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How's That Again?

by Roy & Phyllis Stier
February, 1988

Ever try to convince somebody who says "I could care less" that they really mean "I couldn't care less"? Maybe you would have better luck with trying to distinguish between a "slim chance" and a "fat chance." Anyway you look at it, we do torture our rhetoric with ambiguities. Let's look at a few round dance tidbits — all in the spirit of fun. 

Feather to Closed:  This is like trying to describe a full-length bikini. The "feather" is a step outside partner in contra-body — so "feather to close" — really? 

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Forward Waltz:  Most teachers or cuers really mean a diagonal movement on step 2 which is an adaptation of the closed change, not really a forward, forward, close; as implied. 

Reverse Wave:  The "wave" is the curving steps that follow a reverse turn, often underturned. Somehow, we got off the track way back there when many folks cued "reverse wave" for the preparation, which never materialized into a wave. OK when 6 steps are actually used (9 in the ballroom form which ends with a heel pull). 

Banjo Pivot:  Not much used anymore, but some traditionalists still use this to describe an impetus turn starting in banjo. Obviously, it is not a pivot. 

Oversway & Change of Sway:  A very uncomfortable thing if used as cued. It would require the couple to go from a heavy right sway to a left sway. Most of the time, what is really meant is a promenade sway to a change of sway (promenade sway to oversway is OK, too). 

Back Half Box:  We covered this briefly before, but the cue as used does not imply a turn. Most of the time the intent is back, turn, close; 

Overturn Spin Turn:  As borrowed from the ballroom people, this would be their regular 7/8 turn; however, we often hear the overturn prefix used for a 5/8 turn. This, of course, is an underturned spin and many cuers have recognized this recently. 

Some Quickies:  "Line of Direction" also abbreviated as LOD, is not used much any more but still persists as a non-definitive cueing ploy. A side, close, side in a two-step dance is not really a chasse. The accepted use of "pickup" is to blend to closed position, line of dance; however, some use it to face wall, etc. Likewise, "maneuver" has been standardized to mean that the man ends up facing reverse line of dance, but not according to some cuers. A "triple" is a rhythm cue and not a directional cue. Does the cuer mean a side chasse, a turning chasse, a circular chasse — or maybe something else? Does the cue "fan" mean a position for the lady (as in rumba or cha cha) or does it mean a flaring action with the toe on the floor? Perhaps it is a quick hip twist in the tango to bring the lady to V-SCP? Which poses another question — doesn't SCP really imply the V-position? Then we hear some enriched cues that have been personalized, such as "turning wing," "sugarfoot box," etc. It brings back the memory of a cartoon character where the caption was "Which way did they go — for I am their leader?"

This column comes from a series published in Cue Sheet Magazine between 1987 and 1992, and is reprinted with permission. The full series is collected in an 86-pg booklet, available for $30.00 plus postage. E-mail Fran Kropf at


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