From my book, Old-Time Dance Calling for Weddings, Parties, and One-Night Stands.
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Table of Contents
First: A Couple of Rules
On To The Gig
A Dance Program:
The First Dance
The (Simple) Virginia Reel
Old Time Square Dance Figures
The (Simple) Family Waltz
Zodiac – Singing Games
Some Simple Contras
Jefferson and Liberty
Made Up Tonight (which is no longer true)
Making Up Dances
Baba Yaga's Maggot
Take Charge by Honoring the Participants, or Have Tricks up your Sleeve
An Annotated Bibliography
From the book, The Introduction:
It's ironic. In some ways calling these kinds of dances is one of the more challenging jobs we callers get, but it's often the very first sort of gig we get. Most of us nascent callers are out looking for gigs, and the local dance series doesn't offer much because they want those "experienced callers." However, your son's school wants a barn dance, or a friend wants some dances called at her wedding, and you've got a gig – calling for rank beginners. Luckily, there are ways these calling gigs are also easy.
The thing that makes them easy is the very thing that makes it hard: those rank beginners have no experience, they don't know anything (or much). The "easy" comes from the facts that 1) beginners don't know anything, so whatever you show them will be new and fun and 2) (most of the time) everyone is expecting a good time, so beginners are very forgiving. The thing that makes it a challenge is that the need for teaching is greater. To this end, we callers start collecting and calling beginner-friendly dances. Most, if not all, of these dances are not suited for a group of seasoned contra dancers. We who go regularly to a contra dance are familiar with the form and flow. But, though these dances are beginner friendly, they are not beginner dances - they are fun dances! Yes, Fun Dances for All.
So here I submit a little treatise to outline the way I've come to approach this kind of gig – thoughts and dances I've learned to make work - and to start a discussion. I mean, everything I say is gospel truth, no? If you do something different and it works, great! Share it with me; I'd love to know. If you think I'm up the creek, tell me, I'd love to discuss it. Now, setting it in stone... Well ink, anyway.