March 2010

International Money Musk Month, 2010

The chart below is a compilation of information about the many places where Money Musk was danced in March 2010. Below the chart are comments that we received about dancing Money Musk. Clicking on a link in the chart brings you to directly to the appropriate comment.

Most of these comments are from callers. Other callers who are approaching this dance for the first time might pick up some useful tips for your own debut presenting this dance.

– David Smukler and David Millstone

Location State Caller Band Musicians Dancers
Every March Monday
Nelson NH Don Primrose Harvey Tolman (fiddle) 130
Bob McQuillen (piano)
Lloyd Carr (piano sub one week)
Thurs, March 4
Dover City NH Peter Yarensky Lamprey River Band Burt Feintuch (fiddle) 66
Steve Panish (fiddle)
Sarah Hydorn (flute)
Sarah Mason (pennywhislte)
Bill Zecker (piano)
Santa Barbara CA Frank Ibott 8
Lebanon NH David Millstone Recorded music (Ralph Page Trio) 10
Sat, March 6
Branford CT Ridge Kennedy Fiddleheads Willow Sirch (fiddle) 60
Jim Sirch (bodhran/banjo)
Gary Wickfors (mandolin)
Norman Planky (guitar)
Canterbury NH Dudley Laufman Jane Orzechowski (fiddle) 30
(see the video) Neil Orzechowski (piano)
Sylvia Miskoe (accordion)
Deerfield NH Tony Parkes Burt Feintuch (fiddle) 24
(see the video) Emery Hutchins (drum)
John Carew (guitar)
Bill Zecker (piano)
Fayetteville NY David Smukler Montage Rachel Bell (accordion) 16
Jane Knoeck (piano)
Tom Santarsiero (guitar)
Lava Hot Springs ID Nils Fredland Ethan Hazzard-Watkins (fiddle) 60
Owen Morrison (guitar)
Mon, March 8
Concord, MA MA Rebecca Lay David Kaynor (fiddle) 60
Jack O’Connor (mandolin)
Larry Ungar (guitar)
Cal Howard (bass)
Randers, Jutland DK Jane Qvortrup Recorded music (“New England Chestnuts”) 42
Santa Barbara CA Jeremy Korr Andrew VanNorstrand 54
Noah VanNorstrand
Tues, March 9
Canberra AU Jenny Wanless Recorded music (Elke Baker & Liz Donaldson) 16
Wed, March 10
Nashua NH Loren Wright Sylvia Miskoe (accordion) 16
Audrey Danielson (fiddle)
Fri, March 12
Greenfield MA David Kaynor George Wilson (fiddle) 80
David Kaynor (fiddle)
Eric Anderson (keyboard)
Stuart Kenney (bass)
Tunbridge VT Adam Boyce Harold Luce, age 91 (fiddle) 16
(see the video) His daughter, Donna Weston (piano)
Sat, March 13
Columbia MO Susan Kevra Old New England Jane Orzechowski (fiddle) 60
Deanna Stiles (flute)
Bob McQuillen (piano)
Gilmanton NH Nils Fredland Ethan Hazzard-Watkins (fiddle) 40
Owen Morrison (guitar)
Houston TX Grant Goodyear Andrew VanNorstrand (fiddle) 40
Noah VanNorstrand (mandolin)
Kendall Rogers (piano)
Montpelier VT Martha Kent Peter Macfarlane (fiddle) 56
Joanne Garton (fiddle)
Aaron Marcus (piano)
Norwich VT David Millstone Northern Spy Bill Shepard (fiddle) 60
Thal Aylward (fiddle)
Andy Stewart (fiddle)
Rick Barrows (mandolin)
Mary Jo Slattery (guitar)
Alan Graham (guitar)
Carol Compton (piano)
plus Doug Creighton (melodeon)
Mon, March 15
Brattleboro VT Rebecca Lay Anadama Amelia Mason (fiddle) 50
Emily Troll (accordion)
Bethany Waickman (guitar)
plus Ethan Hazzard-Watkins (fiddle)
Holstebro DK John Tuck Recorded music (“Vermont Sampler”) 20
(see the video)
Wed, March 17
Baltimore MD Perry Shafran Baltimore Open Band (at least 15 musicians) 40
Thurs, March 18
Baltimore MD Poul-Erik Nilsson Recorded music 20
Friday, March 19
Bath ME Chrissy Fowler Frigate Steve Muise (fiddle) 26
