San Diego, CA

April 1, 2011

Band: Old Twine String Band

  Dance Name Author Variants/comments Music
1 Patience Me Let dancers choose swings Swallowtail,
Colored Aristocracy,
Mairi's Wedding
2 Carmen's Scarf Paul Balliet Promenade replaced with right and left through Ducks on the Pond,
Kitchen Girl
3 Hey Man Paul Balliet Let dancers choose who A1 do-si-did Liza Jane,
4 Ninepins Traditional "Square." Used "Monkey in the Middle" as break, converting to big circle for final break. Arkasas Traveler,
Mississippi Sawyer
5 Forgotten Treasure Beth Parkes Messed with timing Rock the Cradle Joe,
Waiting for Nancy
6 Cheat the Lady Traditional   Nail that Catfish to the Tree,
Damon's Winder
7 Sneaker Reel Me   Ragtime Annie,
Pig Ankle Rag
  Waltz: A Bicycle Built for Two, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeeze (with vocals)
  "Couple's" dance: The Hokey-Pokey
8 Upwards, not Northwards Me M-face-N Jamie Allen,
Year of Jublio,
(with random Yankee Doodle and vocals)
9 Practice Petronella Tom Lehmann   Old Joe Clark,
10 Bicoastal Contra Pete Campbell Switched gender roles for everyone Cold Frosty,
Growling Old Man
11 End Game Don Lennartson Ended with partner swing. Replaced Circle/pass through/swing with left diagonal give and take. Band messed with B1 tempo final several times through. Julianne Johnson,
Spotted Pony
12 Jess's Reel Me   Redwing,
Chinese Breakdown
  Waltz: Livet i Finnskogarna (Mockingbird Hill)

A special April 1st dance, where each dance had a surprise to it. There was a fair amount of preparation with the band, so I've included the tunes. I tried to avoid obscure jokes that would only make sense to me (You've just danced Levi Jackson Rag, an English Country Dance), or dances where I was using my power as the caller to make fun of the dancers. And some of the dances needed to be semi-normal. (I also went with some that made people think about style, in a roundabout way.) As it was a special program, I've recorded the night in more detail, gag by dance.

I'd also like to thank the members of Old Twine String Band, who helped come up with ideas, and practiced with me several times for this event.

  1. Patience: After giving the welcome and hands four in Pig Latin, as a sort of warning shot over the bow, I explained the whole idea of partner/neighbor choice swings -- that they could come to common agreement on whether to balance or gypsy or do-si-do. The band built a special medley for this set that would suggest different things with each tune.

  2. Carmen's Scarf: Yes, the one with the "bumpsy-daisy" swing -- clap hands twice, bump hips twice. After caveats of sizing up your partner, and checking your right pocket for car keys.

  3. Hey Man: After doing the walkthrough once with the men in the A1, and once with the women in the A1, I pointed out either person could go into the center, and to have fun doing so.

  4. Ninepins: The traditional dance, a square with eight people and a ninth in the center. As a break, I used the snowball "Monkey in the Middle" learned from the trad-dance-callers listserve:

    A1 Circle left, circle right around ninth middle person
    A2 Forward and back twice 
    B1 Middle person swings one person of choice
       Each of those two swing another person of their choice
    B2 Each of those four swing another person of their choice
       This leaves a new ninepin, everybody reform square somehow.
       ("One swing two, those two swing four, those four swing eight.")

    Unfortunately one of the three squares never got it, probably from the teaching, or maybe not understanding the concept that it was a mixer. I need to think more how to teach this one.

    For the last break, I had everyone promenade around the edge of the room in one big circle, with the three ninepins in the center. Those three did a basket swing, then started doing the snowball swing to the end of the music.

  5. Forgotten Treasure: This was a teaching exercise in timing I learned from Seth Tepfer. I had about a third of the dancers (birthdays Jan-Apr) be a few beats late, another third (birthdays May-Aug) be a few beats early, and the final third exactly on time. (The timing on my calls after the first time was ... interesting.) This went over well, at least till I had everybody pick a new role, whereupon most people froze waiting for new instructions, rather than continuing dancing. It took a little creative calling to get things back on track -- with such a crowd I probably should have warned them about that ahead of time. The final few times were asking everybody to get exactly on time.

  6. Cheat the Lady: The cheat-or-swing traditional dance from the mid-1800's. I've tweaked it slightly:
    Traditional, Proper
    A1 Woman one ring balance with man one, man two
       Woman one swings whomever she chooses, returns to place
    A2 Man one ring balance with woman one, woman two
       Man one swings whomever she chooses, returns to place
    B1 Ones down center, come back proper, cast off
    B2 Same-sex right and left through over and back
  7. Sneaker Reel: This one was mostly about the music, as the band added all sorts of amusing sound effects at various times. The couple's dance after the break was led in a big circle, with the pitch that "it'll be taught, and everyone can do it." Of course, no walkthrough before the music.

  8. Upwards, not Northwards
  9. Upwards, not Northwards
    by Chris Page
    Starts as 3-face-3, with partners of one man, one woman, and one of either gender.
    Turns into M-face-N, where M and N range between 2-4 people
    A1 Men do-si-do (If more than two men, those that are partners act as a couple)
       Women star left 1 (If only two, defaults into women allemande left 1)
    A2 Partners ring balance, basket swing, face original direction
    B1 Circle left, right
    B2 Forward and back
       All pass through
       Women pass through twice again, joining up with next man/men facing their direction
         (you have the same same-gender partner -- if any, but new opposite gender partner or partners)

    Since I usually do something unusal after the break, this time I felt I had to up the ante. And it was probably a bit too far. One thing I didn't explain well is the progression. I described the women pass through, advancing to the next men, but what I didn't mention was that women pass by a total of three sets of other women. Because of this, it became more of a random mixer as some women didn't progress far enough, creating even more unusual bunchings of couples, and disappearances of minor sets. It sort of sputtered along. My one regret of the evening.

  10. Practice Petronella: After the last dance, I did a much more normal pick. The "odd" thing was just that your partner was behind you after some petronella turns.
  11. Bicoastal Contra: After only teaching the star promenade, I sent everyone back to place, announced it'd be the hardest dance of the evening, and went into no-walkthrough mode without warning. Four times later, I stopped the music, had everybody swap gender roles, taught it carefully like that, and restarted the music.

    "Bicoastal Contra" has a number of nice features that make it useful for a schtick like this.

    I changed my prompting to the actual genders, not the gender roles (so I had, "women allemande left 1 & 1/2"), which I found out afterwards was more confusing to the dancers than just calling the original version, and have everyone remembering they were dancing the other role.

  12. End Game: To see the original, download the 1991 RPDLW syllabus, on page 42.

    The band wanted something with a star left/star right combination in the B1, followed by a forgiving B2. Then the last five times through the music they started slowing down in the B1. Each time through got more extreme, until the last time when they gradually ramped the tempo up through the roof.

    The give and take modification originally came from an earlier program where I had more swing/circle/swing sequences. I left it in as a red herring, and through teaching let people assume the give-and-take would be the silly part.

  14. Jess's Reel: A nice simple chase figure to end the evening. Non-alternating. Towards the end of Redwing, the band and I sang the lyrics of "There Once Was a Union Maid."

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