In mine and my brother's collection of Edison cylinder records, (late
1800's, early 1900's,) I was delighted to find two actual dance records:
one was The Lancers Quadrille, the other a "Plain Quadrille" WAY before
microphones were invented, so they used Megaphones: like cheerleaders of
today. They yelled out the bare bones of the calls through the megaphone:
in high Society, you were supposed to have taken lessons and only
needed "prompts" similar to actors in plays having a backstage person
Prompter) ready to help actors who forgot their lines.
The available records only played for either 2 minutes or later, 4
Interesting to hear the caller scream out "R I G H T A N D L E F T"
meaning "Right and left over AND back"
In a message dated 10/13/2016 6:11:14 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
I’m curious about calling before microphones became ubiquitous. Is
there much information about callers prior to sou
Did they drop out quickly to save their voices? Were the dances
known by enough dancers that they were danced without calling?
And Jacob replied: "Here are some quotes from Page's 1937 book:
"The best prompters baby their throats as if they were opera singers.
Their greatest horror is laryngitis. They don't drink olive oil or wrap
up in pink cotton batting, though; strange as it may seem, the oftener
they call, the better their voice. They claim that six nights a week
are better than one or two, because their vocal cords are really
exercised then and so become stronger."
So it sounds like Ralph Page, and the other callers of his generation,
didn't believe in trying to "save" their voices."
Which prompts me to ask what other callers do to take good care of their
voices. It's hard when you're partway through a heavy-duty event and
your voice starts to feel ragged.
Kent Gilbert, in Berea, gave me his recipe for a
disgusting-but-effective gargle that helped me hang on to my voice
during a long, intense week. It's equal parts Listerine, hydrogen
peroxide and warm salt water. Gaa-ACK! But it definitely cleared and
soothed my throat. Just warm salt water all by itself is supposed to be
How about the rest of you? What do you do to take care of your voices,
especially during multi-day gigs, especially-especially if there's
Kalia (getting ready for an English dance weekend near Santa Cruz)