When I first wrote about the quadrille figure called the Sociable almost seven years ago, I noted that some sources offered slightly different sets of figures, and at least two suggested that the choice of figures was up to the caller:
"No positive rule as to what figure shall be called in the Quadrille Sociable. The choice is left entirely to the prompter." (Brookes, L. De G. Brookes on Modern Dancing. New York, 1867)
"Prompters often call figures in the 'Sociable' to suit their fancy, introducing the 'Star Figure,' 'Grand Chain,' etc." (De Garmo, William. The Dance of Society. New York, 1875)
I rarely exercise the option to call variant figures; my habit has been to do the most common four-figure sequence twice over, once for the ladies to progress and once for the gentlemen, with an eight-bar "All chassez" and honors coda at the end. Including introductory honors, this calls for a structure of 8b + 32bx8 + 8b. Working with live musicians, I can have music played to fit this pattern exactly. Or, if I am using the Sociable as the final figure of a quadrille, the short version with the progressive figures done only once (ladies progressing) is plenty, and since 8b + 32bx4 + 8b is a common finale structure, if necessary, it is easy to find a recording with that pattern.
But recently, I've been faced with the dual problems of calling the Sociable as a freestanding figure, meaning I prefer to call a longer figure to balance the time spent forming sets, and using recorded music, which is rarely to be found in the simplest long-Sociable pattern of 8b + 32bx8 + 8b. This means either spending time editing a recording to fit the dance or changing my calling to fit the recording. Editing music is a pain, so, since I have the option, historically speaking, of changing the figures, that is the approach I prefer.