strathspey Archive: Counting the sets

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Counting the sets

Message 15114 · ferguson · 14 Dec 1998 12:39:48 · Top

Recent postings have explained that in English and Contra dancing, the
duples or triples are formed in the long lines by holding hands.

In comparison, the SCD tradition of the first man counting the lines seems
cumbersome and a waste of time. Every time I do it, I am afraid of making
a mistake: what with some couples still having one partner missing, other
couples standing together chatting to one side, and nobody standing still
or in straight lines, and new dancers adding on chaotically at the end, I
am still surprised I have never yet miscounted and so created chaos. And,
as a dancer, unless the counting is done _very_ clearly you sometimes have
to ask your neighbours to discover your number.

There may be some motive for keeping to this tradition in formal Balls, but
at regular dances or even more in classes and day/weekend schools we could
save much time and hassle by adopting the "please take hands in X-couple
sets" approach. It would have the additional advantage of establishing a
social link in the new set before the dance starts. In my view a better
method from all points of view.

Eric

|Eric T. Ferguson, van Dormaalstraat 15, 5624 KH EINDHOVEN, Netherlands|
|e-mail: e.ferguson@antenna.nl. phone:+31-40-2432878; fax:+31-40-2467036|

Counting the sets

Message 15132 · Celia Wright · 14 Dec 1998 20:24:58 · Top

-----Original Message-----
From: Eric T. Ferguson <ferguson@antenna.nl>
To: strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
<strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de>
Date: Monday, December 14, 1998 6:32 AM
Subject: Counting the sets

"Recent postings have explained that in English and Contra dancing, the
duples or triples are formed in the long lines by holding hands.

". . . . . .[in SCD] what with some couples still having one partner
missing, other
couples standing together chatting to one side, and nobody standing still
or in straight lines, and new dancers adding on chaotically at the end, I
am still surprised I have never yet miscounted and so created chaos. And,
as a dancer, unless the counting is done _very_ clearly you sometimes have
to ask your neighbours to discover your number."

---Actually a pretty good description of what happens at contra dances, as
well. The folks at the top of the set continue talking long after the caller
has asked for "hands four", and the folks at the bottom are still wondering
which position they're dancing as the caller starts the walk-through, while
calling to those at the top of the set for "hands four".

Whichever system you use, it relies on the cooperation of the dancers.

So I suppose one possible answer to your question of why Scots count off
sets is "So that it gets done."

Counting the sets

Message 15134 · Norah Link · 14 Dec 1998 21:27:49 · Top

>>> Eric T. Ferguson <ferguson@antenna.nl> 14/12/98 09:49 am >>>

. . . . . .[in SCD] what with some couples still having one partner missing, other
couples standing together chatting to one side, and nobody standing still or in
straight lines, and new dancers adding on chaotically at the end, I am still
surprised I have never yet miscounted and so created chaos. And, as a dancer,
unless the counting is done _very_ clearly you sometimes have to ask your
neighbours to discover your number.

<<<

I can remember attending a ball where our set was counted off 3 times: once from
the top, again from the bottom (a reason I avoid this practice), and again
haphazardly from the top when there was confusion after the second count. I was a
different couple each time! By the time the music started (and there were no
talk-throughs at this ball, so no time to sort things out either), I didn't even
know which set I was supposed to be dancing in!!! One of my more "creative"
experiences!

Norah

Counting the sets

Message 15139 · Bryan McAlister · 14 Dec 1998 23:33:56 · Top

In article <199812141043.AA07581@antenna.nl>, Eric T. Ferguson
<ferguson@antenna.nl> writes
>Recent postings have explained that in English and Contra dancing, the
>duples or triples are formed in the long lines by holding hands.
>
>In comparison, the SCD tradition of the first man counting the lines seems
>cumbersome and a waste of time. Every time I do it, I am afraid of making
>a mistake: what with some couples still having one partner missing, other
>couples standing together chatting to one side, and nobody standing still
>or in straight lines, and new dancers adding on chaotically at the end, I
>am still surprised I have never yet miscounted and so created chaos. And,
>as a dancer, unless the counting is done _very_ clearly you sometimes have
>to ask your neighbours to discover your number.
>
>There may be some motive for keeping to this tradition in formal Balls, but
>at regular dances or even more in classes and day/weekend schools we could
>save much time and hassle by adopting the "please take hands in X-couple
>sets" approach. It would have the additional advantage of establishing a
>social link in the new set before the dance starts. In my view a better
>method from all points of view.
A useful way to sort tone of the problems is for the woman to stand in
the mans place, if he disappears temporarily, thus enabling the count to
proceed correctly. However I rather like the suggested please take hands
method.
--
Bryan McAlister

