Type #1: Same Partner, Different Music, Different Dances
- You get one partner to yourself for 30 to 60 minutes.
- You get to know that one partner really well -- and what their capabilities are -- over the course of that time.
- You only have to think about the choreography and not who your next partner is.
- It's a fun challenge to see if you can dance for that long at a stretch.
- You're stuck with the same person for 30 to 60 minutes; somehow gambling 10 minutes of your life is different than 30 to 60 minutes of it on an awful partner. This means that people frequently book someone well ahead of time to be their partner for it (possibly many hours/days before).
- This can be really isolating for new or out-of-town dancers, due to said booking.
- If you don't get in on the beginning, it's entirely possible that there won't be anyone on the sidelines who wants dance and so if you're not in at the beginning, you're out for the duration (and as such several folks may leave since leaving half an hour to an hour early is preferable to sitting and waiting for the next dance/session, if there is to be one).
Type #2: Different Partners, Different Music, Different Dances
- Fun challenge of endurance, but with expectation that folks will drop in and out to get water/etc.
- It is culturally expected that you won't keep the same partner all night (which means that asking a newbie to dance is a less chancy venture -- you can go up and down the line once and thank them and bid them goodnight).
- Since the dances aren't formally bounded with music beginning and ending, it can be hard to catch in-demand partners.
- There is no forced break like in a normal contra dance evening, which means dancers must be exceptionally aware of their biological needs (e.g., thirst, pain) and break from dancing accordingly.
Type #3: Same Partner, Same Music, Different Dances
- These have the challenge of shifting choreography and the duration of a regular contra dance.
- In some ways, this represents a happy medium of the first two.
- These get booked ahead well in advance as well (con), but in my experience the booking-ahead is quite a bit less aggressive than with Type #1 (pro).
- These have to be very carefully choreographed ahead of time, and probably should only be done with one caller, whereas the other two can be done more easily with multiple callers.