Ask the Square Dance Guru

The Square Dance Guru (aka Stewart Kramer) will answer your most probing questions about square dancing. Here is a collection of these articles that we have been able to find.

Permission is granted to freely distribute the wisdom of The Guru, but impersonators will be persecuted to the fullest extent of the low.

Unsure? Confused? Squarebroken? If the hissy fits, send email to:
, and all will be explained. (Note: The old address at is scheduled to stop working at the end of 2003. Please use the new address instead!)

Ambiguous Calls - Split Phantom Wave Inroll Motivate - date unknown

O Most Exalted One:

What is your opinion on ambiguous calls like Split Phantom Wave Inroll Motivate?

-- A Bewildered Dancer

Beloved Acolyte:

Ah, yes, does he mean Inroll Motivate in your Split Phantom Wave, or does he mean Motivate using Split Phantom Wave Inroll Circulate for the first circulate? This is only ambiguous if the phantom circulate leaves you in parallel waves able to finish a Motivate, but in that case you have no way of knowing what he wants, and there is no obvious way for him to know that there is another interpretation for his words.

His exact phrasing may give you a clue, since "in your Split Phantom Wave Inroll" would not normally be considered a kind of circulate. Indeed, there are a number of formation concepts that can be either a circulate or a modifier, like Diamond <anycall> , or Triple Box. But "Triple Box" is more clearly a kind of circulate than "Split Phantom Wave Inroll."

This is why many callers prefer to use the "-er's" modifier, such as "Split Phantom Wave Inroll-er's Normal Motivate." (If you have not encountered this usage, be forewarned that Normal only reminds you that "-er's" cancels the concepts on the first part of the call and provides an opportunity to add concepts to the remainder of the call, but DOES NOT mean to restore the deleted, replaced, or modified portions of the call.) When calls have compound names, with each part meaning something specific, it is common to apply concepts to the parts separately, such as "Split Phantom Column The Pulley But, Trapezoid Zing," in which the real people have a Trapezoid, not a Split Phantom Column Trapezoid.

Some people wish that square dancing had parentheses, but I would rather deal with occasional ambiguity than with callers playing games with nested concepts. Ambiguity teaches callers to be cautious, while new rules encourage callers expect too much of the dancers, and to play "guess what I want." Few people (even among C-4 dancers) can think like a computer, and being in a square with people who can't when they need to is not my idea of a good time.

Triple Box Pass In - 11/91

O Most Exalted One:

If the call is Triple Box Pass In (or Out), how do you know what the caller wants?


Beloved but Troubled Acolyte:

Sometimes concepts are used superfluously (if not gratuitously), as in As Couples Single Wheel instead of Wheel and Deal. The caller does this to make dancers think (instead of dancing by rote). Other times, a call may resemble another call, without being at all extraneous, as in As Couples Single Cross Trade and Wheel (where the trade is done As Couples, unlike Cross Trade and Wheel).

The problem here is that Pass In (or Out) is relative to the flagpole center, and it is not clear what the Triple Box concept does to the flagpole center. Consider a Triple Box Counter Rotate: is it a Box Counter Rotate, or is it a Counter Rotate done only in each box? My personal preference is to assume that there is a word "Box," which by convention is omitted from Triple Box Box Counter Rotate because Box Counter Rotate is a relatively recent name for the call. (Indeed, the distinction between Box and Split is difficult to describe in English, and there are many dangerous callers with a little knowledge of it; these are the callers who think that the Box version implies Centers Only, or that there is a call Box Trade Circulate.) Sometimes, there is an implied Working Together, at least with Triple Lines or Waves, but this is rarely used with Triple Boxes; if the caller says, "Triple Box Counter Rotate," you shouldn't do a Triple Boxes Working Together All 8 Counter Rotate, because that is not the customary usage for the call.

But in the case of Pass In, there is an explicit rule that tells you to turn toward the center of the square (although concepts like Split Phantom Lines can specify a phantom 8-person formation that replaces the real square and real flagpole center). Triple Box is not such a concept, so any caller who wants you to turn toward the center of each box is clearly mistaken.

This does not, however, tell you which way the caller DOES want you to turn, only which way he or she SHOULD want you to turn. And that is a much more subtle question, which can only be answered by knowing what the caller has done earlier in the tip, or earlier that session, or even earlier in your dancing lifetime. Is the caller trying to use creative choreography (but in this case going too far and making an elementary error) or is he or she testing the dancers to see how well they avoid those same elementary errors. A good rule of thumb is that new callers (or callers new to a particular level) are more prone to errors, just like new speakers of a language, who have not yet mastered all of the idioms and the subtleties of connotations, and who make the occasional error or solecism.

And yet none of this excuses the dancer from the ultimate responsibility to contribute cooperatively to the square. There are only two ways to turn on the call Pass In, and one of them is incorrect, so if you tentatively turn one direction, and discover that the next call is impossible, you should take this as a clue that you may have turned the wrong direction. If you and your symmetric opposite (or even your counterpart in another square) make different guesses, then you've got both cases taken care of: You will do the same calls, but from different starting set-ups, and if one of you becomes unable to do the next call, you can at that point decide that the other one was correct, and "make one of those" to copy the set-up that seems to work. This way, you both continue dancing (although one of you may not have been in the position that the caller intended), and you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that the caller has outwitted you both, by creating a sequence which can be interpreted both ways and still work successfully. (In contrast, a caller can make an unpleasant guessing game where those who guess wrong are unable to continue dancing.)

But the very worst mistake you can make is to make the same mistake that your counterpart does, when you suspect you are right. This is where cooperative dancing reaches its pinnacle: With appropriate eye contact, a questioning glance, a decisive nod of acknowledgement, even a shrug, a pair of cooperative dancers can say "What does he want?" and "I've seen him call this before" and "Oh, well, I guess someone convinced him that his old interpretation was wrong, and you were right after all." Of course, this level of communication is only possible when you have mastered the level and needn't struggle with definitions, and is difficult when there are many complex concepts in quick succession. But of course skilled dancers have an easier time dancing, and hard sequences are not easy to dance, which is why there are differences between hard and easy, or between skilled and shaky. Which leads me to the next letter:

Invitation-Only Dances - 11/91

Another Reply to Puzzled:

In "Confidential to Puzzled," you mentioned dances that are by invitation only, and asked what this says about dancers as human beings. The obvious answer: They're not as dumb as they look.

--Renewed Faith in the Bay Area Square Dance Community

Tapes and Sequences - 11/91

O Most Exalted One:

When our tape group quits for the evening, we usually stop at the end of a tip, but always at least at the end of a sequence. Why does the tape always start again the next week in the middle of a sequence?

--Still Without an Answer

My Still Beloved Acolyte:

If you remove the tape, it may accidently get turned upside-down. If you don't shut off the machine immediately when you finish, you may not realize that you are very near the beginning when you start again, and if you fast-forward, you will have to go through the entire sequence to find the start of a sequence. If you actually did stop in the middle of the sequence you would probably not remember it because you would be tired at the end of the evening. And of course if you dance in the evening, the supernatural beings like phantoms may be a part of the answer, especially if your tapes come from RHC, because the phantoms may decide to dance in the dark, and since they can't read the tape labels they must listen to Dick Cook's headers on the tape, which may confuse them. (Have I mentioned that once he must have misunderstood his own voice, and accidentally sent the tape for next years dance?)

Ladies Go Left, Gents Go Right - 11/91

O Most Exalted One:

I know how to do the call First Left Next Right, and I can even do Sets In Motion, which has a Single First Left Next Right, but I was confused when the caller had us Tag the Line, Ladies Go Left, Gents Go Right, and while I was trying to make facing lines, the caller and the rest of the square did an Allemande Left.

--Testy (and a Sore Loser)

Beloved but Momentarily Lost Acolyte:

The whole name of the call is First Couple Go (or Wheel) Left, Next Couple Go (or Wheel) Right, To A Line Of Four. The other call is Tag the Line, Ladies Go Left, Gents Go Right, To the Corner, which is a style of directional calling that is more common in Basic or Traditional choreography (e.g., Separate, Around One To a Line). On the other hand, if you do a Single Girls Left Boys Right, you will end up in facing lines, from which you can Allemande Left, but if you try to work As Couples you are thinking too hard. This is very context sensitive, because Tag The Line often includes a direction to turn at the end, which is always done individually, but First Left Next Right is traditionally done As Couples. You have simply been overtrained in the Challenge-style choreography, which expects people to remember the words that the caller didn't say (Rotate: "Not Single!" or 1/4 Thru: "Right!"), as opposed to the expectations of more traditional calls, such as, from a single file promenade, Ladies Backtrack, Go Once Around, where you must remember to make a note of the people you were between, especially the one who was behind you (even though you will be facing out of the square at the moment that he or she passes behind you) because you will be finishing with that dancer in front of you. The analogous traditional case for the other sex is circling left, Men Make a Right-Hand Star (or Star by the Right), turning it once around, which is somewhat easier.

