There are a variety of ways of calling gender free. In the future, we are hoping to feature more detailed how-to guides on this site. For now, I will just list a few of the most popular approaches.
- The Sheffield Tradition. This consists in using positional calls for most dances, with lefties and righties as role names where necessary. For example, “line nearest the windows, make arches”; “righties, chain over and back”.
- Larks and Ravens. This one is becoming popular in some contra dance clubs in the United States. The mnemonic is “the lark is on the left and the raven is on the right”. This is popular for alliteration, the lyrical sounding words, and the terms’ lack of gender connotations.
- Jets and Rubies. Again, this is sometimes used at contra dances in the United States, though it is less popular.
- Leads and follows. This sometimes appeals to dancers who are involved in the swing scene as well as folk, because the terms “lead” and “follow” are popular there. Introducing, or re-introducing, the idea of leading and following into a dance form which is largely free of it may not appeal however. The words also have heavy gender connotations.