I happened to be in a conversation at the latest Gaskell Ball that brought them up, and I was rather forceful with my response. I don’t like them. I don’t like them one little bit. I might even say I hate the idea. I don’t ever want to see them implemented in the bay area.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the idea, a dance card is a copy of the set list, or at least a list that indicates which songs are waltzes, which are polkas and so forth. People carry them around and write the names of people they will dance the dance with on the card, usually well in advance of the dance event starting.
You may be thinking “oh, that’s a great idea! then I could remember all the dances I promise to people.” or “it would be so much more convenient to have those at the event than making my own.” But I urge you to think a little more carefully about the idea.
They are a terrible idea, IMHO. People will fill their dance cards the first time, so people will come earlier the next time, and be more aggressive about getting dances with the people they want to dance with particularly. And the cycle continues until regular attendees are filling their cards before the event even begins, and filling them entirely with people they know. And just like that, you have excluded anyone who might come late. Maybe they hit traffic, maybe they had to work late, maybe they came to the dance on the spur of the moment. Regardless, no one will be able to dance with them, because all of the dances have been promised away.
And what of a new comer? Someone who has never been to the dance event before, how are they to know about dance cards? how are they to find the courage to approach not just one or two, but maybe twenty strangers before the event has even started and ask for dances? They’ll never come back. It’s unlikely they’ll stay past the first set of this one. And with no newcomers, the dance will stagnate, fade and die.
There are supposedly ways around these problems, but it takes a very aware community and a large corps of aggressive volunteers to prevent it. If a number of people are actively looking for people they don’t recognize and then helping them get their dance card filled out, it can sort of help. But the whole community has to be comfortable with giving strangers priority over their friends for dances. It’s not realistic.
You might say that i’m being hypocritical. After all, I do promise dances to people. My rule is simple though. I never write them down. So I have to limit the number of dances I promise to people. I never promise more than about three or four dances, because otherwise I’d get them mixed up and forget them. This means that ongoing throughout the night I have a number of free dances that I can just connect with someone and dance, and I have plenty of flexibility to dance with people who arrive late, or who I haven’t met yet.
What do you think? Would you like to see dance cards at Bay Area dance events? Do you have your own reasons to like or dislike them? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment with your opinion!