Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

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42
COWBOY DANCES
pattern, and carry it on, and keep his place exactly timed in every call.
It is not an easy job. I have seen experts who regularly got their calls out of order, or left one couple completely out. And I have seen many experienced callers who could not keep two sets together in a dance. It is a special trick and not nearly as easy as it looks.
Yet there is always some simple-minded, rather loud­mouthed individual who keeps asking to be allowed to do the calling simply because he enjoys his own noise and loves to be at the center of things. Experienced dancers may carry on in spite of him. But beginners will fall in confusion be­fore him, their enthusiasms all laid low.
The quick, intelligent, capable caller that I have de­scribed will find one more river yet to cross, and that is his own first embarrassment—and his finest qualities only make this river seem wider. He will feel everyone look at him most peculiarly on his least faltering or his tiniest mistake. But he must carry on clearly and smoothly and forcefully, in spite of the embarrassment. It comes mostly from the newness of his job. All good callers have had to swim this river. He may be tempted to carry cards in his hands to read from, but they are apt to make it worse. He had better put it all in his memory, and then plunge in. Soon he will find it going smoothly, and he will know the delight of con­trolling a great unfolding pattern of human beings through the contagious beauty of a dance.
But, it will be asked, does not the fiddler do the calling? No, not very often in a Western dance. I know many fiddlers who are also good callers, but they never do both jobs at once. "Calling is hard enough," they tell me, "without hav­ing to keep the fiddle going too." In the old New England Quadrilles, where the dances are more symmetrical, the calls very much shorter, and the changes always occurring on a change of the music, which is the particular music for that particular dance, the fiddler can and often does do the calling. But in the Western dance it is very rare indeed.
Circle Two-Step
If the party is large it often pays to start with an "ice­breaker," such as the Circle Two-Step. This gets them all used to laughing and trying together, mixes them up thor-






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