A belated follow-up to Chrissy's "subtle point": I don't agree that it is
subtle - I think the culture of a contra dance in a rural area is
fundamentally different than a "zesty modern urban" contra dance. We were
discussing this on the way home after the Flurry, and I truly value both.

I used to live in an area where I could get to both types of dances
(roughly halfway between Philly and Baltimore). I could get to one of the
weekly urban dances on a weeknight and then a community oriented dance on
the weekend. Now that I live halfway up the coast of Maine I don't get the
joy of the zesty urban dances I used to enjoy. I do still get the joy of
the community dances, and I am glad that the Belfast contra dance has
become such an important social setting for our many young attenders. The
strong sense of community is wonderful, but the fun dance experiences for
me are now the occasional festivals I can get to.

William T. Frysinger
339 Beech Hill Road
Northport, ME  04849

Office: 207-338-1850
Home: 207-338-2797
Cellphone: 207-930-5933

On Sun, Feb 18, 2018 at 7:58 PM, Chrissy Fowler via Organizers <
organizers@lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:

> Glad Heitzo reintroduced this thread, as I'd dropped the ball on
> responding to Alex.  Responses below.
> And about that focus group, it was lovely.  We ended up with fewer
> respondents than we anticipated, but what got shared was quite juicy, and
> it spawned a project to further document our local dance scene.  I haven't
> had a chance yet to write the blog post about it, including posting the
> video, but will do so soon!
> www.belfastflyingshoes.org/blog
> Cheers,
> Chrissy Fowler
> Belfast, ME
> ++++++++++
> *Questions from Alex Deis-Lauby: Chrissy- can you tell us more about the
> norms of the Belfast dance? *
> Yes.
> *Do the youth dancers dance both roles and with everyone? *Yes both
> roles, yes with everyone.  But for perhaps obvious reasons, the teens do
> tend to enjoy dancing 'with their friends' and historically that has meant
> that one set tends to have more teens than the others.  We're working on
> that, because we want all of the sets in the hall to be populated by the
> teens and their good cheer/happy energy.
> *Do the non-youth dancers do so as well?*
> Some dance both roles, but to a much lesser degree.
> *Thinking about ages and genders, who asks whom to dance?*
> Anyone.  Anecdote: I once told a potential new dancer, who was inquiring
> about our series on the phone, "Anyone can dance with anyone, although I've
> never been invited to dance by a teenager."  The next night, a 13 yo girl
> invited me for the first dance.  Hah!
> *Are there flourishes? *
> Yes.
> *Are the young dancers playful in role swapping or in other ways? Is that
> mirrored among the older dancers or vice versa?*
> I think there's generally a playful attitude at our series, but that's
> across age levels.  If, by 'role swapping', you mean switching roles back
> and forth throughout a given dance sequence, we don't have much if any of
> that, which I think is a good thing.  Our dances always have a high
> percentage of new and/or easily-confused dancers, and I don't think such a
> practice would be fair to the other dancers.  Sets would fall apart, people
> would be confused.  I think that would be an example of skilled dancers
> indulging their own whims at the expense of the rest of the dancers in
> their set, and as I said earlier, people are generally considerate of each
> other at our dances.
> *Do the young ppl have ample opportunity to dance with and socialize with
> their peers?*
> Yes.  Plenty of dancing and plenty of sitting on the sides chatting.
> *Is there a strong overall culture of consent?  *
> *Is the default: “dance with who’s coming at you”?*
> Yes, to both.  People are nice aka considerate to each other, in general.
> Some people are insensitive, which makes me crazy as a caller/organizer.
> (For example, some individuals seem to think they are being awesome dancers
> when they twirl themselves and other dancers indiscriminately and
> relentlessly. Ugh. If I were Angela Merkel, you know what my eyes would be
> doing.)  But that is not the norm.
> *Do people ask what dance role preference their partners have regardless
> of gender presentation? *
> I don't know.  I know that's what I tell people to do, as a caller
> ("Invite someone to dance, decide who's going to be lady and who's going to
> be gent, form a ___set.")  I also know that's always a conversation
> whenever I, myself, get a partner, whether I'm inviting or accepting an
> invitation.  But I don't honestly know what the norm is across the dance
> floor at our series, so I can't say.
> *Other notable aspects of your dance community? *
> I don't know.   Um... we holler a lot?
> We do tend to have a lot of families who dance with their kids, parents,
> siblings, cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents (maybe like Aaron Marcus, who
> was mentioned in another response.)
> And just a subtle point, I'd say it's less of a dance community and more
> of a community that goes to dances.  Meaning that dancing is not the only
> reason that these people get together.  They might see the same people at
> school, church, a talk/lecture, restaurant, art opening, concert, movie,
> rowing, volunteering, hiking, sledding, potlucks, etc.  Perhaps a
> characteristic of small town, rural county life?  But our monthly dances do
> seem to be treasured, which we on the board count as a great thing.
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