As Paul recounts... I started contra dancing in 2000, after being badgered for almost a year and a half. It sounded really hokey, but after a significant "life event", I decided to chance it - and got hooked the first time out. After nine months, every other week in Fort Collins just wasn't enough, so I started carpooling to the other dances, which at one point, spiraled into roughly eighty nights of dancing per year, including dance weekends. About seven years into it, my significant other decided she would try her hand at calling. The venue was a benefit dance, all volunteer performers. I really didn't have any interest in being a caller, but I couldn't let her go it alone and I was curious. I was in the right place at the right time, as after the benefit, I was asked if I would be interested in splitting an evening with another one of the evening's participants. I shared three nights onstage over the next few months, then went solo.
My preference, as a caller (and dancer), is a full night of longways set contra dances. My personal philosophy, is that callers should be "seen and not heard" - the dancers are there for the music.