Cards, part 2
I also found the ultimate photo album. It's a three-ring binder with enough capacity to serve (the late) Ted Sannella; it came with 35 pages and 210 pockets. The pages offer a spread of 6 cards; I added index tabs so that I can easily flip to, say, three- person dances, and select one that suits the moment. On the music stand I use wire clips (the concert band musician's life saver) and Post-its. I found this at a discount department store, packaged with a matching one in pocket size.
The other answer was in the computer aisle. I like 4"x 6" cards, with their large text area and unloseable size. But having done considerable work in publishing and graphic arts, I wanted to come up with something neater than my own handwriting. So I located a package of continuous form cards (with tractor-feed strips along the sides), set up a text file in my word processing program, and started typing. In no time I had some 50 dances neatly transcribed onto cards. An evening's worth of work gave me several different programs worth of dances.
Techno-weenies will want to use extensive formatting codes, block commands [F1 for "A1 A2 B1 B2," F2 for "duple improper"], font changes, scanned photos, and so on. At the time of this writing I was using a Tandy 1000 souped up with a hard drive, Word Star 3.31, and a dot matrix printer. I've since graduated to a laser printer and manual-fed cards; as you can see from the photo, they are very legible.
The only drawback: the cards occasionally misfeed, which goofs up alignment on all subsequent ones. Keep your eye on the printer and save paper. And continuous forms are your basic boring white. Some callers identify dances by card color - orange for squares, yellow for contras, blue for mixers. I add highlighting to delineate different formats: duple improper are yellow, propers are orange, Becket formations are lavender.
By the way, John Freeman saw my first card album and acquired several for himself. I think he loads them according to degree of difficulty (green book is for beginners; blue, intermediate). Susan English likes the index binders: she uses month-tabbed dividers to program her monthly dances. This is an excellent method that keeps track of what she did each month, and avoids reruns. My binder can be rearranged without disaster, but photo albums generally are not designed for major rearrangements; the pages can pull apart if you're not gentle.
I use the last few pages as archives for photos of memorable Halloween dance costumes, useful information like dance hall sizes, and the like, along with some blank cards so I can scribble down great new dances on the fly, to take home and put on disk.
Stashed in a photo album, your dance programs will not vanish down a crack between the stage and the wall. And with your dance prompts stored on a hard drive, a minor mishap (forgetting your gig bag on the roof of a vehicle, theft, water damage) won't mean the end of your calling career.
My dance prompt text files are available for your use. I originally asked for a blank diskette and $5 to cover shipping and handling. E-mail me and we'll talk about a file transfer.