Hi Emily,

I recently helped write a set of Contra Etiquette tips for CDNY that might have some useful stuff: http://cdny.org/what-is-contra/contra-etiquette/ A lot of it is geared towards more experienced dancers, but you could pick and choose relevant points (and maybe de-technical-ify the language some) that seem like they apply to beginning dancers.

For what it's worth, in my pow-wow with the beginners just after the lesson ends and before the dancing starts, I say the following:
- anyone can dance with anyone (that goes for genders and for experience levels). Anyone can ASK anyone to dance (so new folks ask experienced, women ask men, men ask men, etc.). Anyone can decline an offer to dance.
- if you mess up, smile and laugh--it's really fine! (Usually I point out that the experienced folks make 10x more mistakes, we're just better at hiding it)
- contra is full of figures that are for the most part very simple--the tricky bit is explaining the figures in words, and then matching the calls with the figures, but I promise you can do all these figures. (And it gets easier with practice!)
- the rule in contra is "better never than late"--if you mess up one figure, shrug and smile and get in place for the next one, rather than trying to catch up

You might consider saying something like, it takes a few dances to start feeling really comfortable with this stuff, so we hope you come back again? 

And of course, I recommend writing in big letters, "we love you, come dance with us again!"

CDNY gives "your second dance free" passes to first-timers--is this something your dance might consider?

There are a bunch of rather disorganized thoughts--I hope some of them are helpful!


On Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 10:15 PM, Emily Addison via Callers <callers@lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
Hi Claire, Donna, Andy, and Linda,

Thanks for the feedback!  

Donna - your link is great... much much thanks for that lead. :)

And Claire - I totally agree with you regarding about the role of the dance community.  I've heard that from others, and our committee would agree, that the welcoming/encouraging behaviour of regular dancers can make/break a beginner's experience!

The idea of the handout is that it's just one more wee tool as we try to help retain a few more of our beginners.  Some folks don't like reading material but others are keen to dive in a bit deeper in print format and right now all they can take home is our schedule.

Anyway - I've had some other feedback from the organizers list so will work away on the project for the next few months.  

Much thanks and if anyone else has ideas, I'd love to hear.

Emily in Ottawa

On Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 3:04 PM, Donna Hunt <dhuntdancer@aol.com> wrote:

The Mt. Airy (in Philadelphia) Thursday Night Dance has this on our website.  We are in the process of revamping it, but feel free to pick and choose whatever might work for your group.

Web Site:  donnahuntcaller.com
Email: dhuntdancer@aol.com
Cell:  215-565-6050

-----Original Message-----
From: Emily Addison via Callers <callers@lists.sharedweight.net>
To: Caller's discussion list <callers@sharedweight.net>
Sent: Wed, Apr 20, 2016 3:31 pm
Subject: [Callers] caller suggestions for beginner handout

Hello shared weight callers :)

Knowing that callers do so much to support brand new contra dancers, as a dance organizer, I have a question for you!

Ottawa Contra is working on a 1-pg handout to give to first time dancers.  The goal of the handout is to provide tidbits that will help convince first timers  to come back, that contra's accessible/they can be successful/climb that learning curve, and that contra's a great fit for them.  Who knows if the handout will actually work but we want to try as part of our focus on increasing the retention of all the beginners we get.

I have a few examples of other handouts but they often focus on explaining the specific moves. 

We're thinking more along things that speak to the spirit of contra/are inspiring PLLLUS great technical tips (nuggets!) that can make a huge different to their experience as beginners.

If you have any ideas, please pass them along. They may be little messages you feel every beginner should know, or even tips you provide in the beginner/intro lesson before the actual dance.

With much thanks!
Emily Addison in Ottawa ON
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