Counting the sets

Message 15142 · Dianna Shipman · 15 Dec 1998 00:06:24 · Top

At the Austin ball in Austin, Texas Dec. 5 sets were formed by having fourth
couple in each set join hands and raise their hands - this seemed to work
well (although disconcerting to those who like to count off the sets - and
some still counted them off as well )-- perhaps an announcement at the
beginning of the evening as to how sets will be counted off? The Austin
ball was a great deal of fun and well organized and done in a beautiful hall
with a wooden floor for dancing (often hard to find here).
Dianna Shipman
Houston, Texas

-----Original Message-----
From: Eric T. Ferguson <ferguson@antenna.nl>
To: strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
<strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de>
Date: Monday, December 14, 1998 5:13 AM
Subject: Counting the sets

Recent postings have explained that in English and Contra dancing, the
duples or triples are formed in the long lines by holding hands.

In comparison, the SCD tradition of the first man counting the lines seems
cumbersome and a waste of time. Every time I do it, I am afraid of making
a mistake: what with some couples still having one partner missing, other
couples standing together chatting to one side, and nobody standing still
or in straight lines, and new dancers adding on chaotically at the end, I
am still surprised I have never yet miscounted and so created chaos. And,
as a dancer, unless the counting is done _very_ clearly you sometimes have
to ask your neighbours to discover your number.

There may be some motive for keeping to this tradition in formal Balls, but
at regular dances or even more in classes and day/weekend schools we could
save much time and hassle by adopting the "please take hands in X-couple
sets" approach. It would have the additional advantage of establishing a
social link in the new set before the dance starts. In my view a better
method from all points of view.

Eric

|Eric T. Ferguson, van Dormaalstraat 15, 5624 KH EINDHOVEN, Netherlands|
|e-mail: e.ferguson@antenna.nl. phone:+31-40-2432878; fax:+31-40-2467036|

Counting the sets

Message 15181 · Campbell Downie · 16 Dec 1998 04:48:29 · Top

At 11:32 AM 1998/12/14, you wrote:
>In comparison, the SCD tradition of the first man counting the lines seems
>cumbersome and a waste of time. Every time I do it, I am afraid of making
>a mistake: what with some couples still having one partner missing, other
>couples standing together chatting to one side, and nobody standing still
>or in straight lines, and new dancers adding on chaotically at the end, I
>am still surprised I have never yet miscounted and so created chaos. And,
>as a dancer, unless the counting is done _very_ clearly you sometimes have
>to ask your neighbours to discover your number.
>
A pleaant way of counting the sets which works well is for the first man
and the first woman to count the sets together, preferably changing side so
that the man counts the ladies and the ledy counts the men.

This looks good and it is much more obvious that something is going on as
the fitst couple slowly walks down the centre hand in hand beaming at
everyone, and somehow dancers seem to scamper into their lines much more
readily.

Cheers

Campbell
Campbell Downie
PO Box 101269
Scottsville
3209 South Africa

Counting the sets

Message 15301 · Malcolm and Helen Brown · 22 Dec 1998 21:19:02 · Top

Eric Fergusson wrote, (some time ago, but I am just getting round
to clearing up my mail system for Christmas); I was going to reply
privately, but seeing the public replies maybe others might find
the following useful.


> In comparison, the SCD tradition of the first man counting the lines seems
> cumbersome and a waste of time. Every time I do it, I am afraid of making
> a mistake: what with some couples still having one partner missing, other
> couples standing together chatting to one side, and nobody standing still
> or in straight lines, and new dancers adding on chaotically at the end, I
> am still surprised I have never yet miscounted and so created chaos. And,
> as a dancer, unless the counting is done _very_ clearly you sometimes have
> to ask your neighbours to discover your number.