Handedness on Scoot and Counter - 1/27/93

O Most Exalted One:

What hand do the outsides use for Scoot and Counter from a left-handed quarter tag? --Puzzled

Beloved Acolyte:

You have encountered one of the great mysteries of Square Dancing, the problem of descriptive definitiveness. Counter is usually defined as "Centers Cast Off 3/4 and Counter-Rotate, Outsides Divide, Touch 1/2, and Step and Fold." The Divide is sometimes described as Cast Back, or Separate, or even (imprecisely) Clover. The Touch 1/2 is sometimes described as Touch and Trade, or Arm Turn 1/2, or simply as Trade with an implicit Step to a Wave. Clearly, these all default to right hands. But the Scoot is also usually right-handed, which leads to uncertainty. The consensus is that the Touch 1/2 is literally a Touch 1/2, unless the caller says something like "Left Scoot and Counter," in which case "Left" modifies the entire call, including the Touch 1/2. On the other hand, in the call Tag the Top (usually described as "Tag the Line 3/4; Centers Spin the Top, Outsides Face and Touch 1/2"), the consensus is that when a Left tagging call is used (e.g. Flip the Top, from left waves), you meet with lefts, as if the definition were "Tag 1/2; 1/2 Circulate; Centers Spin the Top, Outsides Trade."

Linear Cycle vs. Recycle & Sweep 1/4 - 12/16/93

O Most Exalted One:

Why isn't it Linear Cycle defined as Recycle & Sweep 1/4? The current definition is gratuitously difficult. --Puzzled

Beloved Acolyte:

You are asking the wrong question, and the question you do ask has an answer so obvious you cannot see it.

Why should there be any call at all defined as Recycle & Sweep 1/4? What possible advantage is there to using such a call rather than calling "Recycle, Sweep 1/4"? Is is significantly difficult to get those words out before the dancers finish the first part? Is there some important anticipatory motion the dancers must make because the combination will not flow well if called unexpectedly? Is it important that there be a distinct first and second part of the call? Would the Plus list be too short if Linear Cycle were not there to intimidate the Mainstream dancers?

Indeed, you have the question entirely backward. The call was invented first (as the centers' part of a more complicated call that never became popular), and the name "Linear Cycle" was given to it because of the superficial similarity to Recycle. The human mind, in seeking to comprehend that which is new, tries to match the patterns that it already knows, but often it simplifies something complex in order to compare it to something well-known; the danger lies in believing that the simplification is the real thing. In the example at hand, the name "Linear Cycle" misleadingly reaffirms the comparison to Recycle. It would not be a significant issue, except that Linear Cycle, in its original definition, is the basis for many popular higher-level calls, which involve things like 2/3 Linear Cycle. It is the same situation for Recycle itself: Dancers learning C-1 must learn a confusing, seemingly-unrelated call (2/3 Recycle), because they learned a simplification (either U-turn the Centers and Wheel & Deal, or Callerlab's Cross Fold/Fold and Follow definition)

The real mystery, of course, is why it ever became a Plus call. It would seem much more at home with similar calls on the C-3 or C-4 lists, where its descendents like Linny Your Neighbor and Linear Flow reside.

Right Call/Wrong Formation? - 3/94

O Most Exalted One:

Is it better to the right call in the wrong formation, or the wrong call in the right formation?

Beloved Acolytes:

Any old fool can do the wrong call. Even one such as The Guru still retains the vestiges of human frailty, and can be distracted by a shapely body or the twinkling eyes of a half-hidden smile.

But to do a call in the wrong formation requires a greater mental lapse. If by "wrong formation" you mean, for example, working in each wave rather than each box for a call like Scoot Back or Zig Zag, then this betrays a deep and disturbing wrongness in thinking, and will require much concentration and effort to avoid in the future. If you mean mis-hearing the call, such as Once-Removed Phantom Boxes vs. Split Phantom Boxes Working Once-Removed, this again is bad news, because such errors are hard to recognize even after the fact. If you mean being in the wrong formation or on the wrong spot before the call, then it is not a bad thing but rather a challenge to overcome, since a skillful dancer can, by intuition and deduction, find a plausible way to do the next few calls, with a good chance of ending up reasonably correct.

But on a larger scale, if you become too good at "faking it" because you are never in the right spot or because you never do the right call, then something is wrong, and you need to find the underlying problem. If you don't know the Plus calls, perhaps you should dance Plus more often; if you break down because you can't see sloppy formations, perhaps you should be an angel in a workshop with sloppy dancers to help you learn to cope with them. Perhaps you just need to dance more often, to get more floor time at all levels. As they say, practice makes perfect.

Weak Dancers and High Levels - 5/4/94

O Most Exalted One:

Why do so many bad dancers go on to higher levels? --Puzzled

Beloved Acolyte:

It should come as no great surprise to you, if you will only consider what you know about these people: (1) They have gone through months and months of Basic & Mainstream classes without dropping out, so they must enjoy the learning environment, and (2) They are bad dancers, but they are still dancing, so their lack of skill must not bother them too much.

Remember, Square Dancing does not appeal to everyone. Many people who try it will discover that it does not interest them; some of these people prefer Two-Stepping, Line Dancing, Contra Dancing, or Ballroom Dancing. The fact that Square Dancing requires a great deal of learning means that only those people who enjoy learning are likely to stay in the activity.

Consider a caller like Larry Ward, who has a sizable and loyal following. At each of his regular dances, he teaches half a dozen calls, as if the dancers have never seen them before. Of course, being a loyal following, the dancers will mostly remember seeing the calls before, so they will easily re-learn each call, but they will experience the joy of learning. Never mind that the calls repeat every few months, never mind that the re-learning might seem empty to you, the point is that this is a group of people for whom the joy of learning is endlessly recaptured, and it makes them happy.

It is certainly true that less-eccentric callers could do the same thing with Mainstream or Plus calls; in fact, Callerlab has at times designated certain "Emphasis Calls" for callers to workshop in just such a way. But it takes a very patient caller, with excellent showmanship skills, to present the same material repeatedly in an enthusiastic manner. And even then, not all dancers would be amused for very long.

There is a niche for everything: Exhibition teams with their endless rehearsals, APD workshops, definition workshops, Intro sessions for Advanced or Challenge, Intro to Round Dancing or Clogging, etc. Each of these will appeal to a different group.

You will often hear foolish ideas like, "Nobody should learn Advanced until they've danced Plus competently for a year," or other blanket statements. Nothing could be further from the truth. If your dancing is inaccurate, or you have trouble telling Left from Right, or you occasionally blank out on familiar calls, you might or might not benefit from staying at Plus, or going on to Advanced. There's nothing magically harder about higher levels, nothing that makes only "good dancers" able to dance higher levels; the levels are just higher, and more abstract, with a lot more calls to learn. Experience at a level may be helpful, but it doesn't automatically make for a good dancer. There are many fine Challenge dancers who must work around their own shortcomings; there are C-4 dancers who appear to have no sense of rhythm, or who have never been able to Flutterwheel correctly without help, or who often do the wrong call (and can fix their mistakes), or who can only learn kinesthetically (by dancing the calls) or aurally (by hearing the definitions) or graphically (with written definitions or pictures) or visually (by seeing or imagining the action).

If you like learning calls, and you like abstractions, and you're enthusiastic about learning more, then you should learn more if you have the time available. On the other hand, if you feel shaky or precarious at your current level, perhaps you do need more floor time. But everyone must decide individually. No one should be forced to learn any level, or to stay at a level.

Trade Circulate - 9/8/94

O Most Exalted One:

How do you Trade Circulate from Inverted Lines? -- Troubled

Beloved Acolyte:

You don't. And if you do, you do it differently.

You can [C-1 Phantoms] Phantom Trade Circulate (which is the same as Crossover Circulate).

You can also do the C-2 call "Split Trade Circulate" (which would be the same as Magic Box Circulate, if Magic Boxes were legitimate and if they always had right-shoulder passes, which they don't and aren't accepted as being).

The problem with Trade Circulate is that it is defined only from Waves and Two-Faced Lines.

It is perennially tempting to try to extract some kind of general definition ("Leads Trade, Trailers Jaywalk") that will unify the two different kinds of Trade Circ, but any attempt to extend such a definition will bog down in hopeless ambiguity ("Trade with WHOM?"), or will conflict with other intrinsic or defining properties of Trade Circulate (e.g., "Centers Become Ends" & vice versa).

The "real" definition (disregarding whatever nonsense Callerlab is currently spouting) is:

Lead End: Trade with the Lead Center in your line; Lead Center: Trade with the Lead End in your line; Trailing Center: Jaywalk with the Trailing End of the other line; Trailing End: Jaywalk with the Trailing Center of the other line.

Note that the Jaywalk is the Diagonal Pass Thru kind, not the Bent or T-boned kind of Pass Thru.

Trade Circulate is illegal from any kind of Inverted Lines, 3-and-1 Lines, T-bones, Columns, Diamonds, etc., and any attempts to contrive a plausible interpretation will fail to be amusing to the majority of dancers.

There is, however, the open question of asymmetric setups, such as opposite-hand 2-Faced Lines: Do the facing couples Cross Trail Thru? (or, from Opp.-hand Waves, do the trailers Once-Removed Cross-Trail Thru?)

"No" is the most popular answer, and with good reason. The ends become centers according to most definitions, but the trailers never cross paths, either, and new dancers often try to cross, so teachers often create ad-hoc "rules" about not crossing. Does this make them "real" rules? That's another open question.

But again, the real issue is that there is no consensus, and the call has been in widespread use for decades; the only remaining envelopes to push are in related calls, like doing Trade the Deucey from Columns or Diamonds, or traffic patterns (if any) for Trade Counter-Rotate.

Split Phantom - 1/20/95

O Most Exalted One:

Why doesn't "In your Parallelogram, you have Split Phantom Waves" look like this:

>  cccc
>  cccc
>  dddd
>  dddd


Beloved Acolyte:

It's just a question of numbers. "Waves" (or "Parallel Waves") means an 8-person formation. "Parallelogram" means that the formation is split in half and offset, but the number of spots does not change, merely their location and topology along the shear line. "Split Phantom" means twice as many spots, with half of them being phantoms, and all lined up.

