Calling card collecting
1992: I document how to catalog my dance prompt cards
Part of the fun of being a new caller is starting from scratch: taking what other folks are doing and expanding on it. Here's a method of creating and keeping your dance prompt cards. Let me know how it works for you!
In the caller's workshop that got me going, John Freeman recommended carrying dance cards in a little fabric folder. This seemed more practical than index card boxes, but neither method appealed to me. I wanted to eliminate all sources of potential disaster: a bag or box of loose cards is "52 pick-up" waiting to happen. Glen Morningstar uses small, leather-covered ring binders, which offer flexibility, portability, and security; however, his prompts (on notebook paper) have to stay in their binders. Index card binders looked a like good idea, but I couldn't find one with an attractive cover (and they are fairly small).
I wanted something that could be expanded as I collected more dances, but wouldn't look sparse with only a dozen cards; something that offered the sorting ability of index cards, but would take up less space than a card box in a dance go-bag. (I dutifully schlep my entire card library to every dance, in hopes of doing a guest caller tip.)
My other concern was utility behind the mike. I've seen too many callers study their cards, frown, squint, hold them at arms' length, try several different walk-throughs, and apologize for not being able to read the card. After looking through a few callers' card files, it's easy to see why: they write prompts on Post-it notes, portions of old dance flyers, and the like. Prompts are invariably scribbled, corrections squeezed in every corner, and only an archeologist could discern an A1-A2- B1-B2 format. I wanted something that could be revised or corrected easily and legibly. (How many times have you made notes on a great new dance, and didn't get the author's name? Or needed to revise the prompts?)
Finally, I had a time constraint. I figured I'd better devise the perfect solution now, so I could start collecting dances and doing more calling.
With these concerns in mind, and wanting to devise a flawless system, I started looking in the stationery, office supply, and department stores.
I found one answer near the cameras: pocket photo albums. I started out with a small 24-pocket one, but soon filled it up so I graduated to a thicker one with 100 pages (I glued ribbon bookmarks inside the spine). They easily fit inside a pocket or dance bag, and they stay put on a podium or music stand.