Glad Heitzo reintroduced this thread, as I'd dropped the ball on responding to Alex.
And about that focus group, it was lovely. We ended up with fewer respondents than we
anticipated, but what got shared was quite juicy, and it spawned a project to further
document our local dance scene. I haven't had a chance yet to write the blog post
about it, including posting the video, but will do so soon!
Questions from Alex Deis-Lauby:
Chrissy- can you tell us more about the norms of the Belfast dance?
Do the youth dancers dance both roles and with everyone?
Yes both roles, yes with everyone. But for perhaps obvious reasons, the teens do tend to
enjoy dancing 'with their friends' and historically that has meant that one set
tends to have more teens than the others. We're working on that, because we want all
of the sets in the hall to be populated by the teens and their good cheer/happy energy.
Do the non-youth dancers do so as well?
Some dance both roles, but to a much lesser degree.
Thinking about ages and genders, who asks whom to dance?
Anyone. Anecdote: I once told a potential new dancer, who was inquiring about our series
on the phone, "Anyone can dance with anyone, although I've never been invited to
dance by a teenager." The next night, a 13 yo girl invited me for the first dance.
Are there flourishes?
Are the young dancers playful in role swapping or in other ways? Is that mirrored among
the older dancers or vice versa?
I think there's generally a playful attitude at our series, but that's across age
levels. If, by 'role swapping', you mean switching roles back and forth
throughout a given dance sequence, we don't have much if any of that, which I think is
a good thing. Our dances always have a high percentage of new and/or easily-confused
dancers, and I don't think such a practice would be fair to the other dancers. Sets
would fall apart, people would be confused. I think that would be an example of skilled
dancers indulging their own whims at the expense of the rest of the dancers in their set,
and as I said earlier, people are generally considerate of each other at our dances.
Do the young ppl have ample opportunity to dance with and socialize with their peers?
Yes. Plenty of dancing and plenty of sitting on the sides chatting.
Is there a strong overall culture of consent?
Is the default: “dance with who’s coming at you”?
Yes, to both. People are nice aka considerate to each other, in general. Some people are
insensitive, which makes me crazy as a caller/organizer. (For example, some individuals
seem to think they are being awesome dancers when they twirl themselves and other dancers
indiscriminately and relentlessly. Ugh. If I were Angela Merkel, you know what my eyes
would be doing.) But that is not the norm.
Do people ask what dance role preference their partners have regardless of gender
I don't know. I know that's what I tell people to do, as a caller ("Invite
someone to dance, decide who's going to be lady and who's going to be gent, form a
___set.") I also know that's always a conversation whenever I, myself, get a
partner, whether I'm inviting or accepting an invitation. But I don't honestly
know what the norm is across the dance floor at our series, so I can't say.
Other notable aspects of your dance community?
I don't know. Um... we holler a lot?
We do tend to have a lot of families who dance with their kids, parents, siblings,
cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents (maybe like Aaron Marcus, who was mentioned in another
And just a subtle point, I'd say it's less of a dance community and more of a
community that goes to dances. Meaning that dancing is not the only reason that these
people get together. They might see the same people at school, church, a talk/lecture,
restaurant, art opening, concert, movie, rowing, volunteering, hiking, sledding, potlucks,
etc. Perhaps a characteristic of small town, rural county life? But our monthly dances
do seem to be treasured, which we on the board count as a great thing.