There have been suggestions that same-gender interaction can be
stressful. In my experience this is especially true with men in the UK.
Someone said "My impression is that most urban contra environments have
at least a few people who swap genders". This may be true in the USA,
and lots of ladies in the UK do take the man's role where numbers are
not balanced. But very few UK men take the lady's role on a regular
When I do I often find that other men appear to be uncomfortable with a
close-hold swing. I normally now go for a Galway Swing when I meet
another man for a swing: Start with an Allemande Right hold, hook your
left fingers around the other man's right elbow and buzz-step - makes
for a great symmetrical swing.
Here is a dance that uses it to give same-gender swings without stress:
Galway Swing (by John Sweeney)
A1: Men Galway Swing
Partner Gypsy to an Ocean Wave (Men in the middle with Left
A2: Balance the Wave (R/L); Slide to the Right (Rory O'More)
Ladies Galway Swing
B1: Neighbour Gypsy Meltdown into a Swing
A2: Long Lines Go Forward & Back
A2: Half Hey (Ladies start Right Shoulder) - Men look for a new Man
after passing Right Shoulders with the old Man
The main challenge is stopping your swing at the right point so you can
flow into the gypsy - plan ahead!
John Sweeney, Dancer, England john(a)modernjive.com 01233 625 362
http://www.contrafusion.co.uk for Dancing in Kent
I'm supposed to do an hour of flirty contra dances at Queer Contra Dance
Camp next weekend.
Of course they all are, to some degree, but I wonder what comes to mind
for you when you think of a flirtatious contra. (And what would be the
characteristics of a flirty dance for you. As someone with long
experience in English dance I think there can be exciting flirtatious
connection without a lot of touching.)
I'll just get Flirtation Reel out of the way right now.
I'll obviously have something with a Mad Robin in it.
I'm thinking about Ramsey Chase.
What are your thoughts?
I don't see a difference between the the indecent and the indifferent other than in one we ask the ones to be proper and the two's trade places and in the other (indifferent) we ask the dancers to from improper then change places with their neighbor.
Tom Hinds, are you around for a quick answer?
I've been a little behind on SW lately, but this thread is rich in both
ideas and potential misconceptions i would like to speak to.
As Mac and Aahz rather humorously shared
> I will admit - I prefer opposite gender swings - Am I homophobic and
> just don't know it?
> Well, I *overall* prefer opposite gender swings and other kinds of
> physical interactions, has something to do with being heterosexual, I
> think. ;-) That's different from feeling >uncomfortable< with or
> disliking same-sex interactions in dance.
i'd chime in and say i have a slight preference for same-gender swings -
for obvious reasons. The swing holds a special place in contradance as the
moment of sustained, more intimate interaction, and i'd wager to say we ALL
prefer swinging folks we'd be keen on, er, dancing the horizontal tango
with. That said, i don't give a crap who i'm swinging as long as it's a
satisfying swing, and gender has less to do with that than skill and the
subtle communication that allows dancers to orient themselves (often during
a balance) as they pull into the swing.
Homophobia is subtle, and ingrained. I'm gay, and some of the darkest
moments in my life stem from my own homophobia. Often i'm unaware of when
that homophobia is expressing itself - for example when i'm teasing a
straight roommate by calling him gay, bolstering my sense of membership as
"one of the guys". As a homosexual male, i have experienced genuine
homophobia on the dance floor - men who refuse to swing or even look at me
when i'm dancing the ladies' role - but the vast majority of same-role and
same-sex swings i've encountered are awkward not because of homophobia.
Ironically enough, the "Northumberland swing" many guys automatically reach
for (http://www.cs.umd.edu/~nau/misc/swing-positions.html) is more
"intimate" than ballroom position - but it is a widely known non-gendered
I think the issue here is more about (related to homophobia, but subtler)
misogyny. Because the dance roles are defined by gender, if dancers aren't
expecting or mutually planning for a symmetrical hold, there's a moment
when dancers ask themselves, and wordlessly ask each other, which one is
going to suddenly become the "lady". The subconscious cascade reaction is
distracting, and entry into the swing becomes awkward and
less-than-satisfying. Nobody likes unsatisfying swings. And there's always
"that guy" who swings dudes harder than chicks... it can be a lot of fun to
utilize the physical opportunity of swinging another man to go fast, swing
hard, et cetera - a celebration of masculinity, even? - but sometimes it's
also an expression of insecurity. I'm sure even for "that guy" it varies
with the day, the mood, the guy he's swinging, and he's probably a bit
rough with the ladies too.
