Ceder, Vic & Debbie

cedarVic and Debbie Ceder – June 1, 2008

Bob Brundage – … and today is June 1, 2008.  And today we have the pleasure of talking with Vic and Debbie Ceder out in California and we’re anxious to find out a lot about ceder.net and also some of Vic and Debbie’s personal history before they got into square dancing.  So, Vic, tell us a little bit about life before square dancing.

Vic Ceder – Ok. I was born in Santa Barbara, California in 1960 and stayed there most of my life except for a couple of trips here and there.  I spent eight months in Romania as a kid, second grade, and a couple of months in Sweden when I was much younger.  I went to the local public schools and my mom was into folk dancing and eventually she got into square dancing sometime in the 1970s and she…. she got my sister into a teen square dance group and the next year they tried to … they got me in there and I dropped out because I broke my arm, later on, and then I came back the next year.  My sister had quit by then and I believe that was the year that Debbie showed up also in beginner’s class.

Debbie Ceder – That’s right.  That was 1976.

BB – Ok. And so you’ve been dancing ever since, right?

DC – That’s right.

BB – (chuckles) Well. Ok, well.  Reading through your bio before I called you this morning and I see that you said you’d never went to a caller’s school but … and that you’re self taught.  That about it?

VC – Yeah.  Basically we…  we spent several years in the teenage group and then we … we showed up at a … at one of the local dances once (chuckles), actually it was a Plus II dance.  I guess we didn’t really do those calls in our teen group and we kind of got exposed to other calls and other callers and things.  And shortly after there, the local invitation only advanced group which alternated like A1(ish) level one week and then A2 kind of level the next week invited us in and a couple of weeks later they invited us into the more advanced group and then on from there a year later we were probably doing Challenge.  Around that time I was interested in the choreography of the stuff so I started, you know, scribbling out some choreography and I thought it might be fun to try it out on the people.  We had a tape group, because we danced to tapes, there weren’t very many Challenge groups in that part around then.

BB – Right.

VC – And so I tried that out and I don’t think it went very well.  (Both laugh) But it was something to do.  So then I just decided, well I’m just going to call.  So I went out and bought a Hilton 75A and a microphone, got some records, mostly records that you know our local advanced caller, Dave Hoffman used to use and started learning things … and, you know, kind of memorizing … trying to memorize a few singing calls and then trying to memorize the patter sides of some of the patter records.

BB – Right.  You maintain a home club program I’m sure?

VC – Well right now I’m … I have a weekly Plus group.  I just finished also doing a weekly beginners class.

BB – Uh huh, ok.  And who were some of your mentors?

VC – My mentors?  Well, basically what would happen after I started trying to teach myself to call, is at some of the occasional weekends or dances I would call a tip or two.  And often times one of the big time callers who ever was there would come by and say, “Well”, you know, “You should do this. You should be more on your pronunciation or your projection”, or this or that … “don’t call that because it doesn’t flow” or “timing” all sorts of stuff like that.  So. there were those kinds of things along the way.

BB – Right.

VC – As for mentors I didn’t really have some, but there were several guys I looked up to a lot.  Bruce Johnson also from Santa Barbara was … I mean, I respect him very much.  I also went through three beginners classes before I kind of started picking things up.

BB – Uh huh.

VC – One of them was Bruce Johnson’s and he’s an amazing teacher and a lot of the things he’s taught have like really stuck.  The other guys just sort of pass over the stuff and it really doesn’t sink in.

BB – Right.

VC – Lee Kopman was a good influence. I used to really respect his material.  His … his, shall we say Challenge (chuckles) arch rival Dave Hodson, was another guy that I really liked a lot.

BB – OK.

VC – I emulated his style for a bit.

BB – OK.  I say Bruce Johnson was a great piano player and I know you’re a piano player too, right?

VC – Oh yeah.  (Bob chuckles) Bruce was always fun at the dances I would go call to.  He’d usually be there because he usually did all the round dance cueing in the area.  And whenever I put on some certain pieces of music, he would go over to the piano sitting in the hall and play on the piano while I’m calling to a piece of music.  So that was always kind of fun.

BB – Right.  Well I know when I interviewed Bruce at his home he had a piano and an organ both (laughs) sort of back to back.  He could turn around and play one and turn around and play the other.  But he’s passed away now hasn’t he?

VC – Right.

BB – Yes, well.  OK, Debbie, did you ever do any calling?