Several people replied, but nobody seemed to have suggested the method
we use locally - it is not foolproof, (someone can still push in after
a set has been counted) but it does solve most of the problems -
the top man walks down the middle of the set, pointing to both sides
as he counts, loud enough for both the lady and the man to hear; on
encountering the two spaces adjacent to each other, (caused by the lady
of one couple standing talking to her partner on the men's side
and the missing man who is still tying up his shoelaces),
the counter finds that when they realise what is going on, the respective
people make things clear. The main thing is to be slow and deliberate
so that everyone has been included. In my experience the
ladies are equally curious as to which number they are, and it is
bad manners IMHO to only tell the men.

I do remember many years ago when the fashion was for whoever was
counting to walk down the back of the men's line telling the men,
sometimes accompanying it with a light (& sometimes not so light) touch.
- one of our more elderly ladies who danced often as a man made her
point by explaining in a fairly loud voice that the next man who
did this to her woould end up with an elbow in the ribs! So much for
courtesy!

Malcolm


--
_ _
|_|_ |_| Malcolm & Helen Brown - York (UK) - m.brown@netcomuk.co.uk (Tir-Nan-Og)
_ |_|_
|_| _|_| Connecting via NETCOM Internet Ltd
|_|

Counting the sets

Message 15302 · RuddBaron · 22 Dec 1998 22:10:41 · Top

Everywhere in the Southern US that I have danced the first COUPLE usually
counts the set in much the same manner (though sometimes only the first man
does). Pointing, walking slowly, and speaking loudly and clearly is very
effective. I've not had any real problems.

s/RBJ

Counting the sets

Message 15303 · Coletta Busse · 22 Dec 1998 22:20:14 · Top

I was off line for a while so this is probably been hashed and rehashed.
But since Malcolm brought it up...
At some point at my first ball in Germany I raised eyebrows because
when my partner went to count the sets I went with him. Which is how we
do it here in SF. He escorted me down the line telling the ladies the
count, I the gentlemen. I like this technique best for several reasons.
- first lady doesn't stand at the top twiddling her thumbs waiting for
her partner
- with two counting there is an instant recheck
- It's fun to flirt all the way down the line.

personally, I think that anyone who cuts into a line should have their
ghillie laces tied together, but that could be just me ;-)

Coletta Busse,
California

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Counting the sets

Message 15304 · Melbourne Briscoe · 23 Dec 1998 00:14:05 · Top

I had to laugh when the inexperienced first man was asked by the emcee to
count the set, and so he did, to himself! None of us standing there had a
clue what number we were...

As to first man only, or first couple, doing the counting, I much prefer
the look and feel of the latter.

And, although I do like the tradition of counting a line, "Hands X" from
the top does work very well.

- Mel Briscoe, Virginia USA

Counting the sets

Message 15322 · Pia · 23 Dec 1998 22:36:37 · Top

Ehm! Do you hold right hand or left hand going down the line counting as a
couple???

A very merry Christmas to all on the list. I hope you have a healthy and
prosperous New Year with lots of SCD.

Best wishes

Pia
----------
> From: Melbourne Briscoe <mail@briscoe.com>
> To: strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
> Subject: Re: Counting the sets
> Date: 22 December 1998 20:51

> As to first man only, or first couple, doing the counting, I much prefer
> the look and feel of the latter.
>
> - Mel Briscoe, Virginia USA
>
> --
> Melbourne Briscoe <mail@briscoe.com>
>

Counting the sets

Message 15324 · ferguson · 23 Dec 1998 23:39:34 · Top

Pia Walker wrote:
> Ehm! Do you hold right hand or left hand going down the line counting as
> a couple???

Why not hold inner hand, so both partners can use the outer hand to point
(wave?) towards the person he/she is counting?

> A very merry Christmas to all on the list. I hope you have a healthy and
> prosperous New Year with lots of SCD.

Same to you all.

Eric

|Eric T. Ferguson, van Dormaalstraat 15, 5624 KH EINDHOVEN, Netherlands|
|e-mail: e.ferguson@antenna.nl. phone:+31-40-2432878; fax:+31-40-2467036|

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