The Oddball In Charge – Mixer for 5, 7 or ? Dancers – Don Veino 20171210, rev. 20180112

a.k.a. “The Magic Charm”

Type: Circle Mixer for odd number of dancers, Gender-free
Status: Proven

At smaller venue dances you may find yourself at the beginning or end of the evening below the comfortable number of dancers for a contra or square dance for an extended time. The Levi Jackson Rag or Triplets are nice but then you have the situation where you have 7 willing dancers or just 5 and there’s something up such that you as a caller can’t easily jump in to dance and call…

So I wanted to create another dance that would fit this situation and have some chance to work with beginning dancers – fitting the traditional tunes that smaller venue bands’ repertoires often contain. This is one attempt at such a thing.

Since writing this dance, I’ve not run into a situation where I could use it! I hadn’t wanted to share it until I had a chance to try it out with dancers but some local callers facing the same venues asked for the dance as word got around (we all dread the tiny crowd issue). It became a private joke because for a long time it held some weird form of protective charm power for our group – a caller would have 7 people and walk through this dance… and then a wave of dancers would show up such that they could swap to a conventional contra or square. We’d have an upcoming gig where we expected it would be used and then have to report back that we didn’t. And then one night Linda Leslie called to a crowd of 7 people at the start and 5 at the end of an evening – so they danced it twice as bookends with success.

Some people might object to the term “Oddball” – it’s not intended to be negative but rather as descriptive. I’d be sure to explain to dancers that we all sometimes feel like the Oddball in a situation, and this dance will give you several times to experience the power of that unique role. There can be a somewhat competitive aspect to the B parts – encourage folks to watch out for each other and be safe!

Starts with an even number of dancers in a ring with an extra dancer (“Oddball”) in the center. Minimum 5 or possibly up to 9 (or more?) dancers – works with any mix, i.e. “gender free.” If there’s any question of who does what, have dancers note the Oddball (the person in the center at the moment) is always in charge (so they select and raise their hand for the twirls, etc. – FWIW, some dancers have played this back as “the Oddball is always the Gent/Lark”).

Ring Balance, Petronella Slide/Twirl Right
Ring Balance, Petronella Slide/Twirl Right

Oddball picks any outside dancer to LH Balance & Swat the Flea to swap (center person lifts, outside twirls under)
New center/Oddball reaches out RH at angle to Balance and Box the Gnat (center lifts, outside twirls) to swap with the other adjacent outside dancer

This New Oddball Circle Left 1x (with grace in 8 counts) with the dancers who did the twirls (anyone bracketed by this set of Oddballs if more than 5 dancers in set)
Oddball look away to Circle Right with the other remaining dancers (use up remaining 8 counts)

Everyone find another dancer to Balance and Swing (Gender Free Swing in some form)
[end with the one dancer left over in the center and all the others form a ring to…]

End effects: N/A
Tune suggestions: Written for trad tune Petronella, other traditional tunes may work
See also:

First called (twice!) by Linda Leslie at the East Sandwich, MA Grange on January 20, 2018.

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