Glen Loper (mandolin)
Fred White (guitar)
East Concord NH Byron Ricker Nor’easter Cedar Stanistreet (fiddle) 50
Max Newman
Julie Vallimont
Saturday, March 20
Concord MA Beth Parkes Paul Lizotte (fiddle) 8
Catherine Miller (fiddle)
Bruce Randall
Victor Troll (piano)
Unidentified bass player
Dallas TX Joseph Pimentel Foxfire Daron Douglas (fiddle) 124
Karen Axelrod (piano)
Iowa City IO Barbara Zilles 3 musicians from an ad hoc band 12
Monte Toyon CA Seth Tepfer Kevin Carr (fiddle) 80
Rebecca King (piano)
Jim Oakden (accordion)
Monte Toyon CA Bruce Hamilton David Knight (fiddle) 18
Liz Donaldson (piano)
Ottawa ON David Smukler Hope Grietzer (fiddle) 30
Laurel Sharp (whistle)
Tom Hodgson (guitar)
Sunday, March 21
Boston MA Adina Gordon Amelia Mason (fiddle) 60
Simon Chrisman (hammered dulcimer)
Bethany Waickman (guitar)
Monday, March 22
Escanaba MI Sue Robishaw Recorded music ("New England Chestnuts") 4
Tuesday, March 23
Brasstown NC Bob Dalsemer David Kaynor (fiddle) 26
Margie MacDonald (fiddle)
Michael Robinson (guitar)
Gretchen Wurth (piano)
Hales Corners WI Patricia Lynch Recorded music ("New England Chestnuts") 30
Madison WI Steve Pike Carol Ormand (fiddle) 18
Bill Obermeyer (banjo?)
Steve Pierick (viola)
Diane Barrett (bodhran)
Friday, March 26
Atlanta GA Seth Tepfer Elftones Mara Shea (fiddle) 120
Roger Gold (guitar)
Colchester VT Mary Wesley Matching Orange Brendan Carey-Block (fiddle) 50
Eric McDonald (mandolin)
Julie Vallimont (piano)
Fayetteville NY David Smukler Foxfire Daron Douglas (fiddle) 48
Karen Axelrod (piano)
Greenfield MA Adina Gordon Randy Miller (fiddle) 58
Peter Siegel (mandolin)
Matthew Kenney, age 11 (percussion)
Mary Cay Brass (piano)
Stuart Kenney (bass)
Milford NH Rich Hart Big Milford Town Hall Michael Mahar (fiddle) 12
 Band Frank “Doc” Rudolph (fiddle)
Damaris Rohsenow (piano)
Bill Fitzpatrick (home-made heating duct bass)
Susan Woodward (spoons, guitar)
Joe Pollock (mandolin)
at least 3 others!
Saturday, March 27
Anaheim CA Frannie Marr Ragged Edge Steve Shapiro (fiddle) 30
Emil Olguin (mandolin)
Mike Gurzi (guitar)
Beloit WI George Lisensky Recorded music 16
Brasstown NC Bob Dalsemer David Kaynor (fiddle) 26
Margie MacDonald (fiddle)
Michael Robinson (fiddle)
Gretchen Wurth (piano)
Bristol VT Will Mentor Pete Sutherland (solo fiddle) 18
Concord MA Eric Black Amy Larkin (fiddle) 12
Jack O’Connor (mandolin)
Walter Lenk (mandocello)
Debby Knight (piano)
Dietlikon CH Katja Hunn Over The Isles Rahel Zellweger (violin) 30
Philipp Hunn (accordion)
Jörg Bühler (piano)
Dewet Büchner (bass)
Princeton NJ Sue Dupré Oy Diddle Diddle Sam Zygmuntowicz (fiddle) 44
Dan Elias (clarinet)
Danny Weiss (guitar)
Joe DePaolo (percussion)
Topsham ME Chrissy Fowler Oakum Bay String Band George Fowler (fiddle) 58
Bill Schubeck (fiddle)
Heidi Daub (banjo)
Mesa Schubeck (piano)
Toronto ON Bev Bernbaum Anne Lederman (fiddle) 80
(see the video) Tom Leighton (accordion)
Greg Renault (bodhran)
Sunday, March 28
Lawrence KS Jerome Grisanti Round Robbins Greg Allen (fiddle) 8
Carolyn Young (fiddle)
Theresa Martin (fiddle or accordion)
Jill Allen (piano)
North Yarmouth ME Adina Gordon Crowfoot Jaige Trudel (fiddle) 84
Nicholas Williams (accordion)
Adam Broome (guitar)
Monday March 29
Brondby DK Stig Malmo Recorded Music (Ralph Page Trio) 44
48 locations 45 callers at least 144 musicians 2298 dancers



