Barstool Dancing

Clark Baker, July 2003

Barstool Dancing is an after party or hallway gimmick that I have been using to entertain square dancers for many years. I don't remember who invented it. It's really just the Anchor Concept from C4 called to a mini-square with the same dancer anchored for every call.

Here is how it works (from a caller's point of view). Annimations are available at TAMination.

For Barstool Dancing we need mini-squares (i.e., two couples per square). Have everyone square up as Heads. It helps if everyone has normal couples. Leave some space between each mini-square as the dancing will take more space than usual.

Pick one dancer to be the "barstool". You can change this part-way through. If you are doing this late at night with only 4 dancers, pick the dancer who was least willing to participate or who is the most tired. If you have more than one mini-square, make sure that every mini-squares picks the same person (e.g., "the woman with her back to me will be the barstool").

Tell the "barstool" dancer that she must dance as if she is sitting on a barstool. The barstool can swivel, but cannot move. The rest of the dancers must adjust (or breathe) around the barstool. The barstool's position is, by definition, always correct. However, the barstool must be sure to face the correct direction(s) and use hands as the calls are executed.

Any questions? OK, let's get started.

Heads Go Forward And Back
The barstool can't move. Therefore, the barstool's partner who must remain beside her on a forward and back can't move. So, the other couple does all the moving.
Heads Pass Thru
The barstool and her partner can't move forward. However, the partner does move sideways to allow a dancer through and then steps sideways back to place.
Partner Trade
The dancers will accomplish a Partner Trade somehow. Usually they won't end facing each other properly and the non-barstool couple must adjust. Dancers should have normal couples at this point.
Right And Left Thru
The Pull By should be like the Pass Thru and the Courtesy Turn will generate some giggles. Again, an adjust will probably be necessary.
At this point everyone is back home. I would do some more Right And Left Thrus until everyone is comfortable with how the breathing works.

Now it is time for Ocean Waves:

Pass The Ocean
This isn't too hard, especially if a woman is the barstool. The women do the call almost normally and the men adjust to form a wave.
Swing Thru
The first arm turn will require some breathing. The second arm turn is normal for the men.
Swing Thru
I usually do 3 or 4 in a row so they get the hang of it.
Spin The Top
If the barstool starts on the end, this should be easy. However, the other setup takes some work. Do this several times until the novelty wears off.
Not too hard with the barstool as a center
Veer Left
Easy but people should laugh.
Couples Hinge
Easy with barstool as center
Tag The Line, Face Right
The barstool's partner will soon realize that he can't go anywhere. The other two dancers will realize that they must do all the dancing, just like the Pass Thru.
Couples Hinge
Unusual action with barstool as end
Wheel And Deal
Somewhat unusual feel
Star Thru; California Twirl
Now we are normal
Square Thru
Go slow on this as each hand takes some adjusting and figuring out who moves. Perhaps do a Partner Trade and another Square Thru
Boys Run
Now we have a box of 4. The calls from here are also have unusual feel.
Box Circulate
This takes some thought. Be sure to do 4 of them as each one is different!
Scoot Back
Walk And Dodge
Chase Right
Boys Run
Right And Left Thru; Flutter Wheel
The Flutter Wheel is a little odd with a woman barstool. It is odder still with a man as barstool.
Ladies Chain
Also interesting
Pass The Ocean; Swing Thru; Boys Run; Girls Hinge; Check Diamonds
Diamond Circulate
This has little motion but it is hard for dancers to correctly have the centers of the diamond hold hands. Do several Diamond Circulates and make sure that the dancers have a diamond with proper centers after each one.
At this point, you have seen most of the interesting stuff. It is probably time to square them up, allow any dancers who want to to sit down, and change barstools. I start dancing without music but will add music when they start to get good at the breathing and adjusting.

If the dancers know Plus, do Fan The Top with the barstool as an end. If the dancers know Lock It, do several of those in a row with the barstool on the end. If the dancers know Advanced, consider using some of those calls. Be sure to work all the shapes (box, diamond, wave/line).

You can do barstool with a whole square but the adjustments become very large and you can't dance them in real time. If dancers pressure you into doing it for a whole square, I recommend making lady #1 the barstool and only doing a few things:

Join Hands; Circle Left (all the way around)
This is not too hard, but has somewhat unexpected action
Heads Square Thru 4
Step To A Wave
Spin Chain And Exchange The Gears
Make sure they do this piece by piece and that everyone is correct before going onto the next piece. The barstool will "lead out" which will be exciting.
Relay The Deucey
I usually end with this because it has interesting effects for each of the 4 barstool positions.

I usually use barstool dancing with 1-3 mini-squares. I have used it several times at the Tech Squares weekend as an afternoon gimmick (usually in a 20 minute timeslot). This gives me time to have multiple barstools and to end with a few 8 dancer squares. I understand that Jon Jones has successfully integrated barstool dancing into his afterparties.

I am always interested in hearing your comments and experiences.

Clark Baker
426 Marsh St.
Belmont, MA 02478-1109

Revised: $Date: 2005/11/26 21:53:09 $

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