When the formations are nested, you take the words from inside to outside as you collect the setup in your mind. Starting with an 8-person square, what you have illustrated is Parallelogram Split Phantom Split Phantom Waves (i.e., doubled twice, then sliced).

Other possibilities:

SpPh Pgram SpPh     SpPh SpPh Pgram    Pgram SpPh Pgram
   Waves:              Waves:            Waves:
 aaaa                 aaaa
 aaaa                   aaaa               a a a a
   bbbb               bbbb                     a a a a
   bbbb                 bbbb          b b b b
 xxxx                 xxxx                b b b b
 xxxx                   xxxx                Note: 50% overlap is
   yyyy               yyyy               two "ells" of 4 dancers,
   yyyy                 yyyy          in C-1 Phantom-ish formation.
                                Other amounts of overlap, however,
                               are also called just "Parallelogram."

Be careful on Interlocked Phantom or ["Concentric"] Phantom setups: Since Parallelograms are chiral (they have handedness), you may or may not be justified in assuming that the doubled formations are the same handedness:

(as in Triple Z's from 12-matrix clumps:  XY  z  )
(      [Capital=real; lowercase=phantom] xXYYZz  )
(                                        x  YZ   )

Pgram IkPh    IkPh Pgram           Ph Pgram        Pgram Ph
 Waves:        Waves:               Waves:           Waves:
aaaa         aaaa      aaaa        aaaa      aaaa       aaaa
bbbb         bbbb  *OR*  bbbb    bbbb  *OR*  bbbb       bbbb
  aaaa  <->    aaaa      aaaa      bbbb    bbbb  <->  bbbb
  bbbb  Same!  bbbb    bbbb      aaaa      aaaa Same! aaaa

Pgram SpPh        SpPh Pgram
 Waves:            Waves:
aaaa            aaaa        aaaa
aaaa  Different!  aaaa        aaaa
  bbbb   <->    bbbb   *OR*   bbbb
  bbbb            bbbb      bbbb
 ^ AKA Sheared,
 | AKA "SpPh Waves"

This is what we call "the joys of group theory." It is fun to think about, once or twice, and that's about it. Once it is clear in your mind, it is either trivial, or tedious, depending on whether you can remember all the pairs of conditions-and-results, or need to work them out again every time you need them.

Applied group theory is not Challenge Square Dancing. C-4 is too quirky and full of intuition and counter-intuition for it to be reduced to a logically consistent system.

Chain Reaction and Pass Thru - 2/95

O Most Exalted One:

In the call Chain Reaction, does the Pass Thru always need to be done right-shouldered, or are there cases when it should be done left-shouldered?

---Just Dwondering

Beloved Acolyte:

Yes, the Pass Thru must always be done with right shoulders. There are several good reasons for this.

The first reason is that, as is often the case, that's just the way it is.

The second reason is that Pass Thru is almost never done Left, even in calls like Left Travel Thru where you might expect each part of the call to be done Left.

A third reason is that it isn't an Extend (which is what you want it to be). If I may digress, there is a small contingent of poorly taught dancers and callers who do believe that Chain Reaction either does or should have a Left Pass Thru from a left-handed Quarter Tag. Their preferred redefinition of the call starts with Extend, then Half an Acey Deucey. This definition, when applied to other setups, produces a completely different call, which can be found in Burleson as the call Allergic Reaction (from a Quarter Line: Couples Extend; all do 1/2 an Acey Deucey; Turn the Facing Star 1/4, Outsides Trade; those who meet Cast 3/4, others Move Up), which is one of the most appropriately named calls in Square Dancing.

It can be argued that it "flows better" if the Pass Thru and Hinge are always a "weaving" motion, and that having the hinging hands close to each other (rather than separated by an intervening body) allows more time to anticipate the hand contact, but these are not serious considerations. The flow is equally good for a wide, arcing motion in the Pass Thru that blends into a Hinge, as long as the dancers know what they're doing and aren't dancing by rote.

Attempts to redefine or simplify Chain Reaction are ineffective and misguided, as well as being counter-productive. Remember that the phrase "chain reaction" means that the activity is contagious. The intermittent small moves at the beginning enable others to move later, but not everyone gets to move at the same time until the last parts of the call.

Some easy calls are on the Advanced list because there's no room on the previous lists, but Chain Reaction is not one of those. Chain Reaction is a difficult call, and the ability to do it correctly is one of the hallmarks of a good, solid Advanced Dancer.

Crossfire from Inverted Lines - 2/9/95

O Most Exalted One:

What's the story on Crossfire? Is it legal from Inverted Lines? -Fertile Ymagination

Beloved Acolyte:

The story has no simple answer, because it is one of the subtle mysteries of Square Dance Theory. From a two-faced line, there is a wide range of definitions for Crossfire that will produce the correct result, but from other formations the exact definition can matter a great deal, and there is no universal answer.

The first ambiguity is number of parts. Certainly the Centers Trade, and the Ends Cross Fold. But then it is not clear whether Everyone does the Extend, or just the (original) Centers Extend. (Indeed, Callerlab's definition doesn't even include the word Extend, although that's irrelevant.) The definition could also be "Centers Trade and Extend, while the Ends Cross Fold"; in that case, it is a 2-part call for some and a 1-part call for others. This is why "And Roll" is ambiguous: those who Cross Fold may or may not extend or be extended to, which may or may not prohibit their rolling. (In general, any caller who calls Crossfire And Roll and doesn't want the Cross-Folders to Roll is being abusive and has given up the right to get what he or she wants.)

A second ambiguity is the kind of Extend that is involved. Is it the same as the "Step" in the C-1 call Step and Fold? Is it the C-2 call "1/2 Press Ahead"? Is it the orphan call "Extend the Tag"? Is it some other notion of Extend? Does it preserve handedness? Does it accommodate offsets? Can it be done from Facing Couples? Is it a 4-person call? 8-person? 1-Person?

A third ambiguity is the kind of square-breathing that is allowed. Since Crossfire transforms each line in Two-faced Lines into each box in Columns, or each half of a Tidal Two-faced Line into each box in Waves, we can assume that Crossfire is a 4-person call that turns a line into a box, and the square adjusts the spacing to make room. But is that part of the definition or not? Can the definition allow an inverted line to turn into a wave? Probably, but there are those who would dispute even that. (Note that another Myopically Muddled poster's comparison to 3/4 Tags is unwarranted, even though the vaguely related question of breathing also comes up in the matter of 3/4 Tag formations vs. Twin Single 3/4 Tags vs. Z's, and in the subtle isomorphisms that link them together but don't make them the same.)

Finally, there is the awkwardness of Ends who are facing in doing a Cross Fold. This causes the centers to move out, even though they are not involved. (Note that the Matrix interpretation is not appropriate, since in Crossfire from Two-faced Lines the Trailing Ends work in their own respective lines, rather than going past each other.)

       2-Faced   Facing    Lines        Inverted and/or
        Lines    Lines    Facing Out    Outverted Lines
 Start  >  >     >  <       <  >        <  >       >  <
 Here:  >  >     >  <       <  >        >  <       <  >
        <  <     >  <       <  >        >  <       <  >
        <  <     >  <       <  >        <  >       >  <

Ends will Cross Fold, Centers will Trade, so let's look at what we have before any adjustments for breathing or extending:

Before >> >>     <<>>      >>  <<      ><  ><      ><><
Extend: << <<    <<>>      >>  <<      ><  ><      ><><
       (1)       (2)       (3)         (4)         (5)

                              ]         >  >       >  >
After? > >> >   < < > >    > }[{ <      <  <       <  <
       < << <   < < > >    > }]{ <      >  >       >  >
                              [         <  <       <  <

Notice that there is something "wrong" with each of these cases. In (1), if the caller had said "But Centers hold your miniwave," you would end in the Z's shown in (1), which is a 2x6 matrix. If the Callerlab definition is strictly applied, the ending formation should be the 2x6 matrix shown below it. We "know," without adequate justification, that we must breathe the square into normal Columns.

In (2), we certainly can't Extend the Tag. (Going from a Full Tag formation to a 5-quarter tag?) However, callers who use this may want the dancers to "Do Your Part" as if from Two-faced Lines, ending in normal columns. Or they may think that Extend from here does nothing, or everyone breathes and extends simultaneously.

In (3), the situation is ambiguous, and even Callerlab's definition begs the question and doesn't help, because we need to know if the centers can work with each other before we know whether they make a wave (shown with []), or stay facing out in their own box (shown with {}). There are several excellent callers who subscribe to each school of thought. (Compare this to Tidal Waves doing Swing Thru vs. Grand Swing Thru.) Most callers who use this are expecting the Quarter Tag formation, but only because they don't understand the controversy.

In (4) and (5), dancers are either extending to make a wave, or coming to the same spot with right hands. The most common interpretation is that Crossfire takes an inverted line into a wave in the same footprints, as shown. An equally good case, however, could be made for "Do Your Part" leaving all the dancers sharing either the center or end spots of a Column, leaving them in waves close together or waves far apart (or in Common-Spot Columns, at levels where it is appropriate to Opt For that kind of phantom formation).

