling with friends along a quiet country road near Atlanta?

I have a thin 1989 book "Just One More Dance" by Carole Howard. It lists 
scores of filler calls for Western Squares. A very wide range of filler 
calls. Some would be great today, but others, well  . . . Some examples:

"Buckskin breeches and calico dress
Let's head out to the cider press."

"Bite his ear and twist his tail,
Swing your honey, and home you sail."

"Grab that girl and kiss her twice,
Hurry up boys, here comes your wife."

"Promenade Rose, Promenade Myrtle,
Promenade the gal with the busted girdle."

"Spank them kids, listen to them squall.
Swing the opposite across the hall."

"Swing your partner and how-dee-do,
If I had a pistol, I'd shoot you."

"Allemande left like a broken hinge,
Grand right and left like a drunk on a binge."

"Good girls walk and bad girls ride,
Come on girls, my car's outside."

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

Political correctness? Hmmmm. How many of us would call these phrases 
today? Times have changed a bit, and so have our cultures and sensitivities.

I agree with Tom -- call the best you can, with respect; appreciate and 
respect but don't worry about the words of others. We are artists, not 



On 3/25/2018 10:36 AM, Yoyo Zhou via Callers wrote:
> It looks like this is the version Rich is referring to:
> http://www.ceder.net/recorddb/viewsingle.php?RecordId=1891
> More background on the English folk song / sea shanty this American 
> folk song is based on: 
> https://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/billyboy.html
> In traditional songs things don't really have to work logically - for 
> example, in this song, there's the lyric, "She's as tall as any pine, 
> And as straight as a pumpkin vine." So the last verse of the song goes,
> "How old may she be,
> Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
> How old may she be,
> Charming Billy?
> Three times six and four times seven,
> Twenty eight and eleven,
> She's a young thing,
> And cannot leave her mother."
> This, despite the questionable math, puts the refrain into a very 
> ironic context.
> My understanding of square dance singing calls is that many of them 
> were set to popular music of the time (though I have no idea about 
> this particular one). So if your audience was expected to know this 
> song and the context behind the refrain, that would be one thing. 
> Notably, though, the square dance-edited version is missing this 
> context, and it adds the line"Promenade this pretty thing, won't you 
> help me to sing" to the refrain, "She's a young thing, And cannot 
> leave her mother"! So it'd be quite something else to hear this line 
> on its own, which makes it sound like you should be promenading with 
> your underage partners/corners.
> There's no universal answer to "is this acceptable" because it depends 
> on your "contra dance crowd" who is doing the accepting - this can 
> vary widely between dances, even within the same city. You'll have to 
> figure out if the dancers are ok with it as is, might be ok with it if 
> you give them some background about the song before you do the 
> walkthrough, or would not be ok even with that. However, I think 
> you'll find a lot of other material is less objectionable to any 
> audience (and you already have some intuition for this, since you 
> asked the callers list about this one).
> Yoyo Zhou
> On Sun, Mar 25, 2018 at 9:40 AM, Darwin Gregory via Callers 
> <callers at lists.sharedweight.net 
> <mailto:callers at lists.sharedweight.net>> wrote:
>     If you are concerned about sexism alternate between she/her and
>     he/his.  😎
>     On Sun, Mar 25, 2018, 1:39 AM Alexandra Deis-Lauby via Callers
>     <callers at lists.sharedweight.net
>     <mailto:callers at lists.sharedweight.net>> wrote:
>         People are not things. I don’t think it’s appropriate for any
>         crowd.
>         Try your hand at some new lyrics!
>         Sent from my iPhone
>         On Mar 25, 2018, at 1:12 AM, Rich Sbardella via Callers
>         <callers at lists.sharedweight.net
>         <mailto:callers at lists.sharedweight.net>> wrote:
>>         Hello folks,
>>         I have been calling singing squares for years, and there is
>>         one I love by Dick Leger titled Billy Boy.  The tag line that
>>         is sung during the Promenade is "She's a young thing, that
>>         cannot leave her mother."
>>         Here is a link to a version of the full song, not within a
>>         square.
>>         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKRJuLHU3Qo
>>         <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKRJuLHU3Qo>
>>         My question is, is this song appropriate for the contra dance
>>         crowd with the tag line above?  (The tag line is the only
>>         line that is sung.)
>>         Any Thoughts?
>>         Rich
>>         Stafford, CT

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