These are good points, and they bring up a larger situation. Presumably,
Tom accepted the gig months ahead of the date (like all of us). A few
days before the gig, he receives the new "rule". Does anyone think that
there might be a slight ethical problem here?
When we accept a gig, it's an agreement between two consenting parties.
This is, in fact, a contract. I'm not talking about a long legal
document with pages of small print in a sans serif font. That's not
customary in our dance culture, although in other types of performances
it may be the norm. In any case, in the contra dance world, nearly all
the specifics are not in writing; they are just accepted behaviors and
conventions. The artist (here, the caller) accepted the gig with certain
expectations -- microphone, payment, times, etc. The organizers have
expectations of quality, preparation, being on time, etc. These are all
cultural norms. Every community has its own way of approaching this.
After all, this is a community dance, and things are often pretty loose
with lots of volunteer helpers, not a hard-knuckled bargaining dispute
between unions and coal mine owners.
Here's the issue: Let's assume that the new terminology rule had been
decided up by the organizing committee after Tom's gig date had been
scheduled and finalized. But Tom didn't learn about this change until
just before the gig. I think the organizers have a responsibility here
to convey their decision to the caller in a timely manner and ask if the
caller still wanted to do the gig with this new condition.
Alternatively, the organizers could set a future date when this rule
would become a rigid part of the agreement, and any scheduling for gigs
after that date would include that rule in the initial back-and-forth
communications between the caller and the organizers. That gives both
parties all the information they need to make their decisions.
The awkward period would be the transition period that Tom was caught in
-- where the rule was conveyed close to the gig date and the caller had
to accept it "fait accompli" or cancel. By laying down a rigid rule
unilaterally, the organizers actually broke the agreement. No one wants
this, but IMO that's what they did. But Tom wanted the gig, accepted the
change, and was gracious enough to adjust and call it anyway
In that case, however, I think the organizers could have conveyed
something different -- like Yoyo gently described -- that the organizers
"prefer" that the caller avoid the word "gypsy", use an alternative
or phrase, and here is a preferred alternative, but that the caller use
judgement for the ultimate choice. This communication would be during
this awkward transitional period. There would, of course, be some
dancers who may complain, but this would also be an opportunity for the
organizers to convey to those dancers the ethics that they followed and
that it's just a transitional period.
My two cents.
On 3/28/2018 4:04 PM, Tom Hinds via Callers wrote:
Thanks for the suggestion. The rule was sent to me
days befor the gig
and it took my mind a good long while to process and work through it.
The organizer knows my concerns.
Sent from my iPad
On Mar 28, 2018, at 6:34 PM, Yoyo Zhou <yozhov(a)gmail.com
> On Wed, Mar 28, 2018 at 2:29 PM, Tom Hinds via Callers
> <mailto:email@example.com>> wrote:
> Here was my issue, briefly : I was told to use "walk around"
> when calling at glen echo. It also happens that I'm a western
> square caller and have used "walk around your corner, see saw
> your taw" for decades.
> Here is an opportunity to say to the organizers, "I understand your
> intent is to avoid certain language, but your proposed substitute
> doesn't work for me because I use 'walk around' to mean something
> else. I would prefer to use [such and such] or another alternative to
> avoid confusion. Does that work for your community?" This is a
> conversation between you and the organizers, which will ideally
> result in clearer communication at the dance itself. But if they
> don't want to budge, then you've hopefully communicated that their
> rigidness is hindering you from presenting a good program. After all,
> we're here to serve the dancers.
> Yoyo Zhou