Behind The Mike Newsletter

Barry Wonson edits an Australian caller newsletter called Behind The Mike. It consistently presents a wealth of useful information for callers and dance leaders. You can subscribe to have editions emailed to you, or you can view past editions on their website at https://www.behindthemikewebsite.com

The purpose of this summary article is to provide a searchable index of the table of contents entries for past Behind The Mike issues. This will make it easier to zero in on editions that have material of particular interest to you.

Call Analysis Sheets

In order to design choreography callers must have an intimate knowledge of the characteristics of each call they use. The purpose of a Call Analysis Sheet is to provide a format for analyzing each call and documenting that information. Three examples are provided.

Lots Of Stuff About Modules

This summary article aggregates a great deal of material on the use of modules in square dance choreography. Modules provide a powerful mechanism for creating and presenting square dance choreography and they are a tool that all callers need to be familiar with. This article provides a brief overview of what modules are, an introduction to the terminology involved, and pointers to many other sources of information.

Visits With the Legends

For the past several years CALLERLAB has included a convention session called “A Visit With the Legends”. In each session several well known and pioneer people were interviewed and told “war stories” about their careers and events in their lives. These sessions have proven to be extremely popular with the convention audience. The sessions were recorded, some with audio only, some with video, and some both. While the recordings are all contained in the pages that list CALLERLAB education session recordings, we have created this summary article listing the “legend” recordings so you can find them faster.

Square Dance Calling Makes a Comeback in Chicago

Square dancing is enjoying a surge of interest from both dancers and callers in the greater Chicago area. Clubs in Glenview, Wilmette, Evanston and Arlington Heights, as well as Chicago’s North Side, will be offering classes for beginners and intermediate dancers starting in September. But without callers to lead classes, this uniquely American dance form would be in danger of extinction. Luckily, Chicago has become one of the leading areas in the country when it comes to the number of square dance callers-in-training.

Yak Stack Speaker Hook Up Chart

This chart is provided by Scott Bennett who markets Yak Stack speakers. It shows the proper way to hook up speakers to an amplifier to ensure loading is proper. For Hilton equipment the load should be 4 ohms or greater.

Yak Stack Speakers

Yak Stak is a venerable name in square dance speaker equipment. It was recently acquired by Scott Bennett who has put out a modernized version with an even better sound.

Participating In CALLERLAB – Why and How

The linked PDF contains 2 articles from the March 2019 edition of the GCA Callsheet. The first, by Barry Clasper, describes the benefits of being a participant in CALLERLAB, and in particular the value of attending convention. The second, by Allan Hurst, gives some tips on doing effective presentations at a CALLERLAB convention.

Calling for Gay Square Dance Groups

There are some differences in culture and customs between straight and gay square dance groups. Callers who have never called for a gay group before often have questions about what those differences are, and what they should expect.

Technical Zeros

Ever wonder what a “technical zero” is exactly? Or what use they actually are? Are you afraid of using them because the results seem unpredictable? In this paper Barry Johnson takes you through what they are, how they work, and how you can use them to benefit your choreography.

West Coast Square Dancing Flexible Learning Program

The West Coast Square Dancing site provides a great example of effective marketing of square dancing. It serves as a vehicle to promote several clubs in western British Columbia. In addition, they have designed a modified teaching plan called the Flexible Learning Program that allows more student intakes per year and also accommodates people who have to miss lessons due to travel or work.

Flash Cards for MS Calls Not in SSD

Bruce Holmes, who is the caller for North Shore Squares in Evanston, ILL, has created sets of flash cards for calls on the MS list that are not included in the SSD list. There is a separate set that contains calls from the SSD list. The link points to a PDF file that prints 6 calls on each 8-1/2×11 page. The print is double sided so that when you print the pages the call name is on one side and a dancer-friendly description of the call is on the back. These sets of cards can be distributed to dancers as a teaching aid.

North Shore Squares – Zero to 50 in 18 Months

Bruce Holmes is the caller for a new club in Evanston, ILL called North Shore Squares, which at the time of this writing has been in operation for about 18 months. This story is an inspiring personal narrative that charts his journey through the process of using the Social Square Dance (SSD – formerly named Sustainable Square Dance) system as a tool to dig their club out of an all-too-common hole.

Flash Cards for Plus Calls

Bruce Holmes, who is the caller for North Shore Squares in Evanston, ILL, has created sets of flash cards for calls on the Plus list. One set contains calls from the SSD list. The link points to a PDF file that prints 6 calls on each 8-1/2×11 page. The print is double sided so that when you print the pages the call name is on one side and a dancer-friendly description of the call is on the back. These sets of cards can be distributed to dancers as a teaching aid.

Tech Squares Call Definitions

Tech Squares is a club that operates at MIT. An interesting fact about this club is that their lesson-set is actually offered by MIT as a Physical Education credit. Part of the documentation they provide is a set of call definitions from Basic to Plus. They are abbreviated definitions that are intended to help dancers remind themselves about how the call works.