Dover City, NH: We had about 80 dancers (likely range: 75-90), about 65-70 left after the break; 3 lines. A number of beginners were present so I explained the occasion and warned people that if they weren’t familiar with Money Musk or at least triple minor dances that they might want to skip this dance. Most danced; a few didn’t. We dance it frequently enough that most dancers know it anyway; we danced it last month, for example. It went very well, very few rough spots after a rather quick walk-through. I called it in a style combining the way Dudley calls it and the way Duke used to call it. We danced nearly but not quite all the way through for the lines of about 11-12 couples. Definitely one of the highlights of the evening, as it always is whenever I call it – too bad no one else calls it so I can dance it! (Peter Yarensky)

Santa Barbara, CA: I don’t know if this counts, because there’s no need to “save” Money Musk in the Scottish Country Dance world. Nevertheless, we did the Scottish Money Musk on March 4 in Santa Barbara, with Frank Ibott teaching to one set of four couples. We just danced once and to the bottom. (Frank Ibott)

Lebanon, NH: We danced Money Musk at the tail end of a kitchen junket at our house. The occasion was a potluck supper with participants in a weekly English country dance series, so after eating we pushed back the furniture and did some English dances that would fit in the space. At the end though, I asked who’d be interested in dancing Money Musk, and we had fun with it. (And given that the dance was first published in London in the 1780s, it seemed a reasonable fit.) (David Millstone)

The following letter from Ridge Kennedy about calling in Branford, CT earns him the Money Musk Valor Award for 2010:

Dear Friends,

When folks in the 2020s and 2030s look back in time, they’ll remember the great catastrophes that occurred. Floods, fires, earthquakes, Gigli, or any movie starring Sylvester Stallone (except Rocky – the original one).

People living in Washington DC and Philly will recall the Winter of 2010 for its string of massive blizzards. Out in Southern California – the rain and mudslides will come to mind.

And in Connecticut. They’ll be thinking of a disaster of a different ilk.

When they think crash and burn – they’ll remember the Hindenberg of traditional dance. When they want to describe a sloppy, gooey mess, the survivors of this disaster will have to turn back to the Great Boston Molasses Flood for comparisons.

I know all about it. I was there. Not a mere witness, no – much worse. I was the perpetrator.

The Great Money Musk Fiasco of 2010.

Now, for the record – there were no deaths or serious injuries – except to one fragile ego. And it should be noted – put it in the books please – that on the night of March 6 in the year of 2010 that The Money Musk was indeed danced in Branford, Connecticut under the aegis of the New Haven Country Dancers. At least two or three couples managed to go two times through successfully – so it counts I say, it counts! (There might have been a few more successful couples, but blessedly, there are not photographic records.)

And let it further be noted that the music by the esteemed Fiddleheads – Jim and Willow Sirch, Gary Wickfors and Norman Planky, was quite excellent. Inspiring. Perfect for dancers standing around, lost in utter confusion.

Ah yes, it was a prime crowd to be learnin’ The Money Musk. A show of hands revealed that not more than three of about 65 dancers had ever done the dance. A further show of hands revealed that not more than one or two others had ever danced a triple minor.

A perfect setup to teach this fine old dance. Do it in the Scottish style. Four couple sets, do it twice, drop to the bottom – everyone will be able to walk it, and do all the parts. Oh, sure – you perpetrator of iniquities.

Twice and to the bottom? Meaningless.

These are contra dancers – you keep dancing ’till you run out of neighbors, don’cha know.

Let’s teach the right and left over and back without the assisted arm cast (that’s how they do it in all those videos that are circulating. Great idea. You never knew that so many people could cross the set, maybe get back, maybe end up facing another set, maybe find a new partner. Brilliant!.

Brand new concept – three couple dance in a four-couple set plus brand new concept – the triple minor. Facing across and facing up and down—at the same time! Yes.

“Forward six and back,” he says.

“That’s four steps forward and four steps back?”

“No it’s balance in the line.”

“Balance, and then forward and back?”

Ah yes, and in the midst of the chaos, what could be worse, the flailing leader took the name of the Sainted David Millstone in vain – called him to task (only slightly audibly) for getting him into this mess.

Now, the curse was truly upon his head.

And so – after four (count ’em – four) walkthroughs – the music started and the disaster unfolded.

I’ll spare you all the most horrible details – the sights and sounds of dancers wandering aimlessly, sometimes in the general vicinity of a set, sometimes not – and even worse – standing with arms folded, glaring at the caller with a gaze that – if applied long enough – might very well cause a fatality on the dance floor. Yes, I’ll spare you all of that.

There was one bright moment I observed, however. The sight of a young ‘un – Jim and Willow’s eight year old daughter Lynnea (name possibly misspelled, forgive me) – dancing The Money Musk.

In the company of an old hand or two, inspired by great music, she danced the dance as it was meant to be.

And watching her, I lost count of the number of times we’d gone through the dance, and added just one more element to the overall disaster. Did we do it eight times. Was that nine? Who was at the top. Oh, wait, I can tell by the angry stares that it was just too many times.

And so it was, on clear night at the end of the Winter of 2010, that this great fiasco occurred.

For any who would dare take up this cause with dancers having little or no experience with this fine old dance, I’ll offer these afterthoughts.

