Discussion on Finding Partners in Israeli Dancing, Booking Ahead and Partner Rotation
August 19, 2010
One of the biggest problems in social dancing, particularly in Contra, Folk
and Israeli partner dancing, is people without regular partners can be excluded.
Here is the gist of a discussion from an Israeli Dance forum.
The text may have been edited.
We also need to provide more opportunities to change partners.
If there are only three sets in a night and you have five friends,
you will never have time to dance with someone else.
That is the problem, exactly. And I have been told by some men that they feel
pressured to satisfy their "obligations" to their female friends by dancing sets
with them, but there are never enough sets to cover every partner in a session,
so the "IOU" list grows longer each week.... effectively shutting out any
opportunity for a partner new to the scene to get a foot in the door.
I agree with both Cindy and Andrew.
Here's my proposal: One partner set starting each half hour.
This can be a very flexible solution, as the sets can be of any length (up to
about 27 minutes), and can start at any time (from 9:00 to 9:29, for example).
This would guarantee six couple sets in a three hour session, allowing for
multiple partners. You could dance with your favorite partners, your friends,
and with newcomers/visitors. Hopefully, you wouldn't have to reserve a whole
session's partners in advance, although you could ("We'll dance the set starting
between 10 and 10:30").
Does this sound like a feasible idea? Did anyone ever try it (or experience it)?
Amazingly, your proposal is the exact protocol followed at the 92nd St. Y in
Manhattan. The session begins around 8 pm, partner sessions begin generally
around about 9 pm and alternate with circle setsÂ every 15 minutes or so till the
end of the session, where depending on the situation we mayÂ end withÂ a half hour
long partner set or longer.
This sounds great in theory and used to be wonderful, until the dreaded
"pre-booking" disease caught hold. It used to be, if one came early enough, that
one could go around and set up partners for the evening. Many women wouldn't be
guaranteed every set in the evening but they could at least get one or two. But
now, it seems that all the guys have set up their sets with favoured partners in
advance so that even if they switch between partners, they always do set #1 with
woman X, set #2 with woman Y, set #3 with woman G, etc. I had come early a few
weeks ago just so I'd haveÂ a chance to ask people for sets and couldn't find
anyone to ask.... then the first partner set started and they all
suddenly appeared out of nowhere and started dancing with their partners! They
were all able to just show up because they had arranged everything in advance.
So now, there again is no room for a non-regular or new person (or a person who
doesn't want to pre-book) even though there are many sets throughout the
evening. Even 6 or 7 sets like at the Y is not enough because the guys have
stopped being spontaneous in the partner-picking department and are dancing with
the same women every week.
And what really bothers me is that the women who do have partnersÂ must feel this
pressure to come every week whether they really feel like it or not out of fear
that if they don't come for awhile, they will lose their "spot" to another
dancer who would be more than eager to take their place. I wasÂ chatting withÂ a
fellow the last time I was at the session when another woman, fairlyÂ new to the
group, cut into our conversation to make sure he was dancing with her the next
set. It wasn't done pleasantly, but rather aggressively. She had a real fire in
her eyes and no smile. It's very sad for me to see how this has developed in the
IFD world. I refuse to go this route, and as a result, if this one gentleman I
do one or two sets with doesn't show up,Â I'm sitting out without a partner for
the entire evening.
Dancing with six partners is better than one.
Like Cindy's experience, it seems to me even
in other social dance settings, people gravitate to those they feel most comfortable with.
Should we bring back dance cards?
The only way I know to equalize the dancing is to have an organized rotation.
Maybe a little of both would be good.
Maybe early in the evening, rotate partners every dance in an
organized manner, so people dance with people they have not danced with before.
That way, people may be more comfortable dancing with different partners later,
when they choose their partners.