I'm not quite sure how US 'camps' differ from UK 'folk festivals'.
Here we have many festivals, now run by their own committees (Whitby & perhaps others
used to be run by EFDSS). Participants make their own arrangements for accommodation or
stay on the camp/ caravan site. Either weekends (Fri evening - Sun), long weekends
(including a bank holiday Mon) or a week. In many of these music and song are the main
emphasis, both concerts and a chance to sing and play, the choices for the evenings
include a Ceilidh. The local community may be able to buy a separate ticket for the
ceilidh. The festivals like Whitby & Chippenham which include American & Playford
dance workshops & dances also have a ceilidh dance strand - people pick and mix, turn
up for whatever they want. There is a fair overlap between the dancers.
----- Original Message -----
From: Alan Winston winston(a)slac.stanford.edu [trad-dance-callers]
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2018 7:32 PM
Subject: Re: [trad-dance-callers] Regular Column and Support by CDSS for "Community
What would it look like for CDSS to adopt family dancing as a peer to Contra and
I see your suggestion that there should be multiple regular columns in the CDSS News.
Are you thinking more of a how-to, reports on what people are doing around the country, or
CDSS camps support training for contra and English callers, and I can imagine their
doing that for barn dance and family dance callers. I'm having a lot of trouble
thinking they could fill a camp where the main dance activity is barn dance. [This may be
my own blinkered view, but it seems to me that CDSS knows how to support dance hobbyists
and callers, and that the point of community barn dances is that they're accessible to
people who aren't dance hobbyists and never will be. They support communities,
whether that's the people gathered together for a wedding or a PTA meeting. CDSS
doesn't have any reach there.]
Summarizing: Columns in CDSS News. Support for caller training in leading community
dance. Distributing or producing and distributing instructional materials and
dance-length recorded music through the bookstore. What else can you see CDSS doing to
support this effort?
On 3/15/18 10:39 AM, Paul Rosenberg paul(a)homespun.biz [trad-dance-callers] wrote:
Over the years I have written to to the trad-dance-callers list about sending a letter
to CDSS to give "community barn dancing" equal status to contra, English, song
and Morris; both to have a regular feature in CDSS News (quarterly
"newsletter/magazine”) and also to reach out to and support groups and individuals
who organize or lead/play at these dances. I finally ended my procrastination and sent
this out on Sunday to the CDSS Executive Director Katy German and the CDSS News editor
Lynn Nichols, as well as CDSS outgoing president David Millstone
Hi Lynn, Katy and David,
In my very little spare time, after procrastinating for years (I first broached the
subject of CDSS supporting community barn dancing with Brad Foster quite a number of years
ago), I am quickly going to try to get the ball rolling.
In this letter, I am choosing to call this type of dancing “community barn dancing”,
since contra and other dancing that CDSS has supported for generations is also in the
category of ”community dancing"
Because my life is so busy (family dance series this afternoon, community dance series
this Friday, etc, etc), I am going to give you a VERY BRIEF synopsis of what I hope will
become a future of support by CDSS to community barn and family dancing.
(Just for a bit of background about me, my contra calling career included many nights
of challenging dances, and I loved that repertoire. I also created and was director of
the Dance Flurry Festival from 1988 to 2005. But I also have always loved to call family
and community dances since the beginning of my calling career in 1986. A few memories as
a dancer during the early years of “zesty contras” in the mid-1980s included being VERY
UPSET on certain dance evenings when, for example, one caller ended a fun contra evening
with the Virginia Reel, not a zesty contra; and also, one night when Dudley Laufman came
to call at our local zesty contra series, and I found his dances to be too easy! And boy
did I complain to my dancing friends!!! Now, I am in Dudley’s “camp”. Several years ago,
as I found the contra community did not want to do circle dance mixers, squares, or easy
contras anytime during a dance evening, I decided to retire as a contra caller and call
only community barn and family dances. However, just so you know, I still occasionally
show up at a contra series dance and usually have a great time dancing.)
I do realize that CDSS is showing more support than ever before to community barn
dancing, and has supported family dancing for a long time.. THANK YOU! I would like to
now take this to the next level.
In the contra and English dance community, community barn dancing is often perceived
as one of two ideas: an entry level/gateway to the “real” dances, or the “minor leagues”
of contra and English, and of lower status. I know, because I was one of those folks!
My goal is to convince CDSS to bring community dancing up to the same status as contra
There is a huge potential for increasing participation in dancing if CDSS can garner
the population who likes to dance, but who do not care to become experts or to engage in
the endorphin rush of the constant swirling and twirling and fast pace of many dances now.
This also could be a great way to increase membership and support for CDSS.
One idea I had, based on a recent Eblast tidbit from Lynn asking for ideas for CDSS
News articles, is to have one or two regular columns focusing on Community barn dancing,
and also Family Dancing. At this point, I think the most important column to add is about
community barn dancing. Many of my colleagues and friends tend to think of community
barn dancing as family dancing. The differentiation that I and my colleagues see,
however, is that family dancing is geared to families with young children, and community
barn dancing is open to all ages, including children/families, but dances are not geared
to youngsters. They are just easier dances with an emphasis on community rather than an
emphasis on becoming a great dancer or getting into a zone with the newest zestiest dances
and hottest dance bands.
My experience calling community barn dances over the last 30 years reminds me that
with all the trends toward more and more complex dances in the contra and English world,
the roots of dancing of the barn dance variety will always be there, especially in places
where real communities exist, where neighbors or common communities like to gather.
These include birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, events for food coops, outing clubs,
churches, environmental groups, synagogues, office picnics, etc..
Dances like Spiral, Galopede, Virginia Reel, Circassian Circle, Heel and Toe Polka,
Bridge of Athlone, Buffalo Gals, Duck for the Oyster, Listen to the Mockingbird, and many
many others like this have been popular for 75 to 300 years for community barn dancing.
With these types of dances, we are connecting to the same passion as our ancestors many
generations back. Along with the dance repertoire, there is also a great repertoire of
music which is no longer being played. Bands that love to play the old classics like
Rose Tree, Golden Slippers, St Annes Reel, Soldiers Joy, Devils Dream, Road to Boston,
Over the Waterfall, Angeline the Baker, etc, are rarely seen at most contra evenings. But
they still play at, you guessed it, the Community Barn dance!
Anyway, I could go on and on, but need to get ready for today’s dance! Gosh, even the
briefest of letters has gotten out of hand.. Sorry!
This is just to get the conversation rolling, hopefully the start of a new era for