A demonstration is probably a very good idea.

Arms around backs for the casting – leave disconnected turns for the more experienced folks.

Maybe – hands six and walk through from first position – original places – hands six from second position and walk through – back to original position and then hands six from third position and walk through. Or maybe not.

And – above all – it’s a contra dance – not a wee bit o’ a bloody Scot’s dance. Ye start at the top and go down to the end of your reasonably short set and that’s how ye do it. Don’t be fooling around wi’ anythin’ else.

Your (very humbled) servant,

Ridge (Ridge Kennedy)

And the following note from Dudley Laufman, could not be more different than the letter above….

Canterbury, NH: March being The Money Musk Month as so decreed by Millstone & Smukler, turns out we only have family and sugar house gigs…no place for MM. So we concocted our own. Arranged for the use of the Canterbury Parish Hall yesterday afternoon, March 7. Arrranged for Jane O, fiddle, and Neil O, keyboard, invited about 30 of our friends from the area and a few from outside, who we knew were familiar enough with the dance to be able to dance it w/o instruction. The invite claimed that we would do The Money Musk three times along with The Brandy, Chorus jig, (the old way and new) Petronella, the old way, and others.

Everyone arrived on time. Putnams from Keene, Shonks from Dublin, Tolmans from Nelson. Sylvia Miskoe, played accordion and danced. David Millstone filmed and danced. Lots of other folks, mostly local to the Concord area.

The dance was on. The Money Musk first of course. Bronny said it was the quiet-est Money Musk he had ever done. Then we did Banks of the Dee. First as a triple improper. Chune: Bonnie Dundee, jig. Actives down the outside 2 places, into the middle and up the middle to place./ Down the middle and back to cast off/ Swing the next below, swing above (the one you cast off with)/ Two ladies chain. We did it this way for a while, then, without stopping, switched it to a duple and instead of the ladies chain, you swing your partner in the middle. Neat dance. Starts off with lots of marching up and down, then it launches into the swings. There’s two neighbor swings, and a partner swing in the duple version.

Then we did Chorus Jig. Old version first. Triple proper. Country corners are done using the right hand only. First corner by the right, slide by partner, right hands back to back, and turn second corner with right hand. Step between both corners, go forward and back, turn partner by right hand to place. Very relaxing. Tempo was slow. So after doing it that way for a while, without stopping we changed it to a duple, and used left hands on the corners and right hand to partners, and of course the balance and swing.

The Brandy was next. This is a dance as done in Quebec. It stems from the Scottish Strip the Willow and the English Drops of Brandy. In style it bears little resemblance to those two dances. It is danced to a crooked hypnotic reel in 6/4 time, with stepping in place all the while. Wildly sedate.

Then we did The Money Musk again.

The Lamplighter’s Hornpipe (Road To Californy).

Petronella, with just the active couples doing the balancing, to the name music.

Money Musk one last time, this time in 3 couple sets…top cpl did the figure once then slip to bottom and new top cpl starts.

While folks were setting up potluck, I got JaneO to do The Brandy again, and fetched two other cpls for the trio.

The hall was free this time. This party was mostly for me, doing my favorite dances, The Money Musk and the Brandy, not to mention the others. I danced them all, except Banks of the Dee, which I played accordion on. I called the other dances from the floor, while dancing. I paid the musicians from some of my National Heritage Award earnings. We intend to do other community events using some of the money for such, although under no obligation to do so. (Dudley Laufman)

Fayetteville, NY: I called Money Musk at the 9th annual CNY Callers Gathering. Our theme for the day was “Zesty Contras.” And, of course, Money Musk appears in Larry Jennings’ Zesty Contras, so we had the perfect excuse to include it. We did the 24-bar version, despite Larry’s comment in the book: “The usual modernization is to adapt the tune to 24 bars and compress the action of ph 1-6 to 32 counts, sometimes replacing the ‘fwd & bk’ by ‘bal in lines of three’. Though this compression is very popular in some localities, I know of no satisfactory phrasing.” Geez, Larry…. (David Smukler)

Lava Hot Springs, ID: Thought you’d like to know that I did a stye workshop this past Saturday at the “Lava Meltdown” dance weekend in Idaho, where I chose to focus on Money Musk. Most of the dancers had never danced it before, so I had the musicians (Ethan Hazzard-Watkins and Owen Morrison) play the tune a couple of times, and then I had a small group demonstrate the figures while I talked them through it. After that, everyone lined up, and I explained the triple minor concept. I presented the dance in very small pieces, each of which I walked through, then danced with music several times (actives R 1 1/2, below one couple, balance; actives R 3/4, lines across, balance; actives R 3/4, right and left over and back). Once everyone had experienced these “building blocks” of choreography, we put the whole thing together and danced it for a good long time. Lines were pretty short, so everyone had a chance to be active. Several people told me at the end of the weekend that it was one of their favorite dances. All told we spent about 40 minutes. From my perspective, it was a smashing success. (Nils Fredland)

Concord, MA: It went pretty well, with one set mostly getting it and the other set floundering in places. There were a LOT of brand-new dancers there that night. It did not look very good; but we did our best!! 🙂 (Rebecca Lay)

Not sure if this counts since it wasn’t the contra version. I have an opportunity to call the contra version tomorrow afternoon at John Garden’s session at ANU but that would be April, Earthly Delights with infiltration from the US.

