Call of the Month: March, 1993

Beaux and Belles

by Barry Leiba

It's time to talk about terminology again. Folks have long noticed that despite the common use of the terms lead and follow, I insist on using the terms boys and girls. Am I being politically incorrect? Am I being insensitive? Do I really want to be called a girl just because I squared up to someone's right? Well, the answers are no, no, and yes.

The terms boy and girl are square dance jargon. So are the terms leader and trailer. It does no one service to try to make lead mean what the caller means when she says boy, and it does no one service to confuse things by using leads to mean anything other than those dancers who are leaders in their formation. Insensitive? No. Politically incorrect? No. Precise. Unambiguous.

So... now that we've determined that those who square up on the left are boys and those who square up on the right are girls, we take note of the fact that the boys aren't always on the left. Hark back to last month's discussion of SHAKEDOWN and note how we had to define it in terms of the dancer on the left and the dancer on the right. Well, there are proper terms for that too: beauxand belles.

Simply put, if your right shoulder is toward your partner, you are a beau. If your left shoulder is toward your partner, you're a belle. When you square up, the boys are all beaux (OK, Callerlab spells it beaus; I can't resist using the French spelling for the plural) and the girls are all belles. But let's play with the formations a bit.

From a squared set, sides LEAD RIGHT and all CIRCLE TO A LINE. PASS THRU and U-TURN BACK. Now what have we got? Facing lines, with the girls all on the left. The girls have their right shoulders toward their partners, so the girls are now the beaux. The boys are the belles. OK, now step to a tidal wave and SPIN THE TOP. SPLIT CIRCULATE and the leaders (those facing out!) RUN. We again have facing lines, but this time the boys are together and the girls are together. Who are the beaux? Who are the belles? Well, who's on the left? The sides. The sides all have their right shoulders toward their partners (their partners are the heads). So the sides are beaux and the heads are belles. See how it works?

Now let's have the BEAUX WALK, BELLES DODGE. The sides walk across while the heads dodge to the left, and we have right-handed waves. Boys RUN, and we have two-faced lines. You'll see that the boys are again the beaux; the girls are the belles. BEND THE LINE and PASS THE OCEAN to make right-handed waves with the girls in the middle. We've looked at one-faced and two-faced lines... what about waves? Are there beaux and belles in waves?

Well, in a right-handed wave, all dancers have their right shoulders toward their partners (think about it—if we called a TRADE now, with whom would you trade?). So we magically have eight beaux and no belles. By the same token, if we now have everyone cross run, we'll get a left-handed wave, and everyone is a belle.

Now that we know about beaux and belles, we can reword last month's definition of SHAKEDOWN: belles ¾ ZOOM while the beaux RUN AND ROLL. Isn't that a better, more efficient way to talk about it?

Let's go back to a squared-up set and look at one more position. Heads LEAD RIGHT while the sides PARTNER TRADE. PUT CENTERS IN and WHEEL AND DEAL AND SPREAD. We've got facing lines with the girls on the ends. Have the boys TRADE . We have inverted lines, with the boys in the center facing out, and the girls on the ends facing in. Beaux? Belles? Well, the heads have right hands with their partners, while the sides have left hands with their partners—so the heads are beaux, the sides are belles. So if we have the beaux TRADE, then it's the heads who trade. Then let's have the belles TRADE (that's the sides). Now have the girls trade (that's the centers) and we have facing lines again. PASS THE OCEAN, EXTEND THE TAG twice, girls U-TURN BACK, SWING YOUR PARTNER and PROMENADE HOME.

(Printable Version)

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