I do believe that there is a line that callers should not cross in
"meddling" with the social dynamic. I have a hard time with identifying
booking ahead "good" or "bad". It's like ice cream. It's great
tastes good (because you get to dance with your friends and favorite
dance partners), but if you take too much of it, you get stomach aches,
fat and heart disease.
What works for me is a rule (occasionally broken) that I will not book
further ahead than the next dance. I make sure that I dance with 1-3 new
people (people I have never dance with before, not necessarily new
dancers) during the evening. I do try to seek out new dancers for those
dances, but I don't want to exclude visitors from that group, either.
When people ask me to book a dance further ahead, I just reply "Sorry, I
don't book anything more than the next dance."
I used to book up my evening, and hurt people's feelings when I double
booked or forgot. I also realized that I wasn't dancing with anyone new,
just the same people. And usually in the center set all night. Talking
to other dancers, listening to callers, eventually the message got
through about being welcoming. That and the negative experiences with
booking ahead convinced me to change. I think that it's something that
we all learn about and deal with. It's a part of that transition from
"intermediate" or "sophomore" dancer to "community" dancer
have talked about before.
You can take it to the other extreme, though. If no one books, people
get frustrated that they weren't able to dance with their favorite
partners, and the the dance isn't as fun as it used to be. The key, just
like everything else in life, is balance. That is what we can encourage
from the mic. and that is what we can role model from the floor.
Seth Tepfer wrote:
So my original post asked for pointers, not to get into
discussion about booking ahead. I should have known better. It's a volatile
topic, and I've heard many people speak out against caller intervention
into dancer's personal affairs.
I'm disappointed that there aren't more pointers about how to encourage
dancing on the fly (or not booking ahead). However, since I've invoked this
discussion, I might as well put in my two bits.
I've heard :
* it's manipulation - won't work for the long run and builds resentment
(and the caller loses dancer trust/caller points)
* it's not the caller's business who the dancer's dance with
* some dancer's only do one dance in a row
* manipulation might pair dancers who have antipathy toward each other
* dancers come to dance with their friends. If they don't book ahead, they
won't get to dance with them.
Okay. I acknowledge the masses. Forcing partners after a circle mixer seems
to be bad.
I've heard numerous defenses for choosing your partner for future dances.
But I do not hear discussion or acknowledgement about why booking ahead is
detrimental to the community.
* creates an 'elite' micro-community - those who are dancing, and those who
* makes it very challenging for those who are sitting out to get a dance
* makes the dance intimidating and less welcoming for new dancers
* clumps the levels of dance experience together, making it more
challenging to call dances
* creates an atmosphere of exclusivity
* reduces the amount of social mixing, thereby reducing the primary reason
people come to the dance - to meet people!
I posit that booking ahead *IS* the domain of the caller, because it is
detrimental to the long term health of the dance. However, I will
acknowledge there are plenty of dance series where booking ahead has been
the rule for many years, and they are still chugging along quite nicely,
thank you very much.