We danced the Scottish version to a recording (I think it was Elke Baker/Liz Donaldson…) on approximately March 9 at 12:30 pm (noon time meeting) at Australian National University, Molly Huxley Room, Canberra, ACT, Australia. Jenny Wanless was the caller. We had approximately 16 dancers. Great dance no matter how you do it! We did it as a 32 bar strathspey. (Linda Lieberman)

The Nashua Scottish Country Dance Class, a Boston Branch class, danced the Scottish Money Musk on March 10. The class is held in the Church of the Good Shepherd, Nashua NH. 2 sets (16 dancers) were present. Teacher was Loren Wright, musicians Sylvia Miskoe and Audrey Danielson. Sylvia had urged the group to do Money Musk in support of International Money Musk month. The Scottish version is a 32 bar strathspey for 3 cples. Of course in the Scottish dance genre we used 3 alternate tunes for our 8 rounds. But started and ended with MM. (Sylvia Miskoe)

Greenfield, MA: It went pretty well. To be sure, there were some traffic jams and areas where brownian motion was happening, but I’d say the crowd did fairly well. And if I do say so myself, I think George and I did some melody-harmony interaction which one doesn’t usually associate with stuffy old northeastern contra dance fiddlers. (David Kaynor)

Tunbridge, VT: This was the older, 32-bar version, performed at a dance hosted by the Ed Larkin dancers. David Millstone writes:

What an evening! I thought I’d dance some but no, stayed behind my camera the whole time. Lots of wonderful dances to add to my collection of filmed chestnuts:

  • Hull’s Victory
  • Green Mountain Volunteers
  • Connecticut River Contra Dance
  • Road to Boston
  • Cincinnati Hornpipe
  • Irish Washerwoman
  • Petronella
  • Road to California
  • Money Musk (32 bar version)
  • Portland Fancy
  • Honest John (quadrille)
  • Plain Jane (quadrille)
  • Beaux of Oak Hill
  • Rambler’s Hornpipe
  • Reuben, Reuben (square)

(David Millstone)

It went swimmingly. I presented it at a workshop at the Spring Breakdown Dance Weekend in Columbia, MO. There were probably 60 dancers at the session. The music was great – the real deal: Old New England. Walked it through twice. Demoed the R/L through, always evasive to contra dancers who are only used to it as a mixed gender figure. No one groaned upon hearing the news there was no partner swing. And even though there were a few rough patches, overall, it went great. People applauded with special vigor at the end of the dance, a pretty clear sign we won some converts! (Susan Kevra)

Just wanted to let you know that I called Money Musk again, this time at the Gilmanton, NH contra dance. Ethan H-W and Owen Morrison playing the tune (same as in Idaho last weekend…), approx. 40 dancers on the floor. Felt particularly poignant given the fact that Gilmanton is close to Canterbury (home of Dudley Laufman, who I learned the dance from). (Nils Fredland)

The following report and reminiscence is from Keith Holmes:

We danced Money Musk on a sunny March 13 in Houston, TX. Grant Goodyear did me a great favor by calling it, I think for the first time, so I could dance it. The tune was masterfully played — and played around with (don’t tell Dudley 🙂 — by Andrew (fiddle) and Noah (mandolin) VanNorstrand along with Kendall Rogers (piano). We had about 40 dancers on the floor. Most had not danced it before, but it went quite well.

I danced Money Musk for the first time when I went to New England in the summer of 1981. I made a point of attending the Fitzwilliam dance, the first of the summer as it turned out, and only a few weeks after Duke Miller had died.

I was sitting in the side door of my van in the parking lot when a car parked next to me. It turned out to be the band: Bob McQuillen, who was driving, April Limber and Pete Colby. Bob greeted me, asked me where I was from, and told me that he had a son in Houston. I think they were joined on stage by Gordon Peery.

Mary DesRosiers was the caller. Mary and I talked (and waltzed to the tune Bob dedicated to her); she was very nervous as she was trying to fill, if only for one night, Duke’s shoes. She was the first to call “his” dance after his passing.