In short, the fact that the caller uses Crossfire from an unusual formation usually can tell you what the caller wants, because anyone who didn't want that would not have called Crossfire from there. Except from Lines Facing Out, in which case you should make a cautious guess. Until the following calls make it clear what the caller wants, you should probably make something nebulously in between a Quarter Tag and Starting Double Pass Thru, such as a 1/8 Tag formation.

Rims Trade Back - 3/16/95

O Most Exalted One:

Why does the call "rims trade back" contain the word "back"? ---Furrowed Brow

Beloved Acolyte:

The C-2 call Rims Trade Back is defined as Partner Trade, then Original Ends Circulate. Since the Trade reverses their facing directions, the Circulate is in the direction that was behind them originally. In other words, they Trade to face backwards, and then keep going that direction.

The whole family of calls was originally done from Thars, Promenades, and other wheel-like formations that had distinct Hubs and Rims, and only later was it generalized to apply to Ends and Centers of Waves/Lines.

Swing 1/2 and Hinge 1/4 - 3/22/95

O Most Exalted One:

Shouldn't the term "Swing 1/2" be relegated to the same graveyard as "Hinge 1/4"? They are both ambiguous and redundant. Also, I believe the term "Cast" should be used for mini-waves, and "Cast Off" should be used for couples. --Acolyte #123-45-6789

[Identification numbers have been changed to corrupt the innocent. If this had been an actual innocent, the identification number you've just seen would have been followed by further instructions on whom to do and where to go in your area.]

Beloved Acolyte:

You have fallen into the twin traps of Prescriptivism and Provincialism. The Swing of "Swing 1/2" is an ancient and traditional Fundamental Call, and the default in this context is a Hand-Swing or Forearm-Swing (rather than the Ballroom or Buzzstep Swing, or the archaic Elbow Swing). Remember, Swing Chain Thru is the one with 1/4 Turns, as you should well know. Swing & Cross is the best example of a call in which Swing means 3/4 Turn, and the now-defunct call Swing Across had 3/8 and 5/8 Turns. The A-2 call Swing (as in Swing Slip Slide & Slither) is merely shorthand for a special case of All Swing 1/2.

For "Hinge 1/4" you at least have an excuse for ignorance. You could not be expected to know of the call Hinge By m & n [& ...], which requires multiple Hinges (possibly including Partner Hinges).

Hinge By   |       1/2          and        3/4:
Start      | After  | After      & After    | After      | After
           | 1st/4  | 2nd/4      & 1st/4    | 2nd/4      | 3rd/4
           |        |            &          |            |
a  ^  ^  ^ | <b  c> | b  ^  ^  c & b  a>  c | b  ^  a  c | b  d>  c
v  b  c  d | a>  <d | v  a  d  v & v  <d  v | v  d  v  v | v  <a  v

The similar (or perhaps identical) call Change the Apex [m x n] is the first call you are likely to encounter which works this way, since it was only dropped from C-3A a few years ago, according to Clark Baker's handy database.

Getting people to distinguish between Cast and Cast Off is a hopeless task, like pushing a rope, or herding cats. You are free to make such distinctions for yourself, but don't expect anyone to notice, much less cooperate. And don't do your dancers the disservice of telling them that such a distinction is possible, when it is neither widely known nor commonly accepted where it is known. Dancers who take such notions to heart are likely to balk, or at least be distracted unnecessarily, if they ever encounter a caller with a different usage.

Don't forget that the term "Push Cast" is already popular and unambiguous, to refer to the action that you would call Cast Off. The term "Cast" is only used in shorthand, to cue definitions (either by the caller, or by fellow dancers). The fact that Cast is shorthand (meaning that it is used in informal contexts), and the fact that the users are a diverse group, few of whom would be willing or able to change their vocabulary even for good reasons, means that your task will be daunting and unrewarding if you try to impose your usage on others. But if it keeps you out of trouble, you have my permission to try.

Curlique - 4/14/95

O Most Exalted One:

The Big Five mentions the call Curlique but I can't find the definition. It does not appear in the index. It was the 26th most frequently called square dance call in 1973 according to John & Bill's Top 30 Calls of Past Years. (Figure 3, page 6.) But now it has disappeared.

What was it? What happened? How do you pronounce it? Is it kur-LEEK or kur-LEE-kyew? Why do calls go "extinct?" Should we try to save them? What will be next? Eight-chain Thru? Spin Chain Thru? (New ends say, "Curlique" ten times fast.)

In the future will we look back wistfully upon the 70's as the age of Pringle's potato chips, disco, tan M&Ms and dancing Curlique?

--Dazed and Confused

Beloved Acolyte:

"CURR-lih-KYEW" was a fancy version of Touch 1/4, but the styling was like Box the Gnat And Girls Roll And Boys Un-Roll. I liked it, but it was unpopular because of the awkward twirl, the overflow for the girls, and the perennial disputes about what kind of handhold to use to prevent broken wrists (e.g., make a fist, don't let anyone hold on, and jerk your hand away if anyone tries anything).

Curlique was popular before Touch 1/4, and gave birth to a sizable family of related calls, but it slowly lost popularity. The "arch" calls have been slowly losing ground to their no-twirl equivalents for many years, but only Curlique has actually died so far. Star Thru is still nearly as popular as Slide Thru, but California Twirl and Dive Thru are being replaced by Partner Trade and Pass to the Center.

When Curlique was dropped, its orphan relatives like Curli-Cross and Grand Curli-Cross were effectively replaced by their "Touch 1/4" versions when the general suffix (anything) And Cross and the call Triple Cross were added to the Advanced and C-1 lists. Curli-Wheel was dropped from C-3A, and its no-twirl equivalent ("Interchange" or "Touch 1/4 And Change") never caught on. Curli-Cross The Top has remained a C-4 call, but its no-twirl equivalent (Touch 1/4 and Hinge the Top) is indistinguishable from Spin the Top.

The same perfunctory slap-and-go styling that is popular at the higher levels for Star Thru was used to avoid the arching twirls in Curlique.

Curlique and its common variations (including Curlique and Roll) are still in limited use at C-4, along with the occasional "Curli Circ And Dodge" or "Curli Circ And Cross" that are dredged up as relatively easy-to-guess Test Calls. (Curlique, SPLIT or Box Circulate, and either Walk and Dodge or And Cross).

Curlique, Pringles, and, to a lesser extent, tan M&M's, are not quite dead yet.

Fractional Grand Square - 3/2/95

O Most Exalted One:

Where does Grand Square 6 Steps end?

-Just Dwondering

Beloved Acolyte:

That should depend on the definition of Grand Square. Is it 3 Steps, then Turn in place on the fourth beat? Is the fourth beat a Step that includes a Turn? If the fourth beat includes a Step, does the Turn happen simultaneously, or at the beginning, middle, or end of the Step?

Like most of these questions, all answers are correct, but not at the same time, and the real definition doesn't count, since no definition is universally accepted or agreed upon.

Squares are 3 Steps wide. The fact that a sloppy Grand Square takes 12 beats each direction is proof of this.

The Turn happens at the end of a Step. The fact that the real dancers convert to sloppy Grand Squares is proof of this.

In a precise Grand Square, the Turn is done in place, and does not include any kind of Step. In the IAGSDC's style of precision Grand Squaring, it is done with a kick or hop in place.

But notice that 3 is an odd number, which has no middle, while 4 is an even number, which does have a middle. If two people are taking equal steps, they will meet halfway only if they are using an even number of steps to travel equal distances. Halfway when trying to do 3 steps would be 1.5 steps.

Let's look at the first four beats of Grand Square, using this apostrophe-and-comma diagram: (Facing directions are not shown.)

Sides Face,|            |            |            | 4, Turn in
Grand Sq:  | 1, "Step": | 2, "Step": | 3, "Step": |   place?
 : ''      |     ,,     |   ,    ,   |   '    '   |  '    '
 ;    ,    |   '    '   |     ''     |     ,,     |    ,,
 '    '    |   ,    ,   |     ,,     |     ''     |    ''
   ,,      |     ''     |   '    '   |   ,    ,   |  ,    ,
Sides Face,|            |            |            | Step-and-turn
Grand Sq:  | 1, "Step": | 2, "Step": | 3, "Step": | (on 4)?
:  '  '    |    ,  ,    |            | ,        , | '        '
:          | ,        , | '  '  '  ' |    ,  ,    |
'        ' |            |            |            |    '  '
'        ' | ,        , |            |    ,  ,    |    '  '
           |    ,  ,    | '  '  '  ' | ,        , |
   '  '    |            |            |            | '        '

So, if the caller asks you to Grand Square 6 Steps, should you stop after 1/2 of a traversal, or 2/3? Well, by the principle of Results-Merchant-ism, even though it really is 2/3, you can guess with 100% certainty that the caller wants Facing Lines. You will be snickering up your sleeve, however, knowing that the caller is trying too hard to be clever, and has made an obvious blunder.

Notice that this involves the ever-popular "Fence-Post" error. It is tempting to say that "2" is the middle of "1-2-3," but most situations actually start with zero, and "0-1-2-3" has 1.5 as its midpoint.

Deal and Wheel - 5/8/95

O Most Exalted One:

I dance through A-2 and was recently at a weekend where some of the workshop material was on Deal & Wheel. As Deal & Wheel was described, it seemed to me to be a left (or reverse) Wheel & Deal. How far does the parallelism with being a left Wheel & Deal carry? In a left-handed 2-faced line, should the call actually be Deal & Wheel instead of Wheel & Deal? What about Single Deal?


