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The Crossfire Controversy []
  
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The Crossfire Controversy -- []
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According to the dictionary, "Crossfire" is defined as "Lines of gunfire crossing each other". It often feels this way when the 'Crossfire Controversy' raises its head. Because our published definition conflicts with the 'official' CALLERLAB definition, we felt a need to publish this paper in order to 'protect our credibility'.

In the Plus and Advanced levels, callers sometimes call Crossfire from Out-Facing Lines. These callers often expect the ending formation to be a R-H 1/4 Tag. Many challenge callers, on the other hand, cringe at this usage, and try to avoid calling it.

The current CALLERLAB definition of Crossfire (November 1997, as taken from the CALLERLAB website) states:

CROSSFIRE - Starting formation - Two faced line, Parallel lines of four,
 
Inverted Line(s). TIMING - 6
 
As the centers begin to Trade, the ends Cross Fold. Upon completing their Trade, the centers release hands and step straight forward forming an ocean wave or mini-wave with the dancers they are facing. If the Trade leaves the original centers facing no one, they step forward and remain facing out.
 
STYLING: If starting formation is a two-faced line, center dancers use hands up position for trading action and blend into normal mini wave styling. If starting formation is parallel lines of four that results in centers facing no one, that couple joins hands with a couple handhold.

The purpose of this paper is to show that the CALLERLAB definition given above is inconsistent with the definition of practically every other modern square dance call. The CALLERLAB definition is vague, and leads to several ambiguous situations. We believe that the CALLERLAB definition was expressly written with the intent of allowing Crossfire from Out-Facing Lines to end in a 1/4 Tag formation. We believe that this is not the way it should have been done.

Our definition of Crossfire:

From a Two-Faced Line or other applicable formation.
 
Ends Cross Fold as Centers Trade & Step Forward.
 
A Two-Faced Line ends in a Mini-Wave Box.

In our opinion, Crossfire is a 4-dancer call. Dancers execute the call working with the 4 dancers in their formation. If the call starts from an 8-dancer formation, then each side of the square independently does the call, staying on their side of the square. At the end of the call, dancers do not step to a wave in the middle of the square, since interacting with the other 4 dancers would make Crossfire an 8-dancer call.

From a One-Faced Line, we believe Crossfire behaves as follows:

   
before
Crossfire
 after
Ends Cross Fold
as Centers Trade
 after
Centers Step Forward
(done)

Note that the last part for the Centers, "Step Forward", is necessary so that the ending formation is centered, and not offset. The horizontal line shown in the above diagrams shows the original center of gravity. The "Step Forward" part of Crossfire is analogous to the definition of Peel Off, which contains a phrase such as "to end in a Line" (otherwise, Peel Off, when done from a "Z", would end in an Offset Line: that is, one couple offset from another couple). We believe that the CALLERLAB definition of Crossfire should contain a similar statement (e.g., "to end in a Box").

If the square contains two non-overlapping occurrences of the above 4-dancer formation (a One-Faced Line), then each group of 4 does the call independently of the other group of 4. It doesn't matter if the two starting formations are end-to-end, facing, back-to-back, or in some other configuration. So why does the CALLERLAB definition behave differently for the back-to-back case???

Many Plus-level callers have been calling Crossfire from Out-Facing Lines and ending in a 1/4 Tag for many years. I used to be one of them. In fact, as a Plus dancer myself, many years ago, I thought that the fact that Crossfire from Out-Facing Lines ends in a 1/4 Tag was "really cool". Nowadays, I think it's shoddy calling.

Trying to effect change among the many callers who use Crossfire in this manner won't be easy. I am convinced, however, that this is the right thing to do, and that the future of Crossfire lies with it being a 4-dancer call.

Suppose, for example, that Crossfire is an 8-dancer call. Let's take a look at this starting formation:

From here, there are 3 possible interpretations for Crossfire:
 

before
Crossfire

Case 1:
 

after

Case 2:
 

after

Case 3:
 

after

  • Case 1 uses the CALLERLAB definition and assumes that Crossfire is an 8-dancer call. Centers ( dancers) Trade and Step To A Wave as Ends ( dancers) Cross Fold.
  • Case 2: Assuming that you don't like case 1, perhaps because you think that the terms Ends and Centers refer to the 4-dancer formation instead of the 8-dancer formation, then this is the ending result using the CALLERLAB definition. The Crossfire is done in each group of 4, but, the two dancers ( and ) step to a Wave since they are facing!
  • Case 3 uses our definition, in which Crossfire is a 4-dancer call.


If Crossfire has no restriction on it being a 4-dancer call done in your 4-dancer formation, then the following are also 'legal' (and potentially ambiguous):

   
before
Crossfire
 after
Ends Cross Fold
as Centers Trade
 after
Centers Step To A Wave
(done)

In the above example, the caller would be required to say the words 'Each Side' if he/she didn't want the above-diagrammed movement to occur.

   
before
Crossfire
 after
Ends Cross Fold
as Centers Trade
 after
"Extend"
(done)

In the above example, do the Ends go past each other for the Cross Fold, or not? A case could be made either way.

   
before
Crossfire
 after
(Oh, but look!
Two Centers are facing each other,
so, of course, they must Step To A Wave)
 (done)


Callers and dancers at the challenge levels want calls to be consistent and unambiguous. The 'challenge' is not in trying to figure out which interpretation this particular caller wants! Hence, challenge square dancing needs well-defined calls. Making Crossfire be a 4-dancer call gives us this consistency. The dancers know who they are working with, and can determine the ending formation. There are no surprises after we do the call a la "oh gee, it seems that I'm facing someone, therefore I must Step To A Wave, even if the other person was working in the other group of 4!". Rules such as these are nonsense.

Also, at Challenge, we do calls using Phantom dancers. In general, the facing direction of the Phantom dancer is defined to be "whatever is necessary in order to do the call". Now suppose a caller calls Phantom Crossfire from here:

Phantom Crossfire:
 

before
Phantom Crossfire

How do the dancers know whether to end in (Phantom) Columns or a (Phantom) 1/4 Tag?

An example of Crossfire as an 8-dancer call:
 

before
Crossfire

According to our definition:
 

after

According to the CALLERLAB definition:
 

after

We believe that Crossfire is legal from the above starting formation despite the fact that from that formation, Crossfire is an 8-dancer call. Many 4-dancer calls exhibit such a behavioral change when done from T-Bone setups.


Our recommended "fix" for the CALLERLAB definition:

  1. Remove the phrase "step straight forward forming an ocean wave or mini-wave with the dancers they are facing. If the Trade leaves the original centers facing no one, they step forward and remain facing out." and replace it with something that makes sense such as "Step forward (if necessary) so that the ending formation is centered with respect to the starting formation."
  2. Add "Ends in a Box (2 x 2 formation)."

Note on Roll: We believe that only the original Ends can Roll, and our definition, "Centers Trade and Step Forward as Ends Cross Fold" is worded such that it allows for the Ends to Roll, but not the Centers.


This page reflects my personal opinions. If you have any comments, pro or con, I'd like to hear them.

CALLERLAB definition for Crossfire

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https://www.ceder.net/def/crossfire_controversy.php
18-January-2018 21:48:39
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