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As callers, we should be constantly aware of the power of being social and encouraging sociability in our groups. Group sociability includes elements like party nights, meeting at some eatery place after weekly dances or workshops, celebrating special dates for dancers like birthdays, anniversaries, and basically being interactive with our dancers beyond simply calling and teaching the dance. This recent focus is becoming an imperative at CALLERLAB because there is a strong feeling that sociability has been de-emphasized over the last few decades. Here is a message I recently sent to CL concerning this issue.

Jim May writes:
I believe that over the last 40 years we have increasingly limited our activity to the most dedicated dancers. Only those willing to accept a steep learning curve and considerable failure in the course of learning to square dance are welcome. The remaining customers in our activity are primarily those willing to accept our (callers) own interest in changing choreography. Small wonder that our numbers have fallen so drastically.

My reply to Jim, that includes a response to a recent article written by Ken Ritucci:
Ken just about nails it. A few points concerning sociability that may be worth consideration:

1.       Club callers should encourage and work with individual club members who help manage the class and/or workshop by providing any computer expertise the caller may have in helping maintain a constant flow of communication between the caller, club Board, and members. In JCJ, I maintain all the various distribution lists and send out emails to all members (and any guests that come from time to time) and keep them informed regarding the dance program for each week, special events, holiday party nights, calls to be taught, etc.
2.       Club callers should take the time to learn every single dancer name in their respective groups. It is not difficult. It takes time, and focus. There is a process that can be learned. I use it all the time, as do other callers who understand the importance of this skill. Knowing names is a binding social force that makes every individual dancer feel like they are a member of the entire group. “How does he remember everyone’s name?”…because he cares.
3.       Traveling callers should take the time to walk around the hall and speak with dancers, for similar reasons. Get off the stage, and get to know your dancers.
4.       Traveling callers should ask the dance coordinators if there is any organized get-together after the dance at a local eatery and plan on joining the group, if feasible.

Give it some thought. Responses welcome and encouraged.
Kip Garvey

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