Of course we danced MM right after the break. As I recall, we did the version that requires a very quick allemande 1.5 and allows for 8 count forwards and backs, the second across the phrase. It’s version 4 on the Hawaii dancers’ site. At that time I knew nothing of the different versions of Money Musk. When, many years later, I first danced it with 4 count balances instead of 8 count forward and backs, I thought “that’s not authentic!” (Keith Holmes)

Yes, on Saturday March 13th at the Capital City Grange Hall in Montpelier, VT seven sets of eight people making 56 dancers danced the Scottish version of Monymusk, a strathspey. We had live music: Peter Macfarlane and Joanne Garton on fiddles and Aaron Marcus on piano. I did the briefing. (Martha Kent)

We danced Money Musk in Norwich, VT at the monthly Northern Spy dance. Last year, MM was part of an entire evening of chestnuts. This year, knowing that I was planning to call it– a triple minor– and remembering that March is the third month, the entire evening was built around a “triple play” theme, with every dance having something to do with three (triple progression, dances with three swings each time through, three-facing-three, triplets, and so on).

The regular dancers at this Norwich series are accustomed to triple minor dances, but to make things easier for Money Musk I called British Sorrow earlier in the evening. This gave less-experienced dancers an exposure to triple minors and to same-sex right and left through.

When it came time for Money Musk, we reviewed the progression and then I tried something I’d not done before, doing a demonstration. I went onto the floor and joined a set in the center of the hall and we walked through the dance once, pointing out the different orientation of the two different lines of three, facing across the hall and then up and down the hall. Most dancers did well, and the more experienced dancers helped out those who were floundering. (David Millstone)

In Brattleboro, VT we probably had 50 people dancing. One set did a totally killer job (lots of 20- and 30-somethings who are Pinewoods regulars and also do ECD), and the other set…well… they did their best. I tried to help them through, but couldn’t quite get them back on track after too many couples got confused about when to come back in at the top of the set, or couldn’t remember if they were 2s or 3s…

Yesterday, I hung out with one person who was at the Brattleboro dance when we did Money Musk, and she said that the first time she tried the dance, she was totally lost. Since then, she’s become a regular at the South Amherst English Dance, and she said she really understood Money Musk this time around. Makes perfect sense – now she’s had lots of practice with triple minors, and I think that’s the hardest thing about the dance for most contra dancers. (Rebecca Lay)

Baltimore, MD: Before the dance, one of the bandleaders asked me whether the tune should be played at 104 bpm or 120 bpm. I said I wasn’t sure – maybe you should start at 104 and work you way up to 120. Walk through went well – think some of the new dancers found the concept of turning 3/4 difficult but we had plenty of experienced dancers on the floor. The band did great! However, they did choose slow over fast, which in retrospect was probably a mistake – the dancers seemed to be dancing ahead of the music (at least new dancers) which indicates to me that they were getting it and the music should have been faster. It was a good experience, a good time had by all! (Perry Shafran)

Grenaa, Denmark: This to let you know that: Evening 18th of March we – with some success – danced The Money Musk. 20 dancers – all 60+ – never having tried a triple minor proper dance before – so it needed quite a lot of explaining/showing. Dancers were quite pleased after the dance – so we might take other triple minor dances on the program (if I can find them). Anyway – we will do the dance next March. (Poul-Erik Nilsson)

Bath, ME and Topsham ME: I’d say that Money Musk Month in Maine went well. The two times that I called the dance, all were enthusiastic. These things struck me: Some hot young dancers had good-natured fun improvising while inactive (and active too) and some hot young dancers made an obviously concerted (and successful) effort to nail the timing of the allemandes perfectly when they first became active at the top. Given that “young” is “under 25,” this seemed to bode well for the future of Money Musk. (Chrissy Fowler)

Concord, MA: I only had a few couples left after the break, so we danced money musk with 4 couples, Scottish style. (Beth Parkes)

Dallas, TX: Well danced and happily received. The applause after the dance was as enthusiastic as for any of the English dances we did at this ECD weekend. The dance is getting fair amount of attention here in Texas, and people seem to both get it and like it. (I also called it at a dance weekend in Austin a couple of years ago.) (Joseph Pimentel)

Monte Toyon, CA: Yes, we did Money Musk (Mony Musk?) Saturday night on the contra side of the Spring Fling Monte Toyon BACDS weekend. We did the 24 bar version with the 2nd allemande right 3/4 taking 8 counts. It went tolerably well. We had some fairly new dancers that had significant difficulty when they became ones, but other than that it was acceptable. (Seth Tepfer)