As a caller i love "playing" with dancers' expectations by using same-sex
gypsy, do-si-do (in proper formation), s-s down the hall, even s-s grand
R&L. I'm rather judicious with same-sex swings. All these moves depend very
much on the crowd. In a gender-free context, they have zero impact; in a
staunchly "traditional" group, they can be truly uncomfortable; in the
right environment, they'll have the dancers laughing, acting playful,
having a blast. As Ryan S pointed out, it's our responsibility as callers
to know, or to ask questions about, the dancers we've been hired to
entertain, making choices appropriate for the hall. (Look who's talking...
i often err to the side of slightly challenging dances...) "Social
engineering"? well, that's a caller's personal choice.
If one feels moved to use same-sex swings, i agree with Andrea that
teaching a symmetrical hold improves the dancers' experience. Many of the
moves we see less of are a matter of teaching - for example, the gents'
chain. It's less a question of homophobia than of people being befuddled by
the reversed promenade hold and courtesy turn, in my experience an element
which few callers adequately teach.
Re: the rarity of same-sex R&L through: i'd argue that's entirely a
choreography "fashion" issue. S-s R&L through typically occurs in older
choreography associated with actives-only swings. The few dances i know
which utilize both S-s R&L and a neighbor swing have fairly challenging, or
generally awkward choreography.
p.s. John, i did like the 'Galway swing' dance you shared : )
p.s.#2 a great flirty dance nobody has mentioned: "Gypsy Star" by Adam
Carlson. becket formation: A1. CL 3/4, PT and swing the next. A2 LLF&B,
Ladies' chn. 1. Ladies R shoulder gypsy; gents enter in front of partner
and all four gypsy; ladies drop out @home and gents gypsy 3/4 more to B2.
Partner bal & swing
another great flirty dance: "Coleman's March", available on Ted Crane's
In older contra dances, danced duple or triple proper, same-sex right-and-left-through moves are common -- that is, a R and L through started from a position where two men are facing two women. Through the folk process, we have largely abandoned that practice, and either don't call those dances or call them much modified. There may be a number of reasons for this, but I think likely part of it has been discomfort with the same-sex interaction in that move. The folk process can take us in any number of directions….
"AFAIK it's a non-traditional element being added to a traditional folk
dance form. It's not well defined, so awkward. A caller could say that
#2's take the ladies position in the swing, but a caller at the next dance
could say the reverse... so still not well defined.
"As a caller, the job is to facilitate an enjoyable dance, not make a point
of deliberately poking people's stress buttons.
"As a traditional folk dance form, contra dancing is not static, but
evolution should come from the "folk," not self appointed social attitude
Richard S. Hopkins
I just don't accept that men not wanting to dance with other men
necessarily has anything to do with homosexuality.
Not to derail the flirty contradances discussion any further, but I wanted
to put in my two cents. And to be fair, I *can* only speak about the US
here, but I suspect much of this will apply to the UK as well. At the very
least, I want to explain how men not wanting to dance with other men
almost certainly has something to do with homosexuality and fear
thereof--and you can decide yourself whether or not that explanation
applies in the UK.
If dancing with another man is not a particular male dancer's first choice,
because they prefer to dance with women, or it's too complicated to work
out the lead/follow dynamics, or what have you, that I can accept. But men
being so averse to dancing with other men that it makes them decidedly
uncomfortable to participate in a same-sex swing? Seems homophobic. (And of
course, there may be other reasons behind this... but homophobia seems the
simplest explanation for the majority of cases.) I'll explain.
"Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings
toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as
being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender."
I would argue that the reason for this discomfort with same-sex swinging
stems from the men not wanting to be perceived as gay. NOT THAT THIS IS
(necessarily) A CONSCIOUS SENTIMENT! I think it mostly stems from societal
attitudes that are, at this point, incredibly deeply embedded. But, think
about how much more social license female friends have to touch each other
than male friends do. How men are expected to be constantly reinforcing and
proving their masculinity by talking about sex, cars, etc. Think about the
implications of the phrase "no homo"--that being suspected to be gay would
be *the worst thing, oh my god* and one must avoid it and make disclaimers
about their actions. Here's a superbowl ad from a few years
look at how a) men kissing is hilarious and b) when they've done something
gay, these guys freak out and need to reassert their manliness.
Again, I'm not saying this is how any of the contra-men in question would
react to, say, an accidental gay kiss... but these are the social norms
that we're working within. So to me, two men being uncomfortable with close
physical contact *absolutely* says, "no, we don't want to get too close or
we'll seem/be gay," that is, a fear of homosexuality (or perception as
such, or implication of such), that is, homophobia.
