Graveyard Shift at Dawn Dance

Tags: calling, programs

I would say I’m alllmost recovered from the all-nighter I pulled this weekend calling the graveyard shift (4AM–7AM)—but heck, what a blast! Here’s the program I called (most of these walked through minimally or not at all):

  1. 50/50 — Bob Isaacs
  2. Fiddler’s Fling — Cary Ravitz (Will Mentor var.)
  3. Maliza’s Magical Mystery Motion — Cary Ravitz
  4. Rollin’ to the Grey Eagle — Hank Morris
  5. Read Between the Lines — Bob Isaacs
  6. The Young Adult Rose — David Kaynor
  7. Treasure of the Soda Bar — Maia McCormick
  8. Cheat Lake Twirl — Perry Shafran
  9. Heart of Glass — Cary Ravitz
  10. Susie’s Send-Off — Scott Higgs (LIGHTS OFF!)
  11. Neighbor, Neighbor On the Wall — Maia McCormick
  12. Rock Creek Reel — David Harris
  13. Train Delay — Maia McCormick

If you should find yourself calling the stupid-o’clock slot at Dawn Dance (or elsewhere), here’s some of the stuff that I did that I found super useful (with thanks to past late-night callers Luke Donforth and Alex Deis-Lauby for their advice):

  • Prepare your program - 4AM is no time to be programming on the fly.
  • Keep it simple, stupid - dancers are fried at this point in the night, so don’t throw anything too complicated at them. At an event like Dawn Dance, the dancers are advanced, and can handle complex/uncommon figures like contracorners, orbits, left-hand chains, etc., but don’t have the brain-power to process anything unexpected. Strive for idiomatic dances with good flow—this is not the time for “this one weird trick” dances, or figures that run counter to muscle memory. The more one move flows into the next, the better; remembering “I’m a raven, and now I have to do that thing” from a standstill is hard at stupid-o’clock.
  • No seriously, keep it simple - simple dances done well by a hall of experienced dancers are so satisfying. I’m not saying you have to call Butter and Baby Rose and Fredrick Contra all night long, but you don’t need to get super complex and fancy for people to have a good time. Again, you’re looking for solid, satisfying, idiomatic dances.
  • No-walkthroughs are your friend - the less time your dancers have to stand around, the less time they have to realize how sleepy they are. No-walkthrough dances keep everyone moving and awake(ish). Bonus: a program of largely no-walkthrough dances constrains the complexity of dances you can call (see above points), which is great for someone like me who tends towards harder dances.
  • Take a damn nap, eat some damn food - be good to your feeble flesh vessel, as you will need its cooperation to make it through Dawn Dance. Take a nap if you can (in your car, in a sleeping bag on the lawn)—even 30–90 mins. can make a difference. Keep hydrated and fed; it usually doesn’t occur to people to eat meals during an all-nighter, but it can work wonders (I had a sandwich at 2AM). Bring snacks to fortify yourself during your calling slot.
  • Plan for sunrise - lights-off time at Dawn Dance varies due to weather etc., but at this particular dance, we turned the lights off around 6:15 (note that sunrise comes earlier on Memorial Day). The lights-off dance should start relaxed and middle-of-the-road, and leave room for the band to crank it up when the lights go off; have a dance prepared that can be both relaxedly satisfying and drivingly hardcore.
  • Get yourself a damn amazing band - okay, you probably have less say in this one, but y’all, The Organic Family Band is amazing and it was such a treat to work with them. (Seriously though, the bands that play Dawn Dance are top notch, and they do most of the hard work of keeping the dancers awake; acknowledge and thank them, and your sound person, profusely.)
  • Always more puns - this one is pretty self-explanatory. Because if 5AM of an all-nighter isn’t the best time for stupid puns, I don’t know what is!

Anyone else got tips for surviving late-night calling slots? Share them in the comments!

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