In a message dated 97-01-09 20:08:48 EST, Mel Briscoe wrote:
<< I remember the San Francisco Branch's shift from being a place where
people booked ahead, to the opposite. It was a process of educating the
dancers to understand it's more fun if you don't book ahead. I remember my
teachers encouraging us to say, "No thanks, I don't book ahead, but I'd
love to dance with you!" It was a gradual change. I don't know what the
situation is there now; but it took more than removing the sign-up list
from the program booklets to make it happen.
The San Francisco Branch itself does not make large policy decisions like
that: we are a group of individuals who act individually. As a SC dance
community, and as individuals, we took some time to debate / talk about the
policy / issue, primarily through our newsletter, the Reel and Strathspeyper.
Our final outcome as teachers was to *suggest* that people only book a few
dances, but not the entire program, which had been the habit previously. We
did not shift to an exact opposite, we modified our general pattern of
Booking a few dances has worked very well for me. If I am asked by someone to
dance, I hate to offend by refusing. More importantly, there are some dancers
who I have known for many years, but who I only see at our Balls. If I don't
ask them to dance ahead of time, we might not "happen to bump into each
other" on the floor. (Our balls usually have 200 - 250 people, so it is
inevitable that we won't see everyone who is there.) When I attend a ball
with a "dance partner", we normally book ahead for a quick time dance and
strathspey with each other, but the rest of the evening is open for each of
I think it is worth raising the issue of who asks who as part of this thread:
if a dance group / branch / organizers have an equally archaic and IMO sexist
policy wherein *only* men are allowed to ask someone to dance, then I think
all bets are off!
If the standard is for _people_ to ask each other to dance, without regard to
whether it is the man or the woman doing the asking, then not signing up
ahead works fine. When only the man can do the asking, there is some grounds
for debating the sign up ahead of time policy. I have seen many women hurt
unnecessarily by being at a dance where they do not have the freedom to ask a
man to dance, or are turned down in poor form.