How Many Records?

The number of records cuers have will amaze you.

By John Brant

I was in a recent conversation with a cuer from San Diego (Maxine Springer) about how many records she has. I was amazed to hear she had 1,500. She has been cueing and teaching for seven years and told me other cuers have much larger collections. I asked the question to an e-mail list for round dancers and cuers. The answer to the question amazed me. There are, indeed, cuers with many more records. Twelve cuers responded to my question. If you take out the extremes (more about that later) it ranged from 600 records to 6,800 records, with an average of 2,400 records per cuer with an average of 13 years in the business.

The extremes consisted of one cuer who had no records, because they had been recently stolen, to one national leader and choreographer with 10,000 records! The person with perhaps the world's largest collection is Klaus Voelkl of Germany. He estimates his collection of records to be about 15,000. He also has about 5,000 CD's. He devotes one room of his house to store his music collection. Klaus is 40 years old and has been cueing for 23 years. He has a business of developing software.

Why so many records? Many cuers have several copies of the same music for back up reasons and because of different versions for different rhythms. Cuers need to have a collection of the classics that number in the hundreds. Also they need to buy records every month to stay up with the rounds of the month. Klaus Voelkl says he cues for a club with an average age of about 30. He can not just play the old records, he needs modern records he can use for Round Dancing (for example from Michael Jackson, Bee Gees, Phil Collins and many others). Klaus says he is glad for the mini disks now, because he can take them to dances and leave the original record at home. This new technology will help to cut down the number of records used in the future.

There is also a new technology called MP3. With it music can be compressed on a computer's hard drive and then played back through a stereo system. It takes about 1 Meg to store a minute of music, so the average Round Dance song would take about 3 Meg. A laptop with a hard drive with 3 Gigabytes free could store 1000 songs. There would be no more fumbling for the right record or mini-disc. It could be called up on the computer screen and played. Cue sheets could be read off the screen.

Most dancers don't realize the investment the average cuer has in records. Square Dance callers on average do not have nearly as many, but their collections are normally in the several hundred range and can be worth several thousand dollars.

The days of requiring hundreds or even thousands of records are going to be eventually gone with the new digital equipment. Widespread use of this technology, however, is several years away. Until then, cuers will continue collecting large amounts of records.

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