DC – Oh, only once.  Our teen club used to adjourn to a pizza parlor after the dance was over for some fun.  And our local pizza parlor had an upstairs with a wood floor that was a really nice place to party.  And so once on occasion we would, you know, try to get together and just do some singing calls we had memorized and …

VC – Acapella style.

DC – Acapella, yes because we had no music, no amplification there.  So I sang, I think it was Rocking in Rosalie’s Boat, for our group.

BB – There you go.

DC – But I found that I have more tendency to sing than to call.  Calling requires a bit of different kind of projection which requires you to be able to say the commands as though they are commands and not singing and I think that that’s not something that I can do very easily.

BB – OK. (chuckles) Well, all right.  Well do you two get a chance to dance yourselves every once in a while?

VC – Umm, not that often.  Some of the weekends or festivals that I do, Debbie comes along and dances a lot, or at local Plus dances and things, you know, she’ll do some of the rounds with me but unless there are two or more callers at the dance we don’t dance too much.

BB – Yes, well.  I see by your bio that you enjoy jitterbug and of course that was my bailiwick when I was growing up way back.

VC – Yeah, we took lessons before we got married and really enjoyed it a lot.  We haven’t taken lessons for a long time now but sometimes, whenever there is a lively round on, instead of doing the round we will go off in the corner and jitterbug to it.

BB – There you go.  (chuckles)  OK, well tell us about some of the … well, how about national conventions?

VC – We’ve been to a few of them, not too many of them recently.  I think our first one was in Seattle in ‘70 …

BB – How about local festivals and so forth?

VC – Local festivals, unless I’m on staff we don’t really go to them so …

BB – Uh, huh.  How about weekend events, have you participated in some of those?

VC – Well, I mean I probably call 30 to 40 weekends a year around the country, mostly at the Challenge level.  Some gay flyins and things.  Recently I’ve been getting some of the local California festivals in the mix.

BB – Well, you travel out of the country quite a bit too.

VC – Yes, I’ve called in Japan.  I’ve been in Japan at least eight time, Germany, at least eight times, Sweden, England, Denmark, I think that’s about it.  And we … and every once in awhile we run a trip down to Mexico.

BB – Right.  I noticed also on your bio that you’ve done quite a bit of writing.

VC – Quite a bit of writing?

BB – Yes.

VC – Well, we have three definition books for the Challenge levels.  Each book is practically an inch thick ,maybe 3/4 of an inch thick, about 200 ought pages or so and those books are basically the Bibles of Challenge dancing. Each book takes about two years to write and is jam packed with all sorts of examples and historical notes and things like that.  So we are well respected around there.

BB – Right

VC – In fact, Callerlab took our definitions as the basis for their C3A definitions.

BB – Oh yes.  Then you also did the Couple Rotation System?

VC – Yeah, I have the Couple Rotation System which basically mixes couples at a dance and it’s done in real time with a laptop at…. at the dance.  People would sign in, or perhaps somebody would type them in as they come in, and it would mix them up and keep the squares pretty well balanced.  I’m actually doing a major upgrade to that right now and in a couple of months hope to have a version that also handles singles, single dancers.

BB – I see.

VC – And then we …  I also have a program called the Ceder Square Dance System that I sell to callers for … it plays their music, it displays sequences, cue sheets, lyrics things like that while they’re calling, and they can write choreography with…. with graphic dancers moving around and things like that.

BB – Right.  Well, I remember way back, way back when this couple rotation system used cards. Everybody got a card when they came in … its basically the same idea except now your doing it on a laptop.  Is that it?

VC – Well, the program … the rotation program first started out to be used in some C4 weekends where they knew exactly how many couples would be there, and I would generate a big chart, you know they would post on the wall that says, “On this tip these couples are in these squares”.

BB – Yes.

VC ­– The program also will print out cards and basically, to print out a card, you basically just generate a lot of these things, you know, wall charts …

BB – I see.

VC – … and then you format them into cards.  So you can have one couple and you can tell them how many couples are at the dance and which square they are in which tip.

BB – I’ll be darned.

VC – So the program is used a lot.  The program can still print out the cards and in fact several people prefer to do it that way rather than bringing a computer to the dance.

BB – Huh, so you do this … start over from the beginning every time then, right?

VC – Well … I didn’t under … what do you mean?  I don’t understand what that means.

