When I wrote my last post I was still giddy with what happened at the wedding reception: I ‘called’ country dances without anything but a dancer’s experience and saw a listless party come to life. On the drive home, the family and I kicked around an idea of hosting a dance party here at Christmas. And we did!
We emptied the parlor, a room 16′ x 32′. When we built this addition, my husband and I sat looking over the freshly varnished floor and thought we should host a dance on it sometime. 13 years later we made it happen!
See the open French doors on the left? That opens to our dining room, which we also cleared for overflow. After our first couple of circle dances involving every guest, we created a long line with about eight couples in the parlor, and a smaller line in the dining room. Here is a view from the smaller ring (looks like this was a circle dance):
Look at all those young people! There were about 32 dancers. We all enjoyed the evening very much. Some stayed after, and way past my bedtime, to play guitar and sing together. Such a rich time!
Because we live in such rural towns and since most were homeschooled, social gatherings have been scanty. Most of the guests had no previous experience, so I taught dance figures through the evening, easy to challenging. Dancers also heard tips that make great dancers, such as “aim to glide when dancing in a figure with others”. Bounce and stomp all you live when you move alone, but make a right-hand star or a swing work smoothly.
The advice that seemed to come as a surprise was my “rules of engagement”. That is, the gents ask a lady to dance, and she accepts with a smile, with the understanding that this is a commitment to a brief contract that is over when the dance ends with a bow and courtesy. In other words, fellows learn to take responsibility to guide a gal and ladies nurture the fragile ego of young men who feel like dodos among swans. Whether dork or dynamite dancer, you get your partner for one round and then share with the rest of the company. When we dance with people of different styles and ability we develop dancing chops.
So now I am looking for a local venue so I can offer family dances regularly –once a month–through the winter and spring. For now, I’ll continue to use the recordings of New England Dancing Masters but perhaps I can arrange for live music and a small door charge.
Looking forward to seeing these high school and college students shutting down their computers and getting out of the dance floor on a Friday night!
If you need/want more dancing tunes on CD, “The Regency Ballroom” is an album by a trio called Spare Parts—based in the Berkshires (West Stockbridge, I think). I recommend this album for a nice variety of contra dance music. You may be able to find it locally. afO used it for our production of “Emma.”
Oh my goodness–I have that album!! I pulled it out of my stack and thought of using it. As I recall, a member of the group gave it to me when I worked at Fort at no 4. Well, I will just have to listen to it and work it in. This just tickles me!
I love it! Thanks for sharing.
Ruth, I was about knocked off my small, wooden homeschool chair when I saw your name at the bottom of an encouraging article on CC connect…does the name Stuart Bevin ring a bell? :) I am his youngest sister and I homeschool my 3 children…rising 4th grade, 1st grade and K4. We have been part of CC 3 years. I always admired your family…that is neat God brought you into CC!
Yes, Mary, I remember you! The Bevins family is a pretty cool too, and some of them have a high-profile name in some regions! (Kentucky, cough cough)
As a matter of fact, Stu has a logging job not a quarter mile down the road. I can hear mighty trees falling, and I see wood get trucked by on the way to becoming wooden homeschool chairs for American families.
CC is amazing and I am so glad you and I found it. Just graduated my sixth and last; will tutor one more year (Ch III). Meanwhile, I am taking on a music teaching career at a Christian school–the next best thing to Classical Conversations!