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  • Calling In Concord

    February 27th, 2011
    calling  [html]
    Last night I called for debby and walter's fourth saturday contra dance at the scout house. I had a really good time, and I think the dancers did too. One line the whole night, but in the middle it went the whole length of the hall.

    I called:

    1. Thursday Night Special #1

      I like to start with this dance. It's not as easy as some other good starting dances in that I might want to put off teaching ladies chain if the group doesn't know it, but the people there in time for the first dance were all set. It's very forgiving because the A part has two big 16 count figures and the down the hall makes sure everyone is doing the same thing.

      The line was still short when I called this, and at one point I saw the whole line going forward and back at the top of the B2 instead of the bottom, skipping the ladies chain. I usually can't think fast enough to fix things like this seamlessly, but this time I managed to call "ladies chain" right on time, and we just danced it with those two figures swapped.

    2. Hey In The Barn

      This dance went well, the only downside was that I the thought the dancers were up to doing heys afterwards.

    3. Al's Safeway Produce

      This dance didn't go well. Not terribly, it didn't fall apart, but some people were struggling the whole time and I needed to keep calling longer than I'd like. It's not a hard dance in terms of moves, which are all very standard, but the timing is very tight. Two eight count aleman 1.5s in a row can be a challenge and the partner swing for catch-up is only 8 counts. Then the star right, star left progression is a little confusing and requires everyone to be totally caught up to go well. Add that several new people had just come in, and at least one older dancer who could move just fast enough to get where they need to go as long as the people around them were on time and not making mistakes, and I definitely should have called an easier dance.

    4. The Baby Rose

      Nice low piece count dance. Went very smoothly. Nice contrast to the previous dance.

    5. Rockin' Robin

      Aside from the circle right, which really only confuses experienced dancers, this dance has two somewhat tricky parts: they hey and the zig left / zag right progression. Hey in the barn having gone so well earlier, I thought I only needed to focus on the progression. Walking it through, I just said "gents pull by let, hey for four". This was not enough; all the people who didn't know what a hey was had come in after the first hey dance. I ended up needing to do a second walk through for the hey and the progression, and then coming down on the floor to practice the hey with three hands fours. But in the dance they had it pretty quickly. And when you mess up they hey there's 16 counts with your partner coming up.

      The progression is something that's really easy once you know what it is, but that I don't yet know exactly the words for. So we did a demonstration quickly and people understood it.

      I spent longer than I'd like teaching this dance, but it went quite well once it started.

    6. Zero Sum Game

      This dance went smoothly except for one couple who kept getting confused. So after calling a little longer than most of the dancers needed, I went down on the floor and called near/for that couple for a while. They did better after that.

    7. Heartbeat Contra

      Nice energetic dance with petronellas. Went well. Last dance before the break.

    8. The Nice Combination

      Started up after the break (no hambo), went smoothly. No one complained that it was too similar to thursday night special #1 which I'd called earlier. I wouldn't normally call both of these in the same evening, but very few people were here when I called the first one and some of them left at the break.

    9. Mary Cay's Reel

      Went well, no problems with the ladies alemans in the center.

    10. Centrifugal Hey

      I'm calling with don veino at mit on tuesday, and he called this dance as a guest caller. It went well, except for a few places where his calls were slightly late. I think tuesday's going to be fun.

    11. Midwest Folklore
      Nice simple beckett. Went well.
    12. The Second Time Around

      Went fine. At this point I was starting to run low on dances that I thought would be good for this group. I prepared 24 dances, but a couple were much too easy and several were harder than would have been good.

    13. Alligator Reel, Nice Combination

      By this point we were down to just five couples. All the dancers had danced a lot before, so I called alligator reel no walkthrough. With such a short set I was worried that people would get bored, and this dance has less neighbor action than I like for a last dance, so I switched to the nice combination part way through.

    Overall I think I did pretty well. Several people came up to me and said they'd had a good time, which happens a lot less when I'm playing. Much fun.

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