BB – Well, I think they used to have a set of cards that were already printed and they just passed them out as people came in, but now you’re saying you print out a new card each time.

VC – No.  Um, the…. the card in our program … when you print out the cards, it will print out same set each time …

BB – Oh, I see.

VC – So basically they will print them out and then … on a page, and there are several on a page and they just cut … cut out the pages and they hand out the cards and so this way they can print different sets for maybe … if you’ve got ten to thirty couples at a dance, or maybe 40 to 60 couples, or something like that and then you pull out whatever set you need for that amount of  couples.

BB – Yeah.

VC – And then if everybody … a lot of times, you know, the cards, people forget to turn them in at the end.  (Bob laughs) They leave early and take them in their pocket.

BB – Right.

VC – You know, this way you can just print out another set.  You don’t have to worry about getting all your cards back.

BB – Well that’s great.  Vic, I recently interviewed Ed Foote and I was surprised to learn because I’m … I don’t compare much to the Challenge level of …  and he used to have an Advanced and Challenge Convention and that ended in 2002 if I recall, and now I see in your bio you’re involved with the Advanced and Challenge Enthusiasts Convention.  Can you tell us about that?

VC – Well (laughs)

DC – That’s more my area.  We…. we were doing the ACE convention which was the Advanced and Challenge Enthusiasts Convention after the National Advanced and Challenge Convention was going to fold.  Sparky Sparks actually started it.  He approached the callers and said, “Let’s not let this die. Let’s continue on” and he continued it for many years until he decided to retire from that event and then …  it was once again, how are we going to keep this going, who’s going to do it?  And there were two spouses and a caller that decided to join together and do all of the tasks that both Ed once did all by himself and Sparky and Barbara Sparks did by themselves.  So that’s Pam Clasper, and myself and  Sandie Bryant decided to keep this going.  So we’ve been doing that for a number of years.

BB – Ok. And are you going around to different cities every year?

DC – We’re trying to.  We’re staying mostly in the mid west because that’s where a lot of the people will go with their RV’s or whatever and so we’ve gotten Milwaukee for the last couple of years and now were looking for another venue for 2009.

BB – Uh huh.  Well, I’ve noticed that the original Advanced and Challenge Convention was mostly out in the East Coast.

DC – Yes, Virginia Beach was a very popular place.

BB – Right.  And into Pennsylvania … and Ed never did get out to the West coast at all but Ed Foote told me that there are a tremendous amount of Advanced and Challenge weekends going on all year round.  So a … and you’re participating in those are you Vic?

VC – I’m participating in a lot of them, yes.

BB – Right, well.  All right.  Well, let’s get down and talk about ceder.net.  How in the world did you ever get started on such an ambitious program.

VC – Oh (chuckles) Mmm, well, um I … I … I do soft … I’m a computer programmer for my real job.

BB – Yes.

VC – And one of the jobs we were working on in … in like around 1995 to 1997 or so was a…. a system over…. over dial up networks to connect various places and transfer data, and stuff.  We kind of did this with kind of a web server thing and we used an Oracle Data Base and all this other stuff. Well anyway, without getting into all the details, after doing that particular project I … I thought there must be an easier way or it might be more interesting to do if you did it totally on the web. So, around that time, people were starting to get little web sites here and there and so eventually I looked into it and got a web site set up and got some stuff set up on it, started basically playing around with things. Pretty soon I got into the data bases on the web and eventually started making some data bases of my own for, you know, callers and things, and basically it just kind of mushroomed and started growing.

BB – It sure did.

VC – You know, since I’d already had the rotation program and the callers program and stuff … I just let these things kind of grow.  I mean, in some sense there’s not really a direction these things are taking.  I just basically plod along like the…. like the tortoise…. like the hare and the tortoise, and just kind of make little slow incremental changes all the time, always tweaking it, and eventually something good comes out of it.  Along the way of course, whenever people see something up there on the web, they see, you know, a callers name up there they want  you know, “Oh, it would be nice if we had a picture. It would be nice, you know, if you listed …, it would be nice if this or that or you showed a record … their recordings or all these kinds of things” and so we get lots of suggestions and we start rolling those into the next time we go and tweak things and eventually it’s kind of what we ended up with.

BB – Well, it’s certainly an ambitious program and, you know, looking up my own bio on your data base I…. I see it’s really complete, and, as a matter of fact, you had a couple of records that I made on there (chuckles) that I had forgotten about.

