Big Rowan Ackison (greensh) wrote,
Big Rowan Ackison
greensh

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The Third Line

My home contradance hall has a phenomenon called “The Third Line”. This contra line is the gathering point for the more experienced dancers. At my home dance hall these experienced dancers are now younger and in the past they were older. There is a lot of mythology and frustration regarding the third line. There are also benefits, and a challenge to to-be experienced dancers!

There is myth that the third line is a new thing. I've been dancing at my hall for fourteen years, and I have to disagree with this statement. The third line has always existed. The placement used to be in the middle of the hall. Now it is to one side, perhaps coincidentally where I take photos.

Visiting callers experience frustration with the third line. A typical dance has three lines going, with two of the lines occupied by a mixture of experienced dancers. The third line can be longer than the other two. The visiting caller asks dancers to move from the third line to one of the other two. The experienced dancers resist, and the majority stays.

Why do the majority of experienced dancers stay in the third line? My home dance hall has strong core of experienced dancers, always has, and these dancers enjoy dancing together. Is the third line a clique thing? It is if the definition is “persons who interact with each other more regularly and intensely than others in the same setting “. The third line is there miniature version of an advanced dance.

It is only a guess on my part, but I suspect new dancers stay away from the more advanced line as they orientate to one of the other lines. I've seen a migration of dancers from the other lines to the third line. The migration has happened has the dancers' experience has grown and they've become more confident. Movement is not just one way. Kudos go to the experienced dancers who spread themselves around the room, sharing their knowledge. The impact is wonderful. I am tickled every weekend to see rank beginners transform into confident beginners, on their way to some amazing dancing.

A myth is that the third line has harmed my home contradance hall. I disagree with this statement. People have come and go over the years. The majority of dancers who were around ten years ago are not here now. The location of the third line has moved, and the dancers who inhabited it don't dance much now. The transformation of the dance community has a lot of factors, but the third line is not the primary cause. If anything, the third line promotes better dancing as it provides a haven for the experienced dancers, and a destination for the up and coming dancers.

A last myth is that the third line is exclusionary. It does fill up fast, but dancers of all skill levels are welcome. I am tickled to see beginning dancers take the plunge along with the experienced dancers. It is a wonderful way to learn! I've seen nobody turned away or told that they need to dance in another line. It is first come, first serve. Please, if you experience different, talk to myself or another board member at my home dance. Cliques exist to associate like people. They should not exist to exclude others! Enjoy our third line if you are there already, welcome newcomers, and remember the number one rule: have fun!
Tags: contradance, third line
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