SSD, MS, & Plus Call Booklets from North Shore Squares

North Shore Squares is a new club that dances in Evanston, ILL. Despite only being active for 18 months or so they already boast 55 members. They elected to use the Sustainable Square Dance lesson system (previously known as Club 50) to facilitate rapid intakes of new dancers combined with retention after graduation from lessons. As a teaching aid they prepared booklets containing a concise and easily read definition for each call, many including color diagrams to illustrate the action. The first booklet contains calls on the SSD list. The second contains the MS calls not on the SSD list and the Plus calls.

Social Square Dance (SSD / Sustainable SD / Club50) Teaching Videos

North Shore Squares dances in Evanston, ILL and has been using the Sustainable Square Dance (also known as SSD and Club 50) teaching list as their intake level. To help their dancers they have created a series of teaching videos that demonstrate the calls in the SSD 50-call lesson plan. Follow the link to see the list of call videos, both in alphabetical order and by lesson.

Alberta Chatter Newsletter

The Alberta Chatter newsletter is published every six to eight weeks. It contains articles on promotion, member retention, and general interest articles, as well as a regular column by a visually impaired dancer, Dee Jackins, entitled “The Lighter Side of Darkness”. 

Social Square Dance (SSD) Teaching Guide

The Social Square Dance system is designed to create a 50 call entry program that can be taught quickly, roughly 12 weeks, and yet serve as a realistic destination program for long-term square dancers. While the idea of a shortened entry list is certainly not unique to this system, its design differs in providing a mechanism for keeping dancers in the entry program for at least 2 years, and in many cases, forever. The SSD Teaching Guide provides a lesson plan, teaching tips, and sample choreography to assist callers in using the system.

A Step in Time – The American Square Dance (book)

This book traces the history of the American Square Dance from its earliest roots to modern day. It was compiled by reviewing the documents and artifacts donated by the Square Dance Foundation of New England to the collection at the University of New Hampshire. The author was the major curator of materials collected over a span of more than thirty years.

GoldWave Music Editing Software

GoldWave is a music recording and editing program on Windows. It permits recording from a variety of sources and producing a variety of sound file formats. It has features for pitch and tempo shifting, noise elimination (such as clicks and pops), cropping or extending recordings, adjusting bass/treble balances, and much more.

Audacity Audio Editor and Recorder Program

Audacity is a free multi-track audio editing program that runs on several platforms including Windows, Linux, and MAC OS. It permits recording from a variety of sources and producing a variety of sound file formats. It has features for pitch and tempo shifting, noise elimination (such as clicks and pops) elimination, cropping or extending recordings, adjusting bass/treble balances, and much more.

Sd – A Square Dance Caller’s Helper

Sd is a computer program that lets callers enter choreography and displays the results of each call which greatly speeds up the process of writing and dramatically reduces errors. The program is available free of charge from the website. It has both Windows and Linux versions.

SqView Music Management Program

SqView is a music management program for callers, cuers and line dance leaders. It is specifically designed for the music management and performance needs of those groups. The program also displays lyrics, programlists, definitions and choreography. It is available from the website free of charge in both Windows and Android versions.

Callarama

Callarama is a “checker mover” program to help callers work out choreography by showing animated figures moving in response to calls entered by the caller. Callarama has defined the standard for animated Square Dance Choreography since its introduction in 2004. The New Callarama 2 has been totally redesigned on the basis of Microsoft .Net Framework, supported by all Windows operating systems since XP.

How Rounds Are Scheduled Can Be Important

Jerry Junck reports on an observation from a club on Vancouver Island. Their format involved having a round between tips and they noticed that new dancers had difficulty getting into squares with the experienced club members. This seemed to be because the experienced dancers were doing the rounds and simply squared up right away since they were already on the floor. The club decided to make a change and do the round immediately after the square dance tip, then take the break. Now they have found that the new dancers were able to join squares with experienced dancers much more easily.

Jeff Priest’s Singing Call Figures for Teaching

Jeff Priest has produced an outstanding set of books to assist callers teaching in the Basic through Plus programs. These books contain singing call figures which each feature only one call from the program being taught. This enables callers to teach the programs in whatever order they wish, and still use singing call figures that feature the call currently being taught.

Restructuring El Camino Reelers Classes

El Camino Reelers in the San Francisco area was suffering a steady year-by-year decline in dancers and decided to reinvigorate their membership with a new approach to recruiting and teaching dancers. This detailed 16-page document describes how they implemented this plan: how they advertised, how they recruited, how they restructured their teaching and club groups, and how they integrated new dancers into the club. It contains a wealth of insightful thinking and planning.

Community Dance Journals

The CD Journal (formally titled CDP Journal) is published several times a year by the Committee for Community and Traditional Dance (CCTD). The Community Dance Program Journal is aimed at providing material to support dance events for non-dancers: party nights, intro nights, demos, etc. The material uses a limited number of calls (about 24) and allows the engagement of people with no prior square dance experience. Each Journal edition documents a number of such dances and the CD Journal has been published since 1992.

Digital Music Presentation (Handout)

These handouts (Digital Music 101 and 102) were created for a presentation at the 2018 CALLERLAB Convention in Albuquerque. Digital Music 101 deals with the Windows considerations for downloading your music, placing it in your PC’s file structure, and managing the physical files. Digital Music 102 deals with editing your music files using Audacity, a free music editing program.

CALLERLAB Square Dance Marketing Manual

This square dance marketing plan has been developed by CALLERLAB members in support of our mission: “To foster the art of square dance calling, and improve caller skills.” Just like the square dancer population, the number of square dance callers today is dramatically smaller than 30 years ago. For CALLERLAB to increase the population of callers, we must start by growing the population of square dancers, thereby providing more opportunities for callers to call, and developing a population base from which new callers will be recruited.

BC Westsyde Squares Recruits 29 New Dancers

This story describes how Westsyde Squares in British Columbia used marketing savvy and well targeted advertising to recruit a large new contingent of dancers. It contains a lot of great information about what messages people responded to, as well as an insightful discussion of the reasoning behind the design of the advertising which was a significant element in their success.

Mountaineers 2017 Class

This year, Jim Langdon introduced the Rocky Mountain Recruiting Program to the Mountaineers. Although we had been doing a lot of the pieces of the program, we adopted the entire program. The main emphasis was to set up a committee of 5 couples to divide the work. We also had expectations that the Club Members were to actively pursue new dancers. Our goal was to collect 100 names and end up with 20 new members.

Small Town Club Has 5 Squares of Beginners

The Town of Strathroy has a population base of about 8,500, located about 35 km west of London, ON. Including some surrounding rural areas the natural catchment area is about 22,000. Despite this relatively small population to draw from, this club has a very successful beginner program with 40 paid-up new dancers. How exactly did they accomplish that?

Keith Rubow’s Dance Recordings Site

This site permits you to purchase recorded dances done by a variety of callers as well as some special festivals such as AACE, PACE Extravaganza, and Heartland. In addition there are a number of sets of teaching recordings for levels C1 through C3A. Recordings are provided as downloadable MP3s. The site focuses primarily on Advanced and Challenge, although some callers have provided some Plus tips. This site is a tape group’s best friend.

So You Want To Be A Caller

This article from Paul Cote provides an overview of what is involved in becoming a caller. If you’re thinking about learning to call, this article will give you some insight into what you’re signing up for.

Effects of Cognitive Leisure Activity on Cognition in Mild Cognitive Impairment: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial

This article documents a Japanese study on the effects of engaging in dance activities, or playing musical instruments, in individuals displaying symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Their overall conclusion: “Long-term cognitive leisure activity programs involving dance or playing musical instruments resulted in improvements in memory and general cognitive function”.

Bob Brundage Interviews

This summary article contains a table (see below) that contains links to the interviews that Bob Brundage did with a wide variety of notable people in the square dance community. These interviews represent a huge project for which Bob was awarded the CALLERLAB Milestone award in 2012. Both audio files and written transcripts are provided. Listening to these interviews provides a unique and personal vantage point on some of the seminal developments in square dance history.

IAGSDC History Wiki

The IAGSDC is an umbrella organization for square dance clubs around the world that serve the LGBTQ community. Their History Wiki presents a wide range of historical information about LGBTQ square dancing, including current and past clubs, notable people, their annual Convention, the Gay Callers Association (GCA) and other affiliated organizations, as well as the evolution of the IAGSDC itself.

Lloyd Shaw Foundation

The Lloyd Shaw Foundation preserves and shares a diverse range of dance and music traditions with an inter-generational audience. We develop leadership in traditional dance and music forms, and sponsor events and scholarships to ensure their continuity. Through our archives housed at the University of Denver, and at our Dance Center in Albuquerque, NM, we retain important historical records that document the past and enable us to preserve the future of traditional American folk dance.

Square Dance History Project

Despite its popularity, the history of square dance has been sparsely documented. Only a few currently published and available books offer any detailed discussion of the development of this form of American social dance. Four of those are described here in the KnowledgeBase. The Square Dance History Project (http://squaredancehistory.com) site offers hundreds of documents, sound clips, and videos that further illustrate this history.

Sets In Order Archive

The Sets In Order magazines are one of their legacies that comprise in these pages the history of modern square dancing. Bob began publishing SIO in 1948 and the last issue was issued in December 1985, 444 issues. The issues contain articles on almost every imaginable aspect of square dancing and calling.

As I Saw It – Bob Osgood (book)

This book was compiled and edited by Paul Moore. It describes the life and career of Bob Osgood, one of the founding fathers of MWSD and through that lens provides an enlightening vantage point on the evolution and growth of the square dance activity. Much of it is in Bob’s own words, taken from his own articles, notes, and recordings. A remarkable insight into a remarkable man.