On Sat, May 30, 2015, Jacob Nancy Bloom via Callers wrote:
On Sat, May 30, 2015 at 2:57 PM, Delia Clark via
It will ultimately be a good thing if there is a generally accepted set
of words (certainly not a strict requirement, but something that???s
generally accepted across the country, if possible) that meet the range of
criteria, along the lines of those suggested by Ron in his matrix.
There is an assumption behind this statement which is often made, but
which I find very disturbing.
The assumption is that it is an unalloyed good thing for there to be
Sounds more like you're making an assumption from my POV. "...ultimately
a good thing" may well be considering the net benefit rather than
believing there are only positive features.
This is the kind of thinking that led the Modern
Western Square Dance
movement to standardize all of their calls, and all of their teaching
programs. They wanted any square dancer to be able to go to any
square dance club in the country, or in the world, and immediately
know exactly what was meant by everything that was said. There are
some advantages to that kind of standardization, especially if you
happen to be a globe-hopping square dancer who enjoys dancing hot
hash, but it comes at a tremendous cost.
It comes with a loss of the opportunity to experience, adapt to, and
appreciate regional differences. I don't care about being able to go
to a new place just to find that things there are done in the same way
that I'm used to them being done back home. I care about being able
to go to new places and learning the way things are done there.
It's not clear what you mean by "hot hash". The most common definition
within the MWSD community these days refers to very fast-paced calling,
and if that's the definition you're using, I completely disagree with
your point. (Speaking as someone who's been doing MWSD for more than a
quarter-century and is currently approaching my second anniversary as a
square dance caller.)
"Mainstream" is the smallest program that's used by a significant
fraction of the MWSD community, and it generally takes about a year to
become proficient at it, to the point that ear, brain, and muscle all
work together at nearly instinct level. There's simply no way to switch
between groups within a single city without some level of
standardization, and once you've committed to the standardizing process,
there's a lot of benefit to scaling the standardization as large as
Side note: the standardization overall benefits callers more than
dancers, which I hadn't appreciated until I became a caller. I believe
the gay square dance community has stuck with gendered terms for similar
If you dislike the way that MWSD expects dancers to execute figures
completely ad hoc, you probably should try a different kind of square
dancing -- but don't tell us how we should be doing things.
I've recently learned about Rueda, I haven't been able to find out how
much standardization there is within the Rueda community, but because
Rueda is couple-based rather than four-couple-based, it probably has more
opportunity for regional variation.
It may well be that a certain set of terms will become
because it works better for the dancers in a lot of places. It may well be
that dances which were written to be gender-neutral will be generally
accepted because they work better for the dancers in a lot of places. In
the meantime, if you find yourself assuming that it would a good thing if
there was standardization across the country, please give some thought to
what advantage you are trying to achieve, and what the disadvantages would
That's a sentiment I can agree with.
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