VC – So, the one cool thing about data bases is that they are relational, you know, so that you basically store one piece of data in one spot and then all the other ones have little links off to it, back and forth, and so if you pull up your name, for example, it will automatically link in your name in the recording artists data base, which will automatically link in all of the recordings you’ve done …

BB – I see.

VC – ….which will link in the labels you’ve recorded on to which will link … and so on and so forth.

BB – Right.

VC – So that you can click on your name and find your recordings, click on one of your recordings and then it would take you to another page that would maybe list maybe all the recordings by that label and whatever you’re looking for.

BB – That’s really interesting.

VC – And, in the data bases, you can search for things you know. You can search for people’s names or whatever.

BB – Yeah.  Well, another interesting thing about your data base I know you have … what is it, 390 different articles that are available?  You can pull up on all kinds of…. of subjects about square dancing.

VC – Yes.  That data base was actually originally inherited from Debi Bliss.

BB – Oh yes.

VC – Nate Bliss’ wife.  She decided to … in fact there is a few spots on our web site where, you know, some other person who has been doing some particular aspect of these things, like the article data co-op decides, you know, for some reason they don’t want to do it anymore.  And they look out there and, “Well, who can we give this to, to take over” and it’s basically me or us or dosado.com…..

BB – Right.

VC – ….or somebody who isn’t well known. So, we’ve got a lot of data from web sites that have like … that are going out of business as it were.  (Bob chuckles)

BB – Well, I know having worked at the Lloyd Shaw archives and done a lot of work in sorting out all … 35,000 records that we had, I was tremendously surprised when I took the time to add up how many labels we had in stock and it came to …

VC – Well over two or three hundred probably.

BB – ….it was over three hundred at the time.  And probably since then there have been another … other labels that have started. One of the fellows that owned a record company one time back years ago said to me, you know, “Well, if you’ve got $500. you can make a record and if you’ve got $5000 you can own the record company (both laugh).  But I….

VC – I don’t know it’s that cheap nowadays but who knows?

BB – Right. Well, anything else about the data base I ought to know about?

VC – Well, we were … well, we’ve got several data bases up. We’ve got the callers and cuers, we’ve got a data base for clubs, uh, we have a data base for choreography where callers can share choreography.  You know, you can go to the choreo data base and look for a particular call that you might want to workshop. Take Cross Fire for example. It’ll list all the Cross  Fire modules from zero boxes or zero lines, from a squared set, or whatever, and different levels of difficulty for that.  Singing calls, whatever you want.

BB – Right.

VC – You can find … there is a lot of people using that nowadays.  We have a record data base on the web which is rather extensive and that’s … Debbie spends a lot of time entering cue sheets for that, linking in lyrics … that’s…. that’s well used by callers.

DC – We have an event data base where people can enter their special events and who’s calling at them or cueing at them.  And we have a resource data base which can search by area of the world, the US or other countries and that data base links in all of these other data bases.  They bring in all the callers and cuers from the area, the clubs, the events that have been listed for those areas.  All of that is listed in one place as well as some other stuff that we inherited from some other web site that was going out of business.

BB – Right.

VC – The event data base … or excuse me, the resource data base basically links in all the other data bases.  So you would go to the resource data base and you would type in ‘Indiana’ for example, and it would show you all the Indiana callers that were in the data base, all the Indiana clubs, all the events that we have for Indiana. And then there is other information in there like Associations, dancer groups, dancer halls, whatever information we’ve got gets put in there.  So most of this information … we don’t go out…. we don’t go out to dances and pick up flyers and try to enter in information, we don’t go and call people, very often.  Basically people come to the web and if something is not there, or if they are an event organizer they need to enter their … the information for the event.  Because there are so many things going it’s more than a full time job for the two of us to go and try to get all the information.

BB – Right.

VC – We let the users do that.

BB – Well, actually this kind of thing blows my mind (chuckles) because having been brought up before computers I just can’t conceive of all this information being collected and put all in one … all in one spot, so to speak.

VC – Well, it’s not only the collection of it and putting it together it’s… it’s how you…. how you link it together and how you organize it.

BB – Yes.

VC – So basically, in some sense, we are kind of like librarians who are cataloging stuff and making it easy for others to find it.

