I am a woman in my mid-twenties who found contra dancing this year and quickly fell in love. Language played a part in that. After our first dance, a friend and I talked about how cool it was that the caller used Larks and Robins. For me, it’s not so much the terms themselves as the intention behind them. I could tell that this is a community that’s thinking about making people feel welcomed.

It’s things like gender-affirming language, asking my pronouns or which role I’d like to dance, that make me feel less like a visitor and more like a part of the community. It’s encouraged me to get to know people outside of dances, make some true friends, and has kept me coming back to dances when other things compete for my Friday nights. It’s also made me feel comfortable inviting my friends into this space regardless of their gender identity.

I can tell that new terminology is still taking adjustment for veteran dancers and appreciate that it’s not a necessarily easy switch. I just think it’s great that when we make mistakes we can laugh about them and keep dancing. It really feels like an extension of the care and connection that I so value in contra.