The Concept

In 2006, Brian Gallagher attended a dance weekend in Wisconsin. He arrived at the weekend and quickly realized that at age 23, he was the youngest person there. There were only three other people under the age of 35 at the weekend. Yikes! Brian and Carol Ormand (a Wisconsin-based caller, and one of the other people under age 35 at the weekend) spent lots of time that weekend discussing the generation gap at dance weekends. Together, they came up with the idea of having a dance weekend specifically aimed at younger dancers. Out of this discussion, Youth Dance Weekend was born. Carol quickly passed the torch off to Brian, who contacted some of his skilled young dance-organizer friends. Hence, the original YDW Committee: Brian, Magdalen Zander, Julia Nickles, Ethan Hazzard-Watkins, Rebecca Lay, and Sarah Pilzer.

YDW 1.0: 2008

The first YDW was held in 2008 at Timberlake Camp at beautiful Farm and Wilderness near Plymouth, Vermont. It rained for nearly the whole weekend! Still, we managed to have an excellent time dancing to Elixir, with Nils Fredland calling. Sam Weiler led English dancing, and Naomi Morse played fiddle and led the shape-note sing. The dance hall was extremely dusty! The committee then vowed to conquer dust in future years, using all methods available. The heart of the weekend was the “Bread and Butter” session, held midday on Saturday, which provided participants the opportunity to voice their thoughts, concerns and solutions related to issues of youth involvement in traditional dance.

New! Improved! YDW 2009

YDW 2009 was slightly sunnier, but much colder. Temperatures were below freezing on both nights, but we kept warm by contra dancing to Magic Foot with calling by Rebecca Lay and Wendy Graham. Joanna Reiner led superb English dancing with music by Ethan Hazzard-Watkins, Anna Patton, and Chloe Maher. Josh Van Vliet joined in to play for the late-night Swing and Blues dancing. Ranger Stan Fowler was our official Dust Patrol, and our lungs were extremely thankful for his hard work. We built upon 2008’s Bread and Butter with a “Toast and Jam” activity where we asked participants to organize themselves into groups of people from the same geographical regions so that they could discuss issues specific to their home communities.

It Just Keeps Getting Better…2010

In 2010, we were lucky to have simply gorgeous weather, along with fantastic music by Crowfoot and Nor’easter. Jesse Edgerton called bodacious contra dances. Back by popular demand, Joanna Reiner lead the English dances, with music from the two bands, as well as Ethan Hazzard-Watkins and Karina Wilson. This year we held our first Community Master Class! People signed up to call or play for a dance, and then got feedback from staff musicians and callers. Dancers, led by Jesse “Hot Pants” Edgerton, worked on specific dance-floor issues, such as dancing in a crowded hall, and switching gender-roles, among many others. Ranger Stan was on vigilant dust patrol once again, and his efforts yielded a splendidly clean dance floor. We ate some of the best dance-weekend food ever, and danced Money Musk for the third year in a row. It was excellent!

YDW 4.0: Kinhaven awesomeness

In 2011, we had a few new things. Two new committee members. A revitalized mission statement. Tabletop discussion topics (Techno contra, gender-free dancing, and Apple vs. Orange: Compare!). Officially-organized techno contras on Friday night. A more open late-night schedule on Saturday. A new travel grants program to help folks come from further afield.

We also had a new location, when damage to the area around F&W (from Hurricane Irene) meant we needed to relocate to the Kinhaven Music School in nearby Weston, VT. There was lots of jamming and other fun, thanks in part to a phenomenal staff. Rebecca Lay called kickin’ English, Maggie Jo Saylor called pirate-y contras, and we had music from Andrew & Noah VanNorstrand, Anadama, Aaron Marcus, and Double Apex.

YDW Turns 5!

2012 was our fifth year. Once again our pay-what-you-can pricing model and travel grants were a success, we had another great Money Musk, and we had live music for blues dancing. Riptide and the Sail Away Ladies played fine music to the calling of Mary Wesley and Miriam Newman. DJ Improper brought us his techno contra stylings on Friday night. This was also the last year for founding committee members Ethan Hazzard-Watkins and Rebecca Lay, though they promised they’d still visit us.

YDW 2013: Lottery, Le Grand Experiment, and The BIG Discussion

The Mean Lids, The Jig Lords, Sarah VanNorstrand, Dan Blim, and Phase X made for another incredible staff. Music included a theremin solo on Turning by Threes and another epic Softly Good Tummas on Saturday night using the percussion onstage. That last one may have now become a tradition. Saturday morning we partook in Le Grand Experiment, a social engineering ruleset experiment. For the first time since YDW 2.0, we held an all-camp community chat, The BIG Discussion, on the lawn. This conversation touched on a number of issues, including our individual roles in the dance community (now and in the future), tradition vs. innovation, recruitment, and “What to do with English?”

After two years of filling up perhaps a little-too-quickly, we introduced a lottery after soliciting a bunch of feedback from the community. Pay-what-you-can succeeded once more. Our secret emergent theme was Inclusivity, and we traded bead necklaces even though it was a little corny. 2013 also marked the last year for treasurer Julia Nickles, who in 2006 sent out the original survey feelers with Brian Gallagher.