“What do I do if…

… My shoe starts coming off?

… I don’t know what the next move is?

… My partner decides this isn’t their thing, and walks away, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DANCE?!

These are several questions that may have flashed through your mind at one time or another, and you wished, in the instant they entered your thought-feed, you’d had had the answer.

Unfortunately, our callers aren’t that good, and we can’t always get you the help you need, when you need it. But we hope this list of ten common questions and answers will help bring you a little peace (and joy) this Christmas season.

So, what do you do if…

#1: “My shoe starts coming off?” The most frequently seen practice is to gently fling your shoe(s) away from the dancing area. Some kind bystander will likely move them a little further out than you managed to fling them. Tip: aim low and long, rather than high and close. The couple behind you says thanks.

#2: “I’m tired?!” Take heart; the dance will be over sooner than you think.

#3: “I can’t hear the caller?” If you can’t hear the caller because others are too loud, first, wait to see if the caller tells them to settle down. If not, and if they are in your set, you can gently say, “Hey, would you mind talking a little softer?” If you can’t hear the caller because you’re all the way at the bottom of the gym, run up and ask them to turn up the volume a little before the dance starts, if you can. If you struggled through a dance and seriously had an issue with the low volume, make sure you gently bring this to the caller’s attention. That way, they can do a sound-check and adjust things before the next dance.

#4: “The people in my set have no idea what’s going on?!” If you’re in a longways (a dance where you’ll change neighbors as you progress), don’t sweat it; just make sure you progress properly. (If you have been working your way down the line away from the caller, or if you’ve been working your way up the line toward the caller, make sure you keep going in that same direction.) If you aren’t progressing, do your best to guide that poor couple (hey, we’ve all been there, right?), and if things don’t improve, cast a needy glance towards one of our helpers that wander the dance floor.

#5: “I don’t know what the next move is?” First, listen to the caller (see problem #3 if you’re having issues). But sometimes, once most everyone’s got the groove, the caller will drop out. If this happens, there’s no need for a panic attack. The best move is to watch the couples around you and try to do what they’re doing.

#6: “This is confusing?” Stick with it. You’ll eventually get it, though it may take several rotations, or even the whole dance. But if you press onward, you’ll slowly add one set of moves after another to your ECD knowledge, which makes every dance after that more enjoyable.

#7: “I think I just threw my knee out of proper alignment?” You drew the Injury Card: Go directly to the bleachers. Do not pass the caller’s stand. Do not collect two more cups of punch. This is one of the rare times that we strongly encourage you to leave in the middle of a dance. Other such occasions include fear of fainting while dancing with someone two feet shorter than you, your toddler running out of the venue hall to get some fresh air, or any medical emergencies that are difficult to take care of while turning single.

#8: “We’re out of rotation?!” Step one, inhale deeply. Step two, if it’s a progressive dance, try to remember from whence you came, and when the verse ends, and it comes time to progress, continue on in the same direction. Step three, keep these elements in mind: Who’s my partner, where should I be standing in relation to my partner, am I first or second (or third) couple, and, who’s my neighbor?

#9: “We don’t remember where we started?!” Many times, the caller will tell you to go back to your original position. Sometimes, after several run-throughs, it’s hard to remember where that was. Try to think, #1, “What other couple were we with,” and #2, “Which way were we going?” (Away from, or towards the caller, or away from or towards the bleachers.)

#10: “My partner decides this isn’t their thing, and walks away, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DANCE?! This happens most often with very young dancers who get a little overwhelmed, or tired after the first couple rotations. In a long-ways dance, we suggest that you take your entire set (However many couples you held hands with at the very beginning of the instructions (hands four, hands six, etc.) and move them to the bottom of the line, and sit out for a rotation. If it’s a circle dance, where you can’t have the ends sitting out for a rotation, then your whole set should step out of line, and sit out until the next dance. As frustrating as this can be, to have to move to the end of the line, or worst case, leave in the middle of a dance, because of someone else, it is the most selfless thing to do. Because if you try to just make it work, you may end up with an entire line of confused people!

We hope this post is helpful, and serves you as a reference guide rather than something you have to memorize before you can dance! And please realize, that every situation is different, so use discretion, and always, always place other dancers and their interests before your own.

Enjoy the dance!


Bonus! #11: “We went too quickly during a dance and have four extra counts?” We suggest just gently shifting your weight from one side to the other as you come back to your “home” spot. Alternatively, gentlemen, if your partner’s up to it, feel free to turn the lady under to take up some of that time.


This post was originally published on December 6th, 2016

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