Bethlehem; Fender Bender

April 2nd, 2007
dance, transportation
Saturday we went to bethlehem again. It was one of their blue moon dances where they have an experienced dance, then a potluck, then a normal dance. The band was atlantic crossing; they were really good. When I heard them play at CVFF I wasn't that impressed with them, but then they were competing with the great bear trio and lots of crazy french canadian bands. But saturday they were really good.

The caller was Janine Smith, who was ok, but did several things that annoyed me. She wanted to do demonstrations for anything at all strange, especially during the experienced dance. She called all balances as "and balance now". She often called early. The worst was probably the way she called Hull's Victory. She told us to do the right and left through "the traditional way they do up in New England, with no hands" which sounds reasonable on its surface; in most of new england (unlike bethlehem) there is no initial pull-by-right in the right and left through, it's just a pass through (followed by a courtesy turn). The caller really meant no-hands, though; she did a demonstration and instead of a courtesy turn/cast/twirl she had people doing a half gypsy. A dance having a "pass through across, gypsy neighbor left halfway" does not bother me. Claiming it's the traditional way to dance a right and left through, that it's the way it's done in new england, and that the resulting dance is hull's victory, though, that does bother me.

Update 2/15/2009: Jim Saxe writes to say:
In the early 1980s, I spent two summers in the Boston area. At that time, Hull's Victory and other dances with R&LT from proper formation were a much more frequent part of the repertoire than they are today in many communities. It actually was fairly common, especially on hot summer evenings, for dancers to do the turn-as-a-couple action without touching. I wouldn't describe it as a left-shoulder half gypsy, though. We'd be side by side--one dancer's right shoulder near the other's left--with our bodies pointing in the same direction, just as if we had near arms around each other's backs, but not actually using the arms. You can see this styling used by some (but not all) of the dancers in this video:
I was too harsh. Reading back over that initial paragraph I am picky and mean. The picky is me noticing details more in activities once I start trying to really understand them -- in this case starting to call. But the mean isn't excusable.

As for the issue of how to do the figure, the looking-in-the-eyes bit still sticks in my head as non-traditional -- I think I'd heard lots of older dancers saying that was pretty new (70's) to contra. But the main part of my complaint is wrong.

Still, had a good time, both during the dance and singing on the way home. On the way there, though, someone rear-ended us and we had to deal with that for about half an hour. The car in front of us stopped suddenly, I braked hard, stopped just short of them. Car in back couldn't stop in time. It was a slow collision, maybe 10mph, but their car did not do very well. It slid under the van's bumper and crushed a corner. The van did quite well in the encounter; with its big steel bumper it just got paint flecks.

We followed the procedures taped to the passenger side of the van, including calling public safety and getting insurance information. But the general van-coordinator incompetence demonstrated itself again. On the (faded) sheet it said to call the van coordinator at number N1 and if he wasn't there to try the cell at N2. This sheet turned out to be more than two years old. Lorpu Jones, last year's coordinator, had only crossed out the male pronouns and written in female pronouns (well, someone else might have done it). Leaving N1 and N2 alone and out of date. Paul Agyiri, this year's one, hadn't even done that much. So I ended up leaving a message on some random student's voicemail (they reassign phone numbers every year) and calling the van coordinator from three years ago on his cell phone. Adding to this annoyance the police were very slow. They showed up right away, talked to us, were nice. But when they took our licenses to run checks and file an accident report we were waiting a good 20 minutes. Probably a slow computer system. Not their fault, but meant we missed a good 45 minutes of the dance. Oh well.

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