Hot Modern Moves

Hot Modern Moves

Written in 2003, but still
applicable, alas, to today’s dance scene…

I was calling recently in a large
city for an evening of contra dancing and a guy comes up to me afterwards with
nice comments about the evening. We get to talking and he mentions in passing
that I’m quite a “traditional caller.”

“Thanks,” I say, and upon reflection,
I consider that perhaps this wasn’t meant as a compliment. I ask him, “But what
do you mean by ‘traditional?’ ”

He explains that there’s a
genuineness in my calling and that I seem to respect the dances a lot. I’m
happy to hear this, and I explain to him that I live New Hampshire, where
there’s a long tradition of contra dancing, and I do try to respect that


“You seem to care a great deal more about
community than most callers,” he continues. Hmm… this makes me a traditional
caller? What do other callers do? I try to think what I might have said or done
that elicited this comment. I did ask people to introduce themselves to their
partners and neighbors. Perhaps that’s it.

Then comes the kicker: “And you
didn’t call many dances with hot modern moves.”

Hot modern moves? I have to think for
a moment about this one. I do enjoy calling the older dances as part of most
programs, but there were no traditional dances on the program that night.
Everything I called came from the last thirty years or so, and much of it was
written within the last ten years.

“Hot modern moves?” I reply. “Such

He pauses and thinks for a moment.
“You know, like Petronella twirls.”

I am dumbstruck. Further conversation
reveals that he has no idea that this “hot modern move” has an ancient lineage.
I suppose other “hot modern moves” include Rory O’More balances, contra
corners, and who knows what else that’s been borrowed from the past. I don’t
know whether to laugh or to sigh…