- The dance is at the Cambridge Masonic Hall: 1950 Mass Ave Cambridge MA
- We're opposite the Porter Square stop on the Red Line if you're coming by transit. If you're coming by car you can park in the lot next to the hall or (since the dance is on Sunday) in any metered or residential space for free.
- The dance runs 7:30-10:30 with a ~20min beginners workshop ~7:05-7:25 and a ~25min break ~9:05-9:30. (You may run the break shorter, if you prefer.)
- The hall opens at 6:00. Please plan to eat dinner before you arrive, and be ready for sound check at 6:45.
- The hall closes at 11:00. Please time the evening, including the last waltz, to be done by 10:30 so we have time to fully strike.
- Pay is $125, plus potential profit sharing.
- BIDA hosts both mask-required and mask-optional dancers. Performers are never required to wear masks on stage. At mask-required dances, dancers are required to wear high-filtration masks. For more details on our covid policy, see our accessibility information.
- If you choose to mask, please be attentive to enunciating, taking your time, and ensuring dancers can hear you.
- We'll provide sound.
- For callers we have handheld and headset wireless mics as well as a wired mic. We typically will set you up with a wireless mic for the workshop and the wired mic on a stand for the dance.
- If you have a mic you prefer, you're welcome to bring it.
- If you would like a caller monitor let our sound person know and they can set you up with one.
- The beginner's workshop is scheduled for 7pm to 7:30pm, but we like to leave 5min at the beginning for people to arrive late and end 5min early to give people time to organize themselves and get a drink before the dance starts.
- You can't count on all of the new dancers to arrive in time for the workshop, but you'll probably have at least half of them.
- If you aren't up for leading the lesson, let us know in advance and we'll line up someone else to lead it.
- Anyone can ask anyone to dance.
- If someone asks you to dance and you don't want to dance with them, it's ok to say 'no'.
- If anyone is bothering you, you can talk to one of our "Safety Reps".
- Flourishes are optional, and teach how to decline them.
- Our attendance has been averaging 150, and 75% of the time it's between 115 and 180 (chart).
- About 30 of these tend to be completely new to contra this evening, and another 40 or so pretty new.
- Our family dances, if you're calling one, tend to have about thirty kids and thirty adults, with the kids having a median age of ~4. Prepare lots of easy dances!
We encourage the caller to give short, light, frequent, and humorous messages encouraging etiquette, safety, welcoming behavior, and dancing with new people. Ideas for topics:
- dancing in control
- being aware of other dancers around you
- adjusting your dancing to make your neighbors comfortable
- asking new people to dance
- style suggestions (ouchless allemandes, giving weight, comfortable swings, etc)
- dancing with beginners (guide them into the next move, help without words, don't force embellishments, etc)
- Our dance is gender-free, and it's common for people to dance either role.
- We use "Larks" and "Robins" (or "Ravens") for the role names. The idea is, if the couple is standing together as if they're promenading or have just finished a swing, the 'L'ark is on the 'L'eft and the 'R'obin is on the 'R'ight.
- Please don't use gendered pronouns, like "his" for Larks. If you need to use a pronoun, "they" can work, or you can call directly to the dancers with "you".
- We use "right shoulder round" instead of "gypsy". For example, "right shoulder round your neighbor" or "walk around your neighbor by the right shoulder". For the (uncommon) move traditionally called a "gypsy star" we usually say "facing star".
- Squares and other formations are welcome, though our crowd is mostly not used to them.
- We encourage you to call a mixer during the evening to help people meet and dance with new faces. The third slot or somewhere else early in the evening works well for this.
- Since our hall often has 30+ couples per line, unequal dances are generally not popular: many people will be stuck as 2s for all or most of the dance.
- If you find you're often needing to do more than one walkthrough or you're having trouble dropping out by the ~6th time through the dance, you've probably chosen dances that are to difficult for the crowd and should switch to simpler ones.
- In general we've found less challenging material promotes a relaxed environment where people can enjoy the music and each other's company.
- Partway through one of the dances we turn off the main overhead lights and go down to a disco ball and secondary lights. Typically the hall manager coordinates with the band to match a tune change. If you'd like us to also coordinate with you, let us know.
- After people have lined up for the last dance of the first half but before you've taught the dance we typically have some announcements.
- We've been asked by our hall to care for the floor by not stomping. Please make a couple announcements during the evening discouraging stomping.
- If you would like feedback as a caller, feel free to ask for it, preferably in advance of the dance so we can take notes.