Saturday, June 14, 2008

I Belong to a Cult

I went to a Challenge workshop this morning at Ett's. She had various lists most popular and least popular calls for C2 levels and above. There's actually a person out there somewhere who surveys Challenge dancers and their tastes!

We asked Ett about the various Challenge level lists. C1, C2, and C3A all have official lists. C3B and C4 do not. C4 is the place dead square calls end up, and get resurrected. Is it a museum or mausoleum? I don't know, because I don't ever expect to get there.

Challenge has a mythology surrounding it. Purportedly, it's full of angry-looking dancers debating definitions at undisclosed locations, by invitation, only. I've certainly discovered that! And I've only been dancing C-1 since last Thursday, just kidding.

Tim and I often compare square dancing to religion: Square dancing has its own scriptures (the official Callerlab dance definitions, which leads to an important question; because C3B and C4 are acknowledged as levels but their lists are not quite canonical, could they be, in fact, appocryphal?1 Inquiring minds want to know). Square dancing has its own rituals from "Square up!" to the "Thank you!" at the end of every tip. Of course, there's high church complete with petticoats and bolo ties, and low church which allows for short sleeved shirts and shorts. Orthodoxy lines up gender and position, and heterodoxy claims you can be any position in square dancing, whatever you want to be.

I do know this: square dancing is endlessly fascinating. Each level has its thrills and excitement. As I move through the levels, I gain new insights about why different square dance calls are what they are.

It does teach me about God and religion, too. If the square dance definitions are revelation, let's just say there is, at times, a capricious, contradictory, mysterious higher power underlying their enigmatic and arbitrary application. And that makes square dancing lots of fun!

1Callerlab does not have program lists for C3B or C4. Vic Ceder, Lynette Bellini, Ben Rubright, and others have published C3B and C4 lists. Mona Tomqvist maintains an extensive Challenge square dance site.