BB – Right.  Looking back over your career, so called, do you have any regrets?  Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

VC – Um, not really.  I mean, I’m somewhat easy going and I kind of let things happen and just kind of nudge things along the way in whatever direction I’m interested in at that time.  So, it’s not really anything I’ve regretted I mean, certainly, you know, sometimes when you are on the … on stage, you know, up their calling, or talking, whatever, sometimes you say something you wish you hadn’t

BB – That’s right.

VC – But that’s just a learning thing to make sure you think before you speak.

BB – Tell a dumb joke or something.  (both chuckle)

VC – I rarely do jokes (laughs)

BB – Uh, huh.

VC – I have some patter saying things that I occasionally say while I’m calling that I have to be careful which particular group I am at if I say things. (both laugh)

BB – Have you had any trouble when you’re overseas, like in Japan, with the language …

VC – Well, Japan is actually a kind of separate case for us because I took four years of Japanese in … at the university.  So it’s not … the language there is not really a problem, although certainly, when they talk fast or, in any language … Germany or whatever, I don’t know what they’re talking about.

BB – Yes.

VC – In most places, Sweden, Germany, even in the UK I can understand most of what people are saying.

DC – And what we find at … you know, a caller and a callers wife … is the dancers really understand square dance language.

BB – Yes.

DC – They may not understand English. We’ve been to places in Japan where you can’t necessarily carry on an English conversation on the side with a dancer, but as long as you’re up there calling square dance language they understand it.

BB – Yes, but you do have to be careful that you don’t interject things that are … like descriptive terms.  You give a call and then a description …

VC – Yes. That is certainly a problem in Japan if you call something and then cue it. They’re thinking that’s the next call.

BB – Yes.

VC – So, when you’re…. when you’re overseas calling you minimize you’re patter and your cueing.  And generally overseas, they‘re much better dancers and they’re very well trained.

BB – Yes. Well, when you’re over seas do you … are you doing exclusively Advanced and Challenge.

VC – Usually it’s the Advanced and Challenge people that bring me over and then while I’m over there I’ll have … they’ll set up extra week nights or extra days for Mainstream clubs or Plus clubs.

BB  – Well, the reason I asked…. I think at Advanced and Challenge dances you don’t do any singing calls do you?

VC – It depends on the groups.  It’s kind of interesting, you know, you … singing calls are mandatory at Mainstream and Plus and they are at some Advanced clubs.  And other Advanced clubs are like a no-no.  But you can get away with one occasionally and they’ll put up with it.

BB – Yes.

VC – And then once you get into Challenge in general, in the states anyway, people do not like to do singing calls except when you start getting up to the high challenge levels C3 and C4 where they do like to do them.  So it’s very … it’s a very interesting little bell curve there for that.

BB – I’ll be darned.

VC – In Europe for example, they do like to do singing calls at Challenge weekends.  So …

BB – Well.  What I was getting around to is, if you are doing singing calls, when you sing along with the lyrics I wonder how that affects people of foreign languages?

VC – Well, I’ve found that most places that doesn’t really affect them, they can tell there is a difference between singing and then actually going back to your patter.  I mean, your intonation, the way callers do that so they can tell the difference.

BB – Yeah.

VC – And in countries like Sweden, the dancers, they sing along with you.  I mean I was quite impressed that almost any singing call I would put on in Sweden everybody would sing along.  It’s like WOW, how do they know all these songs (chuckles).

BB – That’s interesting (chuckles) Well.  Do you cue any round dances?

VC – Oh no.  I’m still working on Two Forward Two Steps (all three laugh).

BB – Ok.  How about contras.

VC – No.

BB – Do you dance contras at all?

DC – I love contras.

BB – Do you?

DC – (laughs)

BB – But you don’t get a chance to do them very often?

DC – Not very often.  Actually Santa Barbara has a really good contra group that dances on Sundays at the Rec. Center in Santa Barbara with the spring wood floor.  It’s just wonderful.  I just never get a chance to get down there, my weekends are so precious, I don’t…. I don’t get out very often.

BB – Whose the caller there Debbie?

DC – I think they switch around a bit but …. I want to say Don someone

VC – Don Wood?

BB – Not Don Ward?

DC – Noooo. It might be Don Wood.

BB – I think he might go there once in awhile.  Was this originally Bruce’s group?

DC – I don’t think so.

BB – No, I don’t either.

DC – This is a large group.

VC – I don’t think I know about Bruce doing contras.

BB – Well, be that as it may, you must have a terribly big back yard.