Monte Toyon, CA: James Hutson had thoughtfully programmed a session titled ‘The Scottish-Contra Connection’ and I was teaching it. We had Liz Donaldson and David Knight playing, so we could dance the Monymusk strathspey (from around 1785). I pointed out that it gets its name from the tune, written for Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk, and we noticed that the tune is very little changed (except for the tempo!) between strathspey and reel. We were in three 3-couple sets, so no real chance to do it as a triple-minor, but we noticed the overall similarity, the similar-but-different nature of the turn&cast at the start, of the set&turn in the middle, and the different ending: hey-for-three and circle, vs. R&L. There was only a little time, but the great music helped people feel the quality of moving to strathspey music. So the dance got a two-for-one dancing under gorgeous weather in the redwoods of Northern California. (Bruce Hamilton)

We loved our visit to Ottawa, ON! I called Money Musk there a year and an half ago, also at a Saturday afternoon chestnuts workshop. This time I again brought it out for a workshop, the idea of which was to include both American and English country dances that somehow related to one another. The dancers (many used to English country dancing) took the Money Musk in stride. (David Smukler)

Escanaba, MI (Upper Peninsula): I’d like to add our little bit to the Moneymusk count. We may not exactly fit in, but we had fun adapting Moneymusk to 2 couples — makes it quite an energetic dance! Someday we hope to participate in a real, flowing, waves of dancers Moneymusk contra; meantime we make do. We have rare chance to dance contra here but I lead/teach an International Folk Dance group and there are 4-5 of us who love set dances, so I look for ones to adapt and we get together a half hour before to indulge that desire a bit. The Moneymusk month focus was wonderful as it gave us an excuse to learn it. I had previous read your online articles on the dance (and all the others — much appreciated and enjoyed) so much and imagined the dance so often it was great to put it to foot even in a limited way. Looking forward to the final count and maybe some videos of this year’s dancing. (Sue Robishaw)

Brasstown, NC: Danced twice this week at the John C. Campbell Folk School — Bob Dalsemer writes that he was the caller for Money Musk only on the evening that David Kaynor was otherwise calling – since David was the only fiddler who could play it up to speed – but “Margie and I are both working on it!!” (Bob Dalsemer)

Hales Corners, WI: We danced Money Musk on Tuesday at our Civil War Dance Session. We’re a small group, but had five sets – 30 people. Only one set crumbled toward the very end. We use a mid-nineteenth century version. (Patricia Lynch)

Madison, WI: We danced Money Musk at our weekly open band/open calling dance, after setting it up over the month with proper dances that had same sex right and left throughs (e.g., French Four, Road to Cailforny/Lamplighter’s Hornpipe) and triple minors (e.g., Sackett’s Harbor).

I demo-ed the dance once after hands six had been taken, then had all dancers do the crux of the dance: “turn your partner by the right ‘once…and a half around…once and a half,’ let go and and face out.” We then walked through twice, and sent all back to original places to ensure a high(er) probability of success. The mixed crowd of about 1/2 relatively new and 1/2 experienced dancers of various ability levels did a quite passable job, all getting through the figures well enough so that we could work on some finer styling points the next go around.

A dancer who had frustratingly muddled through it at a dance weekend thanked me afterwards beaming with delight at the successful rendition! (Steve Pike)

Atlanta, GA: We were around 40% success rate, the ones that did it successfully did not seem to be having a particularly joyous time. I did a full demo, and taught it well, I called sharply on time to cue the different allemandes. Part of the issue might have been the triple minor aspect, but I suspect the larger problem is a lack of depth of chestnut tradition and acceptance in the south. I’m sure this has been discussed at length on the trad-callers list. (Seth Tepfer)

Colchester, VT: It was my first time calling Money Musk and it turned out I wasn’t as prepared as I thought! Thankfully I had many wonderful dancers on the floor to lend helping hands and a wonderful band for them to dance to so that made up for it. The timing really got me and I did have to stop the band and start again to make sure I was really with the dancers. Once they got going I tried singing the calls a few times and I liked that very much, although it wasn’t the best key for me. All in all I’m glad we did it and I can’t wait to try again! (Mary Wesley)

Many beginners at our regular dance in Fayetteville, NY, but given that I had Daron and Karen I was determined to call Money Musk. We did it first thing after the break. Our experienced dancers knew what was coming and made a point of dancing with newcomers, which I very much appreciated. I warned the dancers to expect anything, and hoped they’d enjoy whatever transpired. I also let them know that they were participating in something really big, which ratcheted up the interest. How’d it go? Well, the center set was more chaotic than I like, but the other two were fine (one of them, very fine indeed). (David Smukler)

Anaheim, CA: I’m really glad I got to participate this year. I didn’t have a band who could play it last year. I’ve been reflecting on my calling and teaching of the dance trying to find ways to improve it for the next time. I knew it would be a bit challenging as many of the dancers are not advanced dancers. I don’t think of Money Musk as hard just different. The tune is hard to play so I should have shortened one of the lines. I had two lines and one was a full hands six bigger then the other. Three lines of five couples? I wondered about starting that way. Next time I’ll also have the couple that needs the walk through the most be the number one couple first. It’s hard to remember to pay attention to what the ones are doing when you are a three heading up for a while. I did get some thank you’s for calling it. It went well for a while but one line broke down at the end of the dance. (Frannie Marr)

Beloit, WI (Beloit College Contra Club):Thanks for reminding us about this dance. Our dancers ranged from experienced to first-timers but they rose to the challenge and most importantly had fun. (George Lisensky)

Bristol, VT: I called and danced Money Musk on Saturday, March 27th at 11:15 PM in Holley Hall with Pete Sutherland playing solo fiddle with no sound system standing on the floor next to us.

