The Snowball Mixer is a simple mixer that can be applied to any kind of social dance, and while it may seem like a recent innovation, it's actually been around since the 19th century.*
* The 19th century name is "All Up." The "Snowball," "Amoeba," and "Lilypad" descriptors are more recent.
Begin with one (or more) couples dancing in the center of the room, while everyone else stands in a large circle around them.
The couple(s) in the center begin dancing.
At a pre-arranged signal (a whistle, a call, a change in music), the couples in the center break up, and each dancer picks a new partner from the outside circle, thus doubling the number of people dancing.* (In an alternate version, each couple in the center decides amongst themselves when to break up and find new partners, without a coordinated call from the leader.)
The splitting continues, with the number of dancers growing exponentially, until everyone in the room is dancing. At this point, calls (or choices) to split can continue, in which case the dancers find random new partners nearby, or the final couples can be allowed to finish the song together.
* Cellarius' cotillion figure "La Course" suggests an interesting alternative here. In that figure, when first couple splits up, they act as matchmakers, the gentleman choosing two gentlemen and the lady choosing two ladies, to form two new couples who proceed to dance. As in "All Up," the number of couples dancing doubles, it just does so in a different way.
Anything goes, as long as it's danceable.
© 2015 Nick Enge
(Click to expand)
The German - All Up (Two Amateur Leaders, 1879):
All up and dance.
Signal to form general circle.
Leader will then tell one or two couples to enter the circle and dance, the circle meanwhile closing up.
Signal for those dancing to choose other partners and dance.
Signal for dancers again to choose partners and dance, and so continue, the circle always closing up, until the space is too crowded, and then at signal all dance.
Signal seats. No favors.
For more, see our two books on dancing:
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge,
and Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge.
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