You need to watch this video:
There are dances where you can take the greatest caller in the world,
the best band in the world, and there will be stubborn dancers who
just. Don't. Listen.
Thank you Ron for responding and for posting this link. This is
hilarious! I have seen it before. It perfectly typifies what I call the
"selfish dancer" frame. This is how we imagine the worst behaviors of the
most obstinate dancers.
But there is a reason this is a cartoon. Real people are never quite this
clueless...not when standing with other dancers, and not to the caller's
face. Nor would you accuse anyone of behaving this way to their face. It
is a "frame" we create in our own brain to stereotype dancers. As such it
is quite useless when dealing with reality.
The reality is that all of us are capable of clueless and obstinate
behavior at times. And all of us can change our behavior...and rather
quickly I might add. What it takes is interaction with a leader who
assumes the best qualities of those they are leading.
When I wrote:
"> But if the dancers perceive the process of
partnering with first-timers
be a “duty” or “task” instead of one of the
primary reasons they enjoy
attending open, public contra dances—and make the effort to drive two
to such a dance—this is the caller’s fault."
Ron responded with:
While, in my experience, the friendliness of the
average folk dancer's
is better than the average person in general, we are far from the
picture you describe.
The picture I describe is a "frame" in your brain. You have to create it
there and use it. People tend to fulfill our expectations of them, either
positive or negative. It's about leadership. If you treat someone with
respect and kindness they will be more likely to respond to you in a
similar manner. If you treat them like a cartoon...well, I think you get
Ron then wrote:
While you and I agree very much so on the caller's
responsibilities, you paint too rosy of a picture of people. Callers
can set a good example, promote friendliness and safety, inject energy
into a room, but not even the best diplomats in the world can stand in
front of a room full of people who are attending event to have
personal fun, and turn them into altruists who want to seek out new
Callers are in a unique position. If they do their job well they are
representing the interests of the entire hall...as well as a tradition that
spans generations. That is not omnipotence but it is more influence than
anyone else in the hall.
Ron also wrote:
I also think that by alleging this "it's the
caller's fault", you
de-emphasize the things that *do* work to make dances more friendly. I
think they are long-term initiatives that must be done by organizers
in conjunction with callers. For example, the dances I attend that
have clear, written, expressed organizational values that promote
friendliness and safety are, by no coincidence, the dances that are
the friendliest and most inviting towards new dancers.
Well, you might have a point here. All of that is important, and useful.
I emphasize the caller's role only because this is a discussion list for
callers. Isn't it?
That's why we have these discussions here -
because it's the community
leaders acting together, and not one person at a dance - the caller.
This is a *community* dance. Attitudes in a community are dictated by
the whole community, not one person on stage with a mic.
Absolutely. I agree fully. As the group facilitator and a leader the
caller is in a good position to inspire leadership in others as well. The
whole community is needed to make any progress on these issues. The caller
leads by multiple means. Some of them have been described as: "Leading by
example", and "Leading by omission." I use the term "Leading by
assumption" to describe what I outlined above. A lot of it has to do with
what a person decides NOT to say and NOT to do.
If anyone wants to discuss the ways callers...and others can lead, I would
love to have such a thread.