DC – (laughs)

BB – The reason I’m asking, I’m looking under your bio. it says ‘other hobbies’ and you list almost every kind of produce that’s produced (all laugh)

VC – Um, that’s kind of a hobby, growing food I guess.  We’ve got a half acre and we probably have thirty/forty fruit trees and a big vegetable garden and chickens and ducks and stuff like that.

BB – I can’t see how you can get all that into a half acre and still have room for a house.

VC – Well, we don’t have any lawns.  I mean, right now we’re harvesting cherries and oranges and peas and garlic.

DC – We’ve just finished up all our lettuce, yeah.

BB – Well, that’s really great.  Any other hobbies beside…. beside your back yard?

VC – Well I used to do scuba diving….

BB – Did you?

VC – …. until square dance weekends started taking up way too much of my time.  Basically, you know, I,….I did scuba diving and square dance calling on my weekends and then the … I started getting booked more and more and a caller … a Challenge caller started having problems not showing up at his dates and I got … started getting lots of his dates not only in California but other places in the country and so the diving has kind of gone out the door.

DC – We’ve sort of started a new hobby if you will.  A part of our advantage of traveling a bit around the country … around the nation is that we can go to different places and find different kinds of types of chocolate bars, which we have started a data base on our web site about all the chocolate bars that we’ve purchased and tasted.

BB – There you go.

DC – (laughs) So that’s an easy hobby to be able to continue.  It doesn’t take too much time.

VC – No, you just add a few pounds here and there.  (Debbie laughs)

BB – This is not a commercial venture is it?

DC – Oh no.

VC – No.

BB – So what’s your thought about the ABC program? That’s out of your bailiwick I know, but I’d be interested in what you think about it.

VC –  Well, I… I … the last two years I’ve done beginners classes for the Ventura Bachelors and Bachelorettes.  We’ve graduated about two squares each year.  And both years I felt rushed to get them up through Plus in the desired time frame.  Being a Challenge caller, I want them to have a good background in Mainstream before they go on to Plus and so forth.

BB  – Yes.

VC – And so, I mean, I would be …basically I think the ABC or the 10-10-10 programs are a good idea.  I would actually like to see the destination level be Mainstream in our country like it is in Europe.

BB – Yeah. Well, with the program that you have going why you don’t really have time for an ABC type of ongoing program probably …

VC – No.

BB – Yeah. Well, one of the questions that I’ve been really interested in your opinion on is, “Where do you think square dance might be going?”

VC – Well, I don’t really know.  I mean, I’ve been thinking it’s been going down for awhile until I’ve been doing these two beginners classes which are very invigorating you know, because you get new people who are fresh and excited about things.  This last beginners class we graduated two couples who were in their twenties and so I think that’s promising.

BB – Good.

VC – I don’t know where things are going.  I think certainly getting the younger people in is the correct thing to do.  Part of that is cultural.  Certainly in Europe they get the younger people are in there, are in there to move to the music, to dance, to whoop it up, to have fun and basically it’s a whole family kind of affair.  Where here it’s like, you know, it’s usually the elderly people who tend to get in there and they don’t stay for more than, you know, a few years.

BB – Right.  Well, in other words, Europe must be about like we were back in the ’70’s probably.

VC – I think so.  I think it’s possible that they could go the way we’ve gone in terms of declining numbers, you know, if they don’t keep up their recruiting as it were.

BB – Right, so are you involved in the record business at all?  I know you do record on, what is it, One World ?

VC – Oh, yeah.  Buddy Weaver invited me to record a few recordings there.  I did a few A1 patter recordings for him.

BB – Uh, huh.  So what about the record business ? What do you see in the future as far as CDs and MP3s and like that are concerned?

VC – Well, I think the digital stuff is the way it’s going … it’s headed for sure.  I don’t use records any more at all, I have not used records since about the year 2000.

BB – You mean vinyl, you mean?

VC –  Yeah, vinyl.  I was one of the pioneers, as it were, of using records on the computer, or you know, recordings on the computer.  I…. I don’t know. Certainly…. certainly I think the technology is always growing of for more and more ways of doings things.  You’ve got these little tiny hand held devices that will play your music as well as computers.  I mean, you dance … in my opinion with computers it will also pull up the cue sheet for you automatically whereas these little tiny devices can’t do that.

BB – So, well, what can we talk about now that we still have some time on this tape?

DC – Well, speaking of music, I think that it’s … we enjoy the music that’s done with real instruments as opposed to the synthesized music.  It tends to have more dynamics and more interest and intrigue for us.

