On Jan 7, 2019, at 9:26 AM, Jonathan Sivier via Callers
Back in the 1980's, when I first encountered dances with this figure, the term
"Box Circulate" hadn't been coined as far as I know. I've only been
hearing that term fairly recently (which could easily be 10 years or more I suppose, I
don't know when it was first used).
The terms "Box Circulate" comes from modern western square dancing. Clark
Baker's database of square dance calls
dates it to 1968. (Box Circulate is a variant of an 8-person call "Circulate",
which Clark dates to 1963.) The first use of the Box Circulate action (but not the name)
that I know of in contra dancing was in Steve Schnur's dance "The 24th of
June", which I believe Steve wrote in the early 1980s. I don't know whether he
got the figure from MWSD or whether he developed it independently.
Back then the term I heard most often for this figure
was "Rotate". The original poster was asking for a term to use while calling
that was a bit less cumbersome than "Box Circulate" or even
"Circulate". Going back to a more compact term used in the past seems like a
I believe the name "Rotate the Set" is a coinage of Larry Jennings. I don't
know whether Larry was aware of the existing term "(Box) Circulate". If he was,
this is one of the unusual instances where I'd question his judgment. I don't
think "Rotate the Set" is any more suggestive of the action, and it seems
gratuitous to invent a new name simply to avoid using terminology from MWSD.
The usual terminology I remember from the 1980's was something "Men [or gents]
cross; women [or ladies] loop" (or vice versa, as appropriate), which uses more
syllables but is IMNSHO fr more suggestive of the action than either "Rotate (the
Set)" or "(Box) Circulate".
As for dancer misunderstandings of the action, the most common one I've noticed is
that some dancers will cross the set and apparently feel compelled to turn around and face
back in, as if that's the obvious--or even the only possible--right thing to do.
Another thing that can happen is that an original in-facing dancer may not cross the set
at all, perhaps on account of the adjacent dancer retaining a handhold too long.