It is the 4th Saturday Dance in Bristol run by Rick Ceballos. It was a regularly scheduled dance that we designated as a benefit for the Champlain Valley Folk Festival. (Will Mentor)

Concord, MA: We danced it as the last dance of the evening, as the crowd had dwindled down to 6 couples (the mix of dancers earlier in the evening was not promising of success). As far as I could tell, only one or two dancers had ever done the dance before, and all others were experiencing it for the first time. And as far as I could tell, everyone had a great time. Not to mention that the music was fabulous! (Eric Black)

Toronto, ON: Bev Bernbaum had never called it, most of the dancers had never danced it, only one of the musicians had ever played it, but by golly, we danced Money Musk at the TCD Contra dance tonight! Happy International Money Musk Month everyone! Woo Hoo!

At this dance the Toronto Contra Dancers celebrated “Earth Hour,” a world-wide call to turn off the power for one hour. Bev called MM after the hour was over, because Tom needed to see the music and she didn’t want to call it using the megaphone. But they left the light low. Bev writes, “And I did make a comment about how Money Musk was historical and would have fit with the spirit of Earth Hour. Actually, I used your comment about us ALL being in the dark about it as a first time for everyone. People had fun.” (Bev Bernbaum)

I called Money Musk at the English Dance in Lawrence Kansas on Sunday March 28, 2010. There were four couples so we did it Scottish style, each couple taking two turns at being active. (I would have preferred a longer line, maybe double that). I called from the floor, with music provided by the Round Robbins (Jill
Allen, Greg Allen, Theresa Martin, Carolyn Young, Daniel Pennington — there
are sometimes more band members but I believe this was the crowd that day.) (Jerome Grisanti)

Nicholas Williams, accordion and flute player from the band Crowfoot, writes:

I played accordion this time round. I found it a slightly better fit than on the flute.

On a side note: To Adina’s utter shock, and hopefully not to your dismay, we switched tunes! We played Drowsy Maggie for a while, and then switched back to Moneymusk.

And then… to Adina’s shock once again, we asked her if we could play through Moneymusk a few extra times before going out (this was mostly due to Adam dropping out to change a string as we were winding up, but remarkable nonetheless!). (Nicholas Williams)

Thoughts from Adina Gordon, who called Money Musk for her very first time at the BIDA dance (Boston Intergenerational Dance Advocates) on March 21, 2010, and then called it twice more before the month was out.

  1. Boston, MA:What fun to call that dance! Not as much fun as dancing it — one of the moments I’d really rather be dancing than calling — but so satisfying.
  2. On Friday 3/26, 54 dancers danced Money Musk in Greenfield, MA. The musicians were Mary Cay Brass, Stuart Kenney, Matthew Kenney, Peter Siegel, and Randy Miller. Money Musk with Randy Miller, can’t beat that! Stuart and Peter got into a great groove and when I told them one more time, they waved me off and asked for 4 more.The best reason ever to call Money Musk: because it makes Ralph Sweet happy.
  3. Sunday 3/28 we were at the DownEast Festival Survivor’s Dance, in North Yarmouth, ME. Eighty-four dancers participated as Crowfoot played. Again, the band waved me off when I asked for one more! I never expected the musicians to want to play it even more! Crowfoot had surprised me by switching tunes partway through (to Drowsy Maggie), then back to Money Musk for the last few times. I know you can switch tunes; I certainly don’t call it in the traditional way, so why should they play it the traditional way? It still surprised the heck out of me!

All 3 times I called Money Musk, it worked very well to ask dancers who hadn’t done it before to partner with those who had. It was gratifying to see people helping each other so much, as well as seeing people who were initially baffled “get it” and enjoy the dance.

Demographically, though of course all 3 times there were a few requisite groans when the dance was announced, it was greeted happily by all age ranges. Many older dancers were delighted to do a dance they hadn’t done much in recent years, and it was the enthusiasm –specifc request, actually–of much-younger dancers that spurred me to call it in the first place, at the BIDA dance. I even heard people ask if now we could start doing some of the other chestnuts too.

Not a typical response, but not isolated either. So glad to have participated in IMMM, learned to call one of the great ones, and shared it with so many others. Thanks for the encouragement! (Adina Gordon)