I think the tags were key. My worst experiences were when gender is
not mentioned, and people have
no reminder of which role they are dancing.
On Mon, Jul 31, 2017 at 12:59 PM, Amy Wimmer via Callers
I recently had the opportunity to call a contra to a group of rank beginners
in a difficult situation: outdoors, on sloping concrete, without
amplification for either myself or the band, to people not expecting a
dance, with a band mostly unfamiliar with either contra or fiddle tunes, who
had no opportunity to practice or choose tunes. It was a staff party with a
barnyard theme. Granted, this particular good of people is accustomed to
being spontaneous and silly at times, most are in their 20's, and it's a
liberal, accepting group.
The organizers wanted to use the terms "cows" and "chickens" instead
other usual terms for dancers. When they arrived at the party each person
chose a name tag with either a cow or a chicken on it. They didn't know it,
but this determined which role they'd play in the dance. I arbitrarily chose
to "put the chicken on the right, because the chicken is always right." (I
keep chickens, and they ARE always right)
There was not time for much of a lesson, either. It'd have been much easier
if everyone had joined the dance at the beginning. All said, just about
everyone had a really great time, myself included. The band was hyped up to
try another dance evening later in the week, though that never materialized.
I never mentioned gender in any way. That part just seemed to not matter.
They were dancing with their friends. It didn't matter that they weren't
experts or even very good.
I was heartened and encouraged to try something like this again, perhaps
with more widely used dancer terms.
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