Trying out Larks and Ravens

At our April 2 dance, BIDA used the gender-free role terms Larks and Ravens instead of Gents and Ladies. We held a non-binding poll, asking dancers to rate how much they liked Larks and Ravens and give comments. Feedback was overwhelmingly okay to positive, so we’re going to have a longer Larks and Ravens trial period with more opportunities for feedback, to give a bit more notice and include dancers who weren’t at the April dance.

At our next three dances, which are on 5/7, 5/21 and 6/4, BIDA will use the role terms Larks and Ravens instead of Gents and Ladies. At the dance on 6/4, which will be called with Larks and Ravens, and then again on 6/18, which will be called with Gents and Ladies, you will be able to comment on these role terms. The feedback we get at these June dances will help the Board decide if we want to officially make Larks and Ravens the terms we use at BIDA. Please participate and make your voice heard!

Some questions you may have:
Why are you doing this? What’s wrong with Gents and Ladies?

Larks and Ravens have recently become the most popular non-gendered dance role terms for contra dancing, so we want to see if they work for BIDA.

We’ve had considerable feedback from members of the BIDA community that they’re not comfortable with gendered dance role terms and would prefer to go to a dance that doesn’t use them. For transgender and gender non-conforming dancers especially, gendered role terms can be exclusive or hurtful.

We feel that the new terminology makes it clearer that roles in contra are dance roles, not gender roles, and so it better encourages people to try dancing both roles and dance with people regardless of their gender. This also could make it easier to find partners, with fewer dancers left on the sidelines when there is a gender imbalance.

Why the birds? Is there a reason?

The “Lark” starts the dance and ends swings on the Left, and the “Raven” starts the dance and ends the swing on the Right. Also, “Larks” and “Ravens” have the same syllables and accents as “Gents” and “Ladies,” so it’s easier for callers who are used to "Gents" and "Ladies" to switch from the old terms to the new terms.


  1. Perhaps "why not lead/follow" could be added to the Q&A!


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