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Fix Gents Chain?

February 10th, 2014
contra  [html]
In contra dance there's a common move "ladies chain". Danced traditionally it looks something like this, though more commonly people will put in a twirl. As it's one of the few figures in contra dance that is done from one gender position but not the other, people have tried to make a gender-reversed version. There were basically two ways this could have gone:
  • Mirror image: gents start on the left, pull by left, reverse courtesy turn.
  • Gender swap: gents start on the right, pull by right, courtesy turn.
Someone picked the mirror version [1] and that's what has spread as the definition. But I think it would have been much better the other way around. Pulling by with the left hand is fine; the problem is with the backwards courtesy turn. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with it, but like a backwards swing or driving on the wrong side of the road it feels off.

It's possible that if I had never danced a ladies chain as a lady I wouldn't see a problem with the gents chain, but lots of people dance both roles so many people are in this position. As it is I dislike the figure enough that I wish people would stop calling it, but perhaps we could fix it and do it the other way?


[1] Modern contra dance history is all recent enough that this person may well be known, and is perhaps even on facebook. Who was it? Own up!

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