There were six main areas of discussion on chat. How gender-free and gendered calling attract different groups and the way that plays into our future is bound to come up in our webinar on 24 October, but we would like to know whether you think it would be valuable to pursue any of the other topics below — or another subject entirely.
C: Hi. I definitely think there is a Festival Dance Community in the UK.
D: When I was visiting Meg, it felt like the Alcester dance had a very strong community, both for taking care of each other and volunteering to organize it
E: [We have] live music every week plus we are a community and have walks, cycle rides, weekends away. Since March we have had a weekly quiz, photo challenge and zoom dance.
F: Dance Community — I think the fact that the USA is so VAST means that when we DO fly/drive hundreds and even thousands of miles just to attend dance weekends, the familiar dancers we reconnect with there are almost family when we're so far from home.
H: I invited new dancers to arrive early so I could show them some basic steps
I: Good point Bernie. I have experienced dancers pulling others or pushing them around, which is unacceptable.
J: We've always welcomed new members! Experienced dancers make a point of including them as much as possible by inviting them as individuals to join in dances. The programme was tailored to meet the needs of new/less experienced dancers and those in the set have almost always helped them through. Names were learnt as quickly as possible. If no one remembers your name you feel and are a stranger. Yes, we too laugh, NEVER tut if mistakes are made. This is important, but frankly old hat, sorry! It doesn't take us past our big problem of restarting/keeping going folk dancing and getting it out to the younger generation.
K: We have a beginning session for 15 minutes before, focused on basic figures and terminology, and using figures that will be used that evening. Sometimes it is not enough, depending on the newcomer.
A: [G,] we do that too, but often new people don't show up until 5 or 10 minutes after the dance was supposed to begin.
D: Club squares have a strong tradition of dance angels
J: Yes, beginner sessions were held for new dancers every session if they wanted to come a little earlier in our last club. Usually about 15 minutes.
D: Introductory sessions are a double-edged sword. It sets the rest of the community to believe that the new dancers know what they are doing and perhaps lowers the patience of the experienced dancers for teaching during the dance.
L: I started in my 60's and love ECD. We now have an active group with many healthy older adults.
M: I am fortunate enough to dance with Bernie's virtual group. Could I suggest that the personality, enthusiasm and sheer love of dance of the caller is what helps a group to grow.
L: ECD is such a healthy seniors ex, for mental, social, physical.
G: Our group ranges from 25 to 90 and includes people using chairs and those who cannot see.
C: Where we are there is a healthy young musicians Folk Community, but not so much young dancers, except for Ceilidh and Morris. Maybe they will drive the Dance community forward.
N: Ceilidh is dancing, isn't it!?
F: What would you say to an experienced dancer who begins coming to your club asks if more challenging dances could be done?
O: Poldark is the new Jane Austen
D: Bands and Bares! Ugh!
Q: Larks and robins is not gender-free IMO! It's still binary.
D: It does take practice for it to be comfortable.
R: But I am really interested, actually, in how gender-free and gendered calling attract different groups and how that plays into our future.
D: There are some clubs in UK that use live music
D: Can you compare contrast the energy of those dances versus those with only recorded?
N: I play in the band for one of my local clubs
S: Where do we look for these musicians, Colin?
T: I think it depends on the quality of the live musicians.
G: We started paying just beer money and have progressed to some pay
R: One excellent musician told me that she loves playing for dancers because she has a very appreciative audience that isn't fussing over the occasional error the way classical music audiences do.
T: Some clubs have their own scratch bands and if they play badly it puts a real dampener on the dancing.
U: Replying to D: I call at two local clubs which illustrate. The one with recorded music is lively, friendly, growing and has a wide age range; the one with live music is dull, the musicians rarely understand what is required for the dancers, and the dancers rarely dance with new people. I know which I prefer!
N: V, I call for my groups right across the range, including easy community dances and traditional village dances.
K: After the war may be something like the situation we'll face after the virus.
D: The power of live music is ineffable; it brings a joy and love that 'dead' recordings cannot emulate.
N: Hear hear
V: You could be right, [K]….
W: In the UK we have some successful younger age profile dance groups, e.g. Cambridge, Sheffield, IVFDF. How do we increase those?
O: I think there is difference in socio-economics between clubs. Those in rural areas are different to those in urban and university towns.
I: We have joined a virtual weekly English Dance group called Symmetry ECD for experienced dancers and it is well attended with participants throughout the world.
X: When I started dancing at uni some 40 years ago, there was a band every week. The dancers benefitted from the music and the players learnt how to perfect their playing by playing regularly.
We have anonymised comments because we did not secure participants' permission to publish identifying information. Some of you could be recognised by your initials, so each contributor has been assigned a single upper-case letter. All remarks following a particular capital letter were made by one person.