BB – Right.  Well, you’re in favor of what they call alternative music?

VC – Alternative music is, (chuckles) … it’s….. it’s…. it’s got its drawbacks.  Certainly, a lot of the stuff out there is very danceable since it’s got a good beat, a good rhythm. However, a lot of it also has vocals, a lot of vocals.  And, although it’s kind of modern, fun to dance to music, and good to listen to, it’s like hearing the callers call over the vocals or the vocals are like sometimes really distracting

BB – I guess, yeah.

VC – So there’s … you have to be very careful in your use of those.  I have several alternative music pieces that I use. However, I don’t exclusively use those. I use mostly more traditional … I mean square dance labels.

BB – Right.

VC – I’m not really into traditional music such as fiddles and banjos and such although I do like banjos more than fiddles (chuckles).  I tend to like a lot of the labels like TOP and GRENN, I think they had really good music.  But that’s kind of my take on that.

BB – Right. Tell us your experience … what do you find appealing about square dancing. What’s … what do you like about calling square dances?

VC – Well, that’s also varied over the years.  There’s just so much about it.  Originally, I got into it because I was interested in the choreography puzzle kind of aspect.  And, that…. that’s really not … that’s not really what it’s about in some sense.  Basically … I mean, nowadays I understand more about the entertainment aspect and basically you … the caller is up there as a catalyst to get the dancers having a good time.  If that involves challenging choreography, then that’s what you do.  If that involves just having fun, making them, you know, whoop up to the middle and back and the girls throw their skirts up over their head and jump…. jump, you know, jump around on the right and left grand or something, then that’s what it’s about.

BB – Yes.

VC – So, you know basically, it depends on the group what your up there for.  I’ve been to C4 dances where I’ve connected with the floor and they really like … and I’ve really enjoyed calling for them, and converse … and I’ve also been at C4 dances where I’ve called for people and they can’t really do it and they’re not having fun, they’re all scowling, you know, it’s not fun.

BB – Right.

VC – Where I would much rather have called a Mainstream dance for a bunch of people who are just, you know, not very good at Mainstream but who like to dance and have a good time trying to dance and that kind of stuff.

BB – Well, do you have a chance to do any what they call one night stands at all?

VC – I don’t really do that because I don’t feel that comfortable with it.  I did accept one a couple of weeks ago (chuckles)  I mean, it happened a couple of weeks ago.  But, you know, I’m kind of busy and I usually … I send those off to somebody else although I know I am probably the right person in the area to do them because I have the right skills, but I still feel a bit nervous doing those.

BB – Right.  And you’re living in the Santa Barbara area?

VC – I live in a small town, Los Olivos, which is north of the Santa Barbara area.

BB – Oh yes.

VC – There’s probably about a thousand people in the town.

BB – Well, that’s …

VC – Santa Barbara has … the Santa Barbara metropolitan area probably has 160 to 200 thousand.

BB – Well, that’s one of the reasons you’d have plenty of time for surfing right? (chuckles)

VC – (chuckles) Not surfing, diving.

BB – I see, ok.  Alright. Well, one of the things I wanted to ask you sometime is this project that  I’ve been on I built up to over 125 different interviews now and they are on line on the Square Dance Foundation of New England’s web page sdfne.org and I see it’s not listed in your data base (Vic chuckles).  I wonder if I could talk you into doing that sometime?

VC – No problem.

BB – Making a link.

VC – Yup.  Well, another thing with well, our web site, or our computer programs, or our definition books is we keep lists … ‘to do lists‘.  The ‘to do list’ for … the ‘to do list’ for just like the Couple Rotation Program right now is about six printed pages long.

BB – Ah ha.

VC – The ‘to do list’ for the web site is, you know, three or four times that.

BB – Ah ha.

VC – (Chuckles) That…. that’s one reason why on the web site we make most things so people can enter the information themselves like the callers update their own caller information, the events … you know the event organizers would put in their own events and stuff.

BB – Right.

VC – So, I’ve made a note to put a link to you guys so I will do that sometime.

VC – Ok.  Well, the fellow that’s doing all … getting those all on the web page …

(tape clicks off end of side 1)

(In checking side 2 the remaining five minutes of the interview is not there. We suspect that the record button malfunctioned so the last part of the interview was not recorded. )

End of Vic and Debbie Ceder Interview.


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