I am pursuing being a positional contra caller. It will make me a better caller, if I can figure out how to do it well, and I think it will make our dancers better, too. Our contra group is open and welcoming, but I don’t want to ruin an initial good first impression by having anyone feel excluded or even bothered by what I say when calling a dance.

I’m honestly indifferent about the gender of my dance partner, but it’s true that when I’m in the “gent” role, I always dance with another woman, and this is because we usually have more women than men at the dance. I don’t think we’ll have a real breakthrough in acceptance until people truly choose to dance with anyone. We have cis-gender men dance together sometimes, but only when they can’t find a “woman.”

I’ve been a modern western square dancer for a couple of decades, and some of the things those callers say just make me cringe. Lots of “little lady” or “pretty ones promenade inside the set” or “bosses promenade” and “skirt-work”….it goes on and on. I can’t imagine positional calling in square dancing, but they need to do some thinking. When I first started, they wouldn’t allow me to dance the part of a gent—the square would sit down if they couldn’t find a fellow to dance in my spot. So I’m not very good at dancing that position because I never got to practice. I also got sent home once because I came straight from work and was wearing pants instead of a skirt. Those days are past, thank goodness.

I’ve been using “Jets and Rubies” instead of Larks and Robins, mainly because we have several people named Robin and hearing their name so much puts them on unnecessary high alert. I have about 300 dance cards I need to go through and figure out how to call positionally. Habits are hard to break, and I hereby apologize when I lapse into the old words when I get stressed. I don’t want anyone to cringe at a dance I’m calling, and I want our contra group to grow.