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Calling to the Gents

May 25th, 2013
contra, gender

I was recently at a contra dance where the caller would say "put her on the right" to remind dancers how they should end a swing. This is a call directed at the gents, but about what both people should do. At one point this was standard: if you look through old calling books you'll find that they're generally written with the calls addressing only the active gent. In the 1970s, however, the community norm changed. While this was controversial at the time, it's pretty much resolved now. If you're going to pick out one member of the couple to address with phrases like "put her on the right" you should sometimes pick out the other and say "put him on the left".

(I'll often say "end the swing with lady on the right", which has the same problem to a lesser extent. I should get myself in the habit of saying "end the swing with the gent on the left" as well.)

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