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Traditional and Retro

February 27th, 2012
music, contra, calling  [html]

Playing BIDA with the Free Raisins we picked Gaspé Reel for a dance. Lisa Greenleaf was calling, and she turned from the mic and started laughing. Calling the 4th Saturday Contra, when I chose Mary Cay's Reel and again when I chose Pedal Pushers Amy Larkin laughed. It's not that I have laughably bad taste in tunes and dances so much as out of date taste: these were popular in the 80's.

Contra dance is a traditional dance form: that we're doing the same dances to the same tunes as people were enjoying thirty years ago shouldn't be surprising. But the dance isn't static: people write new stuff. I think it was a big improvement when the good-flow equal-turn dances replaced "ones dance, twos stand there and assist". Similarly how the the modern tunes with interesting melodic hooks that I can match to particular dance sequences replaced most of the minimally phrased old-time ones. [1] Sometimes, however, a dance or tune becomes unpopular because it was too good: everyone was doing it all the time and people got sick of it. It's these I try to find: after decades of rest they're ready for new audiences.


[1] I'm sure not everyone will agree with me, and not everyone has to, but this view definitely affects my choices playing and calling.

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