I try and call the dances of Rich Blazej whenever I can and this one's a
Halloween favorite, re-done as "Werewolves and Zombies".
*Garfield's Escape* -- circle of couples PLUS ONE EXTRA in the center
A1 All into the center EIGHT steps and back, menacing the Garfield
A2 Circle left, circle right
B1 Women (werewolves) promenade single file to the right, while men
(zombies) "star" by the right -- each man puts his right hand on right
shoulder of the man in front - including Garfield.
B2 Caller hollers "Escape!" ("Boo!", or maybe "Braaaiiins") and all men
run to the outside and swing with a woman in the outer circle. A new
Garfield remains in the center.
Rich himself named this after Garfield the comic-strip cat, way back when
he was cynical and funny (the cat, not Rich).
"The single man remaining at the end of the dance is entitled to a pan of
lasagna and some fresh kitty litter".
My favorite normal tune for this is the minor jig Coleraine, played at a
slightly slower lurch-y tempo, but if I'm lucky the band'll do the Alfred
Have fun, just thought I'd share -- and I'd love to hear how it goes if you
do it, and what variations emerge.
Sure they're all fun (we hope). I'm looking for a few dances that are particularly playful, quirky, silly....something that typically gets the dancers laughing.
Some examples would be "Over the Hill and Still Chased" with the lady round two/gent cut through figure, or Beneficial Tradition when the dancers throw their free arm up and shout "Wooo!"
You get the idea. What are your favorites?
Linda Leslie's suggestion of gyre as a replacement for gypsy bubbled around
in my brain and a new (I think) dance percolated up. It has a twist that
isn't the gyre (which I consider just new nomenclature); women casting out
of the swing to travel from one minor set to another (similar to gent's
movement in Scoot by Tom Hinds).
I haven't gotten to test it with dancers yet, as I just finished running it
through with pegs on my desk; but I wanted to share it in support of a new
A Gyre for Linda
by Luke Donforth
(4) Pass through to an ocean wave (ladies left, catch right with partner)
(4) Balance the short Wavy line
(2) Walk forward
(3) Shadow gyre right 1/2
(3) Gents gyre left 1/2 in the middle
(16) Neighbor gyre right and swing
(8) Men allemande Left 1-1/2 WHILE women cast cw around whole set one
(8) 1/2 Hey, passing partner by right shoulder
(16) Partner gyre right and swing at home
As for the other aspects that have been discussed:
I pronounce it with a softer g sound. For reasons unclear to me, gyre has
different accepted pronunciations; but (to my knowledge) gyration doesn't.
As for using the term (which I clearly support); it costs me nearly nothing
to switch and helps make the dance more accessible for some; both in
dropping a term some find offensive and making the name more descriptive of
the move. My job as a caller is to help share the joy of dancing, and if
this does that I'm in favor of it.
I haven't heard anyone suggest standardization and I'm not pushing for it. My whole issue has been freedom so whatever people want to use if fine by me.
At one time, around 2011 I thought the use of different terms by callers might lead to problems but now I don't think that's the case.
Sent from my iPad
Preserving tradition and being appropriate to our day and age are not
I actually love rich traditions that we keep alive. We talk about "living"
traditions, so what do we mean by this phrase?
For something to be alive, it changes. It adapts. What it doesn't do is
stay stagnant and unchanging. The whole reason contra dancing is still
alive today is because it's alive and changing.
By insisting on holding onto traditions verbatim, we are actually doing
more to kill them than save them. Sure, we'll preserve them this way - as
one does a taxidermied animal: perfectly preserved, sitting on a shelf,
I'd prefer my traditions alive. I'd like to keep sharing them with younger
generations. That means that people like Rich are asking the right
questions. That means we need to consider that language changes and that we
need to speak in a language that reaches an audience not merely just our
Hey, isn't that the whole point of being a dance caller? Being heard by
In dance, again,
On Wed, Mar 28, 2018, 1:33 AM Ron Blechner <contraron(a)gmail.com> wrote:
> I want to echo the words of Alex D-L and Dave Casserly.
> I'm also appalled at the casual use of the n-word on this thread without
> anyone whatsoever calling it out. This is really giving me pause. :(
> Contra's attendance is dwindling - I hear it from every organizer I talk
> to, with a couple exceptions. I also hear about the desire to "get the
> young people to dance". Hmmm.
> Ron Blechner
> On Tue, Mar 27, 2018, 11:39 AM Dave Casserly via Callers <
> callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
>> I don't think your situation here is exactly what Colin describes--
>> you're not worried about any of the particular words, as many of us are
>> regarding the word "gypsy," for instance. The question here is whether the
>> phrase has an offensive *meaning* of "women are things," and if so, is
>> that a good reason not to use it. Personally, I'd probably alter it or do
>> a different singing square. I don't subscribe to the extreme position that
>> you should never sing lyrics to a folk song unless you agree with those
>> lyrics; that would make singing folk songs very difficult to do at all.