Beloved Acolyte:

Deal and Wheel is an obsolete and archaic call. It is not currently in use at any Challenge level. It is also not compatible with other "Deal" calls, so it cannot easily be resurrected in Challenge choreography. It only survives today as an anomalous historical tidbit, and apparently as an occasional gimmick call.

The basic idea behind it is that if you reverse the order of words, you can, by implication, reverse the only other reversible aspect of the call, namely Left/Right. There are a few other calls in which this is done, such as Left and Right Thru. The modern trend is to use Mirror (or Mirror Image) to reverse left and right throughout the call, to avoid the confusion of Reverse vs. In Reverse Order vs. Reverse Leads/Trailers (as in Reverse Stack The Line), and the ambiguities of weak or loose usages of Left (such as Left Travel Thru, which for historical reasons starts with a normal Pass Thru rather than a Left Pass Thru).

The modern interpretation of Wheel And Deal has it resembling Couples Trade, except that the couples don't go past each other. When originally introduced, however, it was usually described in terms of Wheel Around (which is always counter-clockwise). The right-hand couple Wheeled in front, and the left-hand couple Dealed behind them (from lines facing out). There was a brief controversy about the then-new formation of 2-faced lines, and some callers wanted left-hand 2-faced lines to end back-to-back after Wheel and Deal (since everyone was Wheeling and ending "in front"). The issue was soon settled, and the definition became Couples Hinge And As Couples Roll. When both couples are facing the same way, this means that they must pass right shoulders.

So, if you are doing an archaic call, do you use the archaic interpretation? Does Deal And Wheel from right-hand 2-faced lines end in couples back-to-back? My answer would be No, unless you were dancing actual choreography from old records or tapes.

There were a few other variations that should be mentioned here: Wheel But Don't Deal had the right-hand couple in a 1-faced line doing a Wheel Around in place, to make a 2-faced Line. Deal But Don't Wheel had the left-hand couples Reverse Wheel Around.

There are also a few calls that are derived from Turn And Deal. For example, the nearly-obsolete C-4 call Cycle And Deal is like the Advanced call Cycle And Wheel, but it's defined as Cycle And (Turn And Deal).

There are also a very small number of calls in which "Wheel And Deal" has been shortened to _Deal_, as in the C-4 calls Mix The Deal (=Concentric Wheel And Deal), and its companion call Mix The Turn And Deal (=Concentric Turn And Deal, but outsides work Any Hand).

In contemporary usage, the only Single versions are Single Wheel and Single Turn And Deal. It is not clear whether Single Deal should be a shorthand for Single Turn And Deal, or the Single version of Deal And Wheel. In any event, it is not in general usage.

The Sashay Story - 5/19/95

Once upon a time, there was a French term, Chasse, which referred to a sidestepping action (because one foot moves away, and the other foot chases after it).

In Square Dancing, this became a figure called Sashay, which was like a sideways Do Sa Do. A separate folk-modification transformed the figures Allemande and Chasse into All Around the Left-Hand Lady and See Saw Your Taw, where "Your Taw" is a corruption of _autour_, the French word for "around" (as in Sidestep Around).

Sashay and See Saw are both counter-clockwise (i.e., left-shoulder passes), and they differ in that Sashay starts with the person next to you, and See Saw starts with the person you are facing. See Saw is also used as the mirror image of Do Sa Do, but that usage is comparatively recent.

If Sashay took you all the way around, then Half Sashay would take you only half-way, and you would have changed spots with your partner. This was so useful and popular with callers that the original Full Sashay is now a completely obsolete call. There are only a tiny handful of references to it in Modern Western Square Dance, buried in Burleson's Encyclopedia, like Allemande Left, Go Allemande "A"; With A Right And Left, And A Full Sashay. Such a figure obviously dates back to the era of rhyming patter, which hasn't been fashionable for at least a couple of decades.

Now, the name Half Sashay is commonly shortened to Sashay.

Calls like Ladies Center, Men Sashay involve a slightly different meaning of Sashay, close to the original "sidestep" idea.

The idea of Rollaway came later, and at first involved the Ladies doing the Rollaway while the Men just did the normal Half Sashay. It is still sometimes called Rollaway With A Half Sashay. Some people believe that Rollaway called when the dancers are circling left, for example, means that the Ladies do the Rollaway while the Men merely stand still, rather than being the same thing as Rollaway With A Half Sashay.

There is another call, Eight Rollaway (With A Half Sashay), which may or may not be an eight-person call, in which everyone does the Rollaway action, i.e., everyone does a Trade And Roll And Roll. This call is still occasionally used at the C-4 level, and it typically starts from mini-waves. I believe it was originally used from Thars, etc., which explains the "Eight" in the name.

Rolling and Peel Off - 5/19/95

O Most Exalted One:

In the Callerlab definition of Peel Off, the original leads have a "step forward" as their final motion, and thus shouldn't be able to roll. But callers use Peel Off and Roll all the time, wanting everyone to Roll. Who is right? --A Little Frantic

Beloved Acolyte:

This is a good example of the uselessness of "official" definitions. Human beings are not computers, and human languages are full of ambiguity. The language of Square Dancing is no exception. Definitions are there to help the dancers and callers agree on what actions are associated with what words.

The suffix "...And Roll" refers to an additional 1/4 turn in place, which is much harder to define than it seems. There are several traps for the unwary.

The stupid catch-phrase "Parts is parts" is the worst problem. Calls can have a smooth flowing motion but be described as a series of sharp or precise actions. Most of the controversial calls involve different ways to describe motions that are curved at the beginning and less curved at the end.

The call Chase Right cannot be fractionalized; it is a single flowing motion. The traditional interpretation was that the Left-hand Dancer followed a J-shaped path that was more curved at the beginning than at the end, but still curved all the way through. I believe that the official Callerlab definition at one time said that Chase Right resembled Box Circulate 2, except that everyone could Roll (to face) at the end of the call.

Crossfire, on the other hand, has always been controversial. Everyone agrees that the ends Cross Fold, and the Centers Trade, but after that, there is no consensus. Some believe that everyone will Extend, others think the centers only do the Extend, and some believe that the centers "Step Forward" in some way that differs from Extend.

This opens a new can of worms, namely, the "do nothing" problem. Some calls (like Swing Thru from Right-hand Waves) leave some people doing nothing while others are still moving. One school of thought (the currently fashionable one) says that And Roll applies to each dancer as soon as they finish their part of the call. Doing nothing doesn't count as part of the call. Another school of thought (which at one time had the official backing of Callerlab) says that standing still is part of the call, so And Roll only applies to the people who are still moving at the end of the call.

But this still doesn't answer the whole question. What if the caller says "Single Hinge, Centers Trade, and Roll"? Are the new Ends doing nothing while the Centers are Trading, or are they standing still? Does it matter if the caller inserts words like "and" to join the two calls together? Most people would say that And Roll applies only to one call, especially since the name is usually listed as "(Anything) And Roll."

Peel Off suffers from several definitional problems, notably the contrived shoe-horning that makes the Z and Box starting formations the same. There are also some poorly-thought-out statements included in the definition.

PEEL OFF - Starting formation - one couple following another, box circulate or Z formation.

Yes, these starting formations are mostly correct, but the body of the definition is written only for the Box starting formations (either couples or miniwaves):

Each lead dancer turns away from the center of the starting formation, walks in a semi-circle and steps forward to become an end dancer of the new line. Meanwhile, each trailing dancer steps forward and does a U turn back, turning away from the center of the starting formation to become the center dancer of the new line.

We'll ignore the grammar of "turns away . . . , walks in a semi-circle" (which implies that these are separate parts of the call, when what it should say is something like, "walks in a semi-circle, turning away from the center . . .").

The ends still have the same problem (J-shaped path) that we saw in Chase Right, but here it is even less clear, and it gets worse from a Z.

From one couple following another, the ending formation is a line of four; from a Z, the ending formation is a two-faced line; from a box circulate, dancers may have to take one step forward to adjust to a two-faced line.

The last two cases here are nonsense. From a Box Circulate, everyone has been stepping forward (either before or after turning around), so they should be adjusting then, not at the end of the call. And what on earth is "one step"?

The Z problem is harder. Perhaps the definition just assumes that a Z is always a Trailing Z (e.g., Ends Fold from a Wave). But there are many other Z formations that allow Peel Off. The other formations may be less common, and harder to set up, but they'd be even harder to get out of, if Peel Off were not available.

The One-Faced Z illustrates most of the problems.

Start:       End:

<a <b         b>
   <c <d      d>

Dancer "b" just turns around in place, and doesn't step forward at all during the call, but according to the definition, "b" must step forward an unknown amount (since the definition fails to mention the middle of the formation, which is where "b" already is). Then "b" turns around, and, possibly, takes "one step" forward.

Meanwhile, "c" does the semi-circle, but doesn't do any stepping forward, contrary to the definition. Note that even from the common Z formations, the new ends only do the semi-circles, without stepping forward.

Dancers "a" and "d" must exaggerate the motions that they do. Note that "d" must add the extra "one step" (if that has any meaning at all) near the beginning of the call. That's the last line of the definition, which might or might not suggest that it happens at the end of the call, but there's no good way to decide.

And poor "a" has to turn away, move in a semi-circle, step forward, and then maybe take another one step forward, but by conventional usage he can still Roll.

A better way to think about Peel Off is to consider the leaders and trailers to be working together. The call name refers to the outward motion of airplanes moving apart in sweeping curves. You can consider Peel Off to have all the dancers face away from the formation, and then turn as a couple until they are facing the opposite direction from where they started (1/4 Out, and As Couples Roll). As they do this, they adjust their position so that they end up in a line centered on the original starting formation (whether it was a Z or a general box).

