History relevant to today?

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History relevant to today?

Post  denismurf on Fri Nov 21, 2008 12:01 am

For weeks, I've been drafting an article for a print mag about the differences between the way supposedly mass appeal weekly IFD events were run in the the 60's and 70's as opposed to today. The 60's and 70's were, after all, the years of big attendance, lots of youths and lots of males. Maybe they have things to teach the organizers of today. If anybody else was dancing during those years, I'd like to hear how you recollect things were run differently then.

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Re: History relevant to today?

Post  jimkahan on Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:53 pm

Me voici. My name is Jim Kahan, and I was invited by Sonia to join this group. I started dancing at Reed College in 1960, and led the Reed student IFD group for three years (Wednesday and Friday evenings--the biggest social activity on campus). Moved to North Carolina for graduate school, and started the Chapel Hill International Folk Dance Club--still going strong after 44 years. I also was one of the leaders of the UCLA group in the 1970s. All of these had big attendance and I would say more of an equal gender balance than lots of males. I try to run groups these days the same way I have always done, by paying attention to what sorts of things people want to dance, having programs/requests that honor all different interest groups, trying to keep the Ethnic Police from dominating, and in general trying to be encouraging. I believe that the reason we don't have the large masses today that we used to have is in part a homogenization of culture--"mainstream" now occupies a larger percentage of people than it used to. The subtleties and differences of the dances tend to get lost, and while this theoretically makes them more accessible, it also causes them to lose much of their attractiveness.

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My memories accurate?

Post  denismurf on Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:40 pm

Before finishing up my thesis about lessons the past might give to the present, I hope at least a few people who were attending and running those big attendance weekly parties in the 60's and 70's will verify my recollections of features of those parties.

Some of the things I remember specifically about this type of weekly party are:
- all dancing was done to recordings
- the repertoires for each group were no more than about 100 to 150.
- there were very few couple dances and mixers and no sets or contras
- except for an occasional dip from a W hold, there was no arm or hand choreography
- with very few exceptions, holds were either V or W
- difficulty levels on any given night were 70% simple, 20% intermediate, and 10% advanced
- you could go to any of these parties on the west coast and encounter mostly the same dances done the same way
- there was at most one teach per night
- leaders of these big attendance weeklies were by definition obsessed with keeping attendance high

Did I leave anything out?

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Re: History relevant to today?

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