On 5/19/15 1:08 PM, Ben Hornstein via Callers wrote:
I'm calling a dance this weekend at Comicpalooza, a large comic book
convention. The crowd will be at least 95% people who have never
danced. What are some dances that you all recommend for this sort of
If you're in a hotel ballroom, try to keep them from laying down a tiny
dance floor in the middle of your space. Short-pile ballroom carpet is
a lot better than mostly-short-pile-ballroom-carpet with a wooden lump
with raised edges in the middle. Dancers hate dancing on carpet;
non-dancers don't care. They're going to have the wrong shoes in any case.
Give up on any idea of doing modern contra dances with duple minor
progression. Things are different form when I first got involved with
sf fandom, but I'm imagining you'll likely have a gender imbalance.
Don't require or try to teach ballroom swings; elbow turns or two-hand
turns are probably good.
These will typically be very in-their-heads people; you want to
circumvent that at first by getting them moving right away, and not
having to do any language processing. Make them successful immediately.
Get one long line of people holding hands, you at one end. Lead the
line snaking around the room, doubling back sometimes so that everybody
sees everybody. Wind up the ball of twine by bringing the line into a
circle and then doing progressively smaller circles until just before
you can't turn around. Turn around and trace your path back. Bring the
line around into a big circle, with you next to the person at the end of
the line. Bring them into the center and back on out, do it again with
a great big shout. Applause.
(If you have adequate gender balance or willing people, you could pair
them up and do a Grand March instead of the "wind up the ball of twine"
you have above, and if you're leading a Grand March you can turn it into
a wind-up-the-ball-of-twine as well. The thing above is great for
getting hold of people too shy to find partners, and there's no partner
stuff so even people who don't want to dance with the same sex don't
generally freak out.)
If you have partners, do Circassian Circle mixer (Into the center and
out twice, ladies in and out, gents in and go to the lady who was on
their other side (next neighbor); balance and swing (can be two-hand
turn, elbow swing, whatever) and promenade. Reform the ring, repeat) or
La Bastringue (Into the center and out twice, circle left, circle right,
swing the next lady/gent, promenade).
Squish the circle into two facing lines. (If there's an extra person,
step out, if you're needed make sure you're in at the top.)
Orcadian Strip the Willow (google it). Top couple elbow turn right one
and a half, left elbow turn the neighbor in line, turn partner once,
left elbow turn the next neighbor, etc, etc. A new couple starts every
16 bars of music or when they have enough running room to do it.
Break up into smaller sets (four or five couples). Virginia Reel/Roger
Another good five-couple set dance is "Up the Sides and Down the
Middle", but don't do it as your first small set dance. - Take hands in
lines, step-swing balance right and left and right and left, drop
hands, cross right should with partner and loop to make lines on the
other sides. Repeat all that to return. Tops make an arch and lead down
the middle while second couples cast off, leading their lines down the
outside; they meet and lead up the middle under the arch, finishing with
original tops at the bottom, original seconds at the tops. Swing to the
end of the phrase and repeat from new places.
By this time everybody who isn't aerobically fit is resting. Make
squares for Cumberland Squares / Square 8.
By now there should be some understanding of phrasing, especially if
you've been pointing out how figures fit to the music.
If you still have enough people and they are are reasonably gender
assorted you could do a Sicilian Circle. If you have gender balance,
Spanish Waltz is good. (Couple facing couple, gent on the left, waltz
time. Take near hand with partner. That hand (gent's left, ladies
right) is the only hand used for the first sixteen bars.
Balance forward and back; take neighbor's only hand with your only hand
and change places, turning the lady under. Face partner, repeat with
partner. Face neighbor, repeat with neighbor. Face partner, repeat
with partner, all are home. Right hand star, left hands back. Facing
neighbors, lead forward, fall back, drop hands, pass through, bow or
curtsey to next neighbors. Repeat with new neighbors.)