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Double Echo Calling

August 16th, 2013
contra, calling

At outdoor contras where you're not using amplification you can manage the music with a mix of lots of people or unfashionably loud instruments, but what do you do about the calling? Multiple people calling at once works ok but is pretty chaotic. Enough callers that everyone only has to spend one or two dances shouting to the crowd is the best we've got so far, but it's still a strain on the voice and you need a lot of people up for calling. After seeing the "people's mic" at at Occupy Boston, however, I got excited about the idea of echo calling. The idea is that first the caller says the move, then the nearby people repeat it, then everyone does it:

  ...
  beats 5-6     caller: "ladies chain"   [dances finish
  beats 7-8    dancers: "ladies chain"    previous move]
  beats 9-12                             [dancers ladies chain]
  beats 13-14   caller: "star left"      [dancers finish
  beats 15-16  dancers: "star left"         ladies chain]
  beats 17-20                            [dancers star left]
  ...
It turns out this doesn't work. People are so used to beginning a move immediately after the caller finishes talking that people were consistently starting things too early.

I think the fix is simple, though: the caller says the call twice, and the dancers repeat it the second time. Then the caller is finishing the call right when you're supporsed to so it.

  ...
  beats 5-6     caller: "ladies chain"   [dances finish
  beats 7-8        all: "ladies chain"    previous move]
  beats 9-12                             [dancers ladies chain]
  beats 13-14   caller: "star left"      [dancers finish
  beats 15-16      all: "star left"         ladies chain]
  beats 17-20                            [dancers star left]
  ...
(This does still require using only two beat calls.)

Curious? I'm going to try this out on Wednesday in Davis Square.

Appendix: some dances written out with only two beat calls.

Heartbeat Contra
  A1 (4)   ring balance (ring balance)
     (4)   [petronella spin is uncalled]
     (4)   balance again (balance again)
     (4)   [petronella spin is uncalled]
  A2 (16)  balance and swing (balance and swing)
  B1 (8)   ladies gypsy (ladies gypsy)
     (8)   partner swing (partner swing)
  B2 (8)   circle left (circle left)
     (8)   balance and twirl (balance and twirl)

Simplicity Swing
  A1 (16)  balance and swing (balance and swing)
  A2 (8)   circle left (circle left)
     (8)   partner swing (partner swing)
  B1 (8)   long lines (long lines)
     (8)   ladies chain (ladies chain)
  B2 (8)   start left (star left)
     (8)   dosido next (dosido next)

Greetings
  A1 (16)  balance and swing (balance and swing)
  A2 (8)   long lines (long lines)
     (8)   ladies right (ladies right)
  B1 (16)  partner balance (partner balance)
  B2 (8)   long lines (long lines)
     (4)   circle left (circle left)
     (4)   pass through (pass through)
           [this call is too early, but I think it's ok]

Baby Rose
  A1 (16)  balance and swing (balance and swing)
           [or: new neigbors (new neighbors)]
  A2 (8)   circle left (circle left)
     (8)   dosido partner (dosido partner)
  B1 (16)  balance and swing (balance and swing)
  B2 (8)   ladies chain (ladies chain)
     (8)   star left (star left)

Airpants
  A1 (16)  balance and swing (balance and swing)
           [or: new neigbors (new neighbors)]
  A2 (8)   long lines (long lines)
     (8)   ladies right (ladies right)
  B1 (16)  partner balance (partner balance)
  B2 (8)   circle left (circle left)
     (8)   dosido neighbor (dosido neighbor)

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