Yesterday you invited me to contribute information to the beta-test history wiki, but the way it's organized, I don't a place to put the kinds of recollections I have about cultural differences I saw dancing with Foggy City Dancers beginning in 1984 and El Camino Reelers in its first year. So I'll send it freeform by email and let you decide where it fits--or you can tell me where it fits. It doesn't seem like it just belongs on the club and IAGSDC pages under History.
Here are some recollections of dancing with Foggy City Dancers' "Intermediate" class in 1984 (beginning a month or two before the first Convention) from my point of view of someone who had just finished Mainstream at a new non-gay club, the Stanford Quads):
- The only people's names I remember were Andrea (who visited the Quads and invited us) and Todd.
- They still had an exhibition team as well as a regular club/class.
- Dancers were discouraged from switching parts--not only between "Gent" and "Pet" (ever, because it would confuse the rest of the square), but also between Head and Side (on the same night, because the Heads' part of, say, Grand Square, is very different from the Sides' part).
- Singing calls only, no "hot hash".
- Did not follow the CALLERLAB Mainstream program, but learned whatever figures were on the records. The Intermediate class was approximately Mainstream, but two non-Mainstream calls I remember to this day being surprised by were Teacup Chain and Grand Spin.
- I think the dancers thought in terms of sequences or figures, not calls, because when I asked a more experienced dancer for the definition of some non-Mainstream call, they said something like, "Let's see, that was the one after the Ladies' Chain, wasn't it?" and then gave described some moves that, as I recall, ran right into the beginning of the call that came after that.
- Unique styling, most of which is no longer used by anyone (as far as I can tell at mixed dances -*maybe if I went to a 21st-century Foggy City club night I'd find that they still practice it in secret). I sort of miss their styling, and wish they'd retained it but learned how to deal with standard styling when dancing with visitors from other clubs. For example, they had a really quick way of doing Right and Left Thru that I was never able to learn as a Gent no matter how many times it was done to me as a Pet. Circle to the Left started with a pause and a stomp and kick, and Ladies' Chain started with some time-consuming stuff and then four arms quickly thrust into the center with a shout. I don't remember how they did Weave the Ring, just that it was different than both the nongay regional styling and the later gay styling.
- What styling to do was up to the Gent. (Someone told me that when I brought it up. In the Quads, I had been taught that if both dancers didn't agree to nonstandard styling, they were supposed to revert to CALLERLAB style.)
- Someone once took me aside and said that the way I danced as a Gent was fine but that I needed to be more passive when dancing as a Pet--or maybe it was the other way around.
- Longer tips, with loud music played in between, as if to simulate a bar-like atmosphere.
I skipped the first Convention, thinking I couldn't handle a whole weekend of that kind of culture shock scaled up, but from what happened in the years following, I gather that it was the other way around, and Foggy City members discovered the advantages of standardization.
I went to the second Convention, in Denver, and witnessed from the Gallery an entire floor breaking down on Weave the Ring because each isolated club was trying to do its own styling and hadn't been trained to do the no-touch version with anyone who didn't give the right signal. I believe that was also the convention where the present international gay standard styling for Weave the Ring was invented and workshopped--the one that is signaled (and synchronized) by slapping the thighs, then clapping, before committing to the move.
Bill Lindemann, the other graduate from the Quads first class who danced with Foggy City beginning that year, recalls this (and so do I, now that he mentions it):
- Foggy City in 1984:
- was dancing in the Women's Building.
- sold alcohol between tips.
- Western Star:
- danced in a YMCA