End effects are the strange things which happen when you reach the end of a longways set. Before the twentieth century there were no such things as end effects because everything happened within the minor set; you were only dancing with one other couple (two other couples for a triple minor) in each turn of the dance. This was true of American contras, Playford-style English dances and Traditional English dances such as Nottingham Swing. Any time you do an old dance such as The Collier's Daughter, The Punch-Bowl or Chorus Jig where the ones are working with their own twos and the next twos, you can guarantee that somebody has condensed it from triple minor to duple minor.
Actually there was one end effect even then — the strange fact that standing out for one turn of the dance is enough to make many of us forget the dance! Admittedly there are Playford dances such as Mr Beveridge's Maggot where the ones and twos do very different moves, but in most modern contras the ones and twos do exactly the same — yet there's still confusion and the excuse of “Well, I've just changed numbers”!
Jack Mitchell brought the topic up on the Callers List at sharedweight.net in June 2013, asking what should go into an “End effects” workshop.
Sometimes the caller will remember to say “If you're neutral, stand with the man on the right”, but he may not. And in my experience, even if he does, a lot of people ignore him — they think of an end effect as something which happens to other people, not to them, like a train wreck. Maybe that's why some contras end up looking like a train wreck! So in this session I'm going to give some general rules which people can apply in any situation. I think dealing with end effects is a skill which needs to be learnt, just like contra corners.
Both of these rules could simply be stated “Keep doing as much of the dance as you can”. That's also a good rule in triple minor dances: if you don't have a third couple you can just dance with ghosts — it keeps you moving and the ones will automatically end up below the twos. And it applies to double contras (four-facing-four): in my experience you can always adapt the dance (on the fly) to do it with just two couples.
That's fine if it's a double progression dance with no-one neutral at the start. But if there are people out they have to decide whether to stay out or join in — and they must be consistent. Ken Bonner's dance Falling in love again has a ladies chain on the left diagonal followed by one on the right diagonal, so if the man who is out wants to join in he must chain a lady on the left diagonal and then immediately wheel round with the lady he has received to do a chain on the right diagonal. The man is now out with his shadow, but they still need to stay awake because there's a second shadow to do-si-do and a partner to swing!
The corollary to this is “Know when you're not wanted” — sometimes a lady chains out to a neutral man and still wants to be involved in the next figure, in which case he needs to hold her back!
Assume that the people actually dancing are in the right place — don't force them to switch over to suit the way you're positioned. Equally if you're dancing and the people out at the end aren't where you want them to be, go to where they should be and (gently) try to get them there. But if it's a quick move like “allemande left your shadow and swing your partner” it isn't worth trying to persuade them. Similarly if you're the one waiting out and you get an unexpected person for an allemande left, just go with it — by the time you've switched places the move will be over anyway. And if it's Rory O'More balances in waves, again just go with whoever you get rather than trying to switch places with your partner two or three times.
I would say that the choreographer who specialises in end effects is Michael Fuerst whose dances you can see here — I've danced at least one of his where I thought “This is perfectly straightforward” and then got to the end and been totally lost — but to my surprise he said:
Actually this strikes me a bad idea for a workshop. Dances with challenging end effects have such because of the interesting stuff within the dances. Dancers will not be enlightened by the end effects. I will plead innocent to specializing in weird end effects — all the dances were written without consideration of what the end effects might be.
There's also the more subtle effect that once you swap roles, every swing is on the other side and you are progressing in the opposite direction. I know this should be obvious, but it's certainly caught me out. For instance, ¾ hey then swing partner can turn into ¼ hey then swing partner by accident.
And one final hint — if you're near the end of the set and the people out at the end are in the wrong place, it's probably an indication that you will be in the same situation very soon, so profit by their mistake!
My thanks to Jack Mitchell, Ryan Smith, Alan Winston, Chris Page, Bill Olson, Michael Fuerst and Linda Leslie for their contributions to the discussion on Shared Weight.
Enough talking — let's do some dancing. I want the sets to be across the hall, otherwise some of you won't experience the end effects, and I may ask for an odd number of couples in each set!
The dances I called at Chippenham were:
|Song in the Night||Gene Hubert|
|Beneficial Tradition||Dan Pearl||Link|
|Where's Alex?||Michael Fuerst||Link|
|Buffalo Stampede||Tom Hinds|
|One Shy of Twenty||Michael Fuerst||Link|
|I also have the following spares:|
|Falling in Love Again||Ken Bonner|
|Rhinestone Reel||Sue Rosen|
|Maybe you should write an easy dance||Michael Fuerst||Link|
|Three Thirty-Three, Thirty-Three||Steve Zakon-Anderson||Link|
|Geometric Discretion||Michael Fuerst||Link|