This week, I attended a great ECD event that used positional calling (I believe that’s the right term–there was no need to refer to someone by a role). There were a lot of new folks there, and I tried to dance with any one of them, and put myself into whatever position was convenient without giving gender or roles a second thought.

I truly didn’t think about it until later in the evening, when the caller said something like “by the way, this dance is improper, for those who know what that means.” Many experienced dancers at the top of sets switched their positioning around. I was genuinely surprised by the implications of this! Had they been assigning themselves and others gendered roles this whole time?

For me, gender is neither a site of pain nor a source of pride, so maybe someone with a different perspective would have seen things differently. But from my perspective, I think it was a triumph of the new way of calling — the dances were gendered if you brought that expectation to it, and weren’t if you didn’t!