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January 05, 2009

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Isn't there another 'mixed time' dance that you have shown? I seem to recall something, but can't remember it.

The fact that the Rye Waltz is Ladies Choice on the card you have is very strong proof that the dance had been around long enough for the Dance Masters to decide to make it such.

Jeff,
I don't recall any other mixed time dance right off the top of my head, but I've gone through an awful lot of little dances over the years, so I can't be certain.

I'd guess that the Rye Waltz is a few years older, but not that much, especially if it's actually Wirth's. He was born in the mid-1860s and didn't take up dance composition immediately, so it wouldn't be much older than c1890, I don't think.

The "Ladies Choice" is an oddity to me; I don't recall seeing that on a dance card before. I haven't looked at enough of them to know whether it's really unusual or whether I just haven't personally come across it. I don't know that it signifies much about the age of the dance, though.

The "Early California" thing is because the Brassworks Band works sometimes with Jim Letchworth, who leads "Early California" dances; for many years, until the state got more serious about earthquake safety requirements for historic buildings, a ball in the c. 1820 Plaza Hotel at San Juan Batista. As far as I know, "Early California" people (including me) tend to draw mostly on "Dances of Early California Days" by Lucille K. Czarnowski, which had a mixture of Spanish-inflected material from various sources (including her own and others field observations and interviews of people doing stuff the way they said their grandparents had done it) and Anglo material mostly drawn from published dance manuals. I don't know that I'd actually call 188x "Early California". As I recall, she mentioned that there were diary references, etc, to "El Coyote" but she couldn't find a California description, so she printed dance and tune collected in Guatemala or some such. Which is a long way of saying that El Chinche may be "Early California" because it's in Czarnowski's "Early California" book, but that doesn't actually mean it existed it in this form before Wirth made up the Rye Waltz.

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