>> That said, there are some times where the meanings of lyrics are offensive
>> enough, without any redeeming qualities, that I leave a verse out or alter
>> a few words in the singing sessions that I lead. There is nothing
>> sacrosanct about a particular set of lyrics to a folk song; people have
>> been changing them for whatever reason for generations, and will continue
>> to do so. If future singers don't like my revisions, they can sing a
>> different version, just like I sometimes prefer to ignore Victorian-era
>> revisions to bawdier songs.
>> Here, I'd lean toward not using the lyrics for three reasons: 1) they
>> imply that women are objects; 2) there's nothing redeeming or valuable
>> about them, as they're the only things sung, with no context; and 3)
>> similarly, they don't represent the meaning of the song, and when repeated
>> on their own, sort of pervert that meaning (at least going by the lyrics
>> Yoyo posted).
>> I also think there are good reasons to err on the side of inclusive
>> language, particularly in our community. Contra dancing is overwhelmingly
>> white, and for a long time, contra dance calling was dominated by men. The
>> loudest voices on this forum are those of older white men. Contra dancers
>> and particularly organizers are disproportionately white baby boomers.
>> We're seeing the effects of that now; dance attendance has been dwindling
>> as older dancers stop attending and aren't replaced by younger dancers. If
>> we want our dance form to continue to thrive, when there's a question on
>> which there's a generational divide (as you, in my view correctly, note
>> here), I would err toward using the language less likely to turn off our
>> younger generations, which are also our most diverse generations. This
>> isn't an issue where changing the lyrics is going to bother people-- very
>> few would know the original lyrics well enough to notice-- and certainly
>> nobody would know if you selected a different singing square instead.
>> David Casserly
>> (cell) 781 258-2761
>> List Name: Callers mailing list
>> List Address: Callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net
>> Archives: https://firstname.lastname@example.org/
Some of you may have known Susan Moffett, who was a dancer and a caller and
a musician (and an artist and a mother and a wife and a friend and a
professor and a teacher in the truest sense). She danced and called dances
in Louisville and the surrounding region.
She was consistently positive and supportive, a great communicator who
modeled so many things for me as a caller and as a human.
Her celebration of life will include both a service and, of course, a
dance, on Saturday, May 19 in Louisville. (Service at 4:30, dance at 8:00).
"Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power
and magic in it." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Several replies are of the "it's OK in context" or "that's how things were
back then" variety.
To use that as the sole argument, however, leads me to a cute little rhyme
my friends and I would sing out when we were about 5 years old and playing
in the yard out on the west coast. It began, "Eenie, meenie, minie, moe..."
I hope no one would suggest that the rhyme in question is fine in this day,
"if only it is put in context."
Granted, your example is a little tamer (in my eyes, but others may find it
equally offensive to the rhyme mentioned; I don't know).
Maybe there are other arguments for retaining the original that stand up
better to true scrutiny. It would be a shame to retain, in common usage
(thereby prolonging the insult), cultural relics that would be unacceptable
in civilized society today.
It would also be a shame to lose past cultural joys.
What about those pop songs that get altered to remove a "derogatory term
for a homosexual" here (Dire Straits) or a "medication usually prescribed
by a physician" there (Meatloaf)?
Where does one draw the line?
Adapt to current mores or die, Relic!
Good luck with that, Rich!
ps. We have just recently had pass in parliament a change to our national
anthem, to make it gender-neutral, from "in all our sons command" to "in
all of us command". Wasn't THAT a challenge!
Then some smart guy pointed out:
"FYI: The original lyric to the 1908 version of “O Canada” was “Thou dost
in us command.” Was changed to “All Thy Sons” in 1914. So for you
traditionalists, Robert Stanley Weir’s original lyric was, in fact,
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.
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.)
I am an example of someone who gradually left a dance community partly because of what I saw as offensive lyrics in singing calls….. When my wife and I were dancing modern western squares in the late 1980s, in Ohio, many callers were using contemporary pop and country songs for their singing calls. Maybe they still do. One of the reasons we left MWSD after a few years was their choice of country songs for their singing calls (which were about half the dances called in a typical evening). I particularly remember cringing at use of Hank Williams Junior’s song “If the South Woulda Won the War”, which argues that if that had happened we wouldn’t have the social problems we have now (or had in the late ‘80s). Not to belittle the concerns that others have brought up, but there are (or were) a lot more offensive songs available — at least offensive to me — than have been mentioned here. And I am at least half a southerner myself….
I'd make my Supreme Court down in Texas,
And we wouldn't have no killers gettin'off free.
If they were proven guilty, then they would swing quickly,
Instead of writin' books and smilin' on T.V.
We'd all learn Cajun cookin in Louisiana,
And I'd put that capitol back in Alabama.
We'd put Florida on the right track 'cause, we'd take Miami back,
And throw all them pushers in the slammer.
Read more: Hank Williams Jr. - If The South Woulda Won Lyrics | MetroLyrics <http://www.metrolyrics.com/if-the-south-woulda-won-lyrics-hank-williams-j...>