[Callers] Politically Correct?

Maia McCormick maia.mcc at gmail.com
Wed Mar 28 09:09:00 PDT 2018

(Ah, to clarify, by "offered a dance to split them from their partner" I'm
talking about the phenomenon that Louise mentioned, where a queer couple
(or heck, even same-gender friends!) are offered dances by people to slot
them into opposite-gender couples.)

On Wed, Mar 28, 2018 at 11:56 AM, Maia McCormick <maia.mcc at gmail.com> wrote:

> While Jeffrey makes a compelling point, I want to chime in with another
> thought: *that not having these discussions is just as divisive (if not
> more so) than having them*, just in ways that are harder for some sides
> of the community to see. While people make (very valid) claims that long
> discussions about terminology, altering words to singing squares, etc. are
> alienating some more established members of the community, to *not* have
> these discussions is to alienate many other folks, particularly people our
> dance scene has done less well by in the past -- young people, people of
> color, queer people, trans people... the list goes on.
> And if it doesn't look to you like these people are being alienated, that
> might be because the alienation started so early that they just never came
> back to another contra dance, after they heard the caller using language
> that made them deeply uncomfortable, or were "offered" a dance to split
> them from their partner, or looked out on the crowd and didn't see anyone
> who looked like them.
> So yes, having these discussions may make some folks uncomfortable, and I
> want to strive to minimize this discomfort; at the same time, many are made
> deeply uncomfortable by the status quo, often it ways it's hard to see
> (because often the response to this kind of discomfort is to leave the
> community and not come back--so we have a pronounced sample bias). To
> dismiss these conversations because they're divisive or uncomfortable is to
> prioritize the unity and comfort of one group (the established contra
> scene) over another (all those who might have been contradancers, were the
> community more welcoming to them), and that doesn't sit right with me.
> Cheers,
> Maia
> On Wed, Mar 28, 2018 at 11:43 AM, Jeffrey Spero via Callers <
> callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
>> He’s right… and she’s right.  How can they both be right?
>> Well… they ARE both right.  There is no clear cut answer on this. People
>> who feel strongly on one side or the other may like to think there is a
>> clear cut answer, but if one thing seems clear to me by the amount of back
>> and forth on this subject it’s that there are differing valid opinions.
>> In the meantime, while we argue endlessly about whether to gypsy,
>> walk-around, face-to-face, vis-a-vis, spiral, gyre, turn by the eyes,
>> whimsy, kipsy, tipsy, shmipsy - or just avoid the move altogether, we lose
>> why many came to contra dancing in the first place.  Contradances were a
>> place where people would come to actually get away from all of the
>> controversies of life. It was a place where people from differing stripes
>> with differing beliefs (OK, maybe I’m being idealistic here - let’s not kid
>> ourselves, it’s mostly liberal whites!) can come together and leave the
>> real world issues behind and just dance and be friendly.  And now? These
>> controversies have made their presence known on the dance floor.  And it’s
>> not just gypsies or no gypsies.  It’s also questions of role identification
>> (men/women, ladies/gents, larks/ravens, jets/rubies) and whether people
>> should boycott dance weekends that gender balance.
>> Please don’t misunderstand me… I have very little fight in this game.
>> I’m moving to the point where I couldn’t care less about what we call moves
>> or people.  I’m just tired of the endless discussions that go nowhere
>> except to continue to divide people and make the dance community cohesive.
>> Maybe I’ve become an old fart who just wishes we could have the dance
>> community we had decades ago that wasn’t so fraught with divisiveness.  Or
>> maybe there’s something to what I have written here.  Maybe the decline in
>> attendance at dances across the country has less to do with terminology -
>> and more to do with people not wanting to be a part of yet another
>> community that is becoming polarized.  Do I have a solution?  Nope.  And
>> neither does anyone else, or else it would have been solved by now.  So
>> maybe we should just cool it for awhile and see if maybe tolerance for
>> personal preferences might help make the community less contentious. Can we
>> just get back to dancing for the pure joy of it?
>> My two cents.
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