This page is part of The Caller's Box, a contra dance database.

Brief contra database glossary

A short version of the key terms and language used in this database. For reference the full glossary is here.


Context matters, but here's some common ones:
	R	Right (right shoulder pass, pull by right, holding right hands)
	L	Left
	N	Neighbor
		N2, N3, etc. 	Future neighbors
		N0, N-1, etc.	Previous neighbors
	P	Partner
		P2, P3		Future partner (in a mixer)
		P0, P-1		Previous partner (in a mixer)
	S	Shadow
		S-1	 Another shadow, on the other side of your partner from S1.
		S2	 Two shadows away, in the direction of the first shadow.
	M	Men's role
		M1	Man one
		M2	Man two
		M3	Man three (triplets/triple minors)
	W	Women's role
	F	Forward
	B	Back
	H	Hand (used to describe some balances)
	SRN	Same-(gender) Role Neighbor
	1CC	First Contra Corners
	2CC	Second Contra Corners
	1C	First Corners (Man one and woman two)
	2C	Second Corners (Woman one and man two)
	C1	Corner (in a square/circle)
		C2	Opposite (in a square)
		C3	Right-hand lady / left-hand gent (in a square)
			*** these also can apply to four-face-fours
	O	Opposite (neighbor you begin facing in a 3-face-3/4-face-4)
		ON	Opposite neighbor
	TB	Trail buddy (people travelling with you in a 4-face-4)
	1	Ones (unless overruled by other punctuation, like 1CC)
	2	Twos (unless overruled by other punctuation, like 2C)
		2SR	Twos, with their shadow, pass right
		2H	Two-hand clap (only used for clapping notation)
	cw	clockwise
	ccw	counterclockwise


	()	Details on the figure, but not full definition.
	:	Full definition of the figure follows. If multiple lines, description's indented.
	[]	Who does the figure. (Prefix: Naming individual people. Postfix: Relationships.)
	;	Then. Separates two consecutive figures.
	,	While. Separates two simultaneous figures.
	?	Variable/not defined.
	//	One of two possible figures, depending on choice of caller/dancers.
	||	While. One of two possible figures, happening simultaneously.
	-	Negative sign. Used to represent previous neighbors.
	-	Used to space out a line of people, when defining a line of four.
	~	A partial hey pass, where you finish shoulder to shoulder with that person.
	"  "	Shows spoken text.
	'  Ď	Literal text from original source material.
	+	And. Used with people.
	&	And. Used with numbers.
	/	Fractions. Used with numbers.
	.	Used as normal punctuation.


At the beginning of a four-face-four, the neighbor you're facing is your opposite. The neighbor on your diagonal is called your C2 corner.

Corners are labelled as per squares. If at the start of the dance, you took hands in a circle of eight, you'd be next to C1. Other corners are determined by imagining the circle to be a square. (Rotated 45 degrees, but yes, a square.)

A standard grand right and left is notated (PR;C3L;C2R;C1L)


In a contra, ones always progress down the set. Twos always progress up the set. So, in a reverse progression dance, ones would start below the twos in a hands-four.


Along: Facing the direction of progression. For instance, when facing your neighbor at the start of an improper dance. Or the starting direction of "lines of four forward and back" in a four-face-four.

Across: Facing perpendicular to the direction of progression. During "Long lines, go forward and back", you're facing across the set. Most ladies chains are done across the set.

Figures details