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Contra Dance Unplugged

July 18th, 2011
davis, contra, outdoor_contra  [html]
There's a lot of power in not using electrical amplification. You can't rely on one caller the whole night because their voice wouldn't be up to it. So you have to get as many people willing to take turns as possible, perhaps with an inexperienced caller (or dancer with a sheet of calls indicating timing) prompting from the other side of the dance. Even then, the caller is too quiet and drops out too early (to save their voice) so dancers really have to help each other to learn the dance, possibly doing a little calling to their set. The music is always too quiet, so you need people to play, and being not so experienced doesn't matter so much. People who wouldn't be willing to get up on a stage are remarkably willing to call and play because they are needed.

I certainly wouldn't want to have this style of outdoor dance be the only kind, but I think it's healthy for a community like boston where the music and calling are kind of professional to have events where you have much less of a line between the dancers and the performers.

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