Multicaller Evening at the New Old VFW

August 13th, 2011
calling, contra
Thursday night I called as part of a multicaller evening (a 'neffa contra'). It was my first time calling for such a large and experienced group. I had slots two and three in the first half, and slot three in the second. I made some mistakes, which I'm kicking myself for, but they didn't disrupt the dance. For example, I ended the walkthrough of the first dance I called with 'neighbor dosido' where I should have had a 'neighbor swing'. I realised this as soon as I'd said it, but I thought "eh, I'll call it right when the dance starts". This crowd was good and attentive, though, so they caught me on it, noticing that they hadn't progressed. So I admitted that it was a swing, people laughed, everyone went back to place, and the dance was good. I felt dumb, but it all went ok. Similarly, during the first time through cranky ingenuity, which has a "dosido as couples" figure, I called "dosido as couples" when I should have said "as couples, dosido". People did ok, but having the extra warning of an earlier "as couples" would have been better.

One of the other callers ran into trouble calling two dances that were much too hard for the group. The first one needed two walkthroughs, and he couldn't drop out on the calling. After that, I would have chosen a dead easy dance and called it, but they pushed on and walked us through three walkthroughs of an even harder dance, which was shaky from the beginning and really fell apart once they started leaving out a call. They just kept calling, and the dance fell apart, until ending the music early. I saw this caller do this before, actually, at a dance I was playing for, where it was too hard and fell apart, and all they could do was keep calling the same too-hard dance. Which made me formulate two things that I've kind of thought for a while: (1) you need a backup dance and (2) if you just did two walkthroughs and they don't have it, don't do a third, call the backup dance. My normal backup dance is midwest folklore. It feels like a contra dance, but it's so simple you can call it no walkthrough if people know circle, dosido, and swing. And simple enough I have it memorised. It's also a beckett dance ending with a partner, which means if a dance you're calling falls apart you can get people to swing their partners for the B2, and then start in with the dance. Ideally we would all be good enough callers to never choose something too hard or make a mistake calling, but having something to fall back on if things go wrong lessens the risk.

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