But, I'm really curious what other explanations you can offer for this
discomfort. It's just that, to me (being a gender studies major and all),
this seems like the most obvious one. But I really am eager to hear
Forgive the gender-studies rant, I just get nerdily excited about this
stuff! I hope that was somewhat coherent, but if I lost you anywhere, I can
certainly clarify (or someone else can jump in and say it again more
2013/4/10 Colin Hume <colin(a)colinhume.com>
> On Wed, 10 Apr 2013 14:30:58 -0400, Dave Casserly wrote:
> > I'm not really sure what you're trying to say with your analogy
> > here. Do you mean that people in England are actually more
> > homophobic, and that people in America should accept that because,
> > well, we wouldn't want English people coming here and telling us
> > what's right and what's wrong either, when they don't know our
> > culture and haven't danced here? If so, then you're right, that's
> > a premise I disagree with.
> Dave -
> According to Wikipedia (and other online sources),
> "Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings
> toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as
> being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender."
> I just don't accept that men not wanting to dance with other men
> necessarily has anything to do with homosexuality. But I can see that
> we have radically different attitudes, and I don't want to get into a
> long argument about it! Since you probably won't be calling contras
> in England it's not that relevant.
> Colin Hume
> Callers mailing list
The dance is called "Fruit Punch" by Diane Silver. To be clear, the
choreography (Becket formation) is
A1 With couple on L diagonal, Yearn to new Neighbors and fall straight back
(8); Ladies Allemande Right 1.5 (8)
A2 Neighbor Balance & Swing (16)
B1 Take hands in a ring and balance the ring (4); Pass through to a short
wavy line across (neighbor right hand, ladies left hand) (4); Balance the
wave (4); Neighbor allemande Right .5 (2); Men pull by the left (2)
B2 Partner Balance and Swing
On Sun, Apr 7, 2013 at 12:00 PM, <callers-request(a)sharedweight.net> wrote:
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> 1. Re: Fruit Punch choreography (Rich Goss)
> Message: 1
> Date: Sat, 6 Apr 2013 09:23:23 -0700
> From: Rich Goss <richgoss(a)comcast.net>
> To: Caller's discussion list <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
> Subject: Re: [Callers] Fruit Punch choreography
> Message-ID: <5205567C-41B3-4E6A-9221-AE7348B4A664(a)comcast.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> I came across this old thread. I'm unclear on the exact name (is it Punch
> or Bunch?) and the author (is it Diane Silver?)
> Cool dance!
> Thanks, Rich
> On Aug 23, 2012, at 4:54 AM, Bree Kalb <bree(a)mindspring.com> wrote:
> > Joy, I got Fruit Bunch from Diane a couple of years ago. Yes, it is a
> Becket. The A part is correct. Here's the B:
> > B1 Take hands in a ring
> > Balance the ring; pass thru to a wave*,
> > Balance the wave
> > Neighbor allmd Rt 1/2; Men pull by the Left to Partner
> > B2 Partner Bal and Swg
> > *still with same Neighbors, women in the center; neighbor on your right
> > -----Original Message----- From: Joy Greenwolfe
> > Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2012 1:00 AM
> > To: Caller's discussion list
> > Subject: [Callers] Fruit Punch choreography
> > Fruit Punch by Diane or?
> > I have Improper written down, but it looks like a Becket.
> > A1 With couple on L diagonal, Yearn to new Neighbors and fall straight
> > back (8)
> > Ladies Allem R 1+1/2 (8)
> > A2 N Balance & Swing (16)
> Callers mailing list
> End of Callers Digest, Vol 104, Issue 7
Speaking of dances with missing details, I have a great dance called
Fruit Punch. Diane Silver called it at Bogue Banks Boogie a few years
ago. Not sure who wrote it (maybe Diane?).
I evidently wrote it down wrong since it doesn't progress but instead
keeps sending the dancers back and forth. Someone said it felt like
it was missing a circle somewhere. Does it start with a circle left
half way into a slide left? Does anyone have the correct
choreography? I haven't heard back from Diane yet about this question.
What I have is this:
Fruit Punch by Diane or?
I have Improper written down, but it looks like a Becket.
A1 With couple on L diagonal, Yearn to new Neighbors and fall straight
Ladies Allem R 1+1/2 (8)
A2 N Balance & Swing (16)
B1 Take hands in a ring.
Balance the ring (4)
Pass through to an ocean wave (4)
Balance the wave (4)
N Allemande R x1 (4)
B2 Ladies Allemande L 1+1/2 to partner (8)
Partner swing (8)
Thanks for any clarification anyone might have.