The Folk Dance Database contains information on a large number of folk dances, together with information about music suitable for these dances. The database catalogues the type of dance, the type of music needed, where the dance has been published and so on. I have prepared it to assist with my calling. I hope that you will also find it useful.
When I started this project in 1989, the original data set was obtained by retyping the information from ``What was that Dance?'', a paper based catalogue produced by Bob Howe. Bob's original catalogue has since been expanded, but that enhanced publication is in not related to the work that I have done here apart from the common root for some of the data. I have checked and corrected the original data, but that now forms only a small fraction of the information in the Folk Dance Database, since I have added many new fields and tables, hundreds of additional sources and thousands of extra dances. Although things have moved on considerably from the original starting point, I would like to recognise the work which Bob did and thank him for it. When starting this project I did phone Bob and speak to him about my plans and he gave me permission to incorporate his data into my database and to pass it on to you provided that no monetary profit was involved.
I would also like to thank my friend Peter Crowther for his assistance with this project: he did some of the typing, provided computer resources and some of the database and music knowledge which I lack.
I intend to constantly update the database as new dances and new sources for old dances become available. Unfortunately, that update process is patchy: these days I rarely have the time to keep things up to date. The limit to the growth and scope of this database is the amount of time I can spend on it, and I hope that you will not be too impatient at the rate at which new information is produced. After all, I would much rather be out dancing or calling than stuck in front of my computer all the time -- wouldn't you? P.S. I also have to spend some time earning a living :-)
I have retained the copyright on this database for reasons which are detailed in the subsequent sections. This copyright is not intended to make life difficult for you - quite the opposite. Experience with other computer data has shown that placing information in the public domain is often not a satisfactory option, whilst retaining control but not restricting use calls for some legal delicacy -- hence the legal jargon in the sections on distribution and the public licence.
The remainder of this document describes the structure of the database and details the various files in this distribution and their contents, together with some hints on how all this information might be used. Please remember that some of the information is highly subjective. They are my opinions and they may not agree with your opinions, but then it is my database. I would be pleased to receive corrections to any factual errors in the database and may entertain suggestions for amendments to the subjective aspects of the information: I don't claim to be right all of the time!