A final consideration in Rolling is that not all callers know what they're talking about. The many e-mail messages on this topic haven't exactly been in agreement. Some calls (e.g., Cut or Flip the Hourglass, or Scoot Back) have well-defined parts, and it is well-known at the higher levels that some of the dancers can't Roll. Some callers don't know any better, and others make occasional mistakes (but phrases like "Roll to Face" often suggest what the caller wants).

Backing to a Wave - 6/5/95

O Most Exalted One:

Please explain how to tell when the phrase "To A Wave" refers to the C-1 concept and when it is just part of {any tagging call} Back To A Wave.

At the recent IAGSDC convention, I heard one of these called (I don't remember whether it was tag/flip/vertical tag), and it seemed that some people did the full "back" call, while others did "to a wave" -- and most of the floor had problems.

--Timidly Lamenting

Beloved Acolyte:

The call Tag Back To a Wave has "To a Wave" in it because there was once a related call that didn't end in a wave. Tag Back was defined as "Tag the Line 3/4; Centers Turn Thru, Outsides U-Turn Back to the right." It ended with the dancers facing.

Historically, the "To a Wave" in Tag Back To a Wave is actually a "Step to a Wave" rather than a "Hold the Wave"; you might encounter something similar when Anne calls "Heads Wheel Thru, To a Wave" (meaning "And Step to a Wave" rather than 1/2 Wheel Thru or some such).

Some callers occasionally insert "To a Wave" as filler words in calls like Flip Back, which is unnecessary, but usually harmless. It's not clear what's appropriate with tagging calls that include the word "Tag" (like Vertical Tag Back [?to a wave], or Loop and Tag Back [?to a wave]), and even less so with calls where the word "Tag" isn't immediately before the "Scoot" (e.g., Tag the Star Back [??to a wave]).

There usually isn't much confusion. Most callers say "Centers To a Wave" when they want the C-1 "To a Wave" modifier in a Scoot Back or other scooting call.

Since the "-Back" versions of Tagging Calls are box-type scoots rather than 1/4-tag-type scoots, only the centers can strictly "Hold the Wave"; very few callers say just "To a Wave" meaning "Centers Hold the Wave," and those who do deserve the broken floors that they get. In general, I recommend that you assume "To a Wave" is noise in any scooting call, unless it's "Centers To A Wave," but, as you have learned, you should be aware of the possible confusion. If you can guess what the caller wants, and the rest of your square can't, it may help to say "CENTERS to a wave" or "The Other 'To a Wave'!"

But like I always say, ambiguity is the bane of good calling.

Stimulate the Column - 8/28/95

O Most Exalted One:

Is it true that there is a Square Dance call "Stimulate the Column"? How is it done, and how many people are required? What about the concepts "Working with Latex" and "Working with Lube".

Beloved Acolyte:

Yes, there is a C-4 call named Stimulate the Column: starting in a normal column, Circulate 1 and 1/2; Lone ends Counter-Rotate and Extend, while those in the column of 6 do a Grand Hinge the Top (i.e., Hinge, and those who meet Cast 3/4 while the others Move Up as in Fan the Top [=Isolate]); normally ends in waves. Since the call starts with a Circulate, the C-2 Anything concept applies, e.g., Split Counter Stimulate, in which the first full circulate is replaced with another call. Note also that there is a weak tendency to reserve the words "the Column" for the full call, and use only the "Stimulate" part for variations (similar to the distinction between the Advanced calls "Transfer the Column" and "Split Transfer"). Stimulate the Column is an 8-person call, and the sound effect is "Heh-heh-heh."

Loop is a call on the C-2 list, similar to Run. Macros in LaTeX are available (from for those who want the maximum for their presentation tools.

Badges - 9/7/96

O Most Exalted One:

When one finds oneself attending a square dance function and, due to relocation or inactivity, one has no badge from the appropriate club, what should one do? A) Appear nameless? B) Wear a club badge where one was formerly a member (even though it may be years since one has actively contributed to the club)? C) Another option known only to the wise guru?

I have tried option "B" when attending a dance in the area where I've lived for three (non-dancing) years. I was asked by my partners and corners if I was visiting, and when I replied that it was my most recent badge, I was told I was a "fake and a cheat." (!)

I have since ordered a badge from that particular club, but wonder what course I should take for an upcoming fly-in. I wouldn't want to appear thoughtless and offend dancers by wearing their club badges, if inappropriate. Do you have any suggestions, O Solomon of the Square?

Beloved Acolyte:

Badges remind acquaintances of your name, avoiding those awkward moments when others (or even you yourself) forget who you are or where you're from. Badges also show support for local clubs, or they identify visitors from distant clubs. It is quite common to wear old badges when, for example, current badges have been lost or misplaced, or when divorced women return to their maiden names. If you need to sweet-talk a club sheriff who checks for badges, you can show good faith by wearing whatever badge you did find, instead of one you couldn't find, so you might not be fined.

Politeness dictates that you join local clubs or associations when you start dancing in a new area, and that you buy and wear the appropriate local badge, to show political and financial support for dancing in the area. The penalty for doing otherwise is gentle teasing about not really being a local yet, to which you can reply that you've not yet been offered a local badge. Old badges can even be worn intentionally, to start conversations.

Another popular choice is a generic name-only badge. Miniaturized club-badge dangles can be added to indicate multiple clubs, avoiding the dilemma of what badge to wear, without wearing multiple badges. People will naturally assume that your badge reflects your current name and home, so you should try to stay current if you wish to minimize confusion and avoid questions about the latest news and gossip from your former hometown.

Linear Sigh called Hinge Fold Pat Feel - 10/16/95

O Most Exalted One:

On a Linear Cycle, why do the dancers say "Hinge, Fold, Pass (or Follow), Peel" when it should be "Hinge, Fold, Follow, Trail"? It's obvious that Plus dancers don't know Trail, but that seems a slim excuse for perpetuating the wrong thing.

--Doggedly Striving

Beloved Acolyte:

Simplicity may be tempting and comforting, or even beautiful in its own way, but that doesn't always make it right. Linear Cycle is a 3-part call (even according to Callerlab): (1) Hinge; (2) Vertical Tag All the Way But Don't Adjust; and (3) Peel toward the hand used for the Hinge into the vacant un-adjusted space. Since Vertical Tag is a C-1 call, the definition must be reworded and explained for Plus dancers.

                  Leads      Double        ...or Trail?
Start:    Hinge;  Fold &       Pass;  Peel     >
^ v ^ v    > >    > >           > >   > <      >
           < <        < <   < <       > <         <

The Peel in the definition isn't a Peel Off, it's a Peel In, toward the center axis of the formation. (Peel is syntactically like Cast; instead of In/Out/Right/Left, you substitute the word "Off" for "Out" when you use the explicit directions, and only the "Off" versions are still popular in each case. Trail Off, however, is a pun on Peel Off and Cross Trail Thru, and it is rarely or never used with directions.)

But notice that Trail Off is effectively a Sashay and Peel Off:

Start:    Peel Off  vs.  Sashay & Peel Off  vs.  Trail Off
  > >       *<*            * *      * *            * *
  * *       * *            > >      *<*            *<*
                                     <              <

Notice, however, that Peel Off keeps you on the same side of the formation, while Trail Off takes you to the other side, but they both cause the formation to "breathe outward" in the appropriate direction. The important feature of Linear Cycle's last part is not that it allows one dancer to cross the center axis, but that it leaves the center dancers facing the spots they came from. A Peel Off always does this, leaving the center dancer on the same side and adjacent to the center axis, while Trail Off never does this, forcing both dancers to the far side of the center axis.

After 2/3 Linear Cycle, there is a definite center axis, which a Trail Off would force you to go past. There may be a great deal of modification needed so that the Peel will be done relative to the outer margin rather than the central axis, and so that space will be "invaded" (to use up the empty space rather than forcing the formation to grow outward), but it is definitely more Peeley than Trailey.

Parallelograms and the Solomon Rule - 10/23/95

O Most Exalted One:

Starting from Parallelogram Facing Lines, what is the ending formation for Parallelogram Split Recycle?

--Pensively Musing

Beloved Acolyte:

It ends in a Tidal Wave. You only restore the offset of the Parallelogram if it is possible to do so. (This is unlike certain other concepts, like Butterfly, O, or In Your Block, in which you work to footprints, and Concentric or All 4 Couples, in which you use a more complex rule.)

                                Don't cut off your nose,
Before:       After:            despite the definition:
^ v ^ v       ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v   . \/ . \/ . \/ . \/
    ^ v ^ v                               /\ ' /\ ' /\ ' /\ '

Parallelograms and other sliced formations use the same basic rules for shapechangers, in that you to preserve the amount of overlap (usually 50%) and the direction of the offset, but any dancers who end on the shear-axis will just stay there; it's called the Solomon Rule, because you can't cut a dancer in half.

Be careful with the Solomon Rule. Concepts like As Couples or In Tandem make it important to notice where the parentheses are.

         Offset, In Tandem,         In Tandem, Offset
Start:   Step to a Wave:      vs.   Step to a Wave:
v v
v v      ^ v ^ v                    ^ v ^ v
  ^ ^        ^ v ^ v                ^ v ^ v
  ^ ^

One way to think of the Solomon Rule, however, is to consider a simple and obvious shapechanger, and make that the standard:

              (Parallelogram         Parallelogram
Start:         Circulate) 1/2   ==>  (1/2 Circulate):
v v v v       ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v        ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v
    ^ ^ ^ ^

Finally, the Solomon Rule can be applied partially, when only some of the dancers are on the center line.

             Parallelogram            Parallelogram
Start:       Vertical 3/4 Tag:   or   Dixie Diamond:
v v v v        ^  ^                     >  >
    ^ ^ ^ ^    ^ v ^ v                  ^ v ^ v
                  v  v                     <  <

*** Addendum ***

O Most Exalted One:

What about Parallelogram Fascinate? Is it legal?

Beloved Acolyte:

Yes, of course it is:

        [ Think this:       ]
        [ Start:   End:     ]   After Parallelogram Fascinate:
Start:  [             >     ]        >
^^VV    [ ^^VV     >  <  <  ]     >  <  <
  ^^VV  [ ^^VV     >  >  <  ]         >  >  <
        [             <     ]            <

This leaves you in an Offset Quarter Tag overlapped by 50%, if you start in a normal Parallelogram. Of course, your matrix is undetermined, but you know that you're overlapped by 50% for whatever the next call is. (I think you're 2/3 of the way over, so that the overlapping spots consist of, here, the outside belles and 1/2 each of the center dancers, for a total of 2 spots. If the next call were Follow Thru, you would assume that "Parallelogram" was implied, which it typically is for shapechangers from offset/parallelogram footprints, so you would end in a normal 50%-overlapped Parallelogram.)

There's even more ambiguity when the offset goes the other direction in Parallelogram Diamonds/Quarter-Tags, since you're not in a 12-matrix. For simplicity, I illustrated it like this:

>  >     or   v  v
^ v ^ v       ^ v ^ v
   <  <          ^  ^

But this doesn't preserve the 50% overlap, nor does it erase it entirely with the Solomon rule. In fact, the adjustment is stored partly in the minds of the caller and dancers, and partly in the position of the points or outsides; it would be reasonable to call Flip the Parallelogram Diamond from there, ending in Offset Waves.

But this touches on a problem that goes beyond merely adjusting Parallelograms. In any formation like those illustrated above, the exact positioning will be ambiguous, because the structure of Diamonds and Quarter Tags is only an approximation, with two conflicting kinds of topology at the same time. In the Diamond example, the outside points are In Tandem with the center points, while simultaneously being in the outside Triple Diamond:

Triple Diamonds         Outsides
footprints:     *or*    In Tandem:
 >   >   *               > >
* ^ v ^ v *             ^ v ^ v
 *   <   <                 < <

In formations with more than 8 spots, the Diamond Points and Quarter Tag Outsides don't know what is expected on a call like Loop or Press that requires you to know where you are in the matrix.

The root of the problem is the fudging in the universally accepted isomorphism between a 12-matrix and normal Twin Diamonds or Single Quarter Tags. As the number of formations increases beyond 2, the adjustments become too large to ignore, and the caller must be very cautious and explicit:

Split Phantom   ?  Quadruple         ?   Concentric or Interlocked
Quarter Tags:   =  Single 1/4 Tags:  =   1/4 Tag setups:
- v v - - v v -     v   v   v   v        - v - v v - v -
^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v    ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v       ^ v ^ v ^ v ^ v
- ^ ^ - - ^ ^ -     ^   ^   ^   ^        - ^ - ^ ^ - ^ -

Notice that in the middle diagram, the outsides are in 2 Lines of 4, while the other diagrams show two distinctly different locations for the real people in Triple Tidal Lines of 8. It would be reasonable for a caller to expect the dancers to adjust to or from the middle setup if the context required it, but to adjust directly from one outer diagram to the other would be inappropriate, awkward, and bogus.

Hourglass Motivations

O Most Exalted One:

In Motivate, the definition has the dancers move to the end from the star by doing an Hourglass Circulate, but earlier it has them move TO the star by doing a 1/2 Circulate instead. Callerlab, the Big Five and the C1-C2 Cedar Chest all have this difference.

Why is that? If Hourglass Circulate is acceptable to describe the last motion, why not the earlier one?

As it is, if the trailing ends do 1/2 Circulate from lines, they're out there on the borders of the formation, not in the center for a star -- no wonder dancers "can't see the star".

--Fine Kettle of Fuzzy Logic

Beloved Acolyte:

Well, for one thing, Callerlab explicitly says that any dancer on a centerline can Hourglass Circulate as a very center. You may think this is foolish, but it keeps the definition of Tally Ho workable. (It makes the other dancer's part ambiguous, but we seem to be able to live with that.)

Another consideration is that the ends concentrically 1/2 Circulate, and then ignore where they came from in order to determine the location of the Star; this only makes a difference if the ends are T-boned to the centers (and the initial Circulate Once is done concentrically, or deleted, as in the C-2 "Anything" Motivate).

A third consideration is that, once you make the Star and turn it, you're holding hands across the Star, in the very center of the square, so you're a Center rather than an End, whereas after the 1/2 Circulate on the outside you can be the point of the Center Diamond. After the Star turns, your position is no longer ambiguous, so you actively leave the center.

Finally, there is no particular advantage in defining the call symmetrically. Circulate 1/2 is probably more familiar to most dancers than Hourglass Circulate, so there is no reason not to use it.

The use of Hourglass Circulate in this context is not haphazard, but carefully considered. It may not be ideal, but it the best compromise for the situation.

Siamese Zs - 10/26/95

O Most Exalted One:

At a recent dance we were in this 16-matrix formation:

  ^ ^ ^
v v v

The caller called Siamese Z ...(some call, Chase Right, let's say).

It was clear where the Siamese Z was, but I could not figure out what the ending position should be. Does it work to footprints, giving a new 16-matrix, or does the couple end up centered on the tandem? Did Siamese Z abolish the 16-matrix and create a new 3x2 matrix? Would it have made a difference if the caller had said "In your distorted Siamese Z"? In this particular case it didn't matter, but if it did, is it defined?

--Almost Kept Me Sleepless in Seattle

Beloved Acolyte:

Yes, it makes a new 3x2 matrix, and, no, it wasn't distorted, but it also isn't particularly defined. It ends in a Siamese Z, but with whatever spacing you like; the matrix is not restored, and it doesn't work to footprints.

The various "working as a unit" concepts, like Siamese, or As Couples, have an ambiguity in their spacing if the units are different in size, shape, or orientation. The most common situations have either a normal formation with excess dancers attached in various places, or an expanded formation with each position large enough to have a unit centered inside of it.

Depending on what the units are, and what the starting formation is, you may be expected to preserve the kind of starting formation, or to adjust to something more ordinary. Occasionally, callers will want the formation "normalized" (i.e., lined up edge-to-edge, without unnecessary gaps), but that will usually be clear from the context, or at least from the next call.

For example, "Some work As Couples, and all Single Hinge" has the same result from each formation:

Attached:  Centered:  Normalized:  Result:  >
^ ^ v      ^ ^  v     ^ ^ v                 <
  ^ v v     ^  v v    ^ v v                 >

It would be very uncommon to start in a gap-y grand wave, but that would also suggest that you should preserve the spaces:

Start (Centered):    Some As Couples, Trade by the Right(?):
^ ^  v   ^  v v      ^  v v ^ ^  v

Some concepts, like the newly-generalized 3 By 1 concept, tell you to always Normalize when possible, but some people (myself included) think that that is usually awkward and should be avoided. Most calls are not so well-defined, and many are simply ambiguous:

Start:    1 x Solid-of-3, Hinge:
<         Attached?     Centered?     Normalized?  In Between?
<         ^ ^ ^ v       ^ ^ ^   v     ^ ^ ^ v      ^ ^ ^  v
>             ^ v v v     ^   v v v   ^ v v v         ^  v v v
>         Only a fool would follow this with "Triple Boxes"!

The Siamese concept, on the other hand, customarily ends with the units centered on each other, regardless of where they started:

                      >             ^
Start:       Siamese  >      then       v   v
^ ^ < <    Circulate < <  Siamese   ^
> > v v         1/2: > >   Hinge:         v
                      <           ^   ^
                      <                   v

Note that we leave space, but not phantoms or matrix spots. It would be awkwardly unconventional choreography, but it would be perfectly legal to call a 16-matrix call from there:

Start:          Check a     Everyone
   ^            16-matrix:  Right Loop 1:
       v   v    - ^ - -     - - - v
   ^            - ^ v v     ^ ^ - v
         v      ^ ^ v -     ^ - v v
 ^   ^          - - v -     ^ - - -

A strange phenomenon occurs with Siamese formations, and also with Triangles and Galaxies: The spacing tends to breathe itself outward until it resembles Diamond points, or C-1 Phantoms. For example, if a 4-handed Star loses one dancer, the opposite dancer in the Star will invariably slide out and become a Point rather than staying in the 3-handed Star. Similarly, if an individual dancer or a Couple is supposed to be holding hands with a Tandem, there will be a gap, almost as if the Tandem were circular or spherical instead of columnar.

So your Siamese Z Chase Right is ambiguous. The fact that you start in an "attached" setup suggests that perhaps you should also end in one, but that's very rarely the right answer for Siamese. You should probably make the "centered" formation, but be ready to adjust.

Start Attached:   Finish Centered?:   Or Adjust?
      ^                ^   ^                V
  ^ ^ ^                        V        ^ ^ V
v v v                                 ^ V V
v                 ^                   ^
                       V   V

Note that a normalized Siamese formation produces a rarely-used and choreographically inconvenient 9-Matrix, which cannot be made back into a Z, because Z shapechangers are not well-defined:

9-Matrix:   Re-distort the Z?:
^ ^ v         ^ ^ v
^   v        ^   v
^ v v       ^ v v

Dividing the Ocean Right or Wrong - 10/25/95

O Most Exalted One:

>From a left-handed tidal wave, what shoulder do the centers pass on "Divide the Ocean"?

--Fertile Ymagination

Beloved Acolyte:

Your question contains its own answer. It's not a question about what shoulder they DO pass, but what shoulder they SHOULD pass, and the definition is quite clear: the Center 4 Hinge, then Partner Tag, Step Ahead, and take the call or facing direction if one is given. Partner Tag is defined as a right-shoulder pass.

But the fact that you asked the question betrays the fact that real dancers don't always follow definitions. Since Hinge and Partner Tag (from right-handed mini-waves) is very similar to Trade and Step Thru, or to Turn Thru, it should not be surprising that many people assume that it should always flow that way.

Partner Tag from a left-hand mini-wave is usually considered to be bad flow, and can only be made worse by the forward-curving action of a hinge, so it naturally follows that (when faced with a choice between good flow, that produces the same net result, and slavish adherence to a "correct" traffic pattern) only the very best dancers will martyr themselves in order to be able to complain loudly about the awkward flow.

Deucey - 10/25/95

O Most Exalted One:

After learning Relay the Deucey and Acey Deucey, several students wondered about the meaning of "Deucey". Is there some sort of commonality among the Deucey calls?

--Humble but Enquiring Mind

Beloved Acolyte:

Yes and no. The root call is Acey Deucey, which is defined as Ends Circulate while the Centers Trade. The name is derived from either a card game or a variety of Backgammon, where it means, literally, One-Two. At the time the call was invented, it was rather novel, because it had multiple things going on, with some people Trading in pairs and other people Circulating individually. But it's not really clear which is the "Acey" and which is the "Deucey"; for example, there are at least 3 different names for Ends Zoom while the Centers Trade: Acey Zoom, Zoom The Deucey, and Deuce's Wild ("He sure was"), of which only the last one is still used at C-4.

In general, the only relation among Deucey calls is that they all have different parts, usually a Trade or Cast in the middle and some Circulate or other non-Trade-like call for the Ends or Leaders. Relay the Deucey, for example, has many Trades and many Circulates, which propagate through the formation.

"Deucey" is the preferred spelling, but my dictionary also allows "Deucy"; other spellings include "Ducey" and "Ducy," which looks like it should be pronounced "Ducky," and is the origin of the quacking sound effects for various Deucey calls.

Slither Kissing - 11/21/95

O Most Exalted One:

What is the story behind the "kissing" sound effect used on many calls with a Slither movement?

--Just Osculating

Beloved Acolyte:

"Hiss" is an occasional sound-effect for Slither, because snakes are known for slithering and hissing. Over a sound system, with an appropriate bit of static or poor microphone placement, it is easy for "Hiss" to sound like "Kiss," and the rest is the stuff of urban legend.

Note that the kiss on a Slither is only popular among the gay and lesbian community, and that it is typically a same-sex kiss.

Swing the Fractions - 2/21/96

O Most Exalted One,

Is it kosher (for C1 dancers) to call Swing the Fractions from a setup like this?

 4B^   2GV    .     .

 3G^   3BV   1B^   1GV

  .     .    4G^   2BV

I can make the Sd program do something that seems like a swing the fractions, but I wonder whether it's a legitimate use of the call.

--Kind of Jumpy

Beloved Acolyte,

Yes, it's legitimate, but no, it's not kosher.

The key here is that you're implicitly invoking the Parallelogram concept for shapechangers (the 50% rule). How are C-1 dancers supposed to know that the center Triple Wave does the first Hinge to become the center Triple Box? Why wouldn't each Box become a Wave (Parallelogram overlapped by 75% or so)?

Just because the outsides breathe out by default at C-4 (which is what sd always does) doesn't make it right at C-1. It's just as reasonable for the centers to breathe while the ends stay put. I think there's a good reason that the Parallelogram concept is on the C-2 list. I think it's inappropriate to have Parallelogram adjustments be the default at all levels. It adds vast amounts of unnecessary complexity to choreographic theory, and isn't in the best interests of Square Dancing.

There's also the minor point that the outside mini-waves are turning by the same hand with the same people multiple times. Part of the definition of 1/4 Thru, for example, says "There must be dancers who can do each part -- the call is not legal, say, from a right-hand tidal wave"; a similar idea can be assumed for Swing the Fractions, in the sense that it requires alternating hands. It may not be illegal, but it's questionable. It's a fuzzy issue at best.

I would be willing to workshop this for C-1 dancers, telling them that it's a marginal usage, but they might see it sometime, and not to worry about it. Since it's somewhat contrived and gimmicky, I would avoid calling it more than once. I personally wouldn't just call it out of the blue; it pushes the envelope just a little further than I would want. The dancers probably wouldn't have a problem with it, but I don't think it deserves a significant place in a good caller's repertoire.

Stretch - 4/16/96

O Most Exalted One,

Just out of curiosity, can Stretch only be used on four-person calls? And does it implicitly mean the box version? For example, would "Stretch Side Track" mean to do a Box Side Track, or is this just a bogus call? What about "Stretch Counter Rotate"?

-- Fertile Ymagination

Beloved Acolyte,

Yes, Stretch can only be used on 4-person calls, because you must be working in a formation on each side of the set in order to Stretch across to the other side.

The caller is responsible for using 4-person calls. Calls like Stretch Side Track or Stretch Counter-Rotate are not quite bogus, but they are poorly phrased. A good caller will insert the word "Split" to make the meaning clear.

Stretch Counter Rotate by itself could be ambiguous, because the caller might be one of those few (thankfully) who think Stretch can mean to do an 8-person call and then Slither the Centers past each other. When a caller shows signs of peculiar opinions, violating the conventions of accepted usage, the observant dancers may begin to question whatever that caller says.

Using Stretch to imply Split or Box is a dangerous practice, because it opens up the possibility of confusion for the clearest and most conventional calls like Stretch Recycle. If Stretch implies Split in some contexts, how will we distinguish a wave-type Stretch Recycle from a box-type Stretch Split Recycle?

Stretch II - 11/15/96

O Most Exalted One,

Is it legal (from parallel two-faced lines) to call Stretch Bounce the Trailers? Bounce seems to be a 4-person call, but on the other hand it requires the other four dancers in order to identify who the trailers are.

-- Less-than-Positive

Beloved Acolyte,

Is it legal? Yes and no. Your question cuts to the very heart of Square Dance theory.

In calls like Bounce, the designation customarily applies to the dancers as they were at the start of the call, unless otherwise specified. For example, Bounce the Centers is always the Original Centers, unless it's called as Bounce the New Centers.

Here, we're really dealing with a terminology conflict between the Stretch concept and the Leads/Trailers identification. Are they still Trailers if their Leads are in a different formation, which by definition isn't working with them? Any competent C-2 dancer should be able to see the conflict (at least after it's pointed out), but competent C-2 dancers should also know immediately what the caller wants; it's not at all ambiguous, it's just a bit bogus. Sometimes the most inventive, creative, or entertaining choreography is not strictly legal. If something is obviously bogus, but still clear and unambiguous, there really isn't anything wrong with calling it.

The popular "Separate Rooms" paradigm for concepts says that you can take the dancers and phantoms in your formation into another room, doing the call in isolation, without any additional information about the formation, and then put the formation back together in the original square according to the appropriate rules for the current concept. This paradigm is very limiting, and, by encouraging dancers to ignore each other, it creates habits that are antithetical to good dancing.

Other paradigms require more intelligence and judgement on the part of the dancers and callers; these paradigms allow the dancers to use information like the positions and facing directions of the other real dancers, when necessary. For example, in 2-faced lines, Own the Ends, Crossover Circulate by Trade Circulate: The Ends can immediately do their Crossover Circulate, but the Centers need to decide which kind of Trade Circulate to do. If they use Separate Rooms, they have no idea which kind to do. If they use the facing directions of the real people, it's obvious that their Trade Circulate is the one that's not equivalent to Everyone Crossover Circulate.

Consider (lines or waves) Once Removed, Centers Run. Certainly, they are not Centers of the Once Removed couple or mini-wave, but there are no other Centers available. The alternate formulation, Centers Once Removed Run is even less appealing, because the Ends don't know whether or not to work Once Removed. Does the fact that it's bogus mean that it's illegal? Or perhaps that it shouldn't be called? Not necessarily. For teaching purposes, I once called Jay Good Show; I don't think it's good choreography for dancing, but it's good for thinking, learning, discussing, and doubting.

What if we called Stretch Bounce the In-Facers (instead of "Trailers")? Clearly, they are facing In at the start of the call, even if there is no one in front of them. If the dancers use their own positions and facing directions, it's less controversial. But is there really a difference between Trailers and In-Facers?

And what is a designation, anyway? Remember, "My name is not what you call me, but what I answer to." If the callers use the terms one way, and the dancers respond accordingly, then that's what the calls mean. You may not be comfortable defining "mean" that way, but there are no viable alternatives. Square Dancing can never be as standardized as computer networking protocols, or programming language specifications; there are too many callers with good ideas and firm opinions. If a call or usage is ambiguous or controversial, it will cause squares to break down, and it won't become popular.

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