I've had the experience where my shadow was a creeper. And another time
they were an awful swing. They were both awful experiences.
But Maia asked specifically this thread not be about the merits of shadow
swings or not, but instead about disclaimers.
On Sep 9, 2015 11:54 AM, "Martha Wild via Callers" <
Hear, hear, Eric! My sentiments exactly.
And for a slightly different perspective: I danced a shadow dance at Glen
Echo some years back, and after swinging my shadow a few times, we both
suddenly realized we knew each other from way back (my how we change)!
Every swing was an opportunity to catch up a bit more and a bit more as we
continued the dance - it was wonderful! So good things can happen, too.
On Sep 9, 2015, at 6:39 AM, Eric Black via Callers wrote:
Wow. ISTM [It Seems To Me] that this is far more responsibility for
controlling social interpersonal interactions than the programmer and/or
caller at the mic should have to worry about, even though we do worry about
Sorry I don’t have opportunity to participate on this email list more
often. That Pesky Day Job [PDJ] and all…
Short response: Don’t point out shadow partner interaction; the dancers
need to be adult about it, no one listens to the Caller anyway, let alone
anything said while they’re still lining up.
I really REALLY don’t think that there should be any announcement calling
attention to the fact that the next dance has interaction with someone
other than your chosen partner. What, are we supposed to say “This is a
duple improper single progression with a shadow who is the same active or
inactive role one place below [or above] where you line up”?
Or should we say “Thank this partner, and ask another partner for the next
dance. As you line up, if there is someone at the dance here tonight with
whom you don’t want to dance, please make sure that they are in a different
longways set than you, or that if they are in the same long set as you that
they are not in an adjacent hands-four from you either up or down as you
line up for the dance.”
Are we dance choreographers supposed to create dance sequences that don’t
have any “serious” interaction with the shadow partner, just in case the
dancers happen to line up such that someone on the floor has an “Ex” as a
shadow partner? Or someone who hasn’t showered recently enough?
We already have the problem of MUC rejection of any dance that doesn’t
include both partner swing and neighbor swing; this seems to be an
injection of a problem of a potential swing with a neighbor some dancers
might not want to swing with, yet such swings are still required.
Yes, I understand the many reasons for not having serious shadow
interactions, but I am proud that every local dance community where I’ve
been a member, from NH/Boston to CA/SF, has understood that interpersonal
conflicts will happen, and yet social interactions are required. They
understand how to make everyone work together. Family schisms are
inevitable. Personal hygiene issues may arise.
I hope that everyone eventually can live the philosophy on Jeremiah’s
T-shirt: “Dance With Who’s Comin’ Atcha!"
Even long-time couples break up. It’s painful to the people involved and
also to everyone surrounding. We’re all Community here. Our Community is
larger and more long-lived than the simple “nuclear family” of two parents
and 2.3 children. That means we get to “enjoy” many various kinds of
family ties, both genetic and non-genetic. The Community connection
carries us all through this specific break-up episode. The Dance entertains
us and it heals us and it strengthens The Community.
I say this with a VERY PERSONAL involvement in this community support.
Yes, we DO see what’s going on. Yes, we DO love both of you, even if
you’ve split apart, and even if there is a court restraining order about
you both showing up at our dance on the same night (that’s a different
discussion, and yes, it does happen).
If there’s a personal hygiene problem, sometimes it simply can not be
helped. I myself could change shirts whenever the band changes tunes and
it still would not be often enough. In such a case, please enjoy fresh
pheromones; fresh sweat can be enjoyable sweat. If it’s stale sweat, then
by all means tell the person that a shower with soap would make him/her a
more enjoyable dance partner. That’s a quiet face-to-face conversation.
BUT please dance for several seconds, smile, and move on.
All that aside, any swing can be changed to an allemande right once or
twice (to taste), or an elbow swing, or a do-si-do, or a gypsy (with
varying amounts of eye contact, again to taste). Experienced dancers,
especially a split dancer couple who encounter each other in line, will do
whatever they feel comfortable with. What a GREAT opportunity to swap roles
with your partner, given a little look-ahead! (“Oh! that’s my Ex ahead;
let’s swap!” or just take hands with the palm-up signal that you’re taking
the “Gent” role next time) Painless and fun.
Never mind that experienced dancers often rewrite the dance to change a
non-swing dance move into a swing, even in the middle of a hey; it’s just
as easy to go the other direction, to reduce interaction. That’s what
dancers do. Just Be In The Right Place At The Right Time.
We always say that a neighbor interaction is “just one time through the
tune, just 30 seconds”. Well, a shadow interaction is generally at most
one 8-count thing; 4 seconds repeated every once in a while as wonderful
music plays. Maybe double that for some dances, so then about 8 seconds
out of every half minute or so.
It seems to me that we as social animals should be able to deal with that.
Certainly we do this in our daily lives on the
street/office/garage/whatever. We can be civil and even develop the
ability to enjoy a 10-second interaction with an ex we encounter in a
One of the things I love about contra dance is that it gives us all an
opportunity to “be” the persona we live the rest of the time, or “be”
someone else during The Dance. We’re wearing a costume while we’re
dancing, even if it’s not obvious. Many of our dancers have an
on-the-floor personality which is quite different from the personality they
exhibit the rest of the time (such as while talking and enjoying
refreshments at the break during the evening dance). Certainly I wear a
different persona on the dance floor than when I am at the break, and I’m
someone else if I’m calling, and someone else if I’m the dance organizer.
THEN there’s the issue of identifying which of the various people “near”
you as you line up might be your shadow/TrailBuddy. In a Becket dance it’s
likely to be your neighbor to the side in line, or could be next beyond
them, or the neighbor to the other side, or maybe the next beyond them. I
TRULY advise against spending too much effort in identifying the
“Corner/TrailBuddy” in advance, as the dancers are lined up. In a duple
improper, your shadow could be ahead, could be behind. It depends on the
choreography. And it changes if someone drops out, or if someone joins in
after the walkthrough.
That’s not the place to spend your precious seconds at the mic as a
caller. Get them moving and listening to the music.
We already have the problem of MUC [Modern Urban Contra] rejection of any
dance that doesn’t include both partner swing and neighbor swing; this
seems to be an injection of a problem of a potential swing with a neighbor
some dancers might not want to swing with, yet such swings are still
On Sep 8, 2015, at 8:06 AM, Maia McCormick via Callers <
First, a disclaimer: Some people on this listserv thing shadow swings are
problematic. Some don't see any issue with them. This is NOT the
conversation I want to have in this thread; *I ask that you respond to
the question I'm asking and do not debate my premise--at least not in this
particular thread. *This should help keep this thread on track and
hopefully reduce excess noise and go-nowhere discussions on this listserv.
Anyway, the actual question I wanted to ask (whew!)--
There do exist some really fabulous shadow-swing dances that I would love
to be able to call, as long as I could do so without putting anyone in an
uncomfortable position. Do folks have ideas for ways to mitigate the
potential harms of shadow swing dances? I was considering, at the beginning
of the dance, having dancers identify their shadow and mentioning, "this
will be a shadow swing dance, so if you need to make any changes, do so
now" (or something like that)--haven't gotten the wording down-pat, but the
idea is giving dancers advance warning of a shadow swing so they can move
(thereby changing their shadow) if they need to. Any thoughts on this
method? Suggestions of others?
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