Preparing to Call a Family Dance

October 7th, 2022
contra, kids
A week from Sunday I'm going to be calling a family dance. This is like a contra dance, but with dances that are a good fit for all ages, including very little kids. I haven't called one before, though I've danced at several over the years back to when I was little. Here's what I'm currently thinking of doing:

La Bastringue

Big circle, partnered, keep your partner, doesn't need a walkthrough

A1 (8) Into the middle
(8) Again
A2 (8) Circle left
(8) Circle right
B1 (16) Partner swing (or dosido and swing)
B2 (16) Promenade

When I call this for adults I make it a mixer by having you swing the next person, but for little kids who are often dancing with their parents you don't want to split them up.

This has its own music, though it's not critical:



Scatter mixer

In pairs you point at each other saying "Sasha! Sasha! Ras, dva, tri!" Then you (twice) clap right hands, left hands, both hands, and hands on (your own) knees. Around by the right elbow singing "la (x9), hey!", then again with the left. Then you wander around and find someone new to dance with. The timing is:

A (8) Sasha! Sasha! Ras, dva, tri!
B1 (8) Right x3, Left x3, Both x3, Knees x3
B2 (8) Right x3, Left x3, Both x3, Knees x3
C1 (8) Right elbow round
C2 (8) Left elbow round
D (16) Wander

If little kids want to stick with their parents a couple can participate in this dance as if they're one person.

It has its own music:


Favors the Rose ("the Fan Dance")

Two lines, temporary partnering


Dancers form two lines. One person out at the top holding a fan or something else. They consider the two top people, give the object to one, and dance down the middle with the other.

Unphrased, works with any music.

I've never danced this one, but reading trad-dance-caller it seems to be a favorite. I'm mildly nervous about doing it when it's totally new to me, but it does seem pretty simple.


Two lines, partnered, keep your partner

A1 (8) Long lines
(8) Cross over
A2 (8) Long lines
(8) Cross over
B (16) Partner swing (or dosido and swing)
C (16) Top couple sashays down to the bottom, everyone else moves up. Dancers at the sides clap: 1-2-3.

Even though it's square and 32-bar it has its own music:

The music is worth doing because of how well the C part fits.


I'm probably not going to do this one, but would instead do two other dances, one with an identical A part and one with an identical B part.

Bridge of Athelone (var)

Two lines, partnered, keep your partner
A1 (8) Long lines
(8) Cross over
A2 (8) Long lines
(8) Cross over
B1 (16) Peel the banana: top couple casts to bottom, their line follows
B2 (16) Top couple makes an arch at the bottom, everyone else goes up through the arch.

If the lines are too long or short and you get off the music it's not that bad.

This dance normally has a C part with arches, but I think this would be too complicated for the crowd I'm expecting.

Low-backed Car

Two lines, partnered, keep your partner
A1 (16) Top person in left line leads their line around the right line and back to place
A2 (16) Same with right line
B1 (16) Partner swing
B2 (16) Top couple sashays down to the bottom, everyone else moves up. Dancers at the sides clap: 1-2-3.

Probably use the Galopede music, if not dancing Galopede?

Other ideas?

The dance is an hour, so I probably need at least two more dances. Are